Celebrating 300 years

National children’s charity Lifelites has donated a package of specialist technologies for children at Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice in Coventry

The children who visit the hospice will be able to use the equipment to play games, be creative and communicate with their families, something which may be impossible for them to do otherwise.

The package of equipment and services – which is worth £50,000 over its four year lifespan – was donated completely free of charge by Lifelites. The charity also provides ongoing technical support and training for the hospice staff.

The charity was able to donate the equipment due to the generosity of donors. For this project, money was donated by the Warwickshire Freemasons, as well as the Khoo Teck Puat Foundation, GamesAid, Microsoft and Children with Cancer UK.

One of the pieces of equipment donated was a Magic Carpet. This is a portable box which projects an image on to the floor, a wheelchair or a bed, which children can interact with. This technology gives them the chance to escape the confines of their condition and play one of the many games or animations, such as playing football or splashing in the sea.

The children also received an Eyegaze. This is a piece of equipment which allows those with limited mobility to control a computer using just their eyes. By using the Eyegaze, children who struggle to communicate with their family and their carers are able to do so – often for the first time.

Other items donated include iPads, cameras and touchscreen computers along with lots of games and other software specially designed to be accessible for children with disabilities.

After two days of staff training, families, donors and hospice staff gathered to celebrate the occasion and to officially hand the equipment over to the children at the hospice.

Clare Walton, senior care assistant at Zoë’s Place said: 'The eye gaze equipment will revolutionise the experience that many of our children will have here at Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice. It has already been fantastic to see a glimpse of their full potential and it has been wonderful for the parents to witness just what their children are capable of. It is incredible for the staff and parents to be able to communicate with the children on a far deeper level than we have been able to without this equipment.

'The equipment has so many applications for us and a child can use it for leisure time, completing school work and general communication. It is very easy and intuitive to use and we are currently rolling out the training to all of our staff. We are so thrilled to have this and cannot thank everyone enough who made it happen.'

Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive of Lifelites said: 'We are thrilled to be able to provide equipment for the children at Zoë’s Place who have life-limiting, life-threatening and disabling conditions. The magical technology we have donated can be used to play, to be creative and communicate, and enrich the lives of these children and their families, for as long as is possible. We couldn’t have provided this package if it wasn’t for the generosity of our donors, so for this we are incredibly grateful.'

Lifelites has donated equipment to every children’s hospice in the British Isles over the last 16 years, and continues to provide new technology and ongoing support to ensure that children in hospices have unlimited possibilities.

Tackling food waste in the West Midlands

One of the first major grants awarded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) has gone to FareShare West Midlands. John Hayward, Provincial Charity Steward for Warwickshire, visited the charity and presented a grant for £60,000 over three years, a contribution to the salary of the warehouse manager, together with assistance with transportation of food.

FareShare is a national operation with more than 20 centres. It is estimated that there are more than 3.4 million tonnes of food wasted every year by the UK food industry.

Bronze desk and chair unveiled, which has been funded and donated by Freemasons of Warwickshire together with the United Grand Lodge of England, to mark 300 years of English Freemasonry

On Tuesday 5th September, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust officially opened the newly remodelled Shakespeare’s New Place which is the biggest and most enduring project anywhere in the world to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Shakespeare's New Place was his family home from 1597 until he died in the house in 1616. The house was demolished in 1759, a registered garden has been designed to commemorate the importance of the site and allow visitors to make their own personal connection with Shakespeare. When Shakespeare bought New Place he was an established playwright and it is believed that he wrote his later plays there, including The Tempest. Commissioned artworks and displays throughout the site will evoke a sense of family life and hint at Shakespeare's major works that were written during the 19 years he owned New Place.

Specially commissioned sculptures conjure up to the world that influenced Shakespeare and his enduring influence in our world today. A magnificent bronze tree takes centre stage in the heart of the garden surrounded by a circle of pleached hornbeams and a curved oak bench, with Shakespeare’s desk and chair at stage right. The desk and chair gives visitors from around the world a unique opportunity to sit and contemplate a view that has remained unchanged since Shakespeare lived there.

The Emulation Lodge of Improvement Annual Festival, held at Freemasons’ Hall on Friday 26th February 2016, is the high point of the lodge’s calendar

The Festival, attended by over 200 brethren, was presided over by the President, RW Bro David Macey, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire and the senior members of the Emulation Committee, and provided a superb showcase for a demonstration of four sections from the Lectures of the Three Degrees.

The Lectures take the form of a Preceptor asking questions of an Assistant, the Preceptor being a senior member of the Emulation Committee and the Assistant being a junior member of the lodge, but be under no illusion, standing on a blue dial next to the Senior Warden. It is the Assistant who is under the spotlight.

The programme of work comprised:

2nd lecture 2nd section: Preceptor W Bro Gerald Goodall, Assistant Bro Stephen Widdop

2nd lecture 3rd section: Preceptor W Bro Gerald Goodall, Assistant Bro Alexis Petrou

2nd lecture 4th section: Preceptor W Bro Graham Redman, Assistant W Bro John Lovett

2nd lecture 5th section: Preceptor W Bro Graham Redman, Assistant W Bro Mark Graham

Both Preceptors and Assistants delivered their sections with passion and conviction before a full temple and to a truly exemplary standard. I’m sure that for the Assistants this wasn’t just a daily advancement but an advancement they’ll remember for the rest of their lives and I congratulate them.

Worthy of note is the role of the Senior Warden (this year in the capable hands of W Bro Steve Turner) who must be prepared to prompt each of the Assistants from memory (and thereby must be word perfect in all four sections even if never called upon).

Afterwards the brethren retired to the Connaught Rooms for an excellent Festive Board.

Continuing aid for Vanuatu

Following the Grand Charity’s £20,000 donation via the British Red Cross after a severe tropical cyclone hit Vanuatu in the South Pacific in March 2015, Warwickshire masons have also provided aid. More than £5,600 has been sent to the Vanuatu Recovery Fund thanks to 16 Warwickshire lodges, one very generous brother and the Province’s Masonic Charitable Association.

The Vanuatu Recovery Fund, managed by Lodge of Discovery on the island, has decided to fund the rebuilding of the library at Suango Mele Primary School, and to create a bigger and better structure than had previously existed. The school will now have a media centre within the library to ensure it meets students’ future study needs.

Warwickshire support for Acorns

Every year for the past five years, Warwickshire Freemasons have donated £150,000 via the Masonic Charitable Association to around 120 non-masonic charities, including Acorns Children’s Hospice in Birmingham. Founded 27 years ago, Acorns offers a network of specialist palliative care and support across the West Midlands for babies, children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.

Over the years, support for Acorns from Warwickshire masons has included technical help with computer equipment that was installed at the Selly Oak hospice by Lifelites, a charity backed by the masonic community. 

Province champions Birmingham Hospital

Warwickshire masons have raised £10,000 for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Cancer Centre Appeal, with the Province also named as one of its Charity Champions. Fundraising began when PGM David Macey set up The Famous Five initiative, giving lodges five charities for which they could raise funds. Hospital public fundraising manager Vikki Savery thanked the Province ‘for the incredible amount of money that they have raised so far for our Cancer Appeal and plan to raise for the hospital in the future’.

Foundation stone resited

Warwickshire Freemasons participated in an unusual and symbolic service when the foundation stone laid in 1937 in the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital was resited in the Faith Centre garden at the new University Hospital. 

It had originally been laid with full masonic ceremony by the then Provincial Grand Master, Col Sir William Wyley, a former Coventry Mayor and JP, and was recovered when the old hospital was knocked down. 

The stone was symbolically relaid by the present PGM, David Macey, accompanied by a procession of Warwickshire masons in full regalia. The PGM applied a silver trowel to the stone during his address, followed by a blessing from the Provincial Grand Chaplain. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the PGM presented a cheque for £1,000 for the Faith Centre and garden.

Warwickshire on show

Civic leaders joined the annual church service of the Province of Warwickshire and the procession to the Collegiate Church of St Mary. District council chairman Cllr Richard Davies and county council chairman Cllr David Shilton walked to the church, which has an association with Freemasonry that goes back to at least 1728 when the Master of the first Warwickshire lodge was the vicar. Local masons presented the church with an oak pulpit in 1897. 

Representatives of the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Christian faiths were also present at the multi-denominational service conducted by Provincial Grand Chaplain and Methodist lay minister John Cowan. Provincial Grand Master David Macey presented a cheque for £7,400 to the vicar, followed by £1,000 from the service collection.

In another civic event, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr John Lines, invited Warwickshire and Worcestershire masons to attend the annual Lord Mayor’s Show in the city centre, helping to raise funds for his chosen charities. 

Local children have been entertained at their annual pantomime – this time, Dick Whittington – thanks to Warwickshire Freemasons and TOA Taxis. A morning show was enjoyed by children with learning and physical disabilities, while an afternoon performance was staged for youngsters who might never have seen a live theatre show before. More than 600 children and around 100 carers attended. Warwickshire Provincial Grand Master David Macey introduced the show in the morning, welcoming the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr John Lines, and the Lady Mayoress, who presented David with a cheque for £500 for the Freemasons’ chosen charities.

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