For the last four weeks I have had the privilege of working remotely with a small team from Grand Lodge who have been asked to focus on projects to help the NHS and other organisations challenged by the current Covid-19 pandemic. The team consists of 10 PGM’s representing their Regional Communication Groups (I represent Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire), the Grand Secretary and senior representatives from the MCF and UGLE. One million pounds has been allocated with £100,000 going to each RCG for Covid-19 related local projects. The passion and energy of the individuals in this group has been very powerful indeed.
We have been using this money to great effect in Buckinghamshire. Gary Brodie has been sourcing protective visors, 3000 of which will start to be distributed to care-homes and our local hospitals at Stoke Mandeville, Amersham, Milton Keynes and High Wycombe next week. Tony Robinson has been liaising with the same hospitals to understand their needs and next week we will be supplying Samsung Galaxy Tablets to the Intensive care units at each hospital to enable isolated patients to be in contact with their families. UGLE will be providing 760 of these units across the country.
A Covid-19 Relief Chest has also been created and we are encouraging individuals to give what they can so that we can continue this outstanding work. I am aware that there has been some confusion with lodges very keen to contribute by transferring funds from their lodge relief chest. Any lodge can make a donation by way of a transfer from its lodge relief chest to the Covid-19 Relief Chest, providing that the donation is from funds that were not raised specifically for the 2021 Festival. All donations made to the Covid-19 Relief Chest will go towards the lodges Festival total. These donations will be match funded by the MCF, doubling the funding for Covid-19 but the match funding element will, of course, not be attributed to the 2021 Festival.
In Buckinghamshire we will be looking at other projects over the next couple of months to expand those already running, such as our food deliveries to carers and food banks which Phil Blacklaw has been leading. I would like you all to take a look at the Provincial website www.BuckPGL.org to see the good work being done and wonderful letters of thanks we have received from so many of the recipients. On the website you will also find links to our Facebook and Twitter pages which have the very latest information at all times.
“Ordinary people are doing extraordinary things in our Province and at UGLE which makes me very proud to be a Freemason.”
Not everyone can afford to give at this difficult time, and we must make sure that we continue the great success of the Buddy scheme to support our members who are isolating or who may be experiencing other problems Can we please also ensure we are in regular contact with and look after our lodge widows. Please make sure that our Provincial Grand Almoner is aware of any cases of difficulty so that we can provide help when needed.
Finally, brethren on behalf of myself and Graham Dearing, our Grand Superintendent, I ask you to support the governments instructions to stay home and keep yourselves and your families safe. The lockdown has now been in place for some weeks and a little longer will ensure a better future for all of us.
Provincial Grand Master