I trust everyone is well and enjoying this Masonic year. There are a number of intiatives going at the moment and I thought it appropriate to send to you some updated information.
As our Provincial Grand Master said at the Provincial meeting last October, this year we will not be asking Lodges for money. Following on the huge success of Rock Ride 2 and the Choices Scheme it was felt that a year off before we go into Festival would be appropriate and it allows Lodges to start to focus on their own Relief Chests ready for the 2021 Festival and also their own personal Charitable giving. A key objective this year is to ensure that the Brethren understand the objectives and purposes of all the four main charities administered by Grand Lodge and our own BMCF and BMBF. This can only be achieved with the assistance of every Charity Steward in the Province. The announcement that the four Charities will merge and the effect that will have for all is something we have to ensure every brother is aware of. This is a great lead-in to our Festival starting in 2016 in aid of the Masonic Samaritan Fund.
The final figure announced for this event was a staggering £348,000 raised for charities. £136,000 was raised for the Buckinghamshire Masonic Benevolent Fund (BMBF). The Rock Ride team should be applauded for their incredible dedication in ensuring this event succeeded. We must not forget to thank the two riders, W Bro Andy Collins and W Bro Gavin Lannon, who rode for the BMBF who were both magnificent.
CHEQUE PRESENTATION NIGHT FEB 2015
This proved to be a very successful event with over £102,000 donated on the evening. On the night we all learned how to perform simple sign language and met a Medical Detection Dog called Molly who can smell diabetic highs and lows in a child. These events are never the same and I continue to be amazed by the stories from the brethren as to why they wanted to donate and, of course the charity representatives’ responses.
RELIEF CHESTS AND GIFT AID ENVELOPES - FESTIVAL PLANNING
At the Provincial meeting our Provincial Grand Master reminded us all that it will not be long until our next festival and that we should all look at planning accordingly. With this is mind, I would strongly suggest that all Lodges and Charity Stewards look at their Relief Chests and ensure that as many brethren as possible are donating on a regular basis. A brother donating £5 per month over a five year period would contribute £300, this would increase to £375 if gift aid was included. Many Lodges have now taken up the practice of collecting the alms in Gift Aid envelopes, some doing so at the festive board as it can be easier for brethren to fill in the form. In short, brethren, this works very well. Please read the Winter edition of Concord which looks at planning for the next Festival.
TEDDIES FOR LOVING CARE
W Bro Mel Shah is doing an amazing job in promoting and administering the TLC program for the Province. Every main Centre in the province has TLC pins for sale and I would urge everyone to wear their Teddy with pride. If you would like to know more about TLC and how you could help please let either Mel or myself know.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE MASONIC CENTENARY FUND (B.M.C.F.)
I am delighted to report that since January 14, the BMCF has donated over £70,000 to various local Charities in the name of Buckinghamshire Freemasons, something we should all be very proud of. Please remember if your Lodge is looking to raise funds to purchase equipment for a local cause or charity please talk to me as we may be able to assist you.
CHARITY REPORTS IN LODGE
Brethren, the Charity Steward’s Report in open Lodge is a great way to ensure that your members know what is going on in the name of charity, not only in your Lodge but in the Province. Please ensure, if possible, that this is put on as an agenda item on the summons. As our PGM said at the Provincial meeting, this year is not about asking for money but trying to ensure that every brother has more of an understanding of the charitable works that are constantly going on in Lodges. Here is an example used at my mother Lodge which may be helpful:
“Brethren, the next 12 months leading up the start of our next Festival are very important, not just for the Lodge but for the Province in general. The Festival will be supporting the Masonic Samaritan Fund which you will get to know very well over the next 6 years. Rest assured it is a fantastic charity and helps many brethren and their dependents in time of need. Our job at the moment is to ensure that our Lodge is in a position to support the Festival from day one and, to do this, I would urge all brethren to take out a direct debit in favour of our relief chest. If we all gave a little and often, we as a Lodge will have done our duty.
“We have our own charity events coming up, a lodge Barbecue and a Quiz Night are organized and dates have been circulated. The charities that our Master is supporting this year are Macmillan Cancer Support and Pace Centre. However, he has agreed one raffle during his year will go towards the Festival through our own Relief Chest. I am sure that you will all support our WM in all is efforts in raising money for these worthy causes.
“There are Teddies for Loving Care pins in the bar area and, again, if you can spare some money to buy a teddy please do so with pride”.
Brethren this is just an example. The phrase “The More you know, the more you will want to support” is one which resonates with many.
Thank you for all your hard work Being a Charity Steward is one of the most rewarding roles in Freemasonry and you should be proud of what you do and be make sure your Lodge and its members are proud of what Freemasonry does is general.
Sincerely and Fraternally
W Bro Graham Dearing
Provincial Grand Charity Steward