Construction is well underway at the new Thames Hospice facility. Watch the video to see how well the progress is going and where our charity donations have gone.
Berkshire Freemasons have given £16,000 to seven charitable organisations and nine care homes across the province to help them during the Covid 19 situation. This is in addition to the money, time and support that individual lodges have given.
This is all possible due to the help from your charities: The Masonic Charitable Foundation and Berkshire Masonic Charity. The MCF, together with UGLE, created a fund of £1 million to support COVID relief throughout England and Wales and the BMC took the decision to use their income to support a variety of COVID related appeals throughout the Province.
In addition to the initial joint effort between the MCF and UGLE, a separate appeal called the Covid 19 Relief Chest was launched in April. The objective of this appeal is to raise a further £2 million; 50% coming from donations from lodges and individuals and 50% from the MCF. As of the first week in June, Freemasons have donated £750,000 which is matched by the MCF to give a fund of £1.5million.
The grants have been used to support a diverse range of charities helping old and vulnerable people throughout Berkshire. This ranges from giving tablets and IT equipment to help families keep in touch with their loved ones in care homes through to cash to support activities helping vulnerable people on the streets of Reading and Windsor. In detail, grants were made to:
Twenty five tablets were given to nine care homes and Thames Hospice. The care homes were throughout our province and range from Lord Harris Court at Sindlesham to Stowford Care home in Abingdon. All the tablets are being used to allow residents to speak with their families and friends as most of the sites do not allow visiting.
Mrs Roxana Brian the admin manager of the Stowford House Care Home in Abingdon. Said: “We appreciate your generosity at this difficult time, we will be able to use one tablet on each floor so that families can see their loved ones on a regular basis. Thanks again, much appreciated.”
ARC is an organisation based in Wokingham that offers confidential counselling services to anyone that might need their services be they young or old, in a warm, comfortable and safe environment in Wokingham. Our donation will help them purchase IT equipment so they can offer a more flexible counselling service to their clients
The Berkshire Community Foundation provide support to charities and organisations throughout Berkshire. A donation from the BMC and the MCF to their special fund has enabled grants and support to be channelled quickly and effectively to the most vulnerable in Berkshire. It was agreed with the BCF that our donation would be applied to those organisations supporting victims of domestic abuse, mental health and vulnerable children where demand during the coronavirus crisis has significantly increased
Christian Action in Windsor – Street Angels Project are a Windsor based voluntary organisation that’s operated in Windsor Town Centre. They provide support and comfort to people on the streets of Windsor. Our donation will help them provide water, flipflops, blankets, soup and, if they want it, a listening ear. Since it started in 2012 the Project has help over 30,000 people and our funds will help more during these difficult times.
Ramgarhia Sabha Reading is a Gurdwara serving the Reading Sikh Community. As part of the Sikh culture, the concept of offering food and shelter free to visitors and the poor and homeless individuals is well established. Whilst the kitchens at their holy shrine in Amritsar may feed over a 100,000 per day, RSR has more local challenges: twice a week, they go out and offer food to the homeless and rough sleepers in Reading. Our donation will help them purchase food and equipment for the next three months. This activity is also supported by Khalsa Lodge in Sindlesham.
The whole situation around PPE and the supply of it care homes and other sites has been very high profile and fraught with controversy. A number of Freemasons have stepped forward to help with this. The members of Priory Lodge and the local Chapter of the Widows Son Motorcycle Lodge stepped up to the plate and formed a team using several of their own personal 3D printers to make and assemble face shields. Since starting work in March, they have supplied over 1,500 pieces of equipment to care homes, local doctors and hospitals, and local prisons. The MCF donation will help provide raw materials for both the printers and the face shields. All the PPE produced by this team is then delivered by motorcycle to the appropriate locations across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
FREEMASONRY IN THE COMMUNITY
Looking back at the contribution Berkshire Freemasons have made across the local community in the past year.
The Provinces of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, together with the MCF, make a meaningful donation to THAMES HOSPICE
In July 2019, Thames Hospice received donations totalling £60,000 from Charities associated with the Provinces of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire and the main masonic Charity, The MCF. This collaborative venture enabled Freemasons to make a significant contribution to help the local communities centred on East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire.
This is the first time a collaborative approach has been tried and, the work put in by the trustees of the Berkshire Masonic Charity and the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund, together with the MCF, has paid off in spades. Quite literally! as seen by John Clark PGM of Buckinghamshire with Debbie Raven CEO of Thames Hospice and Anthony Howlett-Bolton PGM of Berkshire on the construction site of the new hospice wielding a variation on masonic working tools.
Thames Hospice opened in 1987 but is now longer able to keep up with the increasing number of people who need their care and services. As well as the increase in number, the charity is dealing with more complex and challenging medical conditions and, as a result the decision was taken to build a larger facility. In 2017, planning permission was given to construct a new state of the art facility on land donated to the charity near Bray Lake. In patient rooms will increase from 17 to 28 and there will be more dedicated space to treat out patients, provide therapeutic and social activates to support patients.
This new Thames Hospice will open in 2020. The donations will help towards the build of two dedicated rooms in the new £22million hospice currently under construction by Bray Lake near Maidenhead. These two rooms will be quiet areas for reflection and remembering loved ones as well as offering help and advice to families.
After the presentation, ceremony Debbie Raven, gave an outline of how Thames Hospice is developing and some of its future plans. Once the new building is complete, there will be a permanent reminder of the contributions that the Freemasons of the two Provinces have made and she commented:
“I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their generous support towards our new Hospice. The donation comes on top of several others from their Charitable Funds and the incredible support they have given over many years. It will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.”
Together with Debbie, both PGMs acknowledge the cooperation and support given to this collaborative donation by the MCF and the continuing work they do in supporting the Hospice movement in England Wales.
The contributions from the two provinces came via their respective charities. In Berkshire, the Berkshire Masonic Charity, has been established to make donations to individuals and organisations based in the Province. One of its key objectives is to support any charitable trust or organisation that may directly or indirectly benefit all or some of the inhabitants, or visitors to, the Province. To date, it has made donations in excess of £1 million.
In a similar fashion, The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund, which was established in 1991, makes charitable donations to non-masonic organisations that work either within the province and provide benefit to inhabitants of the Province. Since inception, the charity has made donations in excess of £1.5 million to charities within Buckinghamshire.
Thames Hospice has received donations totalling £60,000 from Freemasons based in the Thames Valley. The Provincial Grand Lodges of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire through their respective registered charities, The Berkshire Masonic Charity and The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund, together with the central masonic charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (“the MCF”) have collaborated to enable this significant sum to be donated for the benefit of the community.
Thames Hospice, currently based on Hatch Lane in Windsor, will use the donation to help towards the build of two dedicated rooms in the new £22 million hospice currently under construction by Bray Lake. These will be quiet areas for reflection and remembering loved ones as well as offering help and advice.
Thames Hospice first opened in Windsor in 1987 but is now no longer able to keep up with the increasing number of people who need their care and services. As well as seeing more patients, the charity is also dealing with more complex and challenging medical conditions. In 2017 the Hospice was granted planning permission to build a brand new state-of-the-art facility, increasing inpatient beds from 17 to 28, as well as providing a dedicated space for therapeutic and social activities to support patients. The new hospice will open in summer 2020.
Both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Freemasons have charitable funds they use to support people and charities within their distinct areas. This is the first time they have combined their efforts, together with a contribution from the MCF, specifically to support one organisation.
The MCF is the central charitable arm of Freemasons in England and Wales. It is one of the largest grant giving organisations in the UK and makes donations that not only support freemasons and their families but many other charitable organisations in the UK and overseas as well. In 2018 it continued to support, with significant funds, hospices throughout the UK.
Debbie Raven, Chief Executive Thames Hospice said: “I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their generous support towards our new hospice. This donation comes on top of several others from their Charitable Funds and the incredible support they have given us over many years. It will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.”
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the leader of Berkshire Freemasons said: “Working together with our fellow freemasons in Buckinghamshire and the MCF has allowed us to make a significant contribution to Thames Hospice to help them in the wonderful work they are doing to help families across our counties.”
John Clark, the leader of Buckinghamshire Freemasons said: “The Freemasons of Buckinghamshire are delighted to be part of this joint initiative supporting the essential work performed by Thames Hospice. We look forward to establishing a long term and fruitful relationship with them.”