Jurassic coast youth adventure: Fencing, dragon boat racing, abseiling and shooting air rifles were just some of the other activities the youngsters enjoyed during the superbly-organised week of fun and learning.
Kindness and charitable giving are deeply ingrained within the principles of Freemasonry. The organisation provides a support structure that helps members make positive contributions to communities and worthwhile causes through fundraising events or volunteer work.
Individuals can make an important contribution at local, national and global level by giving both their time and money. Thanks to their efforts, Freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £48m to deserving causes in 2018 alone. Freemasons don’t only donate money – over 5 million hours of volunteer work was undertaken by Freemasons in 2018.
OUR CHARITABLE GIVING IN 2022
“Great fun and great of to be part of the local community”
DEPUTY PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemans marshal Solent Walk the Wight event in aid of The Earl of Mountbatten Hospice.
Charity was brought into sharp focus throughout the pandemic as Covid caused widespread difficulties for people, especially the elderly. With many older people forced to isolate and protect themselves from the virus, it inevitably led to loneliness.
While younger people were able to easily adapt to technology in order to stay in touch with family and friends, some senior citizens did not have that capability. A grant from the Province delivered through the Masonic Charitable Foundation to Age Concern Hampshire enabled more than 800 older people to re-join their communities as the pandemic faded.
The £25,000 went to the charity’s Information and Wellbeing project, which gives telephone support, hosts weekly social activities and supports volunteering opportunities. It meant those on their own could access Community Information Volunteers who are based in rural areas and remote villages and provide information about local support services, social groups and trustworthy tradespeople.
The number of older residents in Hampshire is high compared with the national average, with more than 20 per cent aged over 65.
Brogan Rehill, Head of Fundraising and Marketing at Age Concern Hampshire, said: “We’re very grateful to Hampshire and Isle of Freemasons for their generous grant. It will help hundreds of local older people who have experienced very high levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness since they were forced to self-isolate in the pandemic. Our aim is to help them fully re-join the community.”
Jon Whitaker (Left) head of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons and his Charity Steward John Pearson, spent time at Age Concern’s Lockswood Care and Wellbeing Centre in Locks Heath with local ladies Naomi and Mo as they reminisced using memory cards, Theresa Carter (Back Left) Head of Care looks on with Carolyn Warner the Centre’s Manager.
From the earliest days the Province has been closely linked with the military and there are many veterans across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. One charity that cares for forces’ veterans and has two of its specialist homes in Gosport was given a £20,000 grant for funding support staff.
Alabaré was founded in 1991 by Rev John Proctor and his wife Alicia after they befriended and offered a home to a series of people in crisis. They soon realised that the need was far greater than they alone could meet and in partnership with a Christian community founded the charity that helps hundreds of veterans.
One of those who benefited from the charity was Royal Navy veteran Tim Battersby who saw service in three theatres of war and after losing his wife to Covid subsequently lost his home. Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and having suffered from septicaemia, Tim was referred to Alabaré. Staff helped him put his life back together and guided him through the difficulties and bureaucracy that left him homeless.
Jon Whitaker visited one of the homes with John Pearson, the Province’s Charity Steward. They met Tim and other veterans.
Jon said: “It’s absolutely a vocation. I found it very easy to chat to the veterans. They are so honest.”
The Province’s charity lead John Pearson (right) meets and shares a cuppa with Tim, a Royal Navy veteran who saw active service during the Falklands War, Bosnia and the first Gulf War.
PTSD and later difficulties with physical ill health and the unfortunate loss of his home led to falling on hard times and homelessness. Tom admits if he had not been helped by Alabaré he would be on the streets and struggling to find accommodation.
Four Portsmouth Freemasons, Graham Lant, his lady Freemason wife Sue, Andrew Coombs and Colin Ratley, launched the South East Area Festive Board to help their fellow members stay in touch during lockdowns.
It also raised money for charities through raffles, making up for funds that would usually be raised at meetings.
Graham’s wife Sue is a member of The Lodge of Duty in the Order of Woman Freemasons and their members were heavily involved from the start. Through Covid, the initiative raised more than £26,000 which was donated to dozens of local charities.
As the pandemic came to an end and lodge meetings resumed, Graham Lant and his team were looking at ways of how they might continue with the initiative.
An opportunity came to work with the Portsmouth News following conversations with the editor, Mark Waldron.
Now named the ‘Community Chest’, the initiative continued to raise money throughout 2022 and News readers sent in nominations of who should receive the donations. A panel including local dignitaries as well as leading Freemasons made the final decisions.
The News’ editor Mark Waldron said: “The partnership started from a conversation with the Freemasons about them helping good causes and charities. Not many people know about the work they do and I thought it was about time we started sharing the information. From there, a partnership with The News was born to use our power to spread the word and let everyone know what is going on.
After Graham, Andrew and Colin were recognised by the Grand Master, the Duke of Kent, for their efforts, along with a number of other members in the Province and across the country, the Provincial Grand Master felt the lady Freemasons ought to be recognised too.
So Sue Lant was presented by Jon Whitaker with a certificate that marked her ‘outstanding contribution to Freemasonry’s role in our nation’s fight against Covid-19, notably for the untiring work alongside members of the Masonic Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight during their incredible fundraising activities for the South East Hampshire Masonic Festive Board’.
The initiative has received the backing of local dignitaries and among those who attended cheque presentations are the Right Honourable Penny Mourdant, MP for Portsmouth North and Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, Dame Caroline Dineage, MP for Gosport, and the Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, Colonel Charles Ackroyd. The next event in October is due to be attended by Suella Braverman QC, MP for Fareham and the Attorney General.
Another partnership with lady Freemasons occurred when they supported the Province’s attendance at the British Motor Show in Farnborough, and made a huge difference in encouraging visitors to approach the stand.
Freemasons have been funding air ambulances since they were first introduced. The Province’s brethren have supported the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, and those in the south-west area have raised money for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.
Leading the fundraising charge for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has been the Widows’ Sons Masonic Bikers Association, Southern Chapter.
Mike Haywood, President of the leather-clad bikers, and Jon Whitaker, visited the operations base at Thruxton airfield to donate a cheque for £13,000. They were joined by Mike Wilks, the previous Provincial Grand Master, who is a noted biker and honorary member of the Widows’ Sons. During the visit the charity’s chief executive officer Richard Corbett said: “It was great to meet some of the Freemasons and Widows’ Sons who have championed the work of our charity for so many years.
(l-r) Richard Corbeet, Mike Wilks, Mike Haywood, Matthew Bennet and Jon Whitaker.
Since entering service in 2007 the the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has received tens of thousands of pounds from the Province’s members and their lodges.
Some of the most vulnerable parents and babies in Southampton will be given intensive support from trained volunteers thanks to a grant from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons to No Limits.
The £59,000 grant will provide funding for the Bright Beginnings project, which trains volunteer befrienders to support young parents, aged 17-24, through pregnancy and until their child is two years old. In addition, as many as 130 vulnerable young parents will be given parenting skills training and ongoing support from the charity’s youth workers.
Bright Beginnings is the only service in Southampton to provide this one-to-one intensive support for vulnerable young parents. Volunteer befrienders will help the young parents overcome challenges such as poor housing, mental health issues and negative relationships.
They will also help them with practical issues such as attending health appointments and going to mother and baby groups.
The volunteers help parent and child grow together within a warm, loving environment, stopping intergenerational cycles of neglect, abuse and violence. The relationship helps build the confidence of the young parents.
The grant from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Natalie Webb, No Limits CEO, said: “We’re grateful to Hampshire Freemasons for their generous grant which is allowing us to expand our support for highly vulnerable young parents.
“We’ve given essential support to almost 50 young parents over the last two years, laying the foundations for a healthy childhood for their babies. Thanks to the Freemasons, we will now be able to help more young parents than ever before.”
Jon Whitaker who heads the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to help No Limits with their hugely important programme to support some of the most vulnerable young parents in the country.
“These young parents have often had difficult childhoods themselves and No Limits offers one-to-one support that gives parents much needed support and empowers them to give their babies a safe, healthy and happy start in life.”
(l-r) Caitlin, one of the young people receiving support from No Limits, Jon Whitaker, head of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons, Denise Ball, Bright Beginnings Project Manager, Harry Holder, Communications and Marketing Officer for No Limits, and John Pearson, charity lead for the Freemasons across Hampshire and IoW.
“We aim to make these young people the
best mums and dads they can be.”
Denise Ball, Bright Beginnings Project Manager