MARCH 22nd 2024

Suffolk Freemasons set out to beat £1.6m charity record

Freemasons across Suffolk have started raising money for charity as part of their 2029 Festival – hoping to beat the £1,585,649 raised in their previous festival. Starting this year, members of Suffolk’s 69 Masonic Lodges are being encourage to raise funds for – and donate directly to – the Festival, with a range of activities already planned, from charity walks in the Gipping Valley to a sponsored Skydive from Beccles airfield.

Provincial Grand Master Jolyon Berry has already signed up to personally take part in a charity skydive, and in encouraging his fellow Masons to think big when it comes to fundraising: “With over £1.6m raised in 2019, we’ve got a tough record to beat” said Jolyon, “but I know Suffolk are up to the challenge: we’ve got five years in which to raise funds, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with to surpass 2019”.

Charitable donations from Freemasons in Suffolk are used to offer grants and funding for a range of charitable causes, including scores of well-known Suffolk Charities. In the past few years these have included the Ipswich Community Playbus, Suffolk Mind, St Elizabeth Hospice, the Porch Project and many more. In total, Suffolk Freemasons gave over £150,000  to Suffolk Charities last year. Each recipient is nominated by Suffolk Freemasons as a cause close to their hearts, and has also included national charities such as Help for Heroes and Cancer Research UK.

The festival is already off to a strong start: in the first 12 weeks of the year £524,650 was pledged, and revealed at a Launch Ceremony at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on 22 March. As part of the ceremony, a Festival Torch was lit: having already visited a number of landmarks, including Lands End, John O’Groats and Ness Point in Lowestoft, eventually it will visit all 69 Lodges in Suffolk, urging Masons to take up the challenge and help raise funds for the festival. Jon Neill, Suffolk’s Provincial Charity Steward and Chair of the Festival, said: “Our members are really proud of the charitable aspect of Freemasonry: we’re all urged to practice charity and help others, and this Festival is built on that foundation stone of Masonry. “It’s also a personal challenge for us: we don’t ask strangers to give to a cause, but rather take pride in raising the money ourselves, either from personal giving or by finding different ways to fundraise, from skydiving to fire walking. So if a friend or family member you know is doing something crazy to raise money for our Festival, give them your support and let them know you’re behind them.”

Over 500 Suffolk Freemasons have committed to make regular donations throughout the Festival period, starting from as little as £5 a month, to help reach the goal of over £1.6m raised by 2029.

The Suffolk Masonic Festival 2029 is managed through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the registered charity that coordinates charitable giving from English Freemasonry.