News

1st April 2021

Freemasons take lead role in NHS Frontline Workers’ Day

Photo shows the team at Howard House in Felixstowe after receiving much needed PPE donated by Suffolk Freemasons

The inaugural celebration of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day is set to take place on 5 July 2021, with Freemasons leading the event. In Suffolk the event is being marked at Masonic Centres across the county who will be raising a flag or banner in support of the NHS and individual Lodges are in addition marking the day with an Afternoon Tea shared with family and friends. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons, is inviting its 200,000 members to fly specially designed flags at 10am on 5 July, to celebrate this unique day dedicated to the NHS, social care and all those that work on the front line, who have saved so many lives during the pandemic. The celebration will also remember those workers we sadly lost.

The UGLE is one of the core supporters of the event alongside the Cadet Forces, English Heritage and the Women’s Institute. A £5 donation from every flag and length of bunting made will be equally divided between NHS Charities Together and the National Care Association. Freemasonry for Women and the Order of Women Freemasons have also joined the UGLE in this initiative, as Freemasons aim to set a record for the number of flags raised simultaneously across the nation. Subsequently, at 11am, Freemasons are planning a moment’s silence to remember NHS workers and all those who died from Covid-19. The day continues with a toast to the NHS at 1pm, raising a cuppa to the NHS during afternoon tea at 3pm, followed by an address to the nation at 6pm. At 8pm, the Freemasons will join the nation in an evening clap for NHS workers, while church bells are set to ring 73 times to celebrate 73 years of the NHS. Closing the celebrations at 9pm, there will be a #timetotoast for all NHS workers.

So far, nearly 37 Lodges and Provinces have made a commitment to the raising of the flag and other elements of the day. In addition, Northumberland Freemason, Nicholas Deakin, is hosting a special live streaming theatre show from the Tyne Theatre & Opera House with compere, comics, singers, reading, video footage and messages of support to raise money on the day. Bruno Peek, pageant master to the Queen and creator of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day, said: “We are delighted that Freemasons, whose members come from all walks of life, are playing such a high profile and active role to start this special day of celebration and commemoration of those within the NHS, Social Care and on the Frontline who undertake so much for us all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and fifty two weeks a year, without any thought of their own safety.”

In addition, Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, and a Consultant in Acute Internal Medicine at Peterborough Hospital, said: “We are facing the greatest global pandemic in living memory, and the NHS has never been so tested in its history. Its staff have been stretched beyond comprehension over the last year and they deserve our gratitude, our applause and all the support we can give. We are encouraging not only our 200,000 members, but the entire population to celebrate the day honouring and remembering the NHS workers with a complete programme of events on 5 July.”

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Freemasons have been supporting the NHS in a great many different ways. They have donated more than £2.5m so far to the Covid effort and complete 18.5 million hours of volunteering to help those in need each year. The donation is being used to help with food, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplements for hospitals and hospices, funds for NHS workers and ambulances. Freemasons have also offered their Lodges as bases to administer the vital vaccinations. In Hertfordshire, for example, Halsey Hall is being used as a vaccination centre, supporting three local GP surgeries. The centre has been operational since 15 January and once fully scaled up, there will be up to 1,000 vaccinations given there each day. Meanwhile, Freemasons are rising to the challenge to provide essential PPE to protect the vulnerable and the NHS. Thousands of visors have already been produced, with several businesses adapting their production lines to meet demand. In Norwich, for example, Colin Breckons has been making face shields with his company’s 3D printers – and giving them away free to the NHS and other key workers.

To find out more about NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day and to register your participation in the event, please visit: www.nhsfrontlineday.org

23rd March 2021

Freemasons rise to Covid-19 challenge with donations totalling £1m and 18 million hours of volunteering

 

 Pictured is a delivery of a Food Box by 'Square Meals' - a service by Suffolk Freemasons offering deliveries of boxes with three days of basic food items to create healthy meals for two people. Assembled by volunteers at the Sudbury Masonic Hall in North Street, the boxes contain food supplied by local businesses, such as butchers, bakers and wholesalers, to provide them with another source of income while trade is low during the public lockdown.

Faced with the greatest global pandemic in living memory, Freemasons came together in 2020 and donated a total of £1m as well as their time to help those in need. The donations were used to help communities in various critical areas, including foodbanks, support for unpaid carers, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women’s refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances and equipment. Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas, where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.At the start of the crisis in April 2020, some Freemasons adapted their businesses’ production lines to produce nearly 5,000 visors for use in healthcare settings. Since then, Freemasons have produced or procured tens of thousands of pieces of additional PPE. Meanwhile, to help protect women and children from domestic abuse, Freemasons donated more than £165,000 in 2020. The donation helped more than 2,000 women during the lockdown, who received more than 1,000 parcels containing essential items for women fleeing domestic abuse.

Freemasons also focused their efforts on hospitals and care homes, donating nearly 1,000 tablets to provide vital contact between coronavirus patients and their loved ones. The tablets were provided to more than 50 hospitals, care homes and hospices. In London, hospitals including The Royal London, Queen Mary's and St Thomas' received approximately 115 tablets; while in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, some 200 tablets were donated. Elsewhere, to support thousands of families struggling during the crisis, Freemasons donated 300,000 meals and 38 tonnes of food to homeless people, women’s refuges and vulnerable people, supporting more than 120,000 people in total. Moreover, £560,000 was donated to provide meals and help numerous foodbanks.

Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), said: “No one in this day and age should have to worry where their next meal is coming from. We are so glad that we were able to provide thousands of families across the UK with a hot meal or food donations to help get them through this current crisis. Freemasons have achieved all of this in just a few months and have also given their time to produce and deliver food to the vulnerable.” The UGLE is also encouraging its members to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to help vaccinate the population. “More than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work were undertaken by Freemasons. Now it is crucial that we help in every way we can to protect the population. If the NHS needs volunteers, then we are happy to emphasise the importance of this to our members,” said Dr Staples.

He continued: “Our response to the Pandemic shows what Freemasonry is all about; supporting those in need, giving back to our communities and volunteering where it can make a real difference.  Freemasons have been doing this for over 300 years and I am proud of the time and commitment that our members have given to support the nation in its fight against Covid-19.”

In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing Covid-19 crisis response. Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners. More than 40,000 homeless individuals are being provided with food and essentials, transport, help with accessing services such as counselling and healthcare, as well as employment and training opportunities.

Further information can be obtained from Livia Ferreira, public relations manager, United Grand Lodge of England. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

March 2021

Medical Detection Dogs delighted to receive support from Suffolk Freemasons

Medical Detection Dogs train dogs to detect the odour of human disease with the aim of developing faster, more efficient and less invasive diagnostics that lead to better patient outcomes. The charity is at the forefront of the research into the fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and bacterial infections. Their Bio Detection Dogs detect the odour of diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and malaria in the charity’s training room, on samples. Their work could help scientists and medics develop faster, cheaper, non-invasive methods of diagnosis that could impact upon thousands of lives. The charity apply what is known about the science of canine olfaction to benefit people by training Medical Alert Assistance Dogs to support individuals with complex health conditions by alerting them when they are about to have a potentially life-threatening medical emergency.

Conditions like diabetes, severe allergies, PoTS and Addison’s disease are among those the dogs can be trained to detect and alert well before their human partner is aware that an episode is about to occur. Medical Detection Dogs take the welfare of their dogs extremely seriously, from the moment they arrive as puppies the charity ensure the highest standards of care. They have a strict no kennel policy and all dogs live in the homes of their staff or fantastic local volunteers where they are loved and cared for as part of the family.

Rick Orme, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward for the Province of Suffolk, said: “I’m delighted that we are able to offer some support to this fantastic charity following the presentation done by Norma Howell at our Almoners’ Conference some time ago. I understand that the charity is also conducting research into whether the detection dogs can assist with the Covid-19 pandemic and we all realise what an impact that has had on everyone, so I wish them continued success and I am delighted to be able to offer some support for their cause.” This grant from Suffolk Freemasons was made up of £2000 donated by Apollo Lodge, £1,500 donated by Provincial Grand Charity and then match funded by the MCF up to the total of £7,000.

For more information about the charity visit www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk