East Kent Provincial 2012 News

The Freemasons' Grand Charity 2012 General Meeting

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The Province was privileged to host The Freemasons’ Grand Charity General Meeting at the International Hotel, Ashford, Kent on Saturday 17th November 2012. As the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VWBro Roger Odd, remarked in his address it was the first time this had happened since the formation of the Province in 1972 and it marked the final build up to the Festival to be held in 2014.

The meeting was chaired by the Vice Grand President, RWBro Iain Ross Bryce, who welcomed all the delegates and distinguished guests including the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Bob Davidson and Cllr Alan Sugden, representing Tenterden Town Council.

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The President of the Grand Charity, VWBro Richard Hone, QC, introduced the business of the day and then called upon the members to approve the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 13th June 2012 at Freemason’s Hall, which they did. The report of the Council meetings held on the 11th July and 17th October, 2012, excluding the non Masonic grants due to be voted on later, were accepted as read.

The Chief Executive, Laura Chapman, was then introduced and explained the Charity’s grant giving activities and policies. Over the years, members had made it clear that they particularly wished to support medical research, youth opportunities, vulnerable people, hospices and air ambulances. Mostly these were provided by national charities but local branches, identified by Provinces, were also supported via the match-funding scheme. To read a complete transcript of Laura Chapman’s address,       click here

Funding for fifteen non-Masonic charities, totalling £490,000, was then approved, followed by others including support for hospices and air ambulances totalling £952,000, making a grand total of £1,442,000.

The President then reported that he had authorised one emergency grant of £15,000, to match a similar amount provided by the Province of West Wales, to relieve suffering from flooding recently suffered at Aberystwyth.

Vice President VWBro Michael Turnbull, the Chairman of the Masonic Relief Grants Committee, then reported upon its work in assisting Brethren and their dependents in financial hardship. The grants to East Kent applicants this year totalled £137,640 from a national total of £4.4 million.

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The first of the guest speakers, Professor Hani Gabra, the Director of the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre from Imperial College London, was introduced and described how The Freemasons’ Grand Charity research funding has enabled his team to produce improved treatments, which are helping women with ovarian cancer to live longer. The Centre has gained international recognition from as far away as Australia and China.

The next speaker was Richard Lynch-White a Trustee of the Canterbury Oast Trust based at Woodchurch near Tenterden. He described its work with young people who have mobility and learning difficulties, the help given to them to become more independent, to provide them with challenges in animal and timber husbandry, and in assisting at the COT restaurant at the Rare Breeds Centre and its cafe in Rye. They now have seventeen homes in Kent and two in East Sussex as well as four houses in New Romney. Helped by funding they have now received, they are proposing to replace the unsatisfactory two story craft centre with a purpose built facility for craft and IT.

A very moving address was given by nineteen year old Holly Meakin (in the unavoidable absence of Bella Fairs), a young ambassador from the Prince’s Trust XL Club, which received funding from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity recently. She described her difficult early life, how she had dropped out of school as a teenager and becoming involved with undesirable associations. Her salvation was her introduction to the Prince’s Trust XL Club and persevering with its six months’ course, thus turning her life round. She is now involved with charity work in both Kent and Essex and has a part time job at a fast food outlet.  At the end of her address she received a standing ovation.

Roger Odd addressed the meeting, in the unavoidable absence of the Provincial Grand Master, highlighting the work undertaken in East Kent in recent years, supported by funding from the Charity, such as fabric repair at Canterbury Cathedral, Leukaemia Research at the University of Kent, Catch 22 and the Kent Air Ambulance. He referred to the donations received in support of the 2013 Chapter Appeal and the 2014 Festival and the encouragement given to the East Kent members to further their efforts to achieve their targets. He looked forward to a successful campaign being reported upon when The Freemasons’ Grand Charity returns to East Kent for the Festival in June 2014.

In his closing statement the Vice Grand President of the Grand Charity referred to the successful relocation of the four Masonic Charities into one area of Freemasons’ Hall and the result of the report on Freemasonry by a non-Masonic Research Group, published earlier in the year. He closed by thanking the Provincial Grand Master for allowing the Charity to come to East Kent and finally thanked the Council and staff of the Grand Charity for their invaluable assistance.

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A buffet lunch had been provided which allowed those present to visit the stands in the meeting room and foyer, staffed by a number of the charities which had been referred to, and on their departure to inspect the East Kent mobile display unit which was parked just outside the hotel.

Full details of the proceedings are available on the Freemasons’ Grand Charity website at: http://www.grandcharity.org/