Saturday, 26 November 2016

Advertisements manager required

Following the sad loss recently of WBro Allan Hollick, the Province needs an IT literate Brother with good communication skills, hopefully some relevant experience but certainly the time to devote to managing and promoting advertisements in our Year Book.

Shropshire is proud that through the excellent work which is done to collect and maintain advertisements, our Year Book (unlike those of many other Provinces) is provided free to all members of the Province.

Can you help? Please contact the Provincial Office.

Lewis makes a special night at Round Table

A very special meeting took place at Round Table lodge when WM Shaun Willocks invited WBro Charles Evason to take the Chair to Initiate his elder son Richard. A Freemason who is the son of a Mason is known as a Lewis - in reference to the strong link that such a bond implies.

Richard had taken a gradually increasing interest in where Dad was going to in his dark suit each month, and recently attended a Gentlemens' evening which helped increase that interest. Richard gave a very good response to his Toast, and was welcomed by a good crowd from the lodge as well as some distinguished Visitors - one of who had taught him many years ago at prep. school!

We wish Richard many years of happiness to enjoy his Freemasonry.

Provincial Officers' Dinner

Many of the Brethren who were appointed to Craft and Royal Arch Provincial Rank for the first time in April this year at Harper Adams may not be aware that at the end of each Provincial year, we celebrate and cement the friendships we have made during that year with a dinner which is shared with our wives and partners.

The Provincial Junior Grand Warden and I are anxious that you will miss the opportunity of dining informally with those friends, and so we wish to inform you that the date of the 2016/17 Provincial Officers Dinner will be on Friday 24th March 2017It is anticipated that reception will be at 7.00pm with dinner starting at 7.30pm. Please put this date in your diaries now.

The dinner has been fixed to take place at the Hadley Park House, Hadley Park, Telford, TF1 6QJ. We will be sending out details of the menu with a booking form nearer the date.

In addition, Brethren and Companions, on Saturday 19th November 2016 the PGM/MEGS announced that the Deputy Grand Superintendent, E.Comp John Williamson would be stepping down after 12 years in that office. This dinner would be an ideal opportunity for the Province to show how much we appreciate his enthusiasm, drive, commitment and loyalty to the Province in general and to the Royal Arch in particular.

John Norman, Provincial Senior Grand Warden

Robin Richardson, Provincial Junior Grand Warden

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Who made all the pies???

Getting into the Christmas spirit at Shrewsbury Farmers' Market are some familiar faces - WBro Rodney Stokes of Brownlow Lodge and Bro Stuart Jones of Sabrina with Stuart's sons Charlie and Henry.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

GOLF, GOLF and more GOLF!!!

Come on, you golfers - the Shropshire Masonic Golf Society needs your active participation! Please contact Mike Charles if you are not already on his list, and if you are, please put these dates in your diary and support Shropshire's Masonic golf club! Here is what has been
organised for 2017:

  • SPRING OPEN     12th May     Market Drayton G.C.     This meeting will include the Presentation of the Festival cheque.
  • MATCH v Province of Herefordshire     30th June     Herefordshire G.C.         Some serious bragging rights at stake - book yourself in now!
  • M-FEST MATCH    Monday, 19th June     organised by Mark Ashton of Staffordshire Province. Teams of 12 at King's Norton G.C.
  • TRIANGULAR MATCH  Shrops/Staffs/Cheshire     18th July     the inaugural event for the "Provinces in Brotherhood"     Hawkstone Park
  • MATCH v Province of Worcestershire     10th August      Bromsgrove G.C.     (in 2018 this event will revert to the 2nd Tuesday in August).
  • AUTUMN OPEN     15th September     Ludlow G.C.  
Target price for all events is ~£35 including meal. Please note, Brethren, that the two established inter-Provincial trophies above are currently held by Shropshire - the pride of Shropshire is at stake!

Further details from Mike Charles.

New Chapter appointments announced

At the meeting of Shropshire Installed First Principals' Chapter 6262, three very significant appointments were announced. These will take effect on April 1st, 2017 at the Convocation of Shropshire Provincial Grand Chapter.

E Comp Dave Kettle (top left) will replace E Comp John Williamson as Deputy Grand Superintendent. Dave is well known to everyone in the Province and well beyond as Provincial Secretary/Scribe Ezra, so needs no further introduction. John Williamson is to step down after more than a decade of excellent service to the Holy Royal Arch, and MEGS Peter Taylor spoke in glowing terms of his contribution to the Order.

Peter Taylor also announced the Second and Third Grand Principals for the Province - H is to be E Comp Mike Parry (right), and J E Comp John Hollick (left).

Keith's Fourth Thursday Irregulars

WBro Keith Arscott welcomes any Brother to the next Irregular meeting of this enjoyable Oswestry get-together which follows Cae Glas L of I.

This month's meeting is not at the Simla Restaurant but in Freemasons Hall, Roft Street, Oswestry at 2030h. This meeting features a Fish Supper (Fish, chips, peas and bread roll) for £7. Advance booking not necessary if you are at the L of I - if arriving later contact Keith for details.

Non-Masonic guests all welcome, provided they are accompanied by a 'member'.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Remembrance Sunday

In memory of those who laid down their lives, 19 Freemasons representing the Province processed to St Chad's in Shrewsbury, with VWBro Roger Pemberton leading. Elsewhere, many other Brethren paid their respects at a host of similar events.

At Crewe Street the well established service by the restored war memorial outside Freemasons Hall attracted an audience of over 100 people, including relatives of some of the 72 men remembered on the memorial and representatives of the Royal British Legion, in addition, naturally, to many Freemasons.

WBro Rev Phil Niblock led the service, referring to the great loss of life in 1916 and likening it to the falling of millions of leaves. Wreathes were laid, including one by the Provincial Grand Master Peter Taylor, prayers were said and a hymn was sung as well as the National Anthem.

Afterwards refreshments were served inside the building. Thanks are due to the many who look after the memorial and plan the service each year - a group led by WBro David "117" Griffiths, assisted by Shaun Willocks, Garry Breakwell and many more, including their ladies.

Lest we forget...

A poem for Remembrance Sunday, by WBro Clive Jones:

Our fallen Brethren

Those names on the cross or the plaque that you see,
Are the names of the Brethren who died for you, and me.

We wear a poppy to remember them well,
these men who were boys that fatally fell.

As they fall from the sky, those poppies so red
With tears in our eyes, we honour the dead.

                                                     A two minutes silence is all we give
in remembrance, honour and praise.
For those lives that were lost on those worst of days.

                                                      In Flanders, poppies grow that way,
 fed by the blood of the fallen that day.
They fell side by side and alongside each other
Our brave soldiers, our masonic brothers.
 No aprons put on, no hand in a glove
our Brethren, admitted to the Grand Lodge above.

                                                                        Lest we forget.

We will remember them, are the lines we all say,
For those who never returned on those fatal of days.

   As the guns fall silent on the 11th hour, of the 11th day in November.
  It is now on this day 
we will always remember.

Fair warning...

The Province of Shropshire is holding a Christmas Fair on Saturday, 3rd December in the afternoon - from 2 to 6 p.m. - at the Masonic Hall, Crewe Street, Shrewsbury. Any money raised will go towards the 2019 Festival.

Highlights will include a visit by Father Christmas, stalls, games, refreshments, music from the Shrewsbury Brass Band and Prestfelde School Choir. There will be a Fancy Dress competition for children (up to the age of 10) who attend, to be judged at 4 p.m..

Children under the age of 10 are most welcome free of charge, but should be accompanied by an adult. Tickets (£1) and further details are available from Graham Watson of Pengwerne Lodge. His email contact details will be on this page soon - till then, please contact the blogmaster.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

St Milburga approaching milestone

An Initiation Ceremony at St Milburga 1120 shows the lodge to be in good heart with its 150th anniversary meeting just one month away.

The Initiate is Bro. Paul Matthews, who owns a double glazing business. Paul was proposed into Freemasonry by Bro Sunny Patel. His wife's cousin Matt Butts of Idsall Lodge 7133 was also on hand to see him join the Craft. The Ceremony was carried out (in the absence of the WM) by IPM Bob Jenkins.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Another Shropshire Lodge?

Dear Brethren,

Having participated in the formation of The Iron Bridge Lodge No 9897, which was consecrated by our RW Provincial Grand Master on the 24th January 2015 and therefore joined this wonderful Province of Shropshire and buoyed by the experience and positive impact that its formation has had on both the Province and me personally, I would like to explore the potential of forming another new Lodge within the Province of Shropshire.

My wish is that the proposed new Lodge be made up of current and past members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. My working Title is “The United Services Lodge”. I have spoken to a number of Brethren very informally over the past months and have been encouraged by the apparent appetite for this idea.

Before I can seek the views and support of the RW Provincial Grand Master, I need to be confident and able to demonstrate that there is sufficient support from Brethren of this Province and potentially neighbouring Provinces to make the formation both viable and sustainable.

This letter is the start of the process, by asking for an indication from the brethren, if they would be interested in pursuing this idea further. At this point in the journey, we cannot solicit the assistance of the RW Provincial Grand Master or the Province, as we have to be able to exhibit a desire and commitment of sufficient brethren, to be in a position to make a petition to the RW Provincial Grand Master and seek his patronage for the formation of a new Lodge in the Province of Shropshire. I am not, at this stage seeking firm commitment from anyone, as there is a great deal of discussion, consideration, negotiation and procedures to follow if this is to be successfully achieved. If you have a genuine interest in pursuing the formation of a Lodge based on the criteria outlined and are currently or have been a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, I would be delighted to hear from you. You can e mail me or contact me directly and I would be happy to discuss the proposal with any brother or listen to any ideas or suggestions that will assist the process.

Yours sincerely and fraternally


Dear Brethren,

[Following much indication of interest]I have therefore arranged for an inaugural meeting to be held at the Masonic Hall, Crewe Street, on Friday 16th December 2016 at 7.00pm.

I intend to formulate an agenda in time to be circulated and would welcome any items that you feel need to be included, before this is undertaken.

Having participated in the formation of The Iron Bridge Lodge No 9897, which was consecrated by our RW Provincial Grand Master on the 24th January 2015 I am confident from the feedback I have received that this is a real opportunity to form a new Lodge with a Military bias that will add to the lustre of the Masonic Province of Shropshire.

As I indicated previously, my wish is that the proposed new Lodge be made up of current and past members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. My working Title remains “The United Services Lodge”.

I am now confident that there is sufficient support from Brethren of this Province and potentially neighbouring Provinces to make the formation both viable and sustainable. I would appreciate if you could circulate this information to others who may be interested in the formation of the Lodge and ask them to drop me an e mail confirming their interest, so that I have a contact record for further communications.

We are still at the point in the journey that we cannot solicit the assistance of the RW Provincial Grand Master or the Province, as we have to be able to exhibit a desire and commitment of sufficient brethren, to be in a position to make a petition to the RW Provincial Grand Master and seek his patronage for the formation of a new Lodge in the Province of Shropshire.

This meeting will be the first and crucial stage of the journey to the formation of the Lodge and your assistance, support, energy and commitment will be vital to a successful outcome.
Please feel free to contact me at your convenience should you wish to discuss any aspect of the process, wish to offer advice or assistance or just to seek clarification.

Yours sincerely and fraternally

Dave (contact details above)

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

St Oswald Lodge 1124 celebrates 150 years

St Oswald Lodge 1124 in Oswestry celebrated its 150th anniversary in November. This historic occasion was marked by a meeting in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master and Deputy PrGM which included readings and facts from the early days of the Lodge - including its Minutes from 1866 - and especially from the Consecration.

Also mentioned were the laying of Masonic foundation stones at two Oswestry hospitals in 1869 and 1937, te first carried out by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn Bart., Provincial Grand Master for Shropshire and North Wales. WBro Melvin Gough delivered a history of life in Oswestry in 1866, and of the first meeting of the lodge in October of that year.

Brothers Gerrard and Smith presented the 1st Degree Tools, Apron and Charge. Two members who were present at the Centenary meeting in 1966 were also celebrated - WBro Ron Lewis and WBro Mike Hall.

A fine Festive Board ensued, and each Brother present received a commemorative gift of a Firing Glass, by the generosity of WBro John Hemming.

Jenny Evans talks about her experience of MS

Good morning. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to you about MS and to tell you about how you’ve been contributing to the battle to beat it.  You will see that I am largely reading out what I want to say. The reason for this will become apparent shortly.

I remember when I got diagnosed with MS, I knew nothing about it apart from having an image in my head of people in wheelchairs, smiling. If this is the same for you too, then I hope I will enhance this image of MS for you, show you that it’s not all smiles and describe the significant contribution to beating MS you have made.

I’ve found that the more you mention MS, the more people there are who have a relative or friend, or friend of a friend with the condition. After all, there are well over 100,000 people living with MS in the UK.

My father is Gordon Gildener. He’s a Trustee of the Provincial Grand Charity for Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, which, like you, is currently in Festival for the Charitable Foundation.  He has accompanied me here today and, if you don’t already have one of these connections, then that connection with the Craft has brought me to you now.
It takes 2 isolated “events” before a diagnosis, so you can have MS long before you are diagnosed.
My isolated events were triggered with the births of my children in 1999 and 2001 – These were minor symptoms that came and went, tingly fingers that I had put down to carrying babies.  I never imagined these minor symptoms could lead to a diagnosis that would turn my life upside down.

Let me tell you a bit about what MS is….
MS is a neurological condition that affects the brain and spinal cord (in other words, the central nervous system).

In MS, the body’s immune system turns against itself,  so, instead of fighting off infection (which is what it’s supposed to do), it starts attacking the myelin coating surrounding the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord.
One way to understand what is happening in MS is to think of the nervous system as the electrical circuit in your home, where your brain and spinal cord are the power sources – the mains electricity. The different parts of your body are all the things that need electricity to work, such as the lights, TV, computer and appliances.
If the insulation on the wiring becomes damaged then the appliances may not work properly. There might be interference on the telly, the lights might flicker on and off or an appliance might not switch on. This is what is happening in MS and it depends on which bit of the brain or spinal cord is affected as to how it affects a function of your body.

Common symptoms include:
 Problems with walking – this is the most visible symptom and the only symptom I was aware of prior to my diagnosis, o The fact that I’m now in a wheelchair makes it pretty obvious that there’s something wrong with me. Not everyone has such a visible symptom and it’s the invisible symptoms that can often make it difficult for other people to understand. Some people’s symptoms also come and go and if that’s the case, somebody might have very little empathy with them when they see them on a good day.

 Fatigue   I have to be disciplined about how busy I am during the day, because, with MS, the fatigue can wipe you out.  If I overdo it, I won’t be able to get to the car and then get into it for picking up my children from school, which is an absolute must. Overdoing it might have involved the crazy day of doing the washing and cooking a main meal. Tomorrow, following this, I will be exhausted. If you catch me sitting down and doing nothing some might call me lazy!

 Loss of muscle strength and dexterity.   o I have become quite clumsy, have a tendency to drop things, and once on the floor, things tend to stay there until someone retrieves them for me. o Filling out a long application form can take a few days, as after a short time I can no longer write. Typing is the same, but I can usually manage longer. o I can no longer play the piano, which I love because I can’t move my fingers quick enough to hit the notes.

 Problems with memory and thinking  o This affects the speed and ease with which someone can process information. It doesn’t make me any less intelligent than I was, but it’s why I have to talk pretty closely to a script. If I didn’t do this, I might have started a sentence and lost my train of thought by the end of it. Believe me, it’s true, I tried when I was preparing this!
I shan’t go into any more, but there are lots of other possible symptoms, which include:
o Poor balance and co-ordination  o Dizziness and vertigo o Visual problems. With MS, you can get optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve, which can result in reduced vision of varying severity, eye pain and impaired colour vision  o Uncontrollable pain o Problems with sexual function o Bladder and bowel problems o Difficulties with speech and swallowing o …and there are more

MS is a very individual condition however, and no 2 people are affected in exactly the same way. The symptoms someone has, as I explained earlier, will depend on which parts of their brain and spinal cord are affected.

What causes MS?
The short answer is that we still don’t know,
but there appear to be a number of factors that in some combination can increase the risk:
 Genetic factors –  o MS is not directly inherited like some other conditions, but there does appear to be a genetic element to it. Researchers have identified a number of genes linked to MS, in fact over 100. o In the UK, around one person in every 600 gets MS and having a member of your family with MS does increase the chance of you getting it. o If a parent has MS, there’s about a 1.5 per cent chance of getting it, so 1 in 67. o If a brother or sister has MS, it’s about a 2.7 per cent Chance, so 1 in 37 o If an identical twin has MS, it’s about 18 per cent, so a 1 in 5 chance. But their biological make up is exactly the same, so it can’t just be genes.  Environmental factors – MS is more common in areas that are furthest away from the equator, which suggests there is something in the environment that plays a role. Scotland is often talked of as being the MS capital of the world and yet not all eskimos have MS.  There is a lot of talk at the moment of the role of vitamin d, the sunshine vitamin. A growing body of research suggests that low levels of vitamin d, particularly during childhood or before birth, may be a factor that affects someone’s risk of developing MS.  Viruses. Researchers have looked at whether viruses or bacteria may be a factor in developing MS and there is growing evidence that a common childhood virus, such as the Epstein Barr virus (which can cause glandular fever) may act as a trigger.  Smoking – A number of studies have looked at smoking in relation to MS, and have found that smoking appears to increase someone’s risk of developing MS. It is not yet clear exactly why this is and there is more that we need to know about the link.

 Or perhaps it is something else that we haven’t discovered yet.
Are there different types of MS?
While everyone’s MS is different, there tend to be common patterns of disease course and MS has been categorised into 3 types:

Relapse Remitting MS
People with RRMS have attacks of symptoms that occur for a period of time and then improve. Some people have very few attacks, others have them regularly.  About 65% of PwMS fall into this category.
Some of the symptoms can go away completely and sometimes there is some residual damage.
During a period without an attack, someone with RRMS might appear like there is nothing wrong with them. This can be knocked on the head at any time when they get an attack without warning.
Until recently, the ability to reduce these relapse rates has been the focus of much attention and you have played a part in this which I will come back to shortly.

Primary Progressive MS
People with PPMS don’t have any distinct attacks or remissions. There are fewer people with PPMS, about 10-15%, but their MS progresses from the start. People with PPMS tend to be the worst affected and progression the fastest.
Secondary Progressive MS
Many people with RRMS tend to go on to have SPMS, where they then have progressive deterioration. This is me.
Is it contagious?
Is there a cure?

No,… but there are different things out there to manage it, such as drugs intended to reduce relapse rates for people suffering from Relapse Remitting MS.
Until recently there has been nothing to slow, stop or even reverse progression and this has become a focus of funding with the MS Society and includes global collaboration to try and speed up the process of finding some answers. I’ll tell you more about that shortly too.
In the meantime, a lot now is down to the individual taking an active role in how they manage their MS through:
Stress management
Complimentary therapies, such as acupuncture, meditation and yoga to name but a few. There is no proven antidote, but many people find something that helps.

So, this is MS. Let me tell you more about mine.
I got my formal diagnosis in 2002, at the age of 30.
My MS very quickly turned to secondary progressive MS, which means that you then experience a permanent decline. This can be rapid for some people, slower for others, and there is no way to predict how yours will go.
Over the last 14 years I and those around me have experienced a slow and steady progression of my disabilities. These slowly nibble away at your life.  You are constantly adapting and adjusting to the change in your situation as well as having to deal with the changes emotionally.  It has been painful for all to see and experience, and relentless.

I’ve gone from being a very active, young and independent lady to someone who has to rely on others. I try to do as much as I can myself but I have now learned to ask for help.
So, how does it affect me?
 I wobble around precariously using 2 walking sticks, although I am now doing this less and less …but I can still walk. … Bear with me with this point…. I wrote up to here in April 2014. I have now had to buy a walker just to give me a bit more stability on my wobbly days… I added this in late spring 2014…. Back in October 2014, when I gave a talk at The Charities Information Day of the Provincial Grand Charity of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, I added that I didn’t have the confidence to walk using 2 sticks anymore. Then in March 2015 when I gave a talk to the Masonic Samaritan Fund in London, I said that I didn’t really have the confidence to use my walker either and now, 18 months on, I am pretty reliant on my wheelchair. My point is that I want to show you how the status quo can constantly shift with MS.  So I’m a wheelchair user…but it allows me to go further afield and therefore gives me some degree of freedom. I’ve bought a scooter as well and this allows me more independence, as I don’t need anyone to push me, especially my children.  My body suffers from the reduced mobility that MS causes…but I have regular private physiotherapy to keep me as agile as possible  I’ve had to adapt my car as I can no longer use the pedals…but I can still drive. And that’s fine, as long as I can get in it, but that’s my current mobility problem which I find very stressful.
 All these challenges (well, most of them anyway) have been overcome by spending money and I am fortunate enough to have been able to do them. Others may not be so lucky…
 I’ve lost my husband  o Spending money can’t change this.  o MS doesn’t just affect the individual with MS. It affects all those around you and it becomes too much for some. Statistics suggest a gender imbalance when it comes to how likely it is that your partner will stay. A study (published by Dr Marc Chamberlain) showed that women in the study were 7 times more likely to become separated or divorced as men with similar health problems. I am now one of the statistics. Interestingly, I was at an MS Society training day and in the first minute of small talk at my table, we ladies had established that all our husbands or partners had left us.
… I feel strongly that the pressures of living with MS get overlooked and I want to make you aware that this is not just about the individual, but about the whole family unit.

What else?
 Whilst I can still drive, I’m unable to get a wheelchair in or out of a car on my own, so I’ve lost my freedom…but I still have my friends and family who don’t see it as a burden to help me. Some people don’t have this support network, so they are completely stranded.  The fatigue that MS causes affects the amount of energy I have to live my life. I was ready to throw in the towel…but I have spent hours researching diet and its effects on MS and my energy levels are now considerably restored.   Isolation – if you can’t easily get out and about, your opportunities to meet people and socialise become limited. You rely on old friendships and contacts, and when these dwindle away, which they inevitably do over time, you are left with very little. My friends have rallied round and supported me since my husband left me and I feel blessed, although I have still lost many opportunities to leave the house – to work, join clubs, go away independently.
I don’t want you to think that my life is all doom and gloom. I’m a fighter and, as you can hear, I‘ve done many positive things to enhance my life and, I believe, to slow the progression down.  But I wanted you to be aware of how it is (and much worse) for many others, who are less able to help themselves and speak for themselves.

I see MS as the enemy and I am fighting a constant battle, like so many other people with MS. If you are not a strong person, MS will defeat you.
Now onto more positive things.
I want to tell you about the huge contribution you have made over recent years in the battle to beat MS.
Between 2004 and 2008, a total of £120,000 was provided by you to fund the salary of an Information Officer with the MS Trust to support their enquiry service. They answer questions about MS and life with the condition. They also support health professionals and anyone else who’d like more information about MS.
The Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair was set up in 2005 with a £1.6 million grant from the MS Society. Its aim was to develop therapies that promote myelin repair in people with MS (so that’s repairing the insulation in the faulty wiring, to go back to the analogy I used at the beginning).  Its aim is to halt MS progression and even cure the damage.
Based on the success of its first stage, the MS Society committed a further £2.1 million to the Centre in 2011 for an additional five years. The grand Lodge partly funded this. The Centre’s plan was to work collaboratively with world leading experts in MS to continue this groundbreaking research. The next stage of work would:
 build on the recent advances in myelin repair research, so it’s possible to identify more potential MS treatments in the future   do pre-clinical research to translate their laboratory findings into a clinical trial for people with MS   eventually run a small-scale clinical trial to test the safety of this treatment in a small number of people with MS.
This stage of the research started in April 2011 and finishes this year.
Now the MS Society has committed a further £1.6m over the next four years. Its focus will be on understanding more about the cells capable of repairing myelin and the impact ageing and lifestyle factors (such as diet and exercise) can have on these cells.

In 2010, a £100,000 grant from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity supported the successful development of the first line treatment drug Alemtuzumab by Dr Alasdair Coles at the University of Cambridge. This drug is aimed at people in the earlier stages of MS and reduces the relapse rate significantly. I was keen to go on a trial for Alemtuzumab but my MS was too far down the line to allow me to qualify. The drug is now licensed in Europe, Canada and Australia. In the UK, NICE (which stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) decides what drugs and treatments are available on the NHS. After turning the drug down in December 2013 and much subsequent campaigning by the MS charities, it reversed its decision in April 2014. Alemtuzumab became available for neurologists to prescribe in October of that year.
In 2013, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund both dedicated £50,000 (so £100,000 in total) towards ground-breaking medical research at The University of Cambridge. Led again by Dr Alasdair Coles, the study is a Phase 1 trial investigating the safety and tolerability of the drug bexarotene, which targets a specific molecule (RXR-gamma) that can encourage the brain’s own stem cells to regenerate myelin. In other words, it is capable of repairing brain damage. I am very excited about this research as it shows a focus on repairing the damage done. The trial, which is running in conjunction with the Institute of Neurology and the University of Edinburgh is underway.
These donations, whilst huge, form just part of the overall funding required in the process from developing a drug to finally reaching the patient. I know that the MS Society have also funded these projects. The significance of this is that the MS Society takes a favourable stance on projects that have already secured funding from other sources. This means that your contribution played a significant role in securing the full amount.
Researchers believe that we’re still around 15 years away from a potential treatment coming through, but these are positive steps. Just to put this in context however, I remember when I was diagnosed, the consultant told me not to worry, there would be a cure in 10 years’ time. 14 years later, I am still waiting as we all are.

Also in 2013, the Grand Charity made a £40,000 donation spread over two years to the MS Trust to provide specialist information for people who are newly diagnosed with MS. I rate the MS Trust’s publications highly. They are well written, educational and good quality.
Now in 2016, you have contributed to the £30,000 of the Grand Charity’s funding for the MS nurses to attend a conference which brings some of their training up to date.
The MS charities are very much second tier charities, not on a level for example with the Cancer or Heart charities, so this level of funding is huge to them. I thank you for your support and speak  sincerely when I say that research like this makes me excited and hopeful that one day we will beat MS.
On a more local note now, there are also things that can be done that require little or no money, just a bit of time to make a big difference to somebody with MS.
 Just visiting someone to counter the isolation is really important.  There will be plenty of people with MS who can no longer drive…(or in my case, get in the car!...). Helping them to get to appointments or just getting out and about, even if it’s just to a supermarket would be a lifeline for them.  For those MS sufferers who, like my friend, struggle to plan and organise, giving a helping hand to make what should be an everyday job like planning and buying food more manageable could be most welcome.  Providing respite care, even just an odd hour off to give a carer a much needed break would mean so much to some family units. The pressure can get someone close to breaking point. I didn’t recognise that my husband saw himself as a “carer” until it was too late. People can paint a picture that doesn’t represent the truth. I would suggest to not wait until you are asked for help because people are often too proud to ask. Be proactive.

And on that note, I hope I have helped you understand what MS is and how it can affect someone.  I hope I have also shown you what an amazing contribution you are making to the lives of people affected by MS and what small, but significant things can be done at a local level to make life more tolerable.

Speech!! Speeches!!!

All Shropshire Masons who were present at 6262 to hear the two speeches given at the weekend by Laura Chapman and by Jenny Evans were moved by the information and the manner in which it  was given. Here is the text of Laura's speech:

Provincial Grand Master, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for inviting me to join you today. As the final Chief Executive of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity, I have a strong sense of loyalty to it and am delighted to
continue to support it.
My task today is to update you about the excellent work that the Grand Charity has been doing on your behalf as you continue to raise funds for your 2019 Festival and to give you the examples that you can share with your fellow Shropshire Masons of the many, many people and causes that it supports. 
Before I talk about the Grand Charity and your Festival in detail, I would like to say a few words about the recent changes to the Charities based at Freemasons’ Hall.  As I am sure you now know, on the 1st April the Grand Charity joined together with the three other central Masonic Charities under the new Masonic Charitable Foundation.
This was a decision that followed many years of debate and hard work.  The single new organisation will offer improved efficiency and make it much easier for Masons and their families to obtain the help that they need.  Each of the former Masonic charities, however, continues as a separate legal entity and any donations made to it will only be used for the activities that it historically supported.  Donations to your 2019 Festival Appeal will only ever be used to support the causes --Masonic and non-Masonic – that were supported by the Grand Charity—grants to Masons and their dependants who find themselves in unexpected financial distress and charities serving the wider community providing services that the Craft believes to be important and would wish its central charity to support. The only difference is that these grants will be made by the Masonic Charitable Foundation.  The impact that the grants  have and the great difference that they make to the lives of thousands of people each year will not change and you, through the 2019 Festival, will be making that happen. 
You will, no doubt, be hearing about the Masonic Charitable Foundation—the new Communications team there is doing its very best to make sure that you do with fancy new branding and colourful materials promoting the Foundation.  The work of the Grand Charity is very much at the heart of this new charity; the MCF has committed to continue to support the Grand Charity’s charitable activities and your donations to the Grand Charity are essential to make this happen.  
Your 2019 Festival is about to enter its third year and on behalf of our staff and beneficiaries I want to say a huge thank you for your generosity thus far. The Grand Charity is now part of the new charity, but you can rest assured that the funds you donate through your Appeal will be ring-fenced and only spent in line with the Grand Charity’s charitable objects.
I am aware there have been some concerns raised that, following the consolidation of the four charities, you will no longer receive the same level of support for your fundraising activities.  Nothing could be further from the truth and we will, I assure you, continue to offer you the same level as before. Hopefully, it will be better support as we will be able to pool the knowledge and experience of the four charities into one team. As always, we are happy to make presentations and provide materials to assist with fundraising for your Appeal.
I’d like to take a few minutes to remind you about the charitable help that the Grand Charity gives to Freemasons and their families in financial need and to charities serving the wider community. Members of the Craft will debate which of these two is the first priority, but all agree that both are vitally important.
Let’s look first at the support for Freemasons and their dependants.  Every year the Grand Charity awards around 1,000 grants. Some of these grants support individuals, but many help whole families to overcome financial hardship.
Last year the Grand Charity helped Freemasons and their families with a total of £2.2 million in financial grants.  In Shropshire, the Grand Charity has awarded around 50 grants during the past five years.  That’s around 1.5 grants per Lodge – three times the national average of 0.5 grants per Lodge.  Since 2011 Shropshire Freemasons and their families have received approximately £150,000 in grants from the Grand Charity.
Every year people continue to come to us for help because something has happened in their lives which dramatically changes their circumstances for the worse – such as a health problem that has stopped them from working, a redundancy or loss of employment, or, of course, the loss of a partner and subsequent financial problems.
Many of the Grand Charity grants are made to widows; elderly women who are struggling to get by on modest incomes, notwithstanding the government’s commitment to protect pensioners.  Our support means that these women, the much loved partners of Freemasons, have the chance to make modest improvements to their living conditions.
Often a grant may be only a couple of thousand pounds a year or less. This may not sound like much, especially when spread over a whole year, but from week-to-week these grants mean that an elderly lady who lives alone in a draughty house that she has lived in and loved for 40 years could have an extra £20 or £30 a week to help make ends meet or have a slightly better quality of life. 
It’s a little bit of extra money that means she can heat the house adequately, pay the bills and retain her friendships which would otherwise slip away.  The quality of her life would be dramatically reduced if she were forced to move to a location she does not know, where she could suffer the worst of the social exclusion and loneliness that can haunt elderly, frail people.
It is not, however, always older women that we help. Take the story of Louise, for example. Louise and her husband Geoff had been happily married for several years and were raising three young children when Geoff unexpectedly passed away in 2009. Louise began to find it very difficult to support her family on a severely reduced income and although her parents helped as much as they could with child care, they were unable to support the family financially.
It won’t surprise you to hear that Geoff had never talked much about Freemasonry with his wife and – at the time of his death – Louise had absolutely no idea about the support that was available for the family of a Freemason.
Thankfully, Louise received a visit from Geoff’s Lodge Almoner soon after his death. The Almoner could see that she was struggling both emotionally and financially and he suggested that the Grand Charity might be able to help. Louise applied for a grant and much to her relief she received the extra financial help soon after.
Another Mason that the Grand Charity has supported is John.  John had been a self-employed builder for 20 years and had always been able to work until he suffered a back injury and was off work for six months. He applied for Employment and Support Allowance from the DWP and Council Tax Benefit from the Council but it just wasn’t enough to manage his household bills. John remembered a presentation he had seen about the Masonic Charities at a Lodge meeting and contacted his Lodge Almoner to see if he might be helped. An application was submitted, and the Grand Charity was able to help him financially until he returned to work. 
The Grand Charity also supports those who have had much more traumatic and destructive experiences.  Those who have endured failed businesses, redundancy, tragic accidents – unexpected events which can turn people’s lives totally upside down. In these situations, people often need financial help immediately to see them through the crisis, until they are able to get their life back onto a sustainable, self-supporting basis.  There are some really heart wrenching cases where a number of family members have serious medical conditions or where a husband commits suicide when he can no longer face mounting debts which he has tried to keep from his family. 
Your generous donations help all of these people, who have encountered tragedies and unexpected financial hardship in their lives.  So the first and perhaps most fundamental reason for Shropshire Freemasons and their families to keep fundraising and donating to the Grand Charity over the next three years is to maintain this vital support of the Masonic community.
Now, another major reason to donate to the Shropshire Festival is that the Grand Charity makes grants on behalf of all Freemasons to charities serving the wider community for causes supported by the Craft.
With these grants, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity seeks to:
·                make a significant difference to people in real need
·                support issues that Freemasons and their families are concerned about and will be glad to help and
·                achieve a long-term impact

Since the Grand Charity was formed, it has donated over
£100 million to national charities on behalf of Freemasons.  In 2015, £4.8m million was given to national charities in support of:

  • Medical research
  • Support for vulnerable people
  • Youth opportunities
  • Hospice services
  • Air ambulance services and
  • Worldwide disaster relief

Grants range from a few hundred pounds for smaller and newly established charities to as much as £1 million for exceptional grants like the Charity’s long-term support for research into ovarian cancer.
Let me mention the work of just three charities which have received grants from the Grand Charity and the difference that this support has made to the lives of their beneficiaries. 

I must begin by telling you about our support for people with MS—after hearing from Jenny, you can have no doubt whatsoever that MS is a terrible, destructive disease and the impact that it has on the life of an active, independent and engaged person is catastrophic.  Although Jenny has described how the disease slowly and steadily makes it harder and harder for someone with MS to carry on with a normal life, what she hasn’t said is that she is the role model extraordinaire of someone who refuses to give in, who shows enormous strength and courage to keep going despite all odds, never complaining and dealing in a very British way, with whatever cards life has dealt you. 
As Jenny has said, we don’t know the cause of MS yet, although there are lots of theories about possible contributing factors, there is no cure for MS and, until very recently, there were few, if any, medical interventions available to slow the rate of progression of the disease.  As a person with MS, you were consigned to a wheelchair, with the assumption that you would more or less withdraw and wait for the end.  Since the 1990’s, however, there has been a dramatic increase in research to slow the progression of the disease and in efforts to provide those who have it with much better information to help them to cope and to remain as active as possible, for as long as possible. 

One of the most exciting developments in the last decade has been the introduction of new drugs that slow the progression of MS and even repair nerve damage that has already occurred.  The Grand Charity is very proud to have contributed £150,000 to two projects, both at the University of Cambridge, developing two of these disease modifying drugs, alemtuzumab and bexarotene.  Although very sadly, Jenny’s MS was too far progressed for her to benefit from disease modifying drugs, they are already having a tremendous impact on slowing the progression of MS for many, many other people and have tremendous potential for future use. The Grand Charity has also funded projects to provide people with MS with better information and better access to trained and knowledgeable health professionals. With the pressures on NHS budgets, there is no NHS funded in-service training for the nurses and therapists who are responsible for much of the care of people with MS or for information to be given to patients.  The Grand Charity has provided grants of nearly £200,000 since 2004 to fund projects in these two areas of need. 
From all of this, the point that I ask you please to remember is that it is only because of the generous donations made by you and other members of the Craft, through your Festival appeals, that it is possible for the Grand Charity to have made these grants.  Having heard from Jenny what the reality of the impact of MS has been on her life, you can have no doubt of the importance of the support you’ve given and the difference that you are making for many, many people.
Another example of a grant which has the potential to improve dramatically the quality of life and independence for many people is the one for £65,000 to INSPIRE Foundation which funds research for those who have had spinal cord injuries.
The project will be led by research scientist Sean Doherty who broke his neck in a mountain bike accident in 2008. Sean and his team hope to develop wearable stimulation devices to control bladder and bowel as an alternative to pharmaceutical therapies. While the inability to walk is often considered the most challenging consequence of spinal cord injury, the loss of control of bladder and bowel is often the most difficult to manage and can have a persistent and detrimental effect on health, welfare and quality of life.
Sean said: “Following my injury, I was just keen to get on with what I had been doing before it happened. I wanted to be an inventor when I was young; all inventors are trying to solve problems. I think having my injury has directed that ambition towards problems I have experienced since.”
The funding we have provided will guarantee the project can continue to full term and Sean can continue to research solutions to the problems that he and other people with spinal cord injuries face.
We’ve also supported vulnerable adults through our grant to the charity FareShare, which provides nutritious meals for those who are homeless or unable to afford basic food items.
Our grant of £60,000 has enabled Fareshare to distribute surplus food to vulnerable people in need in the West Midlands. 
The three-year grant will part-fund a warehouse manager at the depot and will also help towards the cost of the charity’s refrigerated vans which are vital for the distribution of the food.
A local Freemason who presented the grant to Fareshare told us:
“My visit to the depot was a real eye-opener.  I had no idea just how much perfectly good food would be wasted were it not for FareShare. The quantities they receive are amazing and the efficiency with which the staff and volunteers move the food on to those who are in need is a remarkable operation. They thoroughly deserve the funding they receive and a great deal of credit for the service they are providing to those most in need in society.”
This grant is perhaps one of the best examples of our support making an immediate impact to some very vulnerable people.
These grants are all made in response to applications received from the charities themselves and they are all assessed on their own merits.  But there are some causes that we have come to support year-in, year-out.
And one of these is hospice services.
Each year grants are available for all hospice services in England and Wales that receive less than 60% of their income from the National Health Service. Hospice grants are awarded for running costs only and no contributions are made to capital appeals – this means the money goes directly to caring.
Over the past 30 years, millions of pounds have been donated to these services and last year, £600,000 was distributed amongst hospices throughout England and Wales, including several in Shropshire.
The Grand Charity is also extremely proud of its support for Air Ambulances, a cause very popular with the Craft.  In 2007, the Charity decided to provide every Province with a donation for their local air ambulance service. These services are not government funded; most rely on donations to operate and they save thousands of lives each year by getting doctors to patients in emergency situations as quickly as possible.
Since then I am happy to report that £1.7 million has been given in total, and every air ambulance charity in England and Wales has received funding.  This includes the £190,000 awarded just last year.  And I’m delighted that the Province of Shropshire has been able to present donations to Midlands Air Ambulance on behalf of the Grand Charity over the years.
In addition to our longer-term grant programmes, the Grand Charity also seeks to respond when disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding occur throughout the world.  Such events are frequently supported by an emergency grant made under the authority of the President of the Grand Charity.  Most recently grants have been given to those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the wider Caribbean. The Grand Charity has also provided funding for the immediate relief of those devastated by previous disasters such as cyclones in the south pacific and typhoons in the Philippines.  In fact, since 1981 nearly £3 million has been donated to fund emergency disaster relief efforts across the world.
No one should be in any doubt that the Grand Charity touches and benefits the lives of thousands of people every year, Masons and non-Masons alike.  
Through its work, you and your families, support those of your Brethren who are in need, and contribute to the wider community on a scale befitting a national (indeed an international) movement.
The Grand Charity’s contribution to medical research, disaster relief and support for vulnerable people affects millions of people in the UK and around the world. Your donations have the potential to change – and indeed, save – many, many lives.
So with that, I’d just like to thank you again for the tremendous support that you have already given to the Grand Charity with your Festival fundraising and all the work that you will undertake over the next three years.
I’m very sure, that under the guiding hand of your Provincial Grand Master and the Chairman of the Festival appeal, you will reach a magnificent total in 2019, one of which you will be justifiably proud.

Thank you.

Ironbridge and Old Ben hold joint Sunday lunch

... and a great time was had by the 51 ladies, gentlemen, children and Brethren who attended! Thank you to our photographer who sent photos of this special social event. To cap it all, £175.30 was raised for the 2019 Festival.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Roger and Out for 2016 Perambulations!

On Thursday evening the 2016 programme of Festival Perambulations was completed by WBro Roger Michell who walked over twenty miles from Shrewsbury to Oswestry to attend a meeting of Cae Glas Lodge.

Of course he was accompanied by the Walking Maul which has now journeyed over 500 miles around our Province, linking lodge with lodge in a demonstration of unity in our quest to raise over At Cae Glas he was welcomed by the WM, WBro Keith Arscott and his two Wardens. The Walking Maul was carried into open lodge and placed on the WM's pedestal to be used for the duration of the evening.

£1,000,000 for The Freemasons' Grand Charity.

VWBro Roger Pemberton was presented with a cheque in the magnificent sum of £2019 for the 2019 Festival Appeal 
in aid of The Freemasons' Grand Charity.This wonderfully generous donation meant that the Brethren of Cae Glas have now pledged 100% of their lodge target for the festival. This achievement prompted the award of a Senior Warden's Maul, presented by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master who congratulated the Brethren for their generosity and congratulated WBro Martin Edwards, a member of Cae Glas who made this and all the Festival mauls presented - to date, well over thirty!

Thank you Cae Glas.

The proceeds of the draw at the festive board were generously donated to the 2019 Festival Appeal and presented to the walker, WBro Roger Michell.

The 2017 programme of walks is being put together. Volunteers are needed to lead walks which will begin in the Spring. If you would like to lead a walk please contact either WBro Roger Michell or VWBro Roger Pemberton the DepPrGM.