Promoting a centre point in a circle at Burntwood Lodge

25,000 mandala colouring books distributed across Essex to help mindfulness and reduce stress

Burntwood (the old name for Brentwood) Lodge No.8016 was formed in November 1965. In April 2022, keeping its name, Burntwood became the Essex Provincial Charity Stewards Lodge and is a forum for everything ‘Charity’ in the Province. On 7th November 2023, the members heard how David Barton, of Henry De Gray Lodge No.6627, started an initiative called ‘Get Started Art’.

After David gained full support from his own lodge, other lodges joined in, his local centre became involved as did other Masonic centres and lodges. Following a number of smaller projects which have helped many different charity groups, neither David nor anyone involved could have foreseen the incredible momentum across Essex which the latest initiative of ‘Get Started Art’ would have.   

The concept is simple but the benefits are astounding for both children and adults. Colouring reduces stress and anxiety as well improving mood and creating a sense of accomplishment. From the Sanskrit for a circle, mandalas with a centre point have long been used for mindfulness and to stimulate brain activity.

Funded by a £6,000 grant by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund and the six lodges which formed the new Cross Keys Community Fund, the latest project has supplied 4,000 colouring books and 10,000 pencils to 62 groups, including nine NHS hospitals, five schools supporting children with special educational needs, 23 Alzheimer and dementia day care centres and homes plus a further 25 charities and community groups.

Past Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Lee Taylor and Charles Elliott both offered to help promote the initiative and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Dave Hawtin, gave his support at the recent first Essex Light Blues Association meeting in Chelmsford. Colin Felton, an Assistant Provincial Grand Master and the Worshipful Master of Burntwood Lodge, along with the members, including Chris Hicks, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward, are all very impressed and urge as many lodges as possible to consider getting involved with this valuable service to the community by increasing awareness and raising further funding to print more of these books.

With the Province fully behind this exciting initiative, Essex Freemasons in Thurrock, Braintree, Colchester and Chelmsford are not only distributing the mandala colouring books but are also engaging with charities directly and actively seeking new ones.    Already ‘Get Started Art’ has secured backing for 10,000 mini versions of the books to be distributed to coordinators who are experienced teachers supporting children with special educational needs (SENCOs) in primary schools throughout Essex. Also, funding is nearly there for a further 11,000 of the large colouring books.

More help is needed in Essex, from Southend to Upminster to Chingford and Harwich and everywhere in between. There are no boundaries and books have been delivered in Suffolk and Oxfordshire.  Peter Low, the Provincial Communications Officer for Essex Freemasons, said: “The Art Therapy Book initiative is inspirational and fits extremely well with ‘Service’ which is one of the four key values of Freemasonry.  We are delighted to see a number of lodges in Essex working alongside Get Started Art in helping so many organisations and people across the County”.

Peter added “At a time when the awareness of mental health is so prevalent, both Essex Freemasons and Get Started Art want to support mindfulness and anxiety relief by helping others to reduce stress by engaging in these Art Therapy Colouring Books. The aim is to donate as many as possible to those community groups that can benefit the most, as well as raising further public awareness of a problem that can affect anybody at any time.” Discover more at Home ( and find out how art can help so many people in the community reduce stress and anxiety and how to help them get started from a centre point in a circle.


Top (L-R): Steve Bruyel, Philip Lovelock, Colin Felton, David Barton, Chris Hicks

Middle-Left: Get Started packs ready for distribution

Middle-Right (L-R): David Barton, Mick Draper, Lee Taylor, Charles Elliott, Chris Bushell

Bottom-Left (L-R): Dave Hawtin, Jamie Barton