Essex Freemasons honour the Armed Forces Covenant with £26,390 donation

Essex Freemasons gave a total of £26,390 to the ABF The Soldiers’ Charity (Army Benevolent Fund) and the Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC).

At a presentation at Colchester Garrison on the 9th March 2023, Essex Freemasons gave a total of £26,390 to the ABF The Soldiers’ Charity (Army Benevolent Fund) and the Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC). These donations were made in the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant that Essex Freemasons signed with the Army, on behalf of the MOD, in March 2022. This collaboration will be ongoing and will continue to support other activities associated with the Military and transitioning Service Men and Women.

The current support will go to the two recipients for a variety of projects, including:

  1. £15,000 to the ABF for 'Operation Camouflage'
    • This is an Out of School Adventures programme at Woodbridge, Suffolk. It is run in conjunction with Army Welfare Service and the East Suffolk and Coastal council, to provide various activities for 40 children per day. The children come from military families at the Colchester Garrison, Wattisham and Woodbridge as well as from local underprivileged families.
    • The programme offers support to families during the summer holidays, parents have a rest and children experience outdoor and adventure activities, that can help them with their personal development.
    • Activities include outdoor projects as well as arts, drama, dance and sports in a safe and positive environment.
  1. £11,390 to the PRC to deliver courses and qualifications to transitioning service personnel, to help them adapt to civilian life.
    • These courses will allow over 50 personnel to gain useful qualifications to enable them to be employed and use other transferable skills.
    • These courses will supplement the Core Foundation Courses offered by the PRC and will work hand in hand with other business partners.
    • The courses that will be supported here are:
      • First Aid at Work – at least two courses of 12 delegates
      • Level 3 Health & Safety in the Workplace - at least two 3–day courses of 10 delegates
      • Security in Action - at least two courses of 12 delegates

Paul Tarrant, Provincial Grand Master of Essex Freemasons, said that “I am pleased that Essex is the first of the Masonic Provinces which have signed up to the Covenant, to make a significant contribution to H.M. Armed Forces. These projects fit in with Essex Freemasons’ core support for the young the community and those in service and we will continue to support these and other service projects in the years to come.”

Lieutenant Colonel Ed Rankin, Garrison Commander, said that “This support from Essex Freemasons is a valuable contribution to the well-being and future of transitioning soldiers as well as for the welfare of families stationed here in Colchester.” 

The ABF is the Army’s national charity, for soldiers, past and present, and their families for life. They stand at the forefront of support for the Army family, last year supporting 65,000 people in 48 countries around the world with donations totalling over £8 Million.

As one of the largest funders in the sector, the ABF awards grants to individuals and families and funds leading organisations that support soldiers, former soldiers and their families. When they hear of a person or family in need they aim to respond within 48 hours.

Simon Ferrier, Briefing and Liaison Officer London and East Anglia, said that “This donation will go directly to support those children from military families, as well as under privileged children in the area, to enable them to have experiences in the summer vacation that will be safe and help their personal development.”

The PRC at Colchester is one of four PRCs in the UK

  • Tedworth House, Tidworth, Wiltshire
  • Phoenix House, Catterick, North Yorkshire
  • Chavasse VC House, Colchester, Essex
  • Erskine House, Edinburgh, Scotland

Each PRC is a dedicated residential or day visitor facility designed to provide an appropriate environment for Service Personnel on Recovery Duty to take part in a variety of recovery activities that are designed to deliver successful outcomes in the following areas:

  • Individual recovery planning
  • Support
  • Career transition
  • Wellbeing
  • Signposting

Chavasse VC House offers 27 bedrooms, with Equality Act compliant en-suite wet rooms, a family room with additional sleeping area is also available.  There are various facilities available including kitchens, fitness areas and gym, games rooms, studies and lounges. All personnel attending are entitled to participate in a series of professionally delivered Core Recovery Events to support their recovery. In addition to these, there are additional vocational and external courses and programmes that are supported by national and local companies and organisations.

Major Colin Peall, Officer Commanding PRC Colchester, said that, “The support for the courses from Essex Freemasons will add real value and opportunities for those attendees who are in recovery and are transitioning. The training provides valued qualifications that will supplement their transferable skills as they enter into the civilian workforce and continue to add value to society.”


Top: Inside a class room at PRC Colchester L-R Nigel Seaman, Lt Col. Ed Rankin, Chris Hicks,  Paul Tarrant, Steve Harriss, Maj. Colin Peall, Dave Hawtin, Simon Ferrier and Alys Potter.

Left: In stair-well of PRC Colchester L-R Chris Hicks, Simon Harris, Maj Colin Peall, Simon Ferrier, Paul Tarrant, Lt Col. E Ed Rankin, and Dave Hawtin.

Bottom: Outside PRC Colchester Lt Col. Ed Rankin, Steve Harris, Paul Tarrant, Nigel Seaman, Maj. Colin Peall, Dave Hawtin, Chris Hicks and  Simon Ferrier.