Get Started Art – The Bigger Picture from across the United Kingdom

From the Scottish Highlands to the Kent Coast - Freemasons are delivering tens of thousands of Art Therapy Books.

Few new community projects have such a momentous initial impact. The sterling efforts of David Barton, an Essex Freemason, and those who help him have done a great deal in 2023 for people of all ages suffering with mental health whilst enhancing the reputation of Freemasonry as a force for good in the UK, from the Scottish Highlands to the Kent coast, as well as in Essex.

Long used for mindfulness and to stimulate brain activity, the benefits of colouring therapy are significant with stress and anxiety reduction, mood improvement and creating a sense of personal achievement. Supported by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund, The Essex Community Foundation, six Lodges which form the Cross Keys Community Fund and a number of other Lodges which have given generously, David Barton of Henry de Gray Lodge No. 6627 began a project just over one year ago in Thurrock.  

‘Get Started Art’, is a community interest company which has produced over 55,000 large and small Art Therapy Books for day centres for Alzheimer and dementia sufferers, people with neurological needs, stroke survivors and senior wards in hospitals. The small version was created specifically for special educational needs (SEN) units for schools and community groups working with vulnerable young people.

In addition, ‘Activity Pages’, designed purely for a 30-minute divertissement for children visiting hospitals for tests, check-ups etc. are now being used in paediatric outpatient wards in Essex, Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk and throughout four NHS trusts in Scotland. By mid-November 2023, 25,000 Art Therapy Books had been delivered across Essex. Since then, Get Started Art has been busy distributing 30,000 more across the UK including:

  • 2,000 books for Great Ormond Street Hospital
  • 2,000 books for Barts Health NHS Trust Hospitals
  • East Surry Hospital and SASH (Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust) Charity where the books were so well received, they asked for half to be delivered to the Children’s Accident and Emergency Department.
  • 4,400 books for Steve Barker of St John Operative Lodge No. 193 in Speyside, who has arranged distribution throughout Scotland north of Perth by the Widows Sons.
  • 600 books for Aberdeen and Grampian Hospitals for senior wards and children’s charities including Team Jak and the Archie Foundation. These books were sponsored by RAM Tubulars, which specialises in new uses for surplus and used drill pipes and are long term supporters of Aberdeen Football Club’s Youth Academy.
  • The Lord Mayor, her Lady Mayoress and the Sherriff distributed books to the children’s wards at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
  • East Kent Hospitals Charity arranged a further distribution to five hospitals in the region and Peter Rhodes, Provincial Grand Charity Steward of East Kent, delivered to Hawthorn Manor Residential Care Home in Gillingham.
  • Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust Head of Charity said “the Play Specialists and Ward Managers are delighted with the books donated to the Darent Valley Hospital.”
  • Princess Royal University Hospital, Orpington received toys and Art Therapy Books from the Province of West Kent.

The Provincial Grand Charity Steward of West Kent, Steve Rozier, said “The feedback from the staff on the Art Therapy books was excellent. They also liked the idea of colouring in sheets. They have an education section where long stay children can keep up with certain lessons if they are well enough.  The news of our visit went out on our Facebook. The hospital also published the pictures on their social sites, thanking both West Kent and Essex Freemasons.”

Dave Barton has been selected as one of the ten finalists in the ‘Business Owner’ category of the Essex Small Business Awards for 2024. This category honours individuals who have shown exceptional management skills, strategic vision, and a commitment to the success of their business. Out of nearly 150 finalists in 15 categories, the highest scoring business will also win the ‘Overall Small Business’ Award. The winners will be announced on 12th April 2024 at the Raddison Blu Stansted.

We all now have an opportunity to thank David Barton for everything he has done for both mental health awareness and for enhancing the reputation of Freemasonry as a force for good in serving our communities throughout England and Scotland. It costs nothing to give him your vote but will mean so much.

Additional links:

Hawthorn Manor - Thank you to the Essex Freemasons for... | Facebook

Promoting a centre point in a circle at Burntwood Lodge (


Top: All the hard work is just so worth it when you see the impact Get Started Art has made across the UK and the smiles say it all!