Making a day of it for NHS frontline workers

Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, and Sir David Amess MP were among the many dignitaries celebrating NHS, Social Care and Frontline Worker’s Day at local masonic centres across Essex.

The Essex Freemasons provided 14 of their 25 masonic centres as public venues for the national day of celebrations on 5 July 2021. Encouraged by Dr David Staples, a consultant in acute internal medicine and the chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), who said “The NHS has never been so tested in its history. Its staff have been stretched beyond comprehension during the last year and they deserve our gratitude, our applause and all the support we can give”.

Sir David Amess congratulated the Freemasons at Southend’s Saxon Hall Masonic Centre for organising what he described as “A splendid and successful occasion” adding “I thought the people gathered together made it a fitting tribute to our frontline workers”. The East of England Ambulance Service, Essex Police, One Love Soup Kitchen, South East Essex Homes, East Essex Hackspace together with Councillors from Southend and Rochford Council and the Mayor of Southend, Cllr Margaret Borton, were among the many guests and organisations represented. £210 was collected on the day to which the Freemasons added a further £1,000, all of which was donated to Southend Hospital staff amenity fund.

Meanwhile at Howard Hall Masonic Centre in Braintree, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, and Sue Wilson, the chair of Braintree District Council helped mark the occasion with members of the NHS, Essex Fire and Rescue Service, local dignitaries and prominent Freemasons. Following the two-minute silence and a bugle call, the Toast was proposed by the Lord Lieutenant followed by a ceremonial presentation of the Standards of the Royal British Legion of Braintree and Bocking and the affiliated Tabor Academy.

Earlier in the day, after a 5 am start, four Essex Freemasons met at Braintree Masonic Centre and drove in a white taxi cab, specially decorated for the occasion, to Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street in London, the HQ of the UGLE. They then drove back to Essex, visiting masonic halls in Chingford, Loughton, Harlow, and Orsett where they joined in the celebrations at each venue.  At Loughton this included St Francis Hospice and the Order of Women Freemasons. After safely arriving back at Braintree at 6pm they were fed and relaxed before joining in the national handclap at 8pm, during which everyone, who had taken part in the day’s festivities across the nation, was reminded of just how much the NHS, social care and frontline workers are appreciated.


Essex Freemasons’ £30,000 gift of life for little Henry

A three-year-old boy with cancer is able to get life-saving treatment in Germany, thanks to a £30,000 donation by Essex freemasons.

Henry Hall, from Great Wakering, was diagnosed with brain and spine cancer in February and has undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy treatment.

However, radiotherapy is now the only treatment that can save Henry’s life, prompting his parents to seek help to raise £60,000 for the least damaging form of treatment – proton beam therapy – which is not available on the NHS.

Trustees of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund saw the story about the fundraising mission for Henry in the local paper, the Evening Echo, and generously donated the remaining £30,000 needed for the life-saving treatment.

Henry’s mum, Louise, said: “I just couldn’t believe it. The relief was like this cloud has been lifted. It’s taken a massive weight off our minds because we can concentrate on everything we need to do to take care of Henry and our family rather than worrying about how we were going to afford the treatment.”

She added: “It was lovely meeting the freemasons, they were so down to earth. They made out like it wasn’t a big deal, but it really is to us. Henry’s dad, Cameron, couldn’t believe it. He just cried and hugged me. We’re just so grateful.”

Louise also paid tribute to every other person who donated to help them smash their target. She added: “It’s so overwhelming that all these people who don’t know Henry want to help.

“I just want to thank everyone for helping us to raise the money and for holding Henry in their hearts.”

Essex Deputy Provincial Grand Master in charge Paul Reeves presented Henry and his family with the cheque.

He said: “It was really humbling meeting him. He’s a lovely young lad and I’m pleased we have been able to have the funds to make a difference to his life.”


Essex Freemasons support BAME initiative at St Helena

Essex Freemasons have donated £31,000 to St Helena Hospice to help it to better reach and provide end of life support for patients and families living in deprived communities in Colchester and Tendring.

The money, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons own charity, will be primarily aimed at reaching communities who do not traditionally access hospice care, including those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities (BAME) and deprived communities.

There has historically been a lack of understanding of how hospice services need to adapt in order to meet the cultural needs of all communities they serve. This project will enable connections to be strengthened and the grant will help fund initiatives to explain what end of life support means and how help is available to cope with issues around death and dying.

Nicola Button, Head of Partnerships at St Helena, explained: “Through the collaborative work with colleagues at Community 360 and CVS Tendring, we have identified the number of patients from BAME and deprived communities accessing end of life support is lower than other sectors of the community.

“We need to address this matter and improve outcomes for people living in communities who do not traditionally access hospice care. This means working with community leaders and healthcare professionals to ensure they are more aware of the support we can offer; whilst also looking at ways in which the hospice must adapt to meet the needs of the whole community. This grant from Essex Freemasons will enable us to do this.”

This project demonstrates true collaboration: St Helena is working in partnership with Community 360, CVS Tendring and the Essex Faith Covenant. Two Social Prescribers will be employed, one in each geographic area and their role will be to work specifically within local communities, supporting families and their carers at end of life.

St Helena Hospice provides specialist palliative and end of life care to local people facing incurable illness in north east Essex, supporting them, their families, friends and carers at home, over the phone via a 24/7 advice line and at the hospice in Colchester. It also help adults in north and mid Essex to cope with grief following the death of a loved one, regardless of where or how they died.

Peter Hollingsworth, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons, commented: “Our members have traditionally supported hospices in every part of the county for many years and we are delighted that once again we can make a difference for St Helena and the people of Colchester and Tendring.

“Freemasons are very much part of the local community and this is another way of saying thank you to the team at St Helena who do so much good work. We wish them every success with this latest initiative and are glad that this grant has made a difference.”

The £31,000 to St Helena is part of a £450,000 package of support for hospices across the country from the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Of that total, some £100,000 has been awarded to the hospice movement in Essex.


NHS, social care and frontline workers celebration day – 5th July 2021

On the 5th of July 2021, the 73rd birthday of the creation of the NHS, Essex Freemasons joined together with other local and National organisations to celebrate the work and dedication of the NHS, social care and frontline workers and to remember the ultimate sacrifice that many had made during the pandemic.

The Howard Hall Masonic Centre in Braintree was honoured to host Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, as well as the Chair of Braintree District Council, Councillor Sue Wilson, to help mark this important date and remember all those who had gone above and beyond in the service of us all. Our Deputy Grand Superintendent In Charge, W. Bro. Nick Franklin, APGP W. Bro. Andrew McLeod, as well as several other brethren were able to show our appreciation and support.

It was our pleasure to have representatives from the NHS and Essex Fire and Rescue, as well as representatives of the membership of the hall to witness the NHS flag being raised, lowered, a 2 minute silence being marked along with a local bugle player and Grandson of a member of Joshua Nunn Lodge in Halstead, then a toast proposed by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex which was well received by all present.

It was an extra special treat for everyone to witness the sharp presentation of the standards of the British Legion, the Braintree and Bocking Standard, as well as the Tabor Academy standard (the first bespoke affiliated school standard in Britain) by Bro. David Wiles, Bro. Gordon Roach (both Rosslyn Lodge, Braintree) and Bro. Chris Butcher of the Lodge of Hope (Brightlingsea). The three standards, as well as the welcome and farewell to the Lord Lieutenant was superbly marked by Bro. Mike Simmons (also Rosslyn Lodge) to the sound of his bagpipes, which provided the perfect sound track to the formal part of the day.

All present were then provided with a perfect ploughman’s lunch, which J&J Goldsmith (caterers) produced boxed in order for everyone to be able to enjoy as a safe, socially distanced, lunch.

In the evening, the ProvGStwds completed their county wide tour at the hall and were joined by 40 other brethren and their partners to mark the 8pm clap outside of the hall, after which all retired to take part in a short quiz.

The day ran smoothly and the Lord Lieutenant wrote to Nick Franklin to thank the hall for such a fantastic event to recognise the important work that the NHS, social care and frontline workers are achieving. It was also a great chance to welcome people back to the hall for the first time since the pandemic began and we would like to thank all who attended, worked hard before the day and on the day, especially Bro’s David Wiles, Gordon Roach, Chris Butcher and Mike Simmons for their ceremonial work and Bro. Stephen Nichols and W. Bro. Mike Barrett for recording the event for posterity during the day and evening.

Article written by W. Bro. Daniel Broyd (ProvGStwd)


Families on brink of famine in South Sudan receive emergency support funded by Essex Freemasons

Hundreds of families on the brink of famine in South Sudan will be receiving emergency support thanks to a grant of £35,000 from the Freemasons to Plan International UK.

Freemasonry, through the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), is responding with Plan International to support communities at this critical time. £35,000 is enough to provide cooking kits to 525 families. Plan International is on the ground in Pibor, one of the worst affected regions, delivering vital programmes for nutrition, education, livelihoods, and child protection.

The UN has described South Sudan’s food crisis as its “worst on record”, with children and communities facing multiple threats at once. Late last year, heavy flooding affected over a million people in the country, destroying  homes, devastating livelihoods and displacing thousands of children and their families. On top of this communities are still reeling from the pandemic, as well as political upheavals, escalating conflict and a stagnating economy.

With the country in the middle of its ‘lean season’ - the time between harvests when households run out of stored food - there is now a critical window to prevent the onset of famine. Lasting from March until August, the lean season will see 7.2 million, or 60 per cent of the population, pushed into extreme hunger. 1.4 million children under the age of five and almost 500,000 pregnant and lactating women are expected to be left severely malnourished. It is crucial that aid reaches these communities before the floods come again, further hindering access to support for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

Essex Freemasons contributed to the grant, from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Rose Caldwell, Chief Executive of Plan International UK, said:

“We’re very grateful for this generous grant which will allow Plan International to reach families and young children in those parts of South Sudan most badly hit by the food crisis. It’s critical that we act now to distribute food and other vital support to those most at risk”

Paul Reeves, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Plan International, who are distributing food to the most vulnerable families and children in South Sudan. This is a desperate situation and Plan International and the other organisations helping on the ground need all the help and support we can offer.”


Essex Freemasons donate £30,000 to support vital service for visually impaired

Essex Freemasons have donated £30,000 to independent sight loss charity Southend in Sight to help it continue and develop its “Talk and Support service”. It means that the project, which first began during lockdown, now has sufficient funding for the next three years.

The money, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons own charity, will help ensure that this unique scheme which offers support with the help of the charity’s visually impaired volunteers, will continue to grow.

The scheme works using volunteers who make regular phone calls to those members who are more isolated in the community. These volunteers have particular insight into the challenges faced by Southend in Sight’s clients on a daily basis, and a working knowledge of the support and advice the charity can supply.

Living with sight loss can be isolating in itself but during the lockdowns imposed over the course of the pandemic, that isolation has been even greater.  A phone call from someone who understands a visually impaired person’s situation can change that.

The charity’s staff and volunteers currently make calls to more than 80 local visually impaired people on a regular basis, many of whom are vulnerable and isolated.  The grant from Essex Freemasons will allow Southend in Sight to develop this service, connect with more people isolated because of sight loss and train more volunteers. When restrictions allow, staff at the charity hope to offer coffee mornings and local meet ups for small groups to help them stay connected and begin to mix with people again, as many will need to build up confidence. 

Lucy Martin, CEO of Southend in Sight says: “We are delighted to receive this three-year grant from Essex Freemasons which will allow us to continue and develop our project for older visually impaired people in the local community.   I am very proud of everyone involved with our Talk and Support service and I know that the regular chats with our staff and volunteers have provided a lifeline for many over the last year.”

Paul Reeves, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in charge of Essex Freemasons, commented: “We have more than 2,000 members who meet in the Southend area and they are very much part of the local community. It means we are delighted to be able to support a charity which is doing such excellent work.”

The charity’s base at 117 Hamlet Court Road is now open for pre-booked appointments and it is able to make some deliveries of essential equipment and even offer advice on the doorstep if the need arose.  The charity’s shop is also open again at the Hamlet Court Road site and welcoming shoppers keen to grab a bargain. For information about the Talk and Support service and all other services and assistance available through Southend in Sight, please call on 01702 342131 or go to


Freemasons take lead role in NHS Frontline Workers' Day

The inaugural celebration of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day is set to take place on 5 July 2021, with Freemasons leading the event.

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons, is inviting its 200,000 members to fly specially designed flags at 10am on 5 July, to celebrate this unique day dedicated to the NHS, social care and all those that work on the front line, who have saved so many lives during the pandemic. The celebration will also remember those workers we sadly lost.

As part of the event, the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) scheme, managed by the Freemasons, produced a limited edition of TLC teddy nurse badges to be given to medical staff that use the bears in their day-to-day work. Some 48 provinces across England and Wales took part in the campaign and distributed them to NHS staff.

The Freemasons have been donating teddy bears to NHS accident and emergency units for 20 years. Almost 3.5 million teddies have been donated to hospitals, minor injuries clinics and other NHS services to comfort young children during times of distress. Many Freemasons also volunteer hundreds of hours each year to manage the scheme, deliver bears to hospitals, campaign to raise funds and increase awareness through events and talks.

The UGLE is one of the core supporters of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day, alongside the Cadet Forces, English Heritage and the Women’s Institute. A £5 donation from every flag and length of bunting made will be equally divided between NHS Charities Together and the National Care Association.

Freemasonry for Women and the Order of Women Freemasons have also joined the UGLE in this initiative, as Freemasons aim to set a record for the number of flags raised simultaneously across the nation.

Subsequently, at 11am, the UGLE headquarters in Great Queen Street will be raising the flag and a trumpeter will play the last post. At the same time, Freemasons are planning a moment’s silence to remember NHS workers and all those who died from Covid-19. The day continues with a toast to the NHS at 1pm. After this, they will be raising a cuppa to the NHS during afternoon tea at 4pm.

At 8pm, the Freemasons will join the nation in an evening clap for NHS workers, while church bells are set to ring 73 times to celebrate 73 years of the NHS. Closing the celebrations at 9pm, there will be a #timetotoast for all NHS workers.

So far, nearly 130 Lodges and Provinces have made a commitment to the raising of the flag and other elements of the day. In addition, Northumberland Freemason James Horner is hosting a special live-streaming theatre show from the Tyne Theatre & Opera House with a compère, comics, singers, readings, video footage and messages of support to raise money on the day.

Bruno Peek, pageant master to the Queen and creator of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day, said: “We are delighted that Freemasons, whose members come from all walks of life, are playing such a high-profile and active role to start this special day of celebration and commemoration of those within the NHS, social care and on the front line, who undertake so much for us all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, without any thought of their own safety.”

In addition, Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE and a consultant in acute internal medicine at Peterborough Hospital, said: “We are facing the greatest global pandemic in living memory and the NHS has never been so tested in its history. Its staff have been stretched beyond comprehension during the last year and they deserve our gratitude, our applause and all the support we can give.

“We are encouraging not only our 200,000 members, but the entire population to celebrate the day honouring and remembering NHS workers with a complete programme of events on 5 July.”

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Freemasons have been supporting the NHS in many different ways. They have donated more than £2.5m so far to the Covid-19 effort and completed 18.5 million hours of volunteering to help those in need each year. The donation is being used to help with food, personal protective equipment, supplements for hospitals and hospices, funds for NHS workers and ambulances.

Freemasons have also offered their Lodges as bases to administer the vital vaccinations. In Hertfordshire, for example, Halsey Hall is being used as a vaccination centre, supporting three local GP surgeries. The centre has been operational since 15 January and once fully scaled up, there will be up to 1,000 vaccinations given there each day.

To find out more about NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day and to register your participation in the event, please visit:


Carli Lansley Foundation Donation from Saxon Hall

Continued community support & engagement from Saxon Hall 
At the Worshipful Master's request we are delighted to report that Lodge 2717 have donated £100.00 to another worthy local cause this week on behalf of the Lodge at Saxon hall. 
Carli Lansley foundation - Eco Cardio screening for young adults
Circa 200 young Adults booked in for Heart screening over the next day or so at Saxon hall - vital health work achieved in conjunction and support of C-R-Y
Cardiac Screening - Cardiac Risk in the Young (
(Main Photo Left to right) W Bro Austin Latham, Charity Steward L2717, Mr Karl Lansley Foundation Chairman, Bro Paul Thurgood Secretary L2717

The Wheel of Fellowship Lodge 9016 and Home-Start Essex

On a very hot day in June several Members of the Wheel of Fellowship Lodge No. 9016 (Essex) donated boxes of Toys, both cuddly and educational.

These toys included a new cot, bike, scooter, new bedding and other linens to Michelle Lock and Alison James from the Maldon Home-Start Charity at the Maldon District Council Offices in Essex. 

In fact these were given by a Member of the Lodge W. Bro. Roger Sambridge who is the Financial Director of Home-Start in Havering.

Being a parent can be hard work, especially with young children. Many parents feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the stresses of family life. It can be even harder when faced with issues such as post-natal depression, a child’s illness or disability, isolation or multiple births. That’s when parents need support the most.

Home-Start Essex is a charity that are here to help, they provide a Home-Visiting Service, Telephone Befrienders, Family Groups, Wellbeing Groups and help with School Readiness.

Home-Start Essex is an independent charitable Organisation (Registered Charity no. 1170940) which formed on 3rd January 2017. Although Home-Start Maldon was founded in December 1998.

This is a local charity that does so much good work in the local community that the members of the lodge wanted to do something in support of all their hard work.

Photo from left to right: Bro. Graham Cornell ( Lodge Almoner), W. Bro. Bob Hendrie ( Lodge Secretary), Michele Lock & Allison Janes ( Maldon Homestart Co-ordinators) and Bro. Bruce Heubner ( Lodge Web-Master). 

Our thanks go to W. Bro. Paul Beech who kindly took the photos.


The Essex500 INSPIRE Challenge

During the month of July there will be 2 x £500 prizes up for grabs via the Essex500 INSPIRE Challenge. The best story submitted by a Lodge and Chapter via the INSPIRE Story Creation Wizard will each win £500 for their chosen charity. A team from the Provincial Executive will be the judges.

All submissions will feature as news items on the respective Provincial Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Chapter websites so this is a great opportunity to get your Lodge or Chapter featured. As well as the provincial websites stories get shared via social media, newsletters, risings and they also get submitted to FMT, Essex Mason and beyond for further publication consideration.

It's really simple to take part and any story highlighting the inspirational work we do as Freemasons is welcome. You don't have to be a writing expert either as our INSPIRE Story Creation Wizard has been design in a way to walk anybody through how to create and submit a great story with step by step guidance. There is no sign-up required for this Essex500 challenge as your information gets passed to us as part of the submission process. We will be including any stories submitted during the month of July 2021.

A bit about the INSPIRE project and why we are doing it:

The INSPIRE project and accompanying INSPIRE Story Creation Wizard is all about encouraging the submission of Interesting News Stories from around the Province that Inspire Reader Engagement.

I - Interesting

N - News

S - Stories

P - [from the] Province

I - [that] Inspire

R - Reader

E - Engagement

We are doing it because good stories INSPIRE all readers, be it potential recruits or existing members.

Every freemason with a good story to share deserves to have it told and the INSPIRE project makes that possible in a simple and convenient way.

To get started with your story simply click this link: INSPIRE Story Creation Wizard


The kindest cut of all to help Bro Alan raise funds to battle cancer

One Saturday at the end of May, the Howard Hall Masonic Centre in Braintree served as a barber’s shop, when Bro Robin Bayes, of Lodge of Justice 147, "braved a shave" in support of his good friend and brother Alan Chapman.

Fellow Lodge of Justice member Alan is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support while battling pancreatic cancer and Robin, also a member of Royal Clarence 1823, decided to shave his head and beard to raise money for this excellent cause.

Robin's daughters, Hannah and Eryn (who looked a little too happy to wield the razor at her dad’s throat), and his wife Paulette, along with Alan's partner Sarah, all attended the Covid-safe event on 29 May.

Robin said: “Alan is fighting a losing battle with cancer and I am humbled by his positive outlook and generous and warm nature, so would be great if brethren throughout the Essex province could help in this worthwhile fundraising effort.

 “Alan is always quick to smile and even quicker to laugh, and it would be awesome if we are able to get behind him.”

If you would like to donate, please follow this link: Brave the Shave Donation Link

‘Brave the Shave’ is a nationwide campaign organised by Macmillan and thousands of people all over the country are joining in to raise funds for the cancer support charity.

Since 2015, brave shavers have raised over £22.7 million. This incredible amount could pay for 140 Macmillan nurses for three years.


Essex Freemasons bringing smiles to sick children

Essex Freemasons are working to bring smiles to the faces of children at Romford, Southend and Basildon Hospitals who are facing life changing treatment for brain tumours, with a £1,000 donation to fund new sensory activities to help sick youngsters.

The activities, supplied by the charity, ‘Clowns in the Sky,’ are designed to offer stimulation and fun in wards when such support is not available in playrooms. They currently help children in all five of the major hospitals across Essex

Members of Lodge of Beneficence, who meet at Orsett made the £1,000 donation, £500 of which came directly from members with the balance match funded by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund.

“The money will make a huge difference,” said Donna Byrne, Development Officer for Clowns in the Sky. “Children who are spending long periods in Hospital need stimulation distraction and the power of play helps promote positive wellbeing and gives them something to do when they are not having treatment and this where a charity like ours can really help.”

“Each support package, which includes toys, puzzles, books and other challenges costs around £100 a time so we can make a £1,000 go a long way. Brain tumours take an enormous toll even on those who survive them as the treatment can be very stressful. The child may have to cope with high doses of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. This often involves long hospital stays which are difficult for everyone, more so for children, which is why these packages are so critical.”

Lodge of Beneficence have had a close association with the charity since 2012, explained Perry Dowsett who with fellow Lodge member Christian Webb and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Hollingsworth, met Donna Byrne and one of its leading Patrons former West Ham footballer and now Sky pundit Tony Cottee at a special presentation to hand over the money.

“Essex Masons donate more than £1 million every year to local charities,” said Peter Hollingsworth. “This is another good example of Lodges working with our own Community Fund to help make a difference where it matters.”

“As well as support packages for children Clowns in the Sky also make their own donations to help fund research into brain cancers which affect so many children. I am delighted that we have been able to make a difference.”


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