Teamwork makes the dream work

In preparation for the National Digital Marketing Campaign to be launched in September 2021, all 48 Provinces in the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) were tasked with implementing 14 important ‘Marketing Actions’. Under the leadership of Peter Low, the Provincial Communications Officer (PCO) and the hard work of his Team, on 21st August 2021 Essex was the first Province to complete 100% to meet the approval of UGLE.

Over the last year the Provincial Communications Team members have worked hard to enhance public perception of Freemasonry in Essex with a voluminous number of press releases, news items on the public facing Provincial Grand Lodge (PGL) and Provincial Grand Chapter (PGC) websites, through social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as in The Essex Mason magazine and internally to members with the new Second Rising and Provincial Download publications. 

The team strives not only to get local publicity but also to ‘fly the flag’ for Essex within UGLE. ‘Essex Freemasons Win Pride of Essex Award’ was one of the first provincial news stories to appear in UGLE’s newsletter ‘First Rising ’in which a number of other stories have subsequently been published as well as many more in Freemasonry Today (FMT) both online and hardcopy. “Engaging with the Community” about the partnership with Braintree Museum is one of the most recent.

The National Digital Marketing Campaign is due to be launched on 20th September 2021 by which time all 48 Provinces, including Metropolitan Grand Lodge, in the ten Regional Communications Groups across UGLE must have the requisite 14 Marketing Actions in place. These include provincial websites achieving the UGLE Charter Mark, having the new key words displayed, as well as the ‘Discovering Freemasonry’ video and booklet, new Mission Statements, new FAQs and a social media review undertaken. Other processes must also be able to follow through to help make the Campaign successful.

Peter Low expressed his appreciation to Lee Zetter for all his hard work in getting the Essex PGL website first over the line and extended his thanks saying “we have a great team and everyone plays a big part”. In addition to Lee the Provincial Communications Team consists of David Badger, Mike Barrett, David Boylan, Lee Britton, Braham Djidjelli, Ian Graham, Tony Hales, Mike Hall, Barry Hayward, Graeme Lockwood, Paul Palmer, Gerald Reilly, Russell Segal and Barry Stedman.  On hearing the news, Elliott Chevin, the Provincial Executive with the remit for Communications, emailed Peter saying “Huge congratulations to you all. The epitome of a dream team!”

There is an exciting era ahead for Essex Freemasons led by a new Provincial Grand Master. With the National Digital Marketing Campaign, the Essex 2022 Festival, support for other Essex Provincial Teams through key players such as Chris Hicks, Chris Lee, Paul Kelly, and Graham Lucas, as well as recognising and publishing the achievements and good works of individual Lodges and their Brethren, the Provincial Communications Team is under no illusion that, in the Province of Essex, “Teamwork makes the Dream Work”.

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Freemasons supporting over a million people with mental health issues

To help more than 1.4 million people experiencing mental health issues, Freemasons in Essex and across England are donating more than £550,000 to help citizens across the UK.

Many people are reaching crisis point with their mental health due to the pandemic. According to NHS Prevalence Data 2020, one in six young people have a probable mental disorder, while the Young Minds Survey 2020 found 83% of young people said the pandemic had made their mental health worse.

To help the population exit the pandemic in a better state of mental health, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales, are supporting various institutions, schools and universities.

Among the institutions receiving support, the Freemasons are donating £125,000 to Young Minds to help them to support approximately 1.4 million young people. The goal is to increase Young Minds’ reach by 10% and help many more young people find the support they need, when they need it, and be able to take practical, actionable steps to improve their mental health.

The donation will enable the project to proactively recruit more young Black people and disabled people, to diversify Young Minds’ pool of bloggers to expand the experiences and voices on the website. The idea is to create more content on racism and mental health, as well as for those living with bipolar disorder.

The UGLE and the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s (MCF) - the Freemasons’ charity - donations will also help 100,000 children and young people across the UK to access information, support and guidance online.

In addition, the donation will help to develop and pilot the Suicide Safer Schools programme in three to five schools in west Cumbria, supporting 1,000 young people and 500 parents, teachers and staff, by raising awareness of suicide prevention, understanding help-seeking behaviour, and training selected staff in suicide intervention.

In a separate project, the Freemasons also aim to reach 800 young people in London, who will benefit from better understanding about the prevention of young suicide through volunteers running awareness-raising events in their local communities.

Elsewhere, 2,188 children and young people through three projects will be supported with mentoring and skills workshops. About 270 parents/staff will receive awareness workshops and support, while 270 young people will be trained as peer mentors.

The Freemasons’ donations will also support at least 600 teachers, professionals and parents, who will be provided with support through three projects offering mental health first aid training, learning events and parental support, and this will in turn will help 25,000 children and young people.

The support will also fund seven projects to help 1,780 children and young people with counselling and group therapy, while 40 parents and carers will also benefit. Elsewhere, 100 young men with mental health issues will benefit from a project offering weekly talking group sessions.

During almost two years of the pandemic, Freemasons have donated millions of pounds to support people in need. They have donated many tonnes of food, tablets for hospitals, ambulances and PPE, as well as supporting carers, women’s refuges, care homes, hospitals, hospices and funds for NHS workers.  In 2020, the Freemasons total charitable donations topped £51 million.

In addition, Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, as well as producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.

Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: “The pandemic has been devastating and mental health is a very important topic to us and our members. During the pandemic, thousands of Freemasons supported people in their communities, preventing mental health problems and supporting many families. This issue must be one of our priorities and we are joining forces to keep the population safe and feeling well.

"The UGLE has carefully chosen the institutions we are supporting, focusing on those with important objectives to achieve in the areas of tackling racism, mental health issues, living with bipolar disorder and prevention of young suicide. We need to do everything we can to help as many people as possible.”

In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing Covid-19 crisis response. Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners, while £715,000 is earmarked to support adult, young and parent carers.

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New exhibition opens at Braintree Museum “Engaging with the Community”

Braintree Museum is excited to be working with Essex Freemasons to present a new exhibition named “Engaging with the Community” to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Lodge of Saint Mary which meets at Howard Hall in Bocking. This is one of the first exhibitions of its kind in England and will be open for three weeks starting on Saturday 11th September to Saturday 2nd October 2021.

The Freemasons have also given £1,000 to pay for a one-year family membership for Braintree masons. This will include free access to the galleries charting the history of the town from the prehistoric era up to the 21st century, the Crittall Windows display, exhibits showing the importance of both the Cortauld and Warner textile firms and the work of John Ray, acknowledged as the father of natural history.

The “Engaging with the Community” exhibition will reveal how the members of the oldest local Masonic lodge have contributed to the community of Braintree and its surrounding areas over the last 150 years, including the Museum’s founder Alfred Hills and well-known members of the Crittall, Lake and Elliot families.  On display for the first time to the public will be many items and documents associated with the Freemasons.

John Adlam is the Immediate Past Master and long-serving Almoner of the 40 plus strong Lodge, founded in 1870. Both Sandra, his wife, and John are stalwarts of the Museum’s volunteer team which supports the Museum shop, assists with events, helps with the maintenance and upkeep of the former Manor Street School Victorian building and does some collection work.  John said “The Lodge has played an enormous role in the local community for the last 150 years and during that period we have collated records and images of our history and also that of Braintree. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our 150th anniversary and support the Braintree Museum at the same time”.

The exhibition, which had to be deferred for one year due to Covid restrictions, will give “A glimpse of what Freemasons do and how they contribute to the local community” said Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Lee Taylor. The Chairperson of Braintree District Museum Trust, Sheila Charrington, added “We are extremely pleased to be sharing the story of the Lodge of Saint Mary. Their members have played a huge part in the history of our town and this exhibition is an opportunity to highlight their contributions”

As well as members of the public and their families, the new exhibition is open to all Freemasons, especially those meeting in the Masonic centres in the surrounding areas to Braintree, including Halstead, Kelvedon, Witham as well as Chelmsford and Colchester. Everyone is welcome.

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Essex Provincial Grand Stewards Golf Day

The eagerly awaited Provincial Grand Stewards Golf Day finally took place at the South Essex Golf Club on Friday 31st July 2021. The originally planned Spring Event that had been months in the planning, had to be rescheduled twice in May and June, creating significant logistical planning implications.

Undeterred, the organising team of Stewards, myself included, led by WB Christian Webb, maintained their positivity, and constant communication with the changing circa 20 x Four Ball teams (80 participants).  Christian  reported that “the committed brethren and friends were amazingly understanding and patient even after what May have felt like a deluge of calls and emails from me”. 

The day was finally upon us and the teams began arriving at 8am to a full English breakfast and tea. The teams were teeing off on two separate courses and playing the front nine on one and back nine on the other using a team based Texas Scramble format.  After staggering playing teams between breakfast, the driving range and the flawless scheduling of the tee times, we got all the teams off on time to enjoy some great playing and scoring efforts.  

The 80 golfers were supported by us Stewards delivering drinks and snacks and coordinating the nearest the pin and longest drive mini competitions, began to arrive back to a hearty lunch. Even with a little rain during some of the later rounds, teams were arriving back in good spirits, looking forward to what was to follow.  

The Raffle was held first which generated a tidy sum.  Next followed the Memorabilia Auction with a selection of items primarily from across the sporting  world, which proved to be really popular. With John Conteh (Light Heavyweight Boxing Champ) in attendance it, it would have been a real opportunity missed to not invite John to host the Auction, which he very graciously agreed to do.  It’s fair to say he had done this before, and put on a real show, which added to the entertainment of the whole affair, it’s also fair to say the expert selection of items and Jonah Conte’s expert execution definitely led to creating that perfect balance between competition and generous giving. 

The Prize Giving followed, with last place going to a very gracious team called Tinos, and first place overall competition winners being Danny's Banditos.

Other notable guests in addition to our very own Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge - Peter Hollingsworth and Provincial Grand Communications Officer Peter Low, were Tony Cottee of West Ham fame, the entertainer Roger De Courcey from Chelsea Lodge and Ian Watson who donated a pair of signed Anthony Joshua boxing gloves for the Auction and who was also responsible for inviting along along Roger De Courcey and John Conteh.  

Thanks also to our Sponsors, IT Positive Ltd, Belmont Security Systems Ltd and MDG Ltd, organised by WB Dan Broyd.  Also the larger team organisers such as Chris Lee for organising the teams from Lodge of IV along with Richard ‘Juggler’ Austin and Kevin Vance who organised the teams from All England.  

Thanks to our team of Amazing Stewards of Danny Gearing, Paul Bates, Roland Carpenter, Gary Soars and of course our resident provincial Photographer Mike Barrett. 

All in all a really successful day, with all the participants support and generosity generating over £5,200 for the Festival 2022. 

Written by WB Jeff Palmer

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Chelmsford Freemasons pledge support for Mencap charity

Freemasons from Chelmsford based Lodge of Integrity have pledged their support for a local charity, City of Chelmsford Mencap, with a £1,000 donation to help it get back on its feet after the Covid pandemic.

The money, £500 directly donated by Lodge members and the balance provided by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund, will help to make up a major shortfall in events income which has resulted in a significant downturn in the services the charity has been able to provide.

Anthony North, Chair of Trustees at City of Chelmsford Mencap, explained: “Local fund-raising events would usually have contributed to the cost of classes every day for up to 30 students with learning difficulties.”

“This has not been possible because of Covid and our classes have had to be significantly reduced, with many moving online, which in turn has impacted on what we can do for our 80 plus registered members in the Chelmsford area.”

“Like many similar organisations we are still facing restrictions and social distancing measures but cannot wait to get our classes back up to full strength and this donation from the Chelmsford Freemasons will make a huge difference.”

Knowing the problems faced by City of Chelmsford Mencap, which is a standalone independent charity, Lodge of Integrity Mason Chris Davy and Charity Steward Ian Weller spoke to their members who immediately agreed to make a donation. This was immediately supported by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master and a Trustee of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund Revd. Martin Howse, commented: “We were delighted to match fund the donation from Lodge of Integrity and support a charity that does so much for the local community and sincerely hope that they will soon be able to operate a full service once again.”

Picture caption: From left to right Essex Provincial Charity Steward Colin Felton; Asst Provincial Grand Master Revd Martin Howse; Anthony North, City of Chelmsford Mencap; Chris Davy and Ian Weller.

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Keen to Be Getting Back to Business

157 Brethren were up early on Saturday 14th August 2021 and made the journey to Saxon Hall in Southend and a further 112 attended by Zoom.  They were all greeted by Colin Felton, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward who hosted the Essex Provincial Charity Stewards Conference. The guest speaker was Suhail Alam, the Chief Digital and Technology Officer for the Relief Chest Scheme of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Freemasons’ charity which is committed to giving £7 million pounds to help charities and good causes in Essex. 

Chris Hicks, the Deputy Provincial Grand Charity Steward, not only worked hard behind the scenes to organise the successful conference but also gave everyone a situation report on the Essex 2022 Festival.  Chris explained “With £4.3 million banked already, £3.9m from lodges and £400k from chapters, there are still opportunities to set landmarks. If each Lodge raised just £800 per meeting in the remaining seven months, then £5 million is well within our sights”. Chris pointed out this can be done by dinners, sponsored walks, white tables, magic nights, Essex 500 Challenges, individual challenges, quiz nights, race nights and raffles etc..

This is very much in line with the incoming new Provincial Grand Master for Essex, Paul Tarrant, who is a great believer that every Lodge should have a focus with a mission to help charity and contribute to society.

In an interesting and informative presentation, Suhail Alam explained to delegates how the MCF had made major advances using technology to help make donating to charity even more straightforward for members and the administration by Charity Stewards much easier. This includes greater awareness and use of:

  • QR collection codes, a type of matrix barcode, which Lodges can print on their summonses and other documentation to enable donors to give digitally using their smartphones – but not, of course, during an open lodge meeting
  • Green Vouchers for easy transfers to the Essex 2022 Festival
  • Transfer Allocation Forms for Lodges and Chapters which wish to credit payments to the MCF to individual members, and
  • The E-voucher platform

Colin Felton, talked about regular giving and tax relief. In the last Festival £800,000 was collected from gift aid but so far in this Festival the figure is £400,000. Colin announced an innovative new initiative allowing more members to qualify for the Essex 2022 Festival Stewards’ medal. Colin said “If a Brother arranges a standing order or gives a regular giving pledge to donate £500, plus gift aid, within a new extended period of 18 months to December 2023, let me know and I will personally send the medal to him”.

Colin described being a Charity Steward: “It’s hard work” he said “We are in the firing line and we are all about changing lives” The feedback from delegates of this highly successful conference is most praiseworthy. As Lodges are now meeting again, with Brethren who have not been together for some time, it is clear from the 269 who were up early on Saturday 14th August 2021 that our Charity Stewards are keen to be getting back to business.

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The Finishing Line is in Sight! But will it be for £5 or 6 Million?

With just over three weeks before his Installation as the new Provincial Grand Master for Essex, at Freemasons’ Hall in London on 9th September 2021, Paul Tarrant, gave the closing address to charity representatives of the 300 plus lodges in Essex at the Provincial Charity Stewards Conference held at the Southend Masonic Centre and online on Saturday 14th August 2021 

Masonic provinces in England and Wales raise vital funding for one of the UK’s largest charities, the Masonic Charitable Foundation, through appeals called ‘Festivals which normally last for five years.  The Essex 2022 Festival ends in seven months’ time. The initial target was £5 million but, after receiving a large legacy, was increased to £6 million before covid 19 struck and decimated the fundraising of the 9,000 Freemasons in the County, “We can all see it has been a rough year,” said Paul Tarrant.

The conference was informed that the total raised so far in Essex is £4.3 million.  With the lifting of restrictions Lodges are meeting again so £5 million appears feasible. Delegates heard how the MCF has been coping over the past year and how each individual Lodge Relief Chest scheme is embracing technology as well as the changes and innovations in methods of donating with a big move to online giving.

The MCF has committed over £7 million to the work of national charities based in Essex as well as local charities and good causes with 95% of the favourable press coverage about Essex Masons being charity based.  After Paul Tarrant had thanked the conference organisers and presenters, he said “We get more from the MCF than we give,” and emphasised to all the delegates the need “to support the MCF as much as possible”.

There is no doubt that as the Freemasons in Essex resume meeting in their lodges once again, there will be a considerable amount of fundraising activity among their members, particularly over the next seven months. On closing the conference, Paul Tarrant said “The finishing line is in sight”. Charities, good causes and readers throughout Essex will all be watching carefully and wishing them every success whilst asking the question “but will it be for £5 or 6 million?”

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Funding for hospice service to care homes

Farleigh Hospice in Chelmsford has launched a major new programme, funded by Essex Freemasons, to support residents at care homes across mid-Essex with critical end of life and palliative care.

The programme will cost £33,000 to deliver, money donated by Essex Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and is urgently needed to support the care home sector which has been badly affected by the Covid pandemic.

Debbie de Boltz, Fundraising Manager for Farleigh Hospice, explained: “We knew there was an urgent need to extend the Hospice service into care homes but until now we never had the resources to make this happen. This grant from Essex Freemasons has made all the difference and will allow us to strengthen our team enabling us to launch this new programme, which in turn will provide the critical support needed for residents and staff at care homes.”

In practical terms care homes can now work more closely with the Hospice, helping to identify residents approaching the end of life who can choose to remain where they are or be transferred to the Hospice for specialist support. The £33,000 grant is part of a £100,000 package of donations from Essex Freemasons and the MCF for Hospices across the county. Similar grants of £30,000 plus have been given to St Helena at Colchester and St Luke’s in Basildon.

“Hospices have always attracted support from Freemasons,” said Peter Hollingsworth, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons. “I am delighted that we have once again been able to fund vital new projects to ensure that they can keep up their fantastic work in the community.”

Farleigh Hospice provides care for any type of illness that is considered life-limiting, including cancer, neurological diseases, and chronic heart, lung, and renal diseases, both in their Inpatient Unit or in a patient’s home environment. This service has now been extended to care homes as a result of the Grant. In addition to MCF Grants of more than £450,000 donated to Hospices nationally, Essex Masons traditionally support local hospices across the county with combined donations exceeding more than £50,000 each year.

Pictured above at the Farleigh Hospice Memorial Garden are Colin Felton, Provincial Charity Steward; Samantha Riches, Care Home Coordinator; Sheona Evangeli, Locality Care Teams Manager; and Peter Hollingsworth, Asst. Provincial Grand Master.

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A New Chapter For An Essex Mason

One of the most experienced Freemasons in Essex is about to begin an exciting new chapter. Taking over as the club historian for West Ham United when his late father Jack, also a prominent Essex Freemason, passed away in 1992, John Helliar was delighted when West Ham beat Southampton 3-0 in their final game of the 2020-2021 Premier League season. This placed the Hammers in sixth place, three points ahead of Spurs, enough to secure a Europa League place taking them straight into the group stages with 31 other teams.

John’s great grandfather, Samuel, lived in Silvertown. He was a brass founder at the Thames Iron Works and in 1895 became a member of the committee which led to the formation of West Ham United in 1900 and worked on the turnstiles, as did his two sons Frederick, John’s grandfather, and Henry. After starting up his own printing business at home, Samuel also did print work for West Ham including the matchday programmes from the end of WW1. The family printing business, Helliar & Sons, flourished and moved to Canning Town.

In 1939 Jack, Fredericks’s son, joined the Essex Regiment Territorials along with many of the West Ham players. Jack married Ellen in 1942 and John was born in 1945 in East Ham. The family moved to Upminster when John was six and, after passing the 11-plus, he attended St Bonaventure’s Grammar School in Forest Gate before joining the family business. Although the contract was given to another firm in 1983, Jack continued to write in the programme and became the club historian.

West Ham begin their 2021 European tour with a minimum of six games, three in Europe and three at the London Stadium. The kick-off is scheduled to start on 16th September with the final group game on 9th December 2021. One lifelong Spurs supporter, who is disappointed his team came seventh and did not qualify, is nevertheless pleased for John Helliar. The new Provincial Grand Master and Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Designate for Essex, Paul Tarrant, said “I have always viewed John as a good friend and looked up to him. I wish him, and all Essex Freemasons who support the Hammers, success in the Europa League.

Even as a Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John still has many commitments in various Masonic Orders including being the Provincial Prior for Essex for the Masonic Orders of the Knights Templar and Knights of Malta. Like his father before him, with a love of Freemasonry in his heart and claret and blue in his veins, John Helliar is about to begin a new chapter for an Essex Mason.

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Calling All Frontline Heroes!

Ilford Castle Lodge 7144 should be celebrating its 70th Anniversary in February 2022, however we, like others, are considering surrendering our Warrant. This is for several reasons but we would hate to give up yet. During the pandemic, W Bro Shaun Rayner, the Worshipful Master (WM) and Mentor, embarked on raising money for frontline key-workers and the idea of ‘The Frontline Heroes’ was born. Our remaining members are all frontline key-workers and we are opening our door to all frontline keyworkers. Help us save our little Lodge.

It would be sad for me personally that, after nearly 25 years in Freemasonry, my mother lodge is considering its future whilst I am its WM for the third time. Despite what impression you may have, our members are a truly dedicated bunch and this is reflected by the work they have been doing during the pandemic. Police, court, prison staff, public transport. I cannot say how proud I am of our brethren in that during the pandemic our six members have helped raise over £2,000 for the frontline heroes.

What can we offer you? We meet four times a year in February, April, September and December with three of the four on a Saturday. If you wish to progress as Officers then you could almost pick your role, subject to experience.  We do have a WM, who has been waiting two years for the opportunity and he would miss out if we close. We meet in Harlow, which is a lovely little temple and has recently had some improvements during lockdown including excellent parking and air conditioning. Please help continue the journey.

* Specialist Frontline Key-Workers Lodge
* Help a Lodge from closing
* Progress quickly
* three of the four meetings are on a Saturday
* Brethren of all ages, IPM is just 22 - one of the youngest Masters EVER.

We will reduce our joining fee to the minimum possible, although UGLE and Provincial fees would still apply, for all new members to encourage you to join. We would love to hear from you.

After 69 years it would be sad for another Essex Lodge to close its doors. The pandemic has hit everyone hard BUT what better way to show our appreciation for our heroes than by joining a lodge which wants to dedicate itself to ALL Frontline Key Workers.
Let’s join together and make this work.

Thanks all: Shaun Rayner

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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.

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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.”

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