Braham Djidjelli

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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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.

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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)

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