Following a most successful Festival in aid of the Masonic Samaritan Fund, I am delighted to hear that many Derbyshire Lodges are now concentrating on giving to local charities and other worthy causes.  I remind all brethren within the Province that, at his recent investiture, our Provincial Grand Master encouraged any Lodge pledging such support to apply to the Provincial Grand Charity (PGC) for match funding so as to maximise the benefit to the community. Of course match funding cannot be guaranteed in every case but – nothing ventured nothing gained.

The PGC, and the members of the Province who make up its Standing Committee, see a diverse mix of applications from people who are seeking assistance. These range from grants to children’s holiday centres, the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain and “Kids Camps” for disadvantaged children; to the provision of funding for items such as defibrillators for Masonic and public emergencies and for assistance to organisations such as the People’s Dispensary For Sick Animals (the PDSA), the Soldiers Sailors Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline.

The recent annual funfair, organised by the PGC and ably supported by the Showman’s Guild and Erewash Borough Council, succeeded in attracting over a thousand children with specific needs from all over Derbyshire. The day was a great success.

Ten thousand pounds was recently donated by the PGC to the Colin Bloomfield Appeal. This provides education and skin care packs to the children of Derbyshire, alerting them to the dangers of skin cancer caused by over exposure to the sun. Over the last twelve months the PGC has expended over one hundred thousand pounds to Masonic and other causes. Part of this sum was paid into the Freemasons of Derbyshire Grass Roots Fund administrated by Foundation Derbyshire. The Grass Roots Fund was established by the PGC to support communities, voluntary groups and charities. The current fund value stands at four hundred and five thousand pounds, a significant part of which has been match funded by the Government.

I would encourage you all to visit the website of Foundation Derbyshire at www.foundationderbyshire.org , to take a look at not only the Freemasons Grass Roots information but also the other many opportunities available and to communicate the contents to any organisation that may benefit from an application to one or more of the funds.

Many Lodges and Charity Stewards are contemplating how to get the best return from their accumulated funds whilst preserving easy access. The low interest rates presently offered by traditional saving methods are not attractive to many.

As an alternative, many Lodges now have a Relief Chest administered by the Freemasons’ Grand Charity.  This is an excellent vehicle for claiming tax relief with all the hard work being completed by staff at the Grand Charity as a service to Lodges.  Other Lodges operate their own registered charity with trustees and a benevolent fund.  Both of these systems allow for regular donations to be made under a gift-aid declaration and a payment promise.

During the autumn and thereafter we will be offering a presentation to all Lodges. It will focus entirely on charitable activities. I hope that each Lodge at some point during the year will embrace this as part of their annual programme. In the meantime, should you have any queries or wish to discuss any particular application please do not hesitate to contact me on splashfarm@leabridge.co.uk or my assistant, W Bro. Alan Clark, on padley@alanpeterclark.com.

Michael Hitchcock
Provincial Grand Charity Steward

%d bloggers like this: