Page 5 - Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Newsletters
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and those Lodges which achieved Platinum were presented with a Festival Gavel at our annual Provincial Meeting.
6. It is very pleasing that the majority of our Lodges exceeded our expectations and I have no doubt that the Festival total to be announced this evening will be a credit to this Province. Whatever the amount I wish to thank all those brethren who have contributed – encouraged by the team which we assembled at the outset and who have worked tirelessly for the last 6 years to ensure the success of the Appeal.
7. The Appeals Director, Geoff Tuck who also shoulders the responsibility of being one of my Area Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and who was also a Trustee of the Grand Charity throughout the six year period, has lead from the front. He has been an inspiration to all involved. He has been assisted by Barrie Hewitt, our Provincial Charity Steward, who has visited numerous Lodges giving presentations on the work of the Trust and who has provided encouragement and guidance to the 252 Lodge Charity Stewards across the Province whilst also continuing to discharge his other responsibilities as Provincial Charity Steward. Ron Griffiths, the Festival Secretary, who has worked behind the scenes for the entire 6 year period to ensure the smooth running of the administration. The Area teams, the Chairmen, Secretary, and members of the Area Festival Committees, the Lodge Charity Stewards, and of course the brethren producing their meaningful sums!
8. We have been supported throughout by the enthusiasm of the Trust inspired by its President Mike Woodcock and Chief Executive Les Hutchinson, who are both here this evening with their ladies, and who have given many speeches and presentations across the Province, supplemented by our own team. The more the brethren learned of the work of the Trust, the more they learned of the heart breaking distress suffered by so many families and of the positive impact of the support available from the Trust, the more they responded as one would expect of Freemasons. They took to their hearts the words – “A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.”
9. So moving on to the Trust, how does it make a child smile. As I mention in the Introduction to the Menu booklet, the Trust traces its history back to 1788 when a school was founded for the daughters of distressed Masons. The school was referred to at the time as “The Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects”. These were the days before political correctness! A similar provision for boys was established in 1798 – I do not have a record of how the boys were referred to; and that is probably for the best!
10. Times changed as inevitably they do. Attitudes changed. And Freemasonry and its approach to charity also changed. It was realised that sending a poor child away to school was not always the best solution, and so the trustees of the schools began to give what they termed ‘Out Relief’ as well; this took the form of financial assistance to be used to support the child at the family home. Eventually this lead to the establishment of the two charities referred to in the Menu booklet which eventually came together as the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
11. The Trust continued with its work providing for children in need, and also supporting children outside the Masonic family as referred to in the Menu booklet. The Trust’s millennium project was the founding of Lifelites which has been enormously successful, and which now functions as an independent charity. Lifelites provides opportunities for life-limited and disabled children at every baby and children’s hospice in the British Isles. This was a tremendous achievement of which all Freemasons can be proud and I am delighted that the chief executive of Lifelites is with us this evening.

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