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The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys has been supporting children and young people since 1788. One of the charity’s principal objectives is to ‘advance education’ for children with a masonic connection, with the overwhelming majority of the Trust’s support provided to children who have experienced a distress that has led to financial hardship. Alongside this, another scheme operated by the Trust, TalentAid provides support that can be considered just as essential in terms of securing a positive future for the children and grandchildren of freemasons.
Established in 2001, TalentAid helps children and young people who are exceptionally gifted in music, sport or the performing arts to achieve their ambition of developing a professional career in their chosen field. The scheme ensures that young people from low-income families can continue developing their musical, artistic or sporting talent which can often be their best chance to have a successful career in later life.
Equipping future athletes and artists
Since the scheme was established, over £3m has been awarded from the TalentAid scheme to over 250 young people to meet the purchase of one-off items such as a professional quality musical instrument or advanced sports equipment. Grants may also be used to pay for coaching fees as well as to meet the costs of participating in competitions. Since the launch of the 2016 Festival, eight young people from Hampshire and Isle of Wight have been supported through the Trust’s TalentAid scheme.
As with every grant awarded by the Trust, TalentAid is income-assessed and candidates are expected to apply for all other sources of available funding such as grants, scholarships and sponsorship before making an application. If accepted by TalentAid, support is restricted to a set period of time and is subject to a financial review each year, as well as confirmation that the candidate’s talent continues to develop.
TalentAid is not available to give children the opportunity
to take up or continue a new hobby. Candidates must intend to pursue their talent as a professional career in later life and demonstrate their ability by passing recognised examinations,
gaining entry to highly competitive schemes, groups or courses, or by performing at regional and national levels.
Lily is a very promising young footballer who recently received support from TalentAid. She was scouted by Arsenal Football Club and was delighted to be offered a place at their Ladies academy. Unfortunately, the academy charged a fee for accommodation which Lily’s mother, a single parent who worked full time, simply
could not afford. Lily contacted a number of sport-related charities
but there was no help available.
Lily’s grandfather has been a freemason for over 25 years and despite providing significant support to his family, he too was unable to help his granddaughter with these costs. Thankfully, a family friend and freemason told Lily’s mother about a scheme called TalentAid. An application was made and the Trust was able to help with Lily’s accommodation costs meaning she could join the academy. A travel grant was also provided to ensure that she could continue to visit her family. Without the Trust’s grant, Lily would not have been able to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and continue to develop her promising sporting career.
Lily is currently on-loan from Arsenal and plays as a striker for Brighton and Hove Albion ladies, where she recently received the club’s Player of the Year Award for 2012-13. In addition to taking this first step towards becoming a professional, Lily has also taken modules in coaching, physiotherapy and sport science, all of which she has passed with distinction. She has also begun to study for a degree in sport science in her spare time. In a recent letter from Lily, she told the Trust that the support she received from freemasonry had ‘made her dreams come true.’
Harry Smith of the RMTGB - Follow the RMTGB on Twitter @RMTGB
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Insight • Issue 7 10

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