HRH The Earl of Wessex and HRH The Duke of Kent to celebrate The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award donation at Freemasons’ Hall

  • The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has celebrated the donation of £300k by the Masonic Charitable Foundation to The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) during an event at Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden on 8 March.
  • HRH The Earl of Wessex and HRH The Duke of Kent attended the event.

More than 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs (SEND) will be able to do their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, thanks to a three-year strategic partnership, which will donate a total of £300,000 from the Freemasons. To make this partnership with the DofE possible, the UGLE has teamed up with the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).

The MCF became a strategic partner of the DofE in 2021 and has funded a new national programme to upskill its team and volunteers. The programme also helps enroll more schools and clubs which support young people with SEND, to ensure all young people have access to the DofE.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip), who founded the DofE in 1956, was himself a Freemason and was initiated into Navy Lodge, No 2612 on 5 December 1952.

The ambition is to use the funds to increase the number of centres, such as schools and youth groups, offering DofE to young people with SEND and to train hundreds of Leaders who can support groups of young people through their DofE journeys.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive, said: “Freemasons are enormously proud to have counted His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, as a member of the Navy Lodge since 1952. Their fondness and respect were abundantly clear from the response to the launch of this appeal, and we are delighted that the funds raised will be put to such good use.”

Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the MCF, added: “Charity is in our DNA and something we practise every time we meet. In just a few years, we have already awarded grants totalling £100 million and supported over 3,000 charities; with grants ranging from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of pounds, including the grant we are celebrating today.”

Caroline Glen, Director of Fundraising for the DofE, said: “We’re very grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for their generous grant, which will give many thousands of young people with disabilities and special educational needs the chance to take part in the DofE and gain its life-changing benefits. This is a wonderful and very practical way to continue The Duke’s amazing legacy and to spread the benefits of the DofE further than ever before.”

The programme has been designed to make DofE participation possible for young people with additional needs. It will help young people build crucial life skills, develop employability skills and become more independent.

The impact of achieving a DofE Award is remarkable and often life-changing for young people with additional needs, who can be excluded from adventurous activities due to a lack of accessible equipment, facilities, trained support staff and funding.

– ENDS –

Editors’ notes:

  • Interviews available on request


Picture 1: (left to right) HRH The Duke of Kent and HRH The Earl of Wessex

Picture 2: (left to right) HRH The Duke of Kent; David Staples; Peter Lowndes, Pro Grand Master; and HRH The Earl of Wessex

Picture 3: (left to right) HRH The Earl of Wessex


Livia Ferreira, public relations manager, United Grand Lodge of England


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9208 | Mobile: +44 (0)7539 578699


Michelle Worvell, director of communications and marketing, United Grand Lodge of England


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9290 | Mobile: +44 (0)7538 512669

About the United Grand Lodge of England:

  • The Premier Grand Lodge, which became the United Grand Lodge of England, was founded at the Goose and Gridiron Pub in London in 1717.
  • It has 48 Provinces across the country and more than 7,000 Lodges, with students over the age of 18 able to join one of the 85 University Scheme Lodges.
  • Freemasons use four important guiding principles to help define their path through life: integrity, friendship, respect and charity.
  • One of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world, Freemasonry’s roots lie in the traditions of the medieval stonemasons who built our cathedrals and castles.
  • Membership is open to people from all backgrounds and the organisation’s aim is to empower members to be the best they can be – it’s about building character, supporting members as individuals and helping them make a positive contribution to society.
  • Freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £51.1m to deserving causes in 2020 alone. Freemasons do not only donate money – more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work were undertaken by Freemasons in 2018.


About the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country. Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the MCF awards millions of pounds each year to local and national charities that help vulnerable people, advance medical research and provide opportunities for young people. The MCF also helps to fund vital services such as hospices and air ambulances, and regularly contributes to worldwide appeals for disaster relief. In total, MCF support helps to improve the lives of thousands of people every year in England, Wales and internationally. As well as providing grants to charities, the MCF supports Freemasons and their families with a financial, health or family need. Visit


About the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE)

  • The DofE was set up by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956. Since then, 7 millionyoung people have taken part and 3.1 million have achieved their Award, proving to themselves that they’re ready for whatever life throws at them.
  • Due to the pandemic, the DofE has never been more needed. It offers young people the chance to be free to follow their own passions and discover new skills and talents they never knew they had. To make a difference in their community by volunteering for causes they care about. To escape, to have fun and make friends for life. To prove that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything.
  • Over 330,000 young people across the UKare currently doing their DofE, including 180,000 young people who started their DofE programme in 2020/2021.
  • In 2020/2021, 45,000 achieved an Award and 62,400 earned their Certificate of Achievement, through a range of licensed organisations including schools, youth groups, young offender institutions, sports clubs, hospitals and fostering agencies.
  • Some 22% of new participants were young people facing financial hardship, social exclusion, or those that need specialist support to do their award, such as young offenders or young people with special educational needs or disabilities.
  • The DofE’s ambition is to reach one million more young people in the UK during the next five years, as part of its ‘Youth Without Limits’ strategy (launched in June 2021).
  • The DofE is supported by more than 3,700 partner organisations and approximately 40,000 adult volunteers.
  • The DofE is supported by UK employers including St James’s Place Wealth Management, RSM, Heathrow, DFS, Amey, Royal Mail and British Gas, who endorse the skills and attributes developed while doing a DofE programme such as resilience, commitment, self-motivation and teamworking.
  • The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is Registered Charity No 1072490 in England, and No SC038254 in Scotland, as well as Royal Charter Corporation RC000806.
  • More information about the DofE, go to org