ISSUE 2, July 2002
Brothers in endurance: Sir Ernest Shackleton
Travel: Florida
Jack the Ripper: Exploring the Masonic link
Quarterly Communication: Annual Investiture address by the Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes and Report of the Library and Museum Trust
Masonic News: Order of Service to Masonry; Grand Lodge deficit; Alvin Coburn pioneer photographer; Royal Masonic Variety Show
   Royal Arch News: Concern over falling exaltations
Charity News: Masonic relief grants launched; New RMBI video; Help is at hand through the NMSF; RMBI challenges and change; Update on RMBI projects; RMBI resident Jessie is Britain's oldest person; Grand Charity grant to National Asthma Campaign; TalentAid
Masonic Homes: Proud and independent
Library and Museum news: Recent library acquisitions
Book reviews

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Help for the widow of a Freemason might be the most obvious example of Masonic benevolence, but our charitable funds stretch well beyond that. It goes to not only younger Brethren, but also to the wives of Masons who have been deserted or, through no fault of their own, otherwise find themselves without the support of a husband.
    There are several cases where a Mason lived with his partner, but because they had not married, she was unable to claim the usual rights or benefits of a widow. The Grand Charity is concerned for the general day-to-day living expenses of all Masons, past and present, registered under the United Grand Lodges of England. If, on their death, they leave someone with whom they had lived, and who had shared their financial responsibilities, the Grand Charity is concerned for them too. The concern is that if there is a need for one-off or ongoing support that cannot be covered from an applicant's own resources (after taking into account all other reasonable commitments), and in the time available, it should be provided for them.
    Most of the cases considered by the Grand Charity and the RMBI over the years have been on behalf of elderly or disabled people. Masonic Relief Grants will also be given to provide specialist vehicles and equipment for disabled and infirm Masons and their dependants. Since 2000, the Grand Charity has worked closely with Ortho-Kinetics, a company specialising in mobility equipment. To date, 294,600 has been spent on stairlifts, electric wheelchairs, recliner/riser chairs, specialist bathing equipment, and so on. All are fully maintained and remain the property of the Grand Charity. The applicants have full use of the items for as long as they have the need.
    It is, however, surprising that currently 50 per cent of all grants made by the Grand Charity go to only eight of the 47 Provincial Grand Lodges. To encourage more applicants, the Grand Charity is hoping to organise a national seminar for the autumn 2002 to explain the changes. Also, members of the Council of the Grand Charity are always available to speak at Lodge meetings, or other appropriate gatherings, about the Masonic Relief Grants.
    According to Reg Walter, chairman of the Masonic Relief Grants Committee, 'Our targetis that all Brethren or their dependants who qualify for help should receive it. Nothing less is acceptable.'

New RMBI video

A new video has been produced to illustrate the range of services provided by the RMBI and to demonstrate the contribution made by the institution to the quality of life of its beneficiaries. Chief Executive, Peter Gray, introduces the work of the institution and members of staff describe their roles.
    The video features residents talking about the impact the RMBI has had on their lives. Copies are available (since June 2002) at a cost of 10 each (including packaging and postage). Please send your order and a cheque, made out to the RMBI, to the Director of Communications, RMBI, 20 Great Queen Street, London WC2B SBG.

Help is at hand through the NMSF

The New Masonic Samaritan Fund (NMSF) was established to support Freemasons, their wives, widows and dependants unable to obtain NHS treatment without undue delay, and who cannot afford private medical treatment without further hardship. Despite providing support to more than 5,000 applicants in the past 12 years, the Fund still hears of individuals who were eligible to seek our help but were unaware that they could do so.
    Do you know anyone who might need the Fund's help? An enquiry through a Lodge, or direct to the Fund, will quickly and confidentially determine what support may be available. Thanks to a very generous grant from the Grand Charity, the NMSF has been able to extend its areas of support. This grant, over a two-year period, has been given to allow the Fund to support applicants who require drug treatments for cancer and degenerative diseases, as well as non routine dental treatment. Direct applications should be made to NMSF, 26 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5BL.

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