ISSUE 4, January 2003
Editorial
History: The Wilde Oxford Mason
Captain Courageous: Mason Eric Moody's Horror Flight
Travel: Weekend Tonic
Quarterly Communication: Address by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter
   Charity News: Grand Charity and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and RMBI - Making the Difference and New Masonic Samaritan Fund - In Safe Hands
Spring lecture season: Library & Museum of Freemasonry; Cornerstone Society; Canonbury Masonic Research Centre; Sheffield University
Library and Museum: News
Letters
Gardening
Book reviews

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In Safe Hands

Help is available for Freemasons and their dependants who are sick and in need, as Richard Douglas, Chief Executive of the New Masonic Samaritan Fund, explains.


More than 5000 individuals have benefited directly since the New Masonic Samaritan Fund (NMSF) was established in 1990 to take on the work of the Samaritan Fund of the Royal Masonic Hospital. Twelve years later the 'New' Fund continues to ensure that the ethos and heritage of the Hospital Samaritan Fund remain in safe hands.
    The symbolism behind the design of the emblem of the NMSF remains every bit as valid today as when it was first designed. Held within the circle of friendship that is Freemasonry, the caring hands provide healing and succour to those who are sick and in need. The quote below is from one of the many letters of thanks received by the Fund confirming that the support provided is both needed and very much appreciated.
    'Thank you. Your timely and understanding gesture in arranging and financing the multiple by-pass operation for me was without parallel in the concept of my family and my grateful self. It was for me a true representation of the philosophy of our fraternity.'
    Demand for the help available from the NMSF continues to grow. In the past 12 months funding has been approved for a further 524 individuals at an overall cost in excess of 3m. This is the highest annual figure since the Fund was established. However, with support available to all Freemasons within the English Constitution and their wives, widows and dependants, could more have been done?
    The Fund was established to assist those who are in need of medical treatment and, faced with a long wait within the National Health Service, are unable to afford private treatment without incurring additional hardship. Although demand continues to increase, evidence suggests that many people in genuine need do not know about the Fund or do not realise that they may be eligible for support.
    'It was not until my last Lodge meeting that I learned of the existence of the New Masonic Samaritan Fund. If I had known of its existence, I would almost certainly have established contact to discover your rules and to deal as far as possible with any of the problems.'
    In order to qualify for support from the Fund there is a need to meet only three criteria. Once the Masonic 'connection' has been confirmed there remains only the need to provide evidence of both medical and financial need.
    The Trust Deed governing the work of the Fund sets out the charitable objects as being the relief of poverty and sickness for Freemasons, or the wives or children or dependants of Freemasons, or the widows or children or dependants of deceased Freemasons. Within this context a Freemason is defined as anyone who, at any time, has been initiated into, or has joined, a Lodge - in other words, once a Mason always a Mason.
    This is supported by a recent case initiated by a non-Mason on behalf of his 83-year-old mother. Her second husband, the stepfather of the enquirer, had been a Mason up to his death some 20 years ago. A quick review of the relevant records confirmed her eligibility for support.
    Children under the age of 18, or still in full-time education, will usually be eligible. In certain circumstances, older children of Freemasons may be eligible if they have a significant and continuing dependence on their father or his estate. Similarly, the elderly relative of a Freemason who is financially or physically dependent on him may also be eligible for support.
    Approximately 50 percent of the assistance funded by the NMSF currently goes to the wives, widows and dependants of Freemasons. The potential demand for support is therefore very large. There is no age limit, with support having been granted to applicants from as young as five to a not quite so young 95-year-old.
    'I am now recovering well and am looking forward to enjoying the ability to once again be mobile without the terrible discomfort which I have had to endure over the past 2-3 years. My husband, who passed away eight years ago, I know would be so delighted that you have been able to help in such a manner, and it is indeed a splendid example of the good work of the Masonic movement which he always held in high esteem.'
    Many of the medical treatments funded by the NMSF are in respect of conditions associated with advancing years. With the average age of applicants currently running at 72 years young, this is perhaps not surprising.
    In order to confirm a medical need, an applicant is required to have seen an NHS consultant to verify the proposed treatment. Those faced with a long wait to see a consultant may opt to book an initial private consultation. However, this cost will not, except in exceptional circumstances, be borne by the NMSF. If, having received a formal diagnosis, an applicant is faced with a long wait for NHS treatment, the Fund may be able to help.
    Applications received on behalf of members of the English Constitution living abroad will need to meet different criteria from those living in the UK. Staff at the Fund are happy to discuss eligibility in such cases.
    Applicants to the Fund do not need to be financially destitute. Account is taken of both income and expenditure, with every case being assessed on its individual merits against a number of specific criteria. The value of the main residence is not taken into account when considering savings and capital. Whilst the process of verifying financial details can be a difficult and potentially embarrassing task, there is a requirement to confirm genuine need.
    Some applicants will qualify for a grant equivalent to the full cost of treatment, whilst others will be required to make a personal contribution.
    Of the applications received by the Fund, the Petitions Committee does not approve approximately 20 percent. Over and above the qualifying criteria already mentioned, a number of other specific circumstances might lead to an application being turned down.

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