Heart of the matter
A Brother suffered a heart attack in 1995 and as a result was required to take a vital and continuing course of anti-clotting drugs. A second heart attack and a mini-stroke in 2002 saw him reporting to St. Thomas's hospital, where it became obvious that surgery was an urgent requirement and preferably private, because August was the earliest date being considered by the NHS.
In March whilst in the bar following a Lodge of Instruction meeting, the Lodge Almoner remarked that he looked like he had the world on his back. He explained that the need to find £20,000 to £25,000 was the problem and that he couldn't raise more than £2,000 or £3,000. The Almoner suggested that the NEW MASONIC SAMAIRJTAN FUND might be able to help.
To cut a long story short the Almoner rang the Fund, arranged an interview with the individual concerned in order to complete the application forms, and within four weeks he was admitted to the London Independent Hospital.
In a letter received some time after the event, he described his time in hospital as "five days of a quite beautiful experience, resulting in a letter to the surgeon complaining that, bearing in mind the cost, he had expected a far higher degree of pain and was seeking legal advice on the way they robbed him of his angina, which he had enjoyed whining about for years to his family."
The surgeon replied that he could "provide any pain, intense or otherwise, free of charge on the NHS."
Vital role of Almoner
These stories all had a happy ending, but they illustrate the vital role of the Lodge Almoner and the importance of maintaining efficient records and passing these on to their successors.
By making a real effort to keep in touch with those who have left the Craft, they can ensure that their dependants can be helped as necessary.
Often, consideration of a grant could have been made several years beforehand if the Lodge had been able to maintain contact. For those Masonic families receiving state benefits, the support available from the Charities can make a dramatic difference to their lives.
While every Lodge has its Almoner, it is true to say that every Freemason can be considered to be an Almoner in spirit and this is amply illustrated by the stories above.
The level of support and the criteria under which it is assessed change regularly and we urge all Almoners to be vigilant. If there is any doubt regarding eligibility or application processes do not hesitate to contact us on the details shown in the box.
If the Almoner is armed with a good understanding of the work of the Charities and he is then best placed to provide the relevant information and advice when it is required. The Almoners are the eyes and ears of the Charities and without their invaluable assistance our work would not be possible. On behalf of the past, present and future beneficiaries of all the Charities we thank you for your continued support.
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