ISSUE 9, April 2004

Editorial
The Duke of Wellington: A Brother in arms
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Life with the Stars: Masons and famous people
Hall Stone Jewel: Cyril Spackman, designer
Travel: Jamaica
Grand Charity: Annual Report and Accounts
Masonic stamps: Masonry on stamps
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Antients and Moderns go on-line
Masonic education: Events for Freemasons
Masonic charities: The continuing work
Bowel cancer: How the Grand Charity is helping
Royal Arch: Russia and Eastern Europe
Letters
Richard Eve: A former Grand Treasurer
Book reviews
Gardening

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Masonic Charities


Friendship Clubs–what are you doing?
At the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI), we are mindful of the commitment that has been made to ensure the well-being of older Freemasons and their dependants.
      We constantly strive to fulfil this commitment not only in the quality of life and standard of care offered in our 17 Homes, and the activities and entertainments they provide, but also through the support offered to many living in their own homes, through our Care Advice Visiting team.
      We also support Widows and Friendship Groups via the Link Newsletter, and provide a number of much needed holidays each year.
      Whilst people living in our Homes have access to various activities such as trips, presentations and a full range of entertainment including games and crafts, life can be very different for an older person living on their own. However, help is at hand.
      Many Masonic Provinces have now set up Friendship Clubs, in conjunction with their Provincial Grand Almoner, designed to combat the loneliness felt by widows and widowers.
      These informal groups, some of which are aimed at widows only, others focus on interested couples or individuals, all aim to offer regular additional social contact. The impact of such clubs can be dramatic as shown by the following extract from a letter recently received by the Link Editor:
      “…Having moved home recently, I was extremely disappointed to discover that there is no Friendship Club anywhere near my new home. The old club formed a large part of my life, by offering regular lunches and outings, and I made many dear friends, dearly missed. Can somebody not set a club up in this Province?”
      If you would like to receive a copy of the Link Newsletter yourself, or if you are an Almoner looking for advice on setting up a Friendship Club in your Province, please contact the RMBI’s Link co-ordinator John Radwell, on 020 7596 2406.

Cost-cutting measures
The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) is proud to state that it has never turned away a Masonic applicant due to a lack of funds. However, in times of falling stock markets, low interest rates and a significant income over expenditure deficit, certain cost savings measures have had to be introduced to help enable us to continue our activities at the current level.
      One planned area of change is in connection with the highly popular UndergradAid scheme. The number of grants awarded each year under this scheme varies depending upon the funds available (In 2001 – 971; 2002 – 919 and 2003 – 728).

      Whilst we expect the funds available in 2004 to be somewhat limited, it is our hope that the number of grants awarded can be maximised, and the efficiency of the scheme improved, by introducing certain new measures. In essence, application forms for 2004-5 will only be available from our website at www.rmtgb.org. Please visit the site on or after 4 May 2004 and download your form. (This applies to new and repeat applicants.)
      All applicants must provide an email address and valid bank account, details which MUST NOT change until notification of the decision has been received.
      All applicants will receive their decision by email and successful applicants will have grants paid directly into their accounts at sometime during the Autumn Term.
      The scheme continues to be available for young people at university undertaking a first degree or equivalent whose father, stepfather or guardian is a subscribing Freemason under the English Constitution, or was in good standing at the time of his death.
      All applications will be means-tested and those most in need will get priority. UndergradAid is not available to existing beneficiaries of the Trust. Although the number of awards will be limited, we hope to continue to make a significant difference to the lives of many of our Masonic children who decide to further their education at university.

Grand Charity aids Iran earthquake victims

    In the early hours of 26th December 2003 a massive earthquake devastated the ancient city of Bam in the south east of Iran. It is estimated that at least 41,000 people were killed and 30,000 were injured. About 85% of all houses in the city were completely destroyed and 75,000 people were made homeless. The Chief Executive of the British Red Cross described a “level of damage of biblical proportions that has brought this once beautiful city to nothing but a pile of stones. I saw not a single entire house standing. Street after street that we drove down was just a massive pile of bricks.”
      On 30th December, The Grand Charity gave an immediate donation of £20,000 towards the relief effort. The emergency grant was paid to the British Red Cross to be applied towards the chartering and fuelling costs of the cargo plane used to transport a British Red Cross Emergency Response Unit and the relief supplies to Iran, as well as contributing to the cost of the four warehousing tents used to store the relief items on the ground in Iran.
      Support for the victims of the Iranian earthquake is the most recent of many ‘Emergency Grants’ which the Grand Charity has given since it was established in 1980. These are authorised by the President, often within hours of the disaster, and usually range from £10,000 to £20,000.
Most of the grants are given for disasters that occur in countries where the local government is less well prepared for these emergencies and international assistance is welcomed. Recent examples of Grand Charity Emergency Grants include support for the victims of the earthquake in Algeria in 2003, the food crisis in Africa in 2002 and the earthquakes in 2001 in India and El Salvador.
      The British Red Cross, via whom most of these grants are made, recognises the Grand Charity as one of its staunchest supporters, “The long term commitment of the Grand Charity helps us to respond to the needs of vulnerable people during disasters.” And from the Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, Sir Nicholas Young, “Thank you so much for your support.”

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