Traditionally Freemasons have donated cash in line with the watchwords of ‘Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Charity’. As charities in Gloucestershire received £243,000 from Freemasonry in 2022 that’s not to be sniffed at.
The United Grand Lodge of England (head office, for those of us in Gloucestershire) have recently changed the watchwords to ‘Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service’: why, and why does it matter? This is a substantial shift in emphasis for the members of Freemasonry. Many have skills and experience which local charities and community groups are crying out for. Those skills and experience can increase what we give to support our communities many times over.
A great example of that involved the Spring Centre and the Master of May Hill Lodge, Jason Marfell. The Spring Centre is one of those charities which make you wonder how people can even exist and continue to function without the support they give. The Spring Centre provides day care for children and young adults with additional needs. It provides a safe space for those children to play together and socialise enabling parents to work and to spend time with their other children. It provides support for parents who face enormous financial, practical and emotional challenges. When Jason Marfell, an electrical contractor by trade, heard that they couldn’t use their outside play area when the clocks changed and darkness arrived earlier, he came to advise on what they would need as outside lighting. Impressed by the fact that they are ‘such lovely people doing fantastic work’ he decided not to advise them. He decided to do the work for nothing. It’s a great example of how Freemasonry can give far greater value where it’s needed as Jason bought the fittings at trade price and donated his labour. The Chairman of Trustees and one of the Trustees of the Spring Centre are both members of Gloucestershire Round Table Lodge. That is another great example of how Freemasons can support our local charities.
Liza Beszteri of the Spring Centre told us: ‘What Jason has done meant so much to us. The children love playing outside and Jason has enabled us to continue using that area, which is under cover, into the Autumn. Parents rely so much on the support we offer and volunteers, whether using their skills with projects such as this, or aspects of our everyday activities such as preparing simple meals for the children or driving our minibus enable us to continue to provide that support.’