Mark Smith, assistant head of Freemasonry in Gloucestershire, headed over to the Forest of Dean to see how the Masonic Charitable Foundation grant had helped Great Oaks Hospice.
The hospice sits in tranquil gardens on the edge of Coleford but their reach extends from Chepstow all the way up to Tewkesbury. Adults who have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness will find the support they need here. The Chief Executive, John Aizlewood, told Mark: “We at Great Oaks make sure that people feel safe in what can of course be a very difficult and distressing time. We can show them that they are not alone and that help is at hand at any time they need us. We are grateful for the support given by the Gloucestershire Freemasons as we rely upon donations to enable us to offer our full range of support”. John paid tribute to the dedicated staff and volunteers many of whom have been accompanying people on that final journey for many years which they describe as ‘a real privilege’. The hospice offers a broad range of support: ‘hospice at home’ care so people can be amongst their loved ones; a befriending service so they never feel alone; complimentary therapy to ease their symptoms; a wellbeing group so they can talk through any issues with their peers and get advice from the staff; and of course a bereavement service for those left behind. The hospice receives a third of its income from the NHS, a third from their charity shops and a third from benefactors such as the Gloucestershire Freemasons and fundraising events. Mark said “We have some particularly strong lodges in the Forest and I know they and their families will want to help to keep the fantastic work by the team of staff and volunteers at Great Oaks going. We can all do that by donating to and buying from the Great Oaks charity shops, attending their fun events and by volunteering as well as making donations.”