Peter’s New Wheels

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Peter and his family

Members of Hungerford Lodge gathered recently to surprise Thatcham resident Peter Congerton with a mobility scooter.

Peter and his family were invited to the Newbury Masonic Centre for a private tour before being shown round the building. Significant items were explained to them before Lodge Charity Officer, Nick Stephens, presented Peter with a brand new mobility scooter.

Peter has spinal issues and was saving up to buy himself a scooter so that he could help his wife with the weekly shop but due to his injury, he needed one with special suspension costing £1,900. Nick, who has known Peter and his family for a while, stepped in and offered to ask the Masonic charities for help.

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Freemasonry explained

Peter was overwhelmed and, as is typical of his generation, felt that others were far more deserving than him.

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Peter’s new ride

He was grateful for Nick simply spending time with him. In one email he included the following lines

An illuminated light from the shadow

That gives without asking or wanting

Who treats everyone with the same respect

And I want to thank you friend for

being that light from the shadow

Your kind ways always bring a smile to my face.

Peter is not a freemason and, until his tour of the Newbury Masonic Centre, knew nothing of the Craft, however, he has summed up the spirit of Freemasonry beautifully.

Peter gave up work many years ago through poor health and now has daily seizures due to epilepsy, resulting in many falls. He has recently been to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for an operation on his spine and was told he had a 1 in 6 chance of coming back from the operation. Thankfully the operation was successful and he was able to come home.

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A little something for Linda

Peter was promised formal support for his return home, however after a month he is  still waiting. He needs a stair lift as he cannot walk or get upstairs and he has received very little physiotherapy. Until the stairlift is fitted, he is reduced to sleeping on the sofa which  is upsetting for Peter and Linda, his wife of 39 years.

The Hungerford Lodge will be keeping an eye on this family with a view to providing help where the normal mechanisms cannot.

BMC helps fund Hannah’s refit

Hannah (photo courtesy of the Bruce Trust)
Hannah (photo courtesy of the Bruce Trust)

Hannah, the most popular boat in the Bruce Trust fleet over the last 25 years, is scheduled for a complete refit and Berkshire Freemasons are delighted to be able to help fund this refit. The Bruce Trust provides canal holidays for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people. The boats are of a special wide-beam design enabling wheelchair users to easily manoeuvre and to steer the boat using the tiller. Hannah also has a remote steering device to enable people with less upper body mobility to steer her with a joystick.

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Everyone gets a turn at the tiller (photo courtesy of the Bruce Trust)

Hannah’s electrical and heating systems are scheduled to be overhauled and she will be modified to provide easier wheelchair access and improved welfare facilities. The result will enhance the experience and safety of her passengers, making her ready to be the pride of the fleet for the next 25 years.

There has been a longstanding relationship between the Trust and Berkshire Freemasons and especially the Hungerford Lodge. Both masonic bodies have provided significant funding to the Bruce Trust.

Rebecca Bruce, who oversees the day-to-day management of the Trust, and her father, David, who founded the Trust in 1988 with his wife Louise, greeted representatives of the Berkshire Masonic community and their families and friends at Great Bedwyn on Saturday 15th October. Among the Freemasons present were Peter Ludlow and Michael Tanner. Both have previously presented cheques from the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC) and Hungerford Lodge to the Trust and on this occasion, it fell to Peter to present a cheque from the BMC for £2,000 to The Bruce Trust at their home ‘port’ of Bedwyn Wharf.

Peter spoke briefly and passionately about the work that the Trust does. “Providing these boats brings enormous pleasure to so many people in West Berkshire and beyond, who might otherwise not enjoy a holiday or respite at all.”

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Members of the Berkshire Masonic Community with Rebecca and David Bruce (photo by N Sinclair Baines)

In response, David confided “Last night we were awarded the Greenham Common Trust Community & Charity Award at the West Berkshire Business Awards, so all in all we are having a great weekend.”

Those attending could see the whole fleet alongside and were invited to go aboard ‘Hannah’ as she begins her transformation and ‘Rebecca’ whose upgrade had been completed in 2013. Different vessels, but similar enough to give a ‘before and after’ perspective.