2018 in review

This is what happens when Freemasons get together.

As the year closes, it is time to reflect on our year at Hungerford Lodge and look back at how we have been able to support the local community in and around West Berkshire. The list below shows the local charities and people we have helped.
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Loose Ends £250.00

Local family £150.00 The recipient is still having treatment for her brain cancer but keeps smiling and is grateful for the continued support.

Hungerford Resource Centre £300.00

Great Western Hospital £1,000 via the Hungerford Benevolent Association

National Needlework Archive £175.00

Burbage Scouts £250.00 via the Hungerford Benevolent Association

West Berkshire Rapid Response Car £1000 via the Hungerford Benevolent Association

Peter Congerton via the Berkshire Masonic Charity

Sponsorship of three Guide Dogs £205.00

Christmas Troops Parcel Fund £205.00

Newbury Weekly News Over 80’s Appeal £150.00 raised during a joint Christmas Party with St Bartholomew’s Lodge

Helping with Loose Ends

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Nick Stephens with Helen and other volunteers from Loose Ends

Hungerford Freemasons recently donated £230 to Loose Ends, a drop in centre in Newbury serving food to the homeless and vulnerable. The money, raised in typical masonic style via a raffle, came from the social event following our recent meeting. Lodge members were encouraged to bring raffle prizes as well as tinned food that could be used by the centre.

Loose Ends is run by volunteers who prepare and serve hot, healthy meals as well as offering groceries, tins, toiletries and clean clothes to all those in need.

Helen, a volunteer at Loose Ends thanked everyone for their support and kindness “Without this kind of support, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. We strive to provide a safe, friendly atmosphere where people can socialise. Our clients are often homeless or ‘sofa surfing’, may have addictions, suffer from a mental illness or are on low incomes.”

You can donate to Loose Ends directly via “MyDonate” – click on Donate to Charity and then search for Loose Ends.

Alternatively, you can help them by sending them a gift via Amazon.

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.

The Spirit of Christmas Presents

Berkshire Freemasons help bring a little Christmas cheer to one local family

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At a recent meeting of the Hungerford Lodge, the members entertained their partners and friends with a meal and Christmas Carol singing, accompanied by the Hungerford Town Band. The members met briefly in the Masonic Centre, a short walk from “The Legion“, whilst their partners and guests were entertained at the Legion by the Lodge’s Stewards.

3In a change from the traditional Auction, it was decided to run a White Table evening with raffle. In Masonic circles, a White Table event is one where the members conduct a limited amount of Masonic business before joining their partners and friends for a meal.

One tradition that has been maintained despite the move from Hungerford to Newbury has been the link with the Hungerford Town Band. They have traditionally led our carol singing and, in turn, we have been staunch supporters, often helping to fund new instruments for up and coming musicians.4

The raffle was well supported as usual with the Stewards working their usual magic to extricate money from all of the members.11

This year there was an especially poignant reason for the members to dig deep. Our Charity Steward had been become aware of the plight of a local family who are experiencing extreme financial difficulties.

The eldest daughter, who is nineteen, has recently been diagnosed with brain cancer. She has since undergone over 50 hours of surgery which has sadly left her with many issues including being blind in one eye and difficulties walking.

The family are struggling to live day to day as the mother is now a full time carer and therefore unable to work. The Government support processes are involved but can take up to 16 weeks for money to come through.  They are currently reliant on the local food bank and other handouts while their paperwork is processed.

When our Charity Steward, Nick, visited them to understand how the Berkshire Masonic family could help, he asked the young lady what she would like for Christmas and her reply was simply a pink handbag. Her eight year old sister asked for some Sylvanian family dolls, whilst the mother was just glad to have her daughter home.

This story touched every heart and the members of the Berkshire Masonic family have done everthing they can to ensure that this will be a great Christmas for this family. “Saint” Nick and a few elves visited the family to deliver three Christmas sacks of presents. The members raised £300, some of which has been used to put credit on prepay cards for both telephone and electricity.

Needless to say, a few tears of grateful joy were shed but this family are starting to look to the future. There is the small matter of 10, yes ten, medical appointments in January but the recovery process is beginning.

The members of the Hungerford Lodge are pleased to have been able to help this family and wish them, and everyone, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

If this story has sparked your interest in Freemasonry and you think you might like to join us, we would love to hear from you.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

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.

Masonic Marigolds

Berkshire Freemasons are at it again.

For the third time in recent weeks members of Hungerford Lodge have been out presenting a cheque to a local good cause. Following their donations to Great Bedwyn School in December 2014 and, more recently, to projects at John O’Gaunt and Shalbourne CofE Schools, it was back to Great Bedwyn. This time it was The Bruce Foundation who have benefitted from their benevolence.

The Berkshire Masonic Charity has donated £1,000 to the Foundation to help towards meeting the £120,000 capital cost of a unique, specially built and equipped motorhome. The wheelchair accessible vehicle, which is now ‘on the road’ is fully fitted with every aid and facility to enable people with disabilities or special needs to have a holiday, including a high end scissor action hospital bed with hoist and track system to a wet room at the rear of the vehicle.

Hungerford Lodge member Ken Phillips, who has been involved in the Bruce Foundation application to the Berkshire Masonic Charity, was so impressed with the sterling work of the Foundation that he  suggested Hungerford Lodge might also consider making a donation. The Hungerford Lodge Benevolent Association readily agreed, and moreover, agreed to match the £1,000 given by the the Berkshire Masonic Charity.

Rebecca - KenSo on Saturday 18th July, several Lodge members were greeted at Great Bedwyn Wharf by David Bruce and his daughter Rebecca. They were shown around the motorhome and David and Rebecca shared some tales of how the vehicle had already given pleasure to so many who might otherwise not have a holiday at all. The front passenger seat is removable and factory fitted anchor points can secure a wheelchair in its stead. One moving recollection of Rebecca’s was of a young lad in a wheelchair who was beside himself with joy at being able to sit in the front next to his driver dad, something he’d never done before.

Rebecca - MikeIn what at first sight seems a role reversal, Ken Phillips presented a cheque for £1,000 on behalf of the Berkshire Masonic Charity and esteemed Berkshire Freemason, and honorary member of Hungerford Lodge, Michael Tanner, was delighted to present the second £1,000 cheque on behalf of the Lodge. With the formalities over, Lodge members donned their Marigolds  and showed willing to help in getting the Foundation motorhome (and the Bruce Trust canal boat) cleaned and ready for the next hirers.

Ready to get stuck in! (L to R Mike Tanner, Mike Beck, Bert Harrison, Ken Phillips, Gilbert Mills and Ian Palmer)
Ready to get stuck in! (L to R Mike Tanner, Mike Beck, Bert Harrison, Ken Phillips, Gilbert Mills and Ian Palmer)

Sharing the Knowledge

JOG donationHungerford Freemasons are delighted to have presented a cheque for £500 to the John O’Gaunt School Library Appeal this week.

Gilbert Mills, Chairman of the Hungerford Freemasons Lodge Benevolent Association, presented a cheque to Assistant Head Teacher Mrs Bunston, PSA Chair Penny Locke and Librarian Mrs Lamb.

Hungerford Freemasons have taken a keen interest in the local community since the Lodge formed 90 years ago and we were delighted to have been approached to help with the John O’Gaunt School Library project.

As a self-confessed silver surfer, Gilbert said “Freemasonry has always been about encouraging people to be the best version of themselves that they can be. We do this by taking what we call a Daily Advancement or doing something every day to improve yourself. We hope that this new facility will help our children and grandchildren to do just that, as well as demystifying modern technology for my generation!”

About the Benevolent Association:

The Hungerford Lodge Benevolent Association is a registered charity that has in the last five years distributed over £25,000 of funds raised solely from the members of the Lodge and other Berkshire freemasons.

About the Learning Resource Centre:

The new Learning Resource Centre (LRC) will be an open plan space, set out with distinct zones and touch pad technology. As well as appropriate, varied and inspiring books, there will be a teaching space with interactive whiteboard, iPod stations for listening to audio books, reading ‘nook’ to read comfortably (my own children like to read lying down or even upside down!) and gallery space in which to celebrate student work. There will be a careers area to show our children what they never dreamed they might be, a graphic novel section for those who like a little ‘Pow!’ in their narrative and a variety of reading seats about the space for those who like to just ‘be’. The LRC will be modern in design, whilst approachable and inspiring in outlook. It will also be a space for our community; book groups for different age groups, storytelling afternoons for toddlers, author visits and book signings in conjunction with our local book shop and town library and the setting for our ‘Silver Surfers’ ICT course. Reading should be as much at the heart of the Hungerford Community as it is at our school.