The first Liverpool Group ‘giving day’ for 2019 took place at the Liverpool Masonic Hall on Hope Street, with all the group office holders in attendance. Chairman Mark Matthews opened the meeting and welcomed guests to the hall and thanked everyone for coming along. Mark took the opportunity to introduce Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Sam Robinson and also explain the charitable workings within Freemasonry. All money is raised by donations by individual Masons at their lodge meetings and events and is then distributed to various worthy causes.
The largest is the national Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) which gives support to Masonic families to relieve a financial, health or family need and awards grants to community support and research projects. The MCF donates over £5 million each year to charities, helping thousands of disadvantaged and vulnerable people to live happy fulfilling lives and to participate actively in society. Further information will be found on their website.
Next tier below that is the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity (WLFC), which is the charity of the Freemasons of the Masonic Province of West Lancashire. It was formed in April 2008 by the amalgamation of seven Masonic charities operating in the Province, an area which includes parts of Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Cumbria. Again, similar to the MCF, its funds are raised entirely from donations by Freemasons. It does not receive money from the general public, however, it does provide assistance to both Masons and non-Masons.
Another source of charitable giving is from the area group within the Province, so the Freemasons meeting in Hope Street are collectively known as the Liverpool Group. Mark explained the charitable cheques to be distributed on the day came from funds raised on two Liverpool Group events, the annual sponsored walk organised by Steve Lyon and events of the group golf society, operated by Geoff Brown, Phil Pattullo, and Tom Walsh. From the charitable fund of the golf section, four charities received a donation; The Whitechapel Centre, Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary, ADAM, and Tithebarn. Two further cheques came from the sponsored walk, the first to the North West Air Ambulance, the other to the building fund for the Liverpool Masonic Hall.
Cheques were presented by Sam Robinson and Mark Matthews, both officers of United Grand Lodge, with Sam having special responsibility for Royal Arch Freemasonry in Liverpool, and Mark, as previously mentioned, the chairman of the Liverpool Group.
The first of the cheques on the day was for £200, presented to Hetty Miles of The Whitechapel Centre. This was started in 1975 to meet the needs of homeless people in Liverpool and this is still their main aim. It is the leading homeless and housing charity for the Liverpool region and works with people who are sleeping rough, living in hostels or struggling to manage their accommodation. The volunteers and workers at the centre are committed to helping people find and maintain a home and learn the life skills essential for independent living and Hetty Miles said the donation would benefit the Centre greatly.
The Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary likewise received a similar donation of £200, which was received by Bernadette Langfield. She explained how the money would be used in the ‘Kids helping horses, horses helping kids’ programme. At the sanctuary the horses and ponies are cared for and trained by local children, many of whom had never had close contact with a horse before. They are soon on their way to building the relationships of trust that is the cornerstone of training. The more experienced kids help the younger ones teach the horses to overcome their fears and get used to being ridden, ready for their new homes. If that’s not possible, they continue to care for them in the sanctuary. Bernie explained how the horses themselves are extraordinary teachers. They do not lie, do not care if you are rich or poor, or if your jeans are designer or tatty. They only see you, the real you. Our horses help our kids find that person inside. They teach them about self-worth, trust and confidence. They help them express themselves without anger, but with understanding. They teach them to listen, and to be listened to, a mutual training programme for both horse and youngster, helping both succeed.
Following on from Bernadette, the next cheque, also for £200, was presented to Joyce and Fred Ellison of the ADAM charity. ADAM stands for Achieving Dreams and Memories and is taken from the name of their son Adam Ellison, who died as an innocent victim of knife crime at Prescot. The charity was set up with the aim of giving support to the families suffering from violence and crime. A lasting legacy for Adam, a young man with so much to give, who liked nothing more than to help others.
Sam Robinson presented the next cheque to Joe Stallard and Eddie Casey of the Friends of Tithebarn. This is a residential care home in Crosby owned by the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, which is set in beautiful landscaped grounds, and provides nursing and specialist dementia care for over 40 residents. Over the years the ‘Friends’ have contributed to new building projects, provided mini-buses, outings, functions, and facilities. The members of the ‘Friends’ are drawn from the lodges and chapters from all the groups within the Masonic Province of West Lancashire and every member is wholly enthusiastic in their committed aim of improving the quality of life for every resident of the Tithebarn.
The next two presentations came from the generosity of those brethren who took part in the sponsored walk. With the unavailability of a representative of the North West Air Ambulance, their cheque for £300 was handed over to Steve Lyon, who would be able to forward on to them at a convenient time, which just left the final cheque to be distributed. The eager recipient was Dave Sayce of the Liverpool Masonic Hall Building Fund. It is 160 years since “The House in the Garden” at 22 Hope Street, was purchased by Liverpool Freemasons to provide a central meeting-venue for the lodges, which at the time, were assembling at various locations throughout the city. In that time, it has been rebuilt and extended to accommodate an increased number of members and now stands proudly as the Grade II listed building its members own today. However, like any building, it suffers from the effects of weathering and age and needs constant maintenance. For this purpose, the fund receives donations to be used only towards the upkeep of the hall, for the comfort of its members and as a legacy for the future. Dave said the £200 was greatly appreciated and would go towards one of the projects underway to transform the hall for modern usage.
The group then gathered for a communal photograph, prior to a tour of the hall for those that wished, under the guidance of Sam Robinson. Following this, afternoon tea was served in the ground floor ‘Roman Dining Room’. A fitting end to a very pleasant and rewarding day, with those present, gaining knowledge from the various charities on exactly what they did and how that benefited the community.