|Ingham Clark Lodge No 8164||
Provincial Grand Master
A MESSAGE FROM THE PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER
After a year which seems to have flown past with incredible speed, Christmas is upon us again and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a happy and peaceful Christmas. May it be as joyous for you and your families as I trust it will be for the many sick and disadvantaged children who will receive Christmas presents as a result of your incredible response to our appeal on their behalf. Due to the overwhelming generosity of Berkshire Freemasons, you raised the staggering total of over £8,000 to provide the gifts for Reading Family Aid and the Lion, Dolphin and Kempton children’s wards of the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Mark Heppelthwaite and Roy Stone, who took on the challenge of procuring the hundreds of gifts involved, have been extraordinarily busy – collecting a parking ticket in the process for over-staying their time in the Toys R Us car park! Fortunately the ticket was cancelled when their mission was explained to the car park attendant.
Your generosity added to what had already been an exceptionally good year for Berkshire Freemasonry. I am pleased to say that the momentum of the progress our Province is making has continued since I reviewed our achievements at Provincial Grand Lodge in September when I reported that we had attracted the highest number of new members and had experienced the lowest number of resignations for at least 20 years in each case. This resulted in initiations exceeding resignation for the first time in decades. Such a result could not have been achieved without your commitment, enthusiasm and creativity. You have my heartfelt thanks for your magnificent contributions to grow our Province. I am sure you will be pleased to learn that the current year has started equally well, so another successful year lies in prospect.
The year ahead will also be a very special year for the Province of Berkshire in other ways, not least because we will be celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge in the world. In the course of the next year Freemasonry will be brought to the public's attention in a way that has not happened for a very long time. There will be an extensive programme of events which will involve the public, as well as a five-part documentary on television entitled “Inside The Freemasons”. In addition we will be implementing our 300 Hours project which was launched at Provincial Grand Lodge to deliver at least 300 hours of community service from every lodge in Berkshire. Undoubtedly 2017 will be an opportunity for the Community we serve to understand better our organisation’s contribution to society. This should not only strengthen our belief in the role Freemasonry plays in the world today but should also result in a greater number of people being attracted to our organisation.
So a memorable year lies ahead for the Province of Berkshire and I would like to end by expressing my wish that it will be an even more memorable year for you and your families. Thank you again for your magnificent support.
Provincial Grand Master
Berkshire 2016 Toys
For Christmas Appeal
Brethren, as you are all aware from earlier correspondence, in 2015 WBro Mark Heppelthwaite, ProvDepGDC approached the RWProvGM to seek approval to raise funds for the under privileged children under the care of Reading Family Aid and those seriously ill children in the Lion and Dolphin Wards at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, which proved to be a huge success.
Brethren, WBro Mark, with the approval RWProvGMWBro Mark, repeated this appeal again this year and the ProvGSec circulated a request for each Lodge to make a donation, coupled of course with any private donations, the whole of which would be gratefully received and faithfully applied.
Brethren, as a result of your amazing generosity the appeal raised in excess of £8000.00 and you can all be truly proud of this magnificent effort and your contribution to our ongoing “Freemasonry in the Community” projects.
WBro Mark asked me to assist him this year and I was delighted to be able to do so.
Whilst the collection was proceeding, Ruth Perkins, Vice Chair at Reading Family Aid and Ian Thomson, Charity Director at RBH, furnished us with lists of selected gifts requested by the Children (we all remember asking Father Christmas for our chosen gift and how disappointed we were if it didn’t arrive).
On Thursday 24th November, WBro Mark, my wife Diane and I, visited Toys R Us in Reading, by arrangement, to carry out the shopping for Reading Family Aid. Whilst this was an exhausting experience, taking some four hours in total, the pain was removed by the pleasant thought of the great joy it would help bring to these children on Christmas morning.
Regrettably, all gifts on the list were not available from one store and meant Friday 25th November was needed for visits to Bracknell and Reading, plus some online shopping, to complete the requests, which I’m pleased to report proved successful.
On Monday 5th December, at 8.00am, WBro Mark, accompanied by WBro David Jarvis, PAGDC, ProvGAlmoner and myself, delivered a large van load of toys to Ruth Perkins and her large team of voluntary helpers at St.Lukes, Church Hall in Erleigh Road, Reading, They were all truly astonished by your generosity.
Following the successful Jack in the Beanstalk pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Windsor on Tuesday 6th December, WBro Mike Brown, PPGSuptWks, organiser of the “Panto Project” asked me to deliver the 35 surplus gift bags to Ruth Perkins and this I happily did on Thursday 8th December.
On Friday 16th December, WBro Mark, accompanied by his wife Amanda, his son Finley, Diane and I returned to Toys R Us, this time to purchase the gifts for RBH. As the monetary collection had exceeded expectations, I asked Ian Thomson if we could offer gifts for the Kempton and Childrens Day Wards, plus the Buscot Baby Unit, which he was delighted to agree with and provided a list of ideas. This was again an exhausting, but most rewarding three hour experience, with once again pleasurable thoughts in our minds of these seriously ill children having been visited by Santa for Christmas Day.
Again, it was not possible to purchase everything from one store and so we ventured on to Currys/PC World, Smythes and ASDA, to purchase the five TV monitors, Play-station remote controllers, in excess of fifty DVD’s and a few other bits, which enabled us to complete the requested lists and more.
It would have been impossible to achieve our aim without the fantastic support from the management and staff at Toys R Us, Reading and we are truly most grateful to them all.
On Tuesday 20th December, the Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Martin Peters, accompanied by WBro David Jarvis and I, had the enormous pleasure of delivering a huge consignment of toys, TV monitors, play stations, X boxes, DVD’s, board games etc, etc, to Ian Thomson, Charity Director, the Matron and her Nursing Staff in the Lion, Dolphin, Kempton and Children’s Day wards and the Buscot Baby unit. To say they were all overwhelmed by your generosity is an understatement.
The only downside was the absence of WBro Mark, due to a critical business commitment, but we know he was there in spirit.
Brethren, I’ve tried to give you a feeling of the enormous pleasure we have had, in delivering your message of love and support to those less fortunate than ourselves.
On behalf of the RWPGM, WBro Mark and his elves, Ruth Perkins, Ian Thomson and of course all the recipients, thank you most sincerely for your support and wonderful generosity. You can all be truly proud of your achievement.
When you awake on Christmas morning, picture in your mind those children’s faces and the great happiness you have given.
On behalf of the team, I wish you and your loved ones a Very Merry Christmas, followed by a Happy and Healthy New Year.
WBro Roy Stone PSGD, PAsstProvGM
22nd December 2016.