As 2017 draws to a close and Northumberland Freemasons mark the end of the 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England, the organisation has given away £600,000 to local and national charities.
Tritlington farmer, Ian Craigs, the Provincial Grand Master of Northumberland explained that this year, The Provincial Grand Lodge of Northumberland has given away £300,000 to local charities to boost worthwhile and deserving projects throughout the region.
“In this special year, we’ve donated money to charities close to each of our 27 lodge buildings across North Tyneside, Newcastle and Northumberland so that we can really make a positive impact on local projects and causes near to where Masonry takes place.
“Our donations were all chosen by our members and the money has helped the charities concerned carry on their work locally within the community.”
Charities benefiting from donations included the Hextol Foundation in Hexham, Morpeth’s Mustard Tree Trust and Forest Hall based Percy Hedley Foundation who were each granted £10,000.
Others included the Berwick & District Cancer Support Group, Cramlington’s Mind Active Charity and Bedlington’s Leading Link Charity who were each given £5000.
In total, 78 charities received cheques for the good work they do to help the people of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
In addition, at the Province’s Annual General Meeting in November, a cheque for a further £300,000 was given to the Masonic Charitable Foundation so that their work helping people nationally and internationally could be supported.
“Very often, the general public don’t know about our charitable donations and we’re now encouraging charities to talk to us as we may be able to help them,” said Mr Craigs. “Freemasonry has a terrific amount to offer in today’s society and this year we’ve enjoyed many diverse activities in Northumberland and Tyneside to mark our 300th anniversary including a Classic Car and Bike show, a Celebration Dinner held at St James’ Park and a Multi-Faith Ceremony attended by Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland.”
One of Mr Craigs favourite events however was a Teddy Bears Picnic held at Alnwick Gardens in the summer.
The initiative hosted by Masonic Charity, Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) saw more than 200 children from schools in Newcastle, Morpeth, Berwick, Hexham, Alnwick and Cramlington enjoy a teddy bear trail, a picnic box, entertainment by colourful fairy tale characters and of course the obligatory teddy bear which was given to every child.
Freemasons have donated more than two million teddy bears to children who attend hospitals and A&E units. Medical staff use the bears to befriend the children, to reward them for being brave and in some cases to demonstrate what they are going to do.
The schools that attended were Barndale School, Alnwick, Lowick First School – Berwick, Shanklea Primary School – Cramlington, Hexham Priory School – Hexham, Collingwood School & Media Art College – Morpeth and Hadrian School – Newcastle
“The picnic was a lovely event and highlighted the work that the TLC does to help children when they are experiencing trauma in their lives. The simple gesture of giving a teddy to a distressed child helps to reassure them and allows medical staff to carry out their vital work more effectively. Our teddy bears’ picnic made more people aware of the good work of the TLC and Freemasonry in our community so that we can help many more children at a time when they need us most.
“it’s been a fantastic year for our freemasons from the Tyne to the Tweed and I’m very proud of the work we’ve done in the community which has made a positive impact on so many people who need our help,” said Mr Craigs.