Masons around the world have responded with characteristic generosity to the tsunami crisis in South East Asia, and Grand Lodge immediately pledged £100,000 of aid. But then, as one Worshipful Master pointed out, our generosity should exceed its normal levels; this has been the greatest natural disaster to hit the world during the entire history of Freemasonry, and we should respond accordingly.
The Shropshire Masonic Charitable Association is coordinating this Province's response, which has been overwhelming so far. In addition to totals promised by the Provincial Grand Lodge already, many individual Lodges have raised amounts all well into three figures, and in several cases reaching four. It has been a humbling experience to see this generosity at work night after night: a thousand pounds given, then another thousand; a raffle with a prize donated by a Brother's children raised £350, which was doubled by the car-park attendants' firm as their contribution and made up to another thousand by the Lodge... This financial aid is to be channeled to where it most needed via the Grand Lodges of Sri Lanka and Madras, also cutting to a minimum the amount lost to administration costs.
News on the progress of the 2008 NMSF charity Festival is promising - just two years into our fund-raising the Province has already raised over £560,000 - almost 75% of our target. The Festival jewel has been struck (and is seen here for the first time) and has been available since 1st January, 2005; details are available in the latest Newsletter or by clicking here - as this web-site now has a page dedicated to the 2008 Festival, and you can follow the progress of the fund-raising from the 2008 Festival page. Freemasons in Shropshire and elsewhere are continuing to help non-Masonic causes, the Grand Charity having donated over £900,000 this year to such charities. All of this money comes from our own pockets, and not from the public. This is a fact that is not generally known - BUT IT SHOULD BE!!! In Shropshire particular assistance has been given to the Leagues of Friends of fourteen local hospitals/care centres, and a cheque for £7,350 was presented in April to the Macmillan Haematology Centre at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford.
Recently I challenged W Bro Allan Caswell to keep sending me pictures, and he has - this time of a Masonic sword presented to W Bro Ian Paige on his retirement as DC of the Caer Caradoc Lodge in Church Stretton. The sword was seen and admired in Majorca by Ian when out in Spain visiting a Lodge there; unknown to him Lodge Secretary David Kettle later picked it up and got it successfully through Customs. Pictured with the said weapon are Ian Paige, Charlie Pearson (now SW of Caer Caradoc Lodge), Philip Hasler and Allan Caswell. A recent Masonic evening in Church Stretton saw a return visit by a number of Spanish Masons, and a further generous donation from them added to the approximately £26,000 so far raised towards the "Dream on Florida" appeal promoted by the Church Stretton based Lodge, which will send a group of seriously ill children on the holiday of a lifetime to the U.S.A..
Fitz Alan Lodge in Oswestry has just enjoyed an excellent Masonic 'family evening', welcoming Bro Percy Cherrington, who was initiated by his youngest brother W Bro Peter Alun Cherrington. They are seen in the picture (right) with W Bro John Cherrington, who had flown in from Switzerland for the occasion. The Worshipful Master's father-in-law, W Bro John Elder was sadly unable to attend the meeting through ill health, but sent his regards in a card which was read out at the Festive Board. W Bro Peter and W Bro Paul Barnes are to be founder members of a new Lodge ("Hiram") in Switzerland, and invites interested Brethren to be present at the ceremony on September 10th. Any interested Brethren should contact him direct or via the Fitz Alan secretary.
We are also delighted to report that the Christmas lights display at Leaton Crossing, with over 120,000 lamps illuminating the old station-master's house, not only brought light and happiness to hundreds of Shropshire passers-by, but has raised a very significant sum for charity - over £8,500 being distributed to causes including Hope House children's hospice, the Severn hospice and the New Masonic Samaritan Fund. Well done to Bro Colin Langley and his wife Margaret.
The Provincial Newsletter has appeared in a new, colourful and enlarged format, thanks to the work of Roger Pemberton and his team. You may now contact Roger via this web-site - just click on Newsletter and follow the prompts. We hope that visitors to this site will also enjoy the Gallery, with a few pictures from around Shropshire.