Friday, 9 May 2008

The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys

This evening we’re off to the Lakeside Country Club in nearby Frimley – dressed to the ‘nines’ in black tie and tux; it’s the Provincial Grand Lodge of Surrey’s 2008 Festival Dinner and Dance which is the culmination of 4 years fundraising by masons throughout Surrey aimed at raising £3m for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, colloquially known by all UK masons as simply ‘the Girls and Boys’.

The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, originally formed in the 18th Century, is one of the principal Masonic charities whose aim is to support the education of the children of freemasons in the event of ‘distressed circumstances’, for example on the death of a father who is a mason. Latterly it also provides support, where funds permit, for the children of non-masons.

My Lodge, Noel Money Lodge No. 2521 with only 31 members has made a contribution to the ‘2008 Festival’ and raised over £21,000 towards this – we will be honoured to receive an award at this years Provincial AGM which recognises this. We will be among only a handful of Lodges to be so honoured.

The Masonic ‘Festival’ system operates throughout the UK and is a ‘rolling’ scheme whereby Provinces (Counties) are nominated to support one of the main Masonic charities – there are four such charities namely the Grand Charity, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

The Festivals run for 4 years during which time Lodges within a Province specifically target their fundraising towards supporting the nominated charity. At any given time, a number of Provinces may be supporting the same charity and thus fairly large sums of money can be donated to support the work of the charity.

I have some personal experience of the RMTGB. Many years ago one of my Uncles living in Newcastle sadly passed away at a fairly young age, leaving a wife and 3 sons – although I didn’t know it at the time, he was a mason and his youngest son, a very close cousin of mine was sent away to the Royal Masonic School at Bushey in Hertfordshire where he received what was virtually a Public School education completely free.

.... but I'm sure that tonight's Dinner and Dance, attended by about 1000 Surrey Masons and their families will be fun - and besides we don't hand over a cheque for over £3m to someone every day do we?!