Thoughts for the West Yorkshire Mark Benevolent Fund Festival 2023

With the West Yorkshire Mark Benevolent Fund Festival 2023 now almost officially upon us, to be launched at the Annual meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, West Yorkshire on the 2nd April, Brethren may be interested to see a recent investment by the Benevolent Fund.

The Charity in question is Smile Support and Care which was established in 1994 by Steven Clarke, the present Chairman of Trustees. At the time he was Chairman of the Winchester Branch of Mencap, he being the Father of a severely disabled son realised that there had to be increased provision in help and support for families in this position.

Almost 22 years later they now have an established network of experienced support workers who provide help in the home or wherever else required. In their own words this help comes in many ways:

Sometimes we act as an “extra pair of hands” to help a family member who has a physical or learning disability.

  • Where an individual needs constant support throughout the night, our workers will stay up with them.
  • We support an individual if they have to go into hospital, and care for them at home when they have a life-limiting condition.

Our care services include:

  • Healthcare for those with profound and multiple disabilities: gastric feeding, suctioning and oxygen therapy, administering medications.
  • Social care to ensure children are included in activities in which they can enjoy and excel: taking them to school, swimming classes, leisure activities.
  • Respite care helping families enjoy a much-needed break from full-time care provision, following dedicated programmes from physiotherapists, occupational therapists etc.
  • Community care to help children be included in community activities of their choice: youth clubs, holiday play schemes, Cubs or Brownies.

In 2011 they acknowledged that there was a gap in their provision and committed themselves to the creation of a purpose built centre to provide respite care for Disabled children and their families in the surrounding area. They are based in Eastleigh in Hampshire with a second centre in Littlehampton, Sussex, their geographic remit being to service Hampshire and Sussex. The Smile Centre they commissioned was an ambitious project cost £3.4 million pounds of which £169k was forthcoming from the Mark Benevolent Fund.

Below is a picture of the Grand Master, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent G.C.V.O, together with the Chief Executive Stuart Baldwin and Staff, at the Official opening on the 29th January 2016.

Smile

Brethren in West Yorkshire may be interested to learn that the centre boasts a state of the art Sensory room. Many of you will recall that some 5 years ago or so, the Trustees of the Cleeves and Whitehead Trust, your Trust, made a significant award to ‘ Holly Bank’ a similar institution  based at Roberttown , near Mirfield. As Chairman of Trustees at the time, I was fortunate to be there when it was officially opened and I can assure you that it was one of the proudest moments in my Masonic life to see the effect that it had on two, very seriously disabled young women, I hope that they are having similar emotions in Hampshire.

Finally, and cognisant of the generous Charitable nature of the Mark Master Masons in the Province of West Yorkshire, your contributions will be needed even more in the Festival period. Unfortunately only 28% of all Brethren donate by standing order with Gift Aid recovered.  If the remaining 72% created a standing order for only £1 per week, a half pint of beer at most Lodges, that would create, assuming that all could claim tax relief, almost £51,000 p.a.  Make it £2 per week and it gets a lot better and this is the core of a Freemasons heart, CHARITY.

 

Be happy and enjoy your Mark Master Masonry
W.Bro. Duncan Smith P.G.S.D.