Disabled people step into a whole new world thanks to virtual reality and The Freemasons

Disabled people supported by a Harrogate charity will be able to step into a whole new world, thanks to the Freemasons.

In a bid to equip customers for independent living, Disability Action Yorkshire is turning to virtual reality to help train and prepare them for a host of everyday life experiences, including supermarket shopping and travelling by public transport.

Members of the town’s The Spa Lodge secured a grant of £2,000 from the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund, which has been used for the charity’s Virtual Independence Project to purchase a Garmin spherical camera, Oculus Go virtual reality headset and a new laptop computer to edit the recorded footage.

Disability Action Yorkshire Chief Executive Jackie Snape said: “Thanks to The Spa Lodge nominating us for this generous grant, our training sessions for customers will be totally revolutionised.

“Whilst many are keen to live as independently as possible, the reality is that some people have had little or no experience of everyday life. Our Virtual Independence Project will change all that.

“Our customers will be able to experience what it is like to travel on a bus independently, travel around a busy shopping centre or supermarket, or prepare and cook a simple meal.

“The aim is that once people have gained confidence in a virtual setting they will then go to try new experiences in daily life.”

Doug Mills, The Spa Lodge Charity Steward, said: “Charity is one of the three grand principles of Freemasonry, and I’m delighted that we have been able to support Disability Action Yorkshire in kick-starting their Virtual Independence Project.

“With the camera, the charity will now be able to develop a series of 360-degree videos, which will help train and prepare customers keen to explore new experiences.

“I tried the headset on myself, and whilst it was great fun I could see a real benefit for those who lack confidence in undertaking simple tasks which, to them, can seem like major obstacles.

“The visit to Disability Action Yorkshire’s Claro Road residential care home proved to be a very satisfying experience, particularly in the knowledge that Freemasons in The Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, have provided financial support to the wider community.”


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Freemasons give £1,000 towards digital radios for Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team

Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team will be able to replace aging analogue radios with new, digital replacements, thanks to a £1,000 donation from the Freemasons.

De Warren Lodge, which meets in Halifax and has close ties to the organisation, – Past Master, David Whitteron, is the rescue team’s new President – secured the money via numerous raffles and the individual generosity of members.

With GPS capability, the new radios will enhance the safety of rescuers in remote areas, and greatly improve the management of searches for missing and vulnerable persons, relaying the position of search parties to the control vehicle and base.

The team, which is part of Mountain Rescue England and Wales, is a Registered Charity, and is funded entirely through donations from the community, societies and local business.

The team members are all volunteers, on call 24/7 throughout every day of the year.

Details of the Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team Team can be found at http://www.cvsrt.org.uk/.


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Bags of cash from the Freemasons helps launch Harrogate District Hospital’s Comfort Bags initiative

Funding from the Freemasons has helped Harrogate District Hospital launch a “comforting” initiative for relatives of patients at the end of their lives.

Harrogate & Claro Freemasons Lodge secured £1,700 from the Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s Provincial Grand Master’s Charity Fund, to kick start the “Comfort Bags” scheme.

Set up by Harrogate District Hospital & Community Charity and Harrogate District Palliative Care Team, the bags are helping enhance both dignity and practical support throughout end of life for patients and their relatives, in the acute hospital setting.

Each year, more than 600 patients spend their last days and hours in the Harrogate District Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

The bags – which contains a blanket, travel pillow, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissues, notebook and pen, hand lotions and essential toiletries, a free meal voucher and a free parking permit – provide very practical items to help improve the comfort of relatives staying for long periods, or overnight with patients who are in the last days of life.

These are items they may well forget to bring with them when they’re in a hurry or didn’t expect to stay long.

Feedback from relatives has been very positive and grateful for the additional support this scheme has provided.

One relative said: “At the moment my mum is receiving end of life care and last night I received one of your bags. It is a really thoughtful touch. Thank you!”

John Birkenshaw, Charity Steward of Harrogate & Claro Lodge of Freemasons, said: “We are really proud to support this innovative scheme which will bring much needed comfort and support to both patients and relatives at a time when it is needed the most.”

Initial funding was used to launch the bags, however ongoing funding is vital to continue to provide this service. Current projections suggest this will require approximately £5,000 per year to fund 300 comfort bags.

The donation of £1,700 from Harrogate Freemasons will make a set the scheme on a firm road ahead and the donation will be used to continue to fund the contents of the comfort bags.

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Freemasons give £90,000 to five Yorkshire charities

Five Yorkshire charities have shared a £90,000 “major grants” windfall from the region’s Freemasons.

The financial donations – which ranged in value from £9,000 to £30,500 – were presented at the Freemasons’ Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s annual meeting held at Harrogate’s Royal Hall.

Representatives from the five organisations were presented with their cheques by the fraternity’s Provincial Grand Master, David S Pratt, at the event attended by Freemasons from Yorkshire’s four counties and beyond.

Those who received grants were:

  • The Institute of Cancer Therapeutics (ICT), based at the University of Bradford, was given £30,500 to purchase a cell sorting machine for use by the immunotherapy group to understand how current drugs can be integrated with immunotherapy. The ICT is a multidisciplinary team of researchers in cancer drug, target and biomarker discovery with the aim to develop new treatments
  • Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care, which was given £25,500 to buy a vehicle to transport people and goods to improve and expand service to the community
  • £14,000 went to Harley Village Mission Rooms Trust, in Rotherham, which is undertaking a major project to transform an existing building into a facility for use by the whole community, The money will go towards fitting out a new kitchen with units and appliances
  • Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP), which provides a help at home service with practical tasks such as gardening, decorating and odd jobs to older and vulnerable people in Harrogate and Knaresborough, was given £11,000 to replace the current old van with a second hand long wheelbase van, to provide a more efficient service
  • Yorkshire Lions Wheelchair Rugby Team, which is part of SPINE – the Yorkshire Regional Spinal Injury Centre at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, was given £9,000 to buy two wheelchair rugby chairs for use by young players suffering from cerebral palsy

Provincial Grand Master David S Pratt, said: “It was my absolute honour to be able to present these five different, yet equally deserving, organisations with their grants, at our Provincial Grand Lodge annual meeting in Harrogate.

“This money was all raised thanks to Freemasons from throughout our Province, and I am extremely grateful to them for their generosity and continued support of charity.

“This year alone we will give £200,000 to a wide range of charities, clubs, societies, hospitals and hospices.

“Charity has, as always has been, at the heart of Freemasonry, and it will continue to be so for as long as our ancient and honourable institution exists.”

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PGM’s Fund Minor Grants – Twenty One Yorkshire Organisations Share £30,000 Easter Masonic Windfall

Twenty-one community organisations across Yorkshire have shared a £30,370 Easter masonic windfall.

The Province of Yorkshire West Riding – which encompasses the geographical area of South and West Yorkshire, and parts of North and East Yorkshire – has given grants ranging from £500 to £3,520 to worthy causes including grassroots sports clubs, schools, hospitals and clubs for the young and old alike,

The grants have come from the Provincial Grand Master’s (PGM) Fund, which are presented on a quarterly basis, with each recipient being nominated by individual Masonic Lodges across the region.

Each year, the PGM’s Fund presents grants totalling £200,000 to assist organisations across the country.

Those to benefit this quarter include:

• Meltham & Meltham Mills Band received £3,520 re place one of three tenor horns
• Bradford Cathedral, which has been awarded £1,230 to install an automated external defibrillator for use by those who use the cathedral or anybody nearby
• Huddersfield-based Global Diversity Positive Action – a charity set up to help people not in employment, education or training – has been gifted £1,000 to buy five laptop computers
• Harrogate & District NHS Foundation Trust Palliative Care and Charitable Fund was given £1,300 to buy 300 comfort bags for relatives to make their stay in hospital more comfortable
• Rotherham Hospice has received a grant of £830 to buy a set of garden chairs and table to be used by patients and visitors in the outdoor area

David S Pratt, The Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Yorkshire West Riding, said: “Assisting community led initiatives and projects is incredibly important to the Freemasons.

“This quarter, we have been able to give grants to 21 worthy causes, nominated by members of lodges within our Province.

“Charity is one of the three great principles that our order is founded on, and it is very much at the heart of what we do here throughout Yorkshire.”

For the full list of recipients, please download the document below:
Freemasons minor grants news release April 2018

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Lifelites says a big thank you to Freemasons

A message from Lifelites:

“As we come to the end of our financial year and reflect on the past few months, we want to say thank you to all the Freemasons who have supported us throughout the year, and thank you for always being there for Lifelites and the children we support. Without your help, we couldn’t create wonderful smiles like Loki’s. We hope we can continue to count on this wonderful support over the coming months. We’d be very grateful if you could share this message with your Province; we want everyone to know how much we value their support.”

Download the full letter:

Lifelites says a big thank you to Freemasons

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Harrogate and District Sea Cadets Annual Awards

WBro. Stephen Brown and WBro. Douglas Mills attended the Harrogate and District Sea Cadets Annual Awards at the Cedar Court Hotel where the Mayor of Harrogate, Cllr Anne Jones, presented awards including several for band members.

The PGM’s Fund had approved an application from The Spa Lodge for a grant of £1000 to replace ageing band equipment. The purchase of this new equipment including cymbals, bell lyre and bugle mouthpieces, enhances the cadet’s experience by way of having modern up to date equipment. The old equipment will be used by new members whilst they are learning.

Sub Lieutenant (SCC) Dan Wilding RNR said that “he foresaw a secondary benefit in that they would now be able to market the band in a more professional manner and thus increase their participation in the local community and even offered to play at a Lodge event.”

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Freemasons And Zumba Enthusiasts Raise More Than £7,000 For Harrogate District Hospital’s Nidderdale Ward

Harrogate District Hospital’s Nidderdale Ward has been given £7,148 to purchase new reclining bedside chairs, thanks to local Freemasons and Zumba enthusiasts.

Harlow Lodge nominated the ward as the beneficiary of its fundraising activities in memory of the late Irene Simister, the mother of two of its members, who spent the last month of her life being cared for by staff before her death.

An observation the pair made during the hours they spent at her bedside was the comfort of the chairs, so they set about raising funds to replace worn out and broken pieces of furniture.

Additionally, another lodge member, Fernando Sarmento De Alencar, organised a sponsored Zumbathon at Harrogate High School in aid of the appeal, which raised £4,100.

Harlow Lodge, one of five craft lodges that meet in Harrogate’s Masonic Hall, raised £1,148 which was further enhanced by a £1,900 donation courtesy of the Freemasons Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s Provincial Grand Master’s Fund.

Andrew Simister, Master of Harlow Lodge and Irene Simister’s eldest son, said: “I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has contributed towards this fund-raising initiative for Nidderdale Ward. I can’t thank them enough.

“Whilst the care of patients is quite rightly the hospital’s number one priority, the comfort of visitors is also an important concern, in particular those spending lengthy hours with loved ones nearing the end of their lives.

“The £7,148 raised will certainly be able to fund the replacement of a good number of chairs for the ward’s side rooms.”

David Fisher, Community and Events Fundraiser at Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity, said: “On behalf of Harrogate District Hospital and in particular Nidderdale Ward, I would like to say a huge thank you for the incredible support of the Simister family and their friends who have worked so hard to raise funds to make improvements to the comfort on the ward.

“Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity raises money to help make a difference to the care end experiences of local patients and their families, going above and beyond that which the NHS can provide.

“The staff are extremely grateful for the generous financial support, and in recognition of this, a plaque in memory of Mrs Simister will be placed within the ward.”

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Freemasons Donate £3,500 To High Park School To Help Fund Updates To “Cube Room” Sensory Equipment

Bradford-based High Park school – an all range specialist school for pupils with communication and interaction difficulties – has been given a £3,500 financial boost from the Freemasons.

The grant, which will be used to help purchase sensory equipment in its multi-sensory experience “cube room”, has come from the Provincial Grand Master’s (PGM) Fund, which are presented on a quarterly basis, with each recipient being nominated by individual Masonic Lodges across the region.

The school, located at Thorn Lane, Heaton, was one of 24 organisations to receive grants totalling £35,630 from the latest round of funds.

It was nominated by the members of Victoria Lodge, which meets at the Midland Hotel in Bradford.

Each year, the Province of Yorkshire West Riding presents grants adding up to £200,000, but, to mark the tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Province’s bicentenary, this figure rose to £300,000.

Ann Andrew, Principal of High Park School, said: “This is fantastic news for our children and we are truly grateful that the Freemasons are kindly donating this grant.

“As a specialist school for children with autism, we are driven to provide deep and active learning that is meaningful and age appropriate.

“Children attend from all areas of Bradford and beyond. Recently, the school was awarded Autism Accreditation, the first and only school in Bradford to have the award recognising the bespoke provision which is essential for our children’s development and well-being.

“When John Watson, Charity Steward for Victoria Lodge, visited school, he really understood the needs of our children and the need to provide a personalised approach.

“The school requested funding to help pay for essential equipment in the Cube Room so children could enjoy bespoke multi-sensory experiences in a safe and supported way.

“We rely on the generosity of organisations such as the Freemasons to continue to improve our facilities for the specialist needs for our pupils.”

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Hospice Funding in Area 5

On behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation W Bro. John Bailey presented Sophie Bramley of St Gemma’s Hospice with a Certificate confirming they had received £4,080 and W Bro. David Gray presented Michelle Darbyshire with Wheatfields Hospice’ certificate confirming they had received £2,620. These are just two of 245 grants to hospices around the country from Freemasons. In total £600,000 will be donated to hospices all over England and Wales this year.

W Bro. John Bailey and Sophie Bramley of St Gemma’s Hospice

W Bro. David Gray and Michelle Darbyshire of Wheatfields Hospice

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