Charity Stewards from all parts of East Kent hold a Breakfast Meeting

Report by Provincial Grand Steward, Ian Burrell

Charity Stewards from all over the Province gathered at the George Hotel in Chatham on Saturday 31st October for a Charity Stewards Breakfast meeting. The Provincial Grand Master, Geoffrey Dearing, together with the Provincial Grand Charity Steward, Wayne Smith and Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Grumbridge, welcomed attendees before sitting down to a sumptuous buffet breakfast.

John Grumbridge

John Grumbridge

After breakfast, Wayne Smith introduced John Grumbridge, Chairman of Trustees of the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity.

John spoke of the success of the charity over the past year and how, thanks to the hard work and dedication of members, lodges and chapters, a total of £78,000 had been donated to the charity. In turn it had awarded £90,000 in grants to individuals, charities and other needy causes throughout East Kent.

John also spoke about the forthcoming presentation day in Egerton on 7th November where more good causes will be awarded grants by the charity. He went on to thank everyone for promoting the charity and the work it does within the Province as he felt it had contributed to the success of the charity thus far.

Wayne Smith then spoke about the new Masonic Charity Foundation and how it will be able to assist those in need more quickly and more efficiently as decisions would be made by staff and not by committee. He explained that the Foundation would not be a full amalgamation of the existing charities due to their individual reserves. During the Tercentenary celebrations significant grants would be made to help our communities and those living in them.

Seminars were being arranged to help Charity Stewards cope with new strategies and developments, the first one taking place in Dover on 30th November with further ones planned throughout the Province.

Wayne then invited the Provincial Grand Master to address the meeting.

Geoffrey Dearing began by stating how proud he was of the Province in exceeding the target at the last festival and the huge role played by Charity Stewards whom he thanked profusely.

Geoffrey had recently lunched with the current Lord Cornwallis who was pleased with the way the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity was running and assisting those most in need. He said that Charity Stewards were critical to the work and success of the CEKFC.

Wayne Smith and John Jones

Wayne Smith and John Jones

As part of the Tercentenary celebrations four Provinces including East Kent would be looking to raise a total of £200,000 to assist with Canterbury Cathedral’s restoration project in the North West Transept. All Lodges who donate £1,500 towards the fund would be entitled to a Rough and Smooth Ashlar created by the stonemasons of Canterbury Cathedral. Both ashlars will bear the new design of the square and compasses.   Two plaques would be erected at the Cathedral to commemorate the generosity of the Freemasons. One of these will be in the Martyrdom, which is the area within the Cathedral where Thomas A Becket was murdered and which is visited each year by over a million people.

The Province is committed to raising £50,000 by 31st December 2016 towards this appeal with the money being drip-fed to the Cathedral Trust to allow continuous improvements to be made. To facilitate this a special relief chest, E0149, has been created by the Grand Charity to hold all donations. A service will be held at the Cathedral on 18th February 2017 to celebrate the Tercentenary.

Geoffrey moved on to the subject of communications and, in particular, how it is proposed to assist and support lodges, chapters and centres in this challenging time. Eight groups were going to be formed, with each centre falling within one of those groups and each group having its own Chairman and helpers who will assist in all matters apart from Book of Constitution issues which will still be handled by the Provincial Grand Secretary.

On the subject of membership, Geoffrey spoke of the need for a common approach. Nearly 20% of members were lost between initiation and presentation of a Grand Lodge Certificate. There is now a target to reduce that to 10% by 2020.

At the start of his term in office, 5% of East Kent’s overall membership was lost each year but that has now been reduced to 0.4% and it is hoped to be in positive territory soon.

Before closing, the Provincial Grand Master thanked everyone for attending this meeting and for their continued support.

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Some of the Charity Stewards attending the meeting

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