Freemasons Give £47,500 to the British Wireless for the Blind Fund

Presentation_of_the_Cheque_for_ £47,500

Frances Fielding and David Beard receiving the cheque from the group of local Freemasons (Photo © Mark Howells)

A dull Tuesday morning was certainly brightened for a group of Maidstone Freemasons, when they presented a cheque for £47,500 at the headquarters of the British Wireless for the Blind Fund.


David and Frances with a selection of adapted radios from 1928 to 2015 (Photo © Mark Howells)

Since 1928 BWBF has helped transform the lives of registered blind and partially sighted people in the UK, by providing specially adapted radios and audio players. These give easy and straightforward access to news, information and entertainment which help remove the feelings of isolation and exclusion felt by so many.

Now, with the help of this grant arranged by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, they are able to complete an important project to replace and upgrade 110 further units to the latest Sonata Plus model.

Lead by Philip Lumley of the Provincial Charity Committee, Michael Robins of Brothers of Birchington Lodge, Peter Harkin of Maeides Stana Lodge, Michael Bremerkamp of Duke of Kent Lodge, John Fry of Fleur de Lis Lodge and Photographer Mark Howells from Rochester Castle Lodge were treated to a tour of the BWBF facilities and demonstrations of the equipment.

Frances Fielding, Chief Fundraiser, explained how for 87 years the charity has worked to deliver the latest technology to partially sighted people, who because they are often on restricted incomes, often feel disconnected from society.

In 1928 the hot tech buzz was a crystal set! Nowadays it is a digital multi-media internet radio.

The original models incorporated Braille on the dials and controls. Over recent years this has been supplemented with bright yellow buttons, as this specific colour is the last to remain visible to those going blind through macular degeneration.

The newest models truly open up new horizons for their service users, explained project manager David Beard. By giving access to webpages, new series, audio book and even a vast library of ebooks which can be read automatically the Sonata Plus makes it possible for the visually impaired to get information and entertainment on demand. This is a vast improvement of the older sets which were just simple radios, as you might have to wait for a particular programme or news broadcast to get to hear what you wanted.

David Beard demos SonataPlus to Mike Bremerkamp Duke Of Kent lodge

Mike Bremerkamp with David and a SonataPlus (Photo © Mark Howells)

This was truly a different and new way to see the money Freemasons raise being put into action. Frances commented “It was lovely to meet you all, as we rarely meet any of our donors and have the chance to show them what we do. David said that he very much enjoyed talking about the capabilities of the Sonata Plus set to his interested audience.”

In the next few weeks we’ll be seeing how the new Sonata Plus is making a positive difference to a local user.

You can find out more about the BWBF at

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