In the Autumn of 2015 an appeal was launched by the Provincial Charity Steward, Wayne Smith, for lodges, chapters, individual Freemasons and other Masonic groups to sponsor a disadvantaged child, and his or her carer, to visit a pantomime during the Festive season. This followed a similar appeal in the 2014 Festive season.
There was a terrific response to this appeal and Wayne wishes to thank all those that gave it their support.
By the end of the season, 693 disadvantaged children, their parents and carers attended pantomimes at various locations throughout East Kent. Thanks to the amazing generosity of the sponsors, fun, laughter and special memories have been brought to so many deprived families over the holidays.
This Christmas, East Kent Freemasons teamed up with groups and organisations to reach out to many more families including:
- Domestic violence refuges,
- Disabled groups,
- Families with disabled children and those with life-limiting illnesses,
- Children in care and with foster parents.
A number of children were specially nominated by some Brethren and also our Masonic Charities.
16 pantomime performances were enjoyed at:
- The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury – Snow White
- Woodville Halls, Gravesend – Robin Hood
- Central Hall, Chatham – Beauty and the Beast
- Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone – Peter Pan
The initiative inspired others to help, with many theatres giving special discounts or providing goody bags and the Heritage Foundation providing some generous financial support, bringing enjoyment to so many children across East Kent this Christmas. Such was its success that it was reported twice in the local newspapers.
Wayne Smith said: “Whether the sponsorship was personal or collectively part of a Lodge, Chapter or other Masonic Group, please accept the thanks of those that you have made feel special this Christmas.”
Some comments from those that benefitted from the sponsorship are listed below:-
- “What a fab night. To see the fun the guys and gals have was a tonic for us.”
- “Please pass on our gratitude. What a great way to start the New Year.”
“No one ever does anything for us – so thank you.”
- “It was brilliant. It showed them just how important and how valued their input is.”
- “On behalf of all our clients that went, a massive thank you for such an enjoyable evening.”
- “We took some of our most challenging children and within minutes they loved it. A big success, thank you.”
- “Firstly we all would like to thank you all for giving us such a lovely Christmas gift. For some of our friends, this was their first visit to a panto and how much everyone said they enjoyed it and to be in a theatre where they were treated so kindly and spoilt with lovely refreshments.”
- “Our students attending our courses are quite isolated and have to deal with challenges and prejudices in a world which they cannot always communicate how they feel or how they are made to feel. Music and drama is a way of bringing everyone together whatever challenges we may face and enjoyment, expression, and communication is displayed in responding and enjoyment of music and drama. Even our deaf/blind friend can feel vibrations and responds to vibrations with smiles and laughter.”