The communal spirit and generosity of Freemasonry was vividly illustrated when the Blackpool Group of lodges and chapters held its annual Charity Giving Night at the Masonic Hall, Blackpool and at which over £36,415 was distributed to local and national charities. “It is an aspect of Freemasonry that goes unrecognised by the majority of the general public,” commended Brenda Wildish of Guide Dogs for the Blind when she and her beautiful dog Crawford attended the event and received £380 from members of Emblem Lodge No 6727 and Mereside Lodge No 6360.
In similar vein, on receiving a donation of £300 from Clifton Lodge No 703 and Clifton Chapter No 703, Emma Inglis of Blackpool Polar Bears, a multi-disability swimming club for members of the community with a physical or learning disability, remarked that, “The generosity of the Freemasons is overwhelming and the donations make a huge difference to so many smaller charities.”
In all, some 47 charities benefitted from the money raised by lodges and chapters in the Blackpool group and representatives of many of the organisations attended the ‘Giving Night’ to receive their due cheques and provide a short synopsis on how the money will be applied.
In his opening address to a full hall, Chairman of Blackpool Group John Turpin extended a warm welcome to the principal guest, past Mayor of Blackpool Alderman Sylvia Taylor JP and other dignitaries and made mention of the fact that Freemasonry is fairly unique in raising money for charities. “The donations are raised entirely from amongst the members and families in the fraternity of Freemasonry. There is no standing in the streets; no rattling of collection tins, no pleas to the general public.” He went on to elucidate on some of the major disasters throughout the world to which Freemasonry had provided emergency aid. “Just one of the many advantages of such donations from the United Grand Lodge of England is that they are instant, within a matter of only a few days of a tragedy occurring,” he said.
The charities present at the Giving Night had erected display stands around the room and the dignitaries and the brethren and their guests learnt about many of the small local organisations that benefitted from the lodges’ and chapters’ donations. A clear message that came from all of the charities was that they were enormously grateful for the help given by Freemasonry and were full of praise for the magnificent sum raised.
Sums donated to the charities varied from £6,965 to Trinity Hospice and its children’s wing Brian House and £2,210 to Blue Skies Hospital Fund to dozens of donations in the £100s. Although there were donations to national charities such as the Salvation Army, the Alzheimer’s Society and Macmillan Cancer Support, the majority of cheques were presented to local charities that serve the communities of Blackpool and the Fylde.
Regardless of the amounts that each received, the most memorable aspect of the evening was learning of the wonderful work done by all the charities and the assurances that all the donations are so faithfully applied.