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Freemasons Fund New Equipment To Help Patients To Return Home

“The new rehab steps will be a great support in terms of the therapy ellenor can provide for our patients. Thanks to your kind donation we can now safely assess patients on these stairs and plan their discharge home appropriately. We can also use these steps to assist our patients to increase their ability and support them to be able to access all areas of their homes”. – Claire Dudbridge, ellenor Occupational Therapist

The rehabilitation steps, donated by the Masonic Province of West Kent, will be in constant use by occupational therapist Claire Dudbridge and the team of Therapy Assistants. They will help them carry out discharge assessments and determine whether patients need adaptations to their homes before they can return.

Fundraisers at ellenor rely on the support of the local community when it comes to providing specialist services and equipment. So, they were delighted when the Freemason’s TLC Committee and the Provincial Charity Committee agreed to provide the £1,400 purpose-built steps.

Mike Bowyer-Jones, part of the Masonic Province of West Kent, said: “It’s all about being part of the community. We are pleased to help a local charity and want to keep that link going. It’s so interesting learning about all the different services ellenor provides.”

As well as end-of-life care, the in-patient ward at the Northfleet hospice now also provides short-term respite and accepts non-acute patients from local hospitals, which eases the strain on the NHS. These patients can be discharged from the ward when they are ready and able to go home. If their home has stairs, they will need to be strong enough to use them, so the rehab steps will be an invaluable piece of equipment.

Local Freemasons have shown their support for ellenor in various ways over some years. They work particularly closely with the children’s team, buying gifts and food at Christmas and Easter, and donating their Tender Loving Care teddy bears.

They have a good working relationship with Corporate Partnership Development Manager Jemma Kemp and when she approached them about the rehab steps, they were keen to help. They submitted the request to their Provincial Charity committee, who gave the green light.

Mike said: “We have had an ongoing relationship with ellenor for seven or eight years and we are very pleased to do what we can. The Freemasons do a fair amount of good work in the community. We have nearly 180 lodges in West Kent and our target is to raise £2.6million every five years. There is a difference between us and other charities – normally charities raise money, but we give money.

“We might pay a bit extra when we meet for a meal, we also pay annual subs and hold an alms collection and raffle at every meeting, and sometimes an auction. We also organise events like go karting, where we pay extra. Sometimes we ask neighbours and friends if they would like to contribute.”

The Freemasons, part of a 300-year-old non-religious, non-political organisation, tend to keep a low profile, not arranging public fundraising events, or posting photos on social media. Their motto is “helping charities is in our heart”. They say their aim is to “make a difference in all of our activities – whether this is through individual Lodges, our interaction with each other as members or our relationship with the community as a whole”.

Typically, Mike is out and about taking part in Masonic activities and carrying out Masonic duties three or four days a week.

He said: “I was in the London Fire Brigade for 28 years and bought a farm to retire to, but of course found myself tending 750 free range chickens, looking after sheep and running a farm shop. We don’t farm the land now, but we still cut the grass and hedges and there are eight or nine acres.”

Giving to charity is something that has always been an important part of Mike’s life. He belongs to five Masonic lodges, is vice president of the committee which oversees a Masonic residential home in Chislehurst (soon to be chair) and is also part of the TLC Committee. His wife PJ is also a big charity supporter and has run a couple of marathons in aid of ellenor.

Twice a year they hold a Masonic gathering at their farm in West Malling, at Christmas and in the summer. Somehow, Mike has also recently found time to build a large ragstone cloister at his farm, where visitors can shelter if they attend one of his Masonic events.

He and his fellow Freemasons are keen to continue their close relationship with ellenor, providing important resources as well as the little things that make all the difference.