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Hippotherapy at Heel & Toe

Children with disabilities will receive horse therapy thanks to Durham Freemasons. 

More than 100 children with disabilities in the North East of England will receive specialised therapy in the form of Hippotherapy at Heel & Toe Children’s Charity, thanks to a major grant from Durham Freemasons. 

The £60,231 grant will support Heel & Toe Children’s Charity’s new therapy known as Hippotherapy which is a technique that uses the movement of a horse to treat a variety of conditions, in this case children with disabilities and complex needs. Hippotherapy uses the horses’ regular rhythm of walking to improve children’s balance, strength, joint range, righting reactions, tone, flexibility and sensory processing which are essential in the development of motor skills. 

The funding will make a significant difference in the lives of children and their families by providing this unique therapy. Heel & Toe are working in partnership with Washington Riding School to help local children with disabilities and complex needs in the North East and surrounding areas. 

Heel & Toe Children’s Charity provides a range of therapies to children with disabilities and complex needs. The charity provides Physiotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Conductive Education, Hippotherapy, Hydrotherapy and Massage Therapy to children aged between birth and 19 years old. 

The charity has two therapy centres based in Chester-Le-Street, County Durham. A land based therapy centre based in Pelton which incorporates five therapy rooms and a Hydrotherapy Centre based in Perkinsville which incorporates a Hydrotherapy pool, a Sensory Integration Room and Re-bound therapy room which uses a sunken trampoline that helps work on core stability and balance. 

This project will allow children to access a 45 minute session of Hippotherapy per week. Children with a wide range of challenges and diagnoses can benefit from hippotherapy, including Cerebral Palsy, developmental delay, genetic conditions, downs syndrome, coordination disorders, neuromuscular conditions amongst others. 

The grant from Durham Freemasons to Heel and Toe comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. 

Heel & Toe Children’s Charity Deputy Chief Executive, Amanda Tweedy said: 

John David Watts from Durham Freemasons, said: 

In the pics :- John Watts, Paul Quinn, Amanda Tweedy, Jo Parsons, Emily and her daughter Florence

Thank you from Jane Long, Development Executive

Stronger Together

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Visiting Volunteers

The Durham Province’s team of visiting volunteers were today brought together at Billingham Masonic Hall for a fantastic refresher training session from Mike Martin the MCF’s Visiting Volunteer Coordinator. At the end of the seminar Mike was delighted to award the attendees with their Visiting Volunteer pin for them to wear with pride at masonic events. 

The Visiting Volunteers offer a discrete and dedicated service to the masonic community by undertaking applications for support to the MCF. They bring to bear experience from 8 years in the role and an expertise in the requirements for the completion of the forms and evidence required. This not only provides a more personal application process but speeds up the payment of grants due to forms being completed “right first time” and the number of queries being reduced. 

The Province of Durham was proud to be one of the pilot provinces for the Visiting Volunteers and it’s an initiative that’s gone from strength to strength and allowed the MCF to speed up the grant process for recipients. Due to the nature of the role The Volunteers are an unsung example of freemasonry in our community and making a fantastic difference to those in need!

Mike Martin is a Kent freemason and not only works for the MCF but is himself a notable example to us all by bringing freemasonry into his community. He helped drive various group initiatives supporting the profound changes at Ebsfleet United football club. 

Although the club is on a much firmer financial footing Mike can now be seen leading the team of volunteer club car park attendants at home games. Come rain, snow, or sunshine you will not get access to the club car park without first receiving the nod from Mike in his high Viz vest and after referral to his trusty clipboard list. 

These small acts of volunteering, for unsung and unglamorous roles add enormously to the communities we live in and really make a difference.

Stronger Together.


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Annual Northern Pride

Saturday 22nd July saw the Annual Northern Pride march through Newcastle city centre to the Town Moor, amongst those taking part this year were The Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson and his good lady Andrea, along with The Assistant Provincial Grand Master,John David Watts and many other Durham Freemasons who wished to support Northern Pride.

Durham along with our friends from the neighboring Provinces of Northumberland and Yorkshire North and East Ridings joined together in support of the LGBTQIA+ community some of which are members or family members of the Freemasonry community.

Despite experiencing storm like conditions throughout Saturday over 15,000 people took part part, however the organisers of Northern Pride were forced to close the Festival’s Exhibition Park site on Sunday when it became “hazardous” due to flooding.

Stronger Together

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MCF Survey

The Masonic Charitable Foundation is conducting a brief survey. 

The survey has already received a good number of responses and to ensure as many Freemasons as possible have the opportunity to complete the survey, the MCF has asked if the survey link could also be shared via our Provincial digital communications channels such as Provincial websites, or e-newsletters and mailing lists.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ Charity) is conducting a brief survey to better understand how well the charity is communicating its vision, purpose and activities within Freemasonry.

 All Freemasons are invited to complete the survey, which takes around five minutes to complete. Responses are provided anonymously.

Please click this link to complete the survey: MCF Survey

The survey is intended to be completed only by Freemasons

Please note that the survey will be closed on Sunday, 6 August.

If you have any questions, please contact Harry Smith (cc’d), Head of Communications at the MCF ( or

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NEPACS | Durham Freemasons

Masonic Charitable Foundation

Disadvantaged children coping with a parent in prison will get help and support thanks to Durham Freemasons

More than 200 local children and young people with a parent in prison will be given the support they need to overcome social stigma, loneliness and mental health problems, thanks to a grant of £60,000 from Durham Freemasons to the North East Prison After Care Society (NEPACS).

The project, named Bee Yourself, will deliver a package of practical and emotional support for young people in the northeast of England, aged 4-17. These are disadvantaged young people, mostly from households in receipt of free-school meals, located in deprived wards and experiencing significant financial and emotional hardship.

Many of these young people do not receive specific help and often ‘go under the radar’ when their parent goes into custody. They are far more likely than their peers to experience social isolation, loneliness and mental health issues. An estimated 30 per cent of children impacted by parental imprisonment experience significant mental health problems, compared to 10 per cent of the wider youth population.

Similarly, children of prisoners are more likely to take unauthorised school absences than their peers. This has an inevitable effect on their overall educational attainment and passes on disadvantages to the next generation.

Children of prisoners are also at far greater risk of engaging in criminal behaviour. Statistics show that 54 per cent of people entering prison have at least one child under 18 and 312,000 children are affected by parental imprisonment each year. 71 per cent of boys who experience a parent in prison end up in trouble with the police themselves and 66 per cent will go on to offend.

NEPACS’ existing, more informal Young People’s services deliver impressive results: 80 per cent have reported a reduction in isolation; 89 per cent of young people stating they had formed new lasting friendships; 90 per cent stating they had no intention of involving themselves in criminal behaviour in the future; 90 per cent have indicated an improvement in their ‘state of happiness’ and 75 per cent have since reported a significant improvement in self-esteem and confidence.

The grant from Durham Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Emma Price from NEPACS, said:

“We’re very grateful to Durham Freemasons for their generous grant which will allow us to help hundreds of children and young people who are experiencing mental health issues, loneliness and social isolation following the imprisonment of a parent. Helping them to overcome these issues will be a huge benefit to them, their families and to the community in general.”

John Paul Thompson Head of the Durham Freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support NEPACS with their excellent programme to support children who are struggling after a parent has been sent to prison. One especially alarming statistic is that two thirds of the sons of prisoners end up in trouble with the police themselves. Helping them to avoid involvement in crime and take advantage of their education can transform their lives.”

The photos show Emma Price and Abdul Amin of NEPACS with John Thompson and Durham Freemasons representatives.


NEPACS is a north east charity which celebrated its 140th birthday in 2022. The charity supports the wellbeing of individuals and families who’ve been impacted by contact with the criminal justice system.

They provide practical and emotional support to all members of the family who suffer the ‘hidden sentence’ of a loved one’s imprisonment. We also directly support offenders to reduce reoffending.

NEPACS work at all stages of the criminal justice system, predominantly in deprived communities with people who suffer stigma, social disadvantage and economic hardship. Key to this is support for the children of offenders, who experience isolation, disrupted education, mental health issues and who are statistically more likely than peers to engage in crime.

For further information about the Masonic Charitable Foundation, please contact Guy Roberts, Press Officer (  |0203 146 3311)

About the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country. Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the MCF awards millions of pounds each year to local and national charities that help vulnerable people, advance medical research and provide opportunities for young people. The MCF also helps to fund vital services such as hospices and air ambulances and regularly contributes to worldwide appeals for disaster relief.  In total, MCF support helps to improve the lives of thousands of people every year in England, Wales and internationally. As well as providing grants to charities, the MCF supports Freemasons and their families with a financial, health or family need. Visit

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Feed Bellies not Bins | Durham Freemasons

The Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson, led a full Team visit to Corinthian Lodge in Shildon on Tuesday 23 rd May. The Lodge room was full, with over 75 brethren in attendance to witness Gavin North receiving his 2 nd Degree in an excellent ceremony performed by the officers of the Lodge.

The 3-course meal served (photos included) at the festive board was enjoyed by all present, and only afterwards were they informed that the food they ate was 100% rescued by and donated by “Shildon Alive”, who had in the recent past received a donation from Durham Benevolence, of £1,000.00 match funded by the MCF.

The Project Manager of Shildon Alive, Paula Nelson, who had attended a benevolence meeting last year, and spoke passionately on the subject of “Feed bellies, not bins” was present at the festive board accompanied by Tracy Chapell, the Food Co-Ordinator. Both speakers enlightened everyone as to the millions of pounds worth of food, which would end up in landfills, although perfectly edible, which was rescued by the likes of Shildon Alive, who used the food to benefit the local community where it was needed.

The brethren present were asked to make a donation, suggested at £10 per head, in lieu of payment for the meal provided. A super raffle was also held and when both totals were added to the collection tray from the Lodge room, a magnificent sum of £1440.00 was donated to Durham Benevolence, to then be presented to Shildon Alive, gratefully accepted by Chairman John Watts. John in his reply thanked everyone for their generosity, and by resounding acclaim, all those present hoped Durham Benevolence would increase the £1,440.00 to £2,000.00 as an additional grant.

In his concluding remarks, John gave huge praise to Stan Hunter. the Benevolence Representative of Corinthian Lodge, for all of his efforts in arranging the meeting to take place.

#strongertogether  #durhamfreemasons  #oneorganisation

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Masonic Charitable Foundation

Masonic Charitable Foundation

We are the Freemasons’ Charity

Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country.

They build better lives by enabling opportunity, advancing healthcare and education, and promoting independence.

MCF Logo


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Their Vision for Society

Everyone has the opportunity to lead positive, active and fulfilling lives, especially those that are in need, disadvantaged or marginalised.

Their Vision for the Masonic Community

Masonic families are healthy, stable, and secure thereby providing them with the opportunities to participate actively in their community and succeed in life.

Their values

Responding to need – They are a listening and inclusive organisation which identifies need and provides essential support to communities with which they work.

Making a difference – They are compassionate and dedicated to changing people’s lives in ways that are shown to have a positive impact.

Striving in excellence – They work in a professional, collaborative, and innovative way to provide the best service to their supporters, their beneficiaries and one another.

Their mission

To be a force for good by providing support, care and services to Freemasons and their families in need and supporting other charities to help the most disadvantaged in society.

Their Strategy

There are three strategic goals which will help us achieve our Mission.

1 We will enhance our support and services

As a unified charity, we now provide support and services across a wide spectrum of need to people of all ages, and to charities supporting all sections of society. To be at our most effective, we must adapt to the changing needs of the communities we support and, where possible, extend the range of our support and services, always ensuring they are delivered effectively.

There are over 160,000 charities in England and Wales competing for funding from grant-making foundations such as ours. Identifying the most deserving causes and effective charities is a challenge and requires intelligent decision making. In line with our Mission, the charities and causes that we support will be those which help people that face poverty, distress or are disadvantaged from participating actively in society, overcoming obstacles or leading fulfilling lives.

As our main donors, the support we offer to Freemasons and their families in times of need will remain our primary purpose. The majority of Freemasons and their partners are reflected in our ageing population which is living longer, with increasingly complex and expensive care needs. It is essential that we help meet the needs of older Freemasons, their wives and partners by supporting them to live as independently as possible in their own homes and communities, or in one of our RMBI care Homes.

2 We will improve our ways of working

The Masonic community is relatively small in charitable terms and we have no remit to raise funds from the general public. Furthermore, our fundraising efforts must compete with the many increasing demands on the limited resources of our supporters. Through our activities we must engage with the younger generation of Freemasons and encourage the whole Masonic community to support Festivals and other fundraising initiatives. To do this we must build and strengthen our relationships with the United Grand Lodge of England and with Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges in recognition of their role as the primary link to our donors and beneficiaries. We will need to shape and communicate our messages carefully to ensure everything we do is understood, valued and relevant.

There is increasing pressure to provide evidence which shows that the way we spend our donors’ money is having a positive impact, in the knowledge that our donors can choose to support other charities and causes. We need to improve our understanding of the value and impact of our grant-making, support and services, and adapt and change in response to what we learn.

We will honour the past 230 years of Masonic charity and the legacy charities from which MCF was formed, whilst creating a modern and effective governance structure and vibrant staff culture. Using these legacies as a solid foundation, we aspire to be needs-led, adjusting our range of support and services to ensure that MCF continues to provide appropriate support to those in need for generations to come.

3 We will raise our profile

As a new charity, it is essential that we embed the MCF and its activities within the consciousness of the Masonic community. It is vital that the support and services we provide are known about and understood by Freemasons and their families in need. At the same time we must build pride in our donors and supporters, without whom we cannot deliver our Mission.

We aim to be better known across society as a whole so that the generosity and charitable actions of the Masonic community are widely recognised and fully understood.

We must take advantage of our size and scale to find a voice in the sector, taking prominent positions on issues affecting our beneficiaries and speaking knowledgably about the needs of the communities we support. As a leading charitable foundation in the UK, we aim to adopt a profile befitting our scale in order to support the charity community and encourage shared learning, best practice and transparency.

MCF Logo


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Download the complete document here

MCF Support
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Children and families with Down Syndrome will get help and support thanks to Durham Freemasons

Children and families with Down Syndrome will get help and support thanks to Durham Freemasons

More than 60 families with children who have Down Syndrome will receive support for both their medical condition and learning difficulties, thanks to a grant of £34,000 from Durham Freemasons to the Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP) charity.

PCP’s Together 21 (T21) project aims to support children with a range of medical conditions, some of which are serious. These include visual and hearing impairments, heart problems, low immunity, Leukemia, thyroid disorders and sleeping disorders. Most of the children have at least one of these medical conditions. The children will also face a range of learning difficulties associated with Down syndrome. The project delivers speech and language support including Makaton, literacy and numeracy, motor skills and life skills.

T21 provides an informal curriculum of developmental and social activities for the children and young people alongside their families, developed by their internationally recognised specialist education consultant. Each child is given an individual development plan, and the parents are supported to supplement the weekly sessions at their specialist facility with activities at home. During the school holidays PCP arrange various trips and activities.

Another key feature of Together 21 is the opportunity for the children to build friendships within peer groups. This is also a chance for parents to get to know each other, providing a vital friendship and peer support network for families.

T21 is unique, as it is the only programme in the North East of England dedicated to the education and development of children with Down syndrome. Families travel from all across the North East and North Yorkshire to benefit from Together 21, which is based and primarily delivered from the Pioneering Care Centre, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The grant from Durham Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

To view PCP Website and video of our recent visit: Click here

Carol Gaskarth, Pioneering Care Partnership Chief Executive, said:

“We’re really grateful to Durham Freemasons for their generous grant which will support our essential work with children and young people with Down Syndrome. We’re there to help them improve their health, wellbeing and life chances.”

John Paul Thompson from Durham Freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help the Pioneering Care Partnership with their hugely important work with families and children with Down Syndrome. As well as direct support for the children, parents have the chance to get to know each other and provide themselves with a vital support network.”

The attached photos show the Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Watts accompanied by Andrew Thompson and Paul Debenham, MCF representatives, who were invited to see the group in action. Many thanks to Carol Gaskarth, CEO for her assistance during the visit.


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Chris Needs Our Support | Durham Freemasons

Lincolnshire Freemason Chris Jones on New year’s Day set off from Skegness on an on an 18-month challenge to walk the entire coastline of Great Britain, in Aid of the #Lincs2025 Festival for the (Masonic Charitable Foundation).

Why’s he doing that? He is in no doubt that mental health counsellors at the MCF prevented him from taking his own life, and he wants to repay the favour by raising as much money as he can – with a nominal target of £100,000 – and to raise awareness within the Masonic community of the counsellors’ availability. As he says, ‘other people might need the same help I did’.

Read more of his story on our web site here:

How you can help:  There are several ways.

Through sponsorship: (there’s a link to his fundraising page below)

Walk with Chris: as he passes along our coastline in Durham

Overnight Accommodation: You or your business could provide overnight accommodation or a night’s B&B so he can dry clothes and write up his adventures

We are expecting Chris to reach Durham in around 3 weeks and have already begun a dialogue, it would be fantastic if we could give him a huge Durham welcome.

Our Coastal Masonic Halls could possibly provide respite and sustenance to aid him on his journey, why not invite him as a guest to your Lodge Meeting.

As his walk progresses, will be getting in touch providing his ETA in reaching our Province, scheduling individual stop off and stay overs etc.

On completion of the walk, he hopes to produce a book about his journeys – the walk and his return to mental health stability.

Fundraising page:  (done through the MCF)


Live on air:

From Saturday 7 th January you’ll be able to listen to live interviews on Coastal Sound Radio , where DJ Tricky Ricky will be talking to Chris during his Tuesday and Saturday afternoon shows. To listen live click on the link above or ask Alexa ‘Play Coastal Sound Radio’.

If you can support Chris, contact The Provincial Communications Officer:


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The MCF’s partnerships: past, present and future | Durham Freemasons

Masonic Charitable Foundation

Two Age UK Beneficiaries

Two of the MCF’s important partnerships have undergone recent changes: one with Age UK, which has come to an end, and the other with Hospice UK, which recently introduced a programme that provides bursaries to hospice staff.

Both partnerships align with the MCF’s mission to support vulnerable, and in many cases, elderly people in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. In the context of these two partnerships, the MCF is both looking back on what’s been achieved, and looking forward to what’s to come.

In 2018, the MCF launched a £1million, four-year partnership with Age UK, which would allow their Later Life Goals project to roll out in 13 areas across England and Wales, benefitting 10,000 older people who were experiencing loneliness. Thanks to the MCF’s support, Age UK Later Life Goals’ advisers have been able to offer time, compassion, expert information and advice to help older people to feel less lonely, access more money, and get the most out of later life.

In total, 10,219 older people have benefitted from holistic support, over 4,846 have received support in their homes and more than £21million in unclaimed benefits and income have been claimed, which is an average of over £4,000 per person in extra income each year – a truly life-changing sum.

In the Hospice UK partnership, the same overall aim applies: helping to provide the best quality care to vulnerable and mostly elderly people across England and Wales. This objective hasn’t changed, but the journey to achieving it has – and it begins with staff. To address the issue of staff retention in hospices, the MCF has created a bursary scheme with Hospice UK to support the professional development of staff and health professionals. As a result, hospices will be able to provide better and more specialised support to their residents.

The new bursary scheme will provide grants for hospice staff to take courses such as in palliative care or dementia care to help them deliver better support to patients. This new scheme replaces the annual core hospice grants programme, which had a limited measurable impact. Instead, the same budget of £300,000 per year will now be focussed on the bursary scheme, providing ongoing support which has a clear purpose within the Hospice movement.

Nurse at Bolton Hospice

“ The first MCF bursaries have already been awarded and received with much enthusiasm, and as the programme develops we look forward to allocating more bursaries and learning about the impact of the funding.” – Karl Benn, Head of Grants, Hospice UK Support and Development

Hospices in every masonic Province in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are eligible for funding from the MCF’s partnership with Hospice UK. In order to spread the funding equally, there is a maximum amount available for each hospice. Those who apply must be working in an eligible organisation as one of the following roles: Nurse, Healthcare Assistant, Doctor, Allied Health Professional, Social Worker, Bereavement Counsellor, Administration Staff, Spiritual Care Worker, Pharmacist, or Complementary Therapist. Individuals can apply for a maximum of 50 per cent of course or module fees, up to £1,500 in any one year.

It is not only the Hospice UK partnership that focuses on professional development; through the MCF’s work with Age UK, funding has been provided for their National Volunteering Programme. This programme provides training and resources that help to engage new volunteers and ensuring continued positive experiences for more than 30,000 people who currently volunteer for the charity.

“I love volunteering for your charity. I get as much out of it as my telephone friend does and genuinely look forward to speaking with them every week. I feel like my life has been enriched immensely since I started my volunteering role.” – Age UK Volunteer

Since the MCF was established in 2016, it has developed its grants, services and partnerships in line with a long-term strategic goal to help the most disadvantaged people in society. The success of the Age UK partnership sets a high standard for the results of the Hospice UK bursary programme, and the MCF’s Charity Grants team has been working hard to ensure it will be achievable. The MCF is looking forward to sharing the positive results of this latest partnership, as well as updates on the long term impact of Age UK’s later life goals programme.

Are you interested in learning more about the MCF’s partnerships and Charity Grants programmes? Visit or scan the QR code with your phone

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