Judges Reveal Secrets of Essex Freemasons

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At the Pride of Essex Awards 2020 Presentation Ceremony on 24th November 2020 streamed by Anglia Ruskin University, the Judges gave the Essex Freemasons Community Fund (EFCF) a ‘First’ with the ultimate ‘Community Top Team Award’.

Chaired by Deputy Lieutenant Dave Dennison BEM, these annual Awards are for those who have shown exceptional courage, inspiration or community service in Essex. The top ten in each category were invited to the virtual presentation with the results kept a closely guarded secret.

The Freemasons were nominated for a new Award, ‘Heroes of Pandemic Essex’, set up for 2020 at the request of the Lord Lieutenant, Jennifer Tolhurst, and received a special mention for the thousands of visors, hand sanitiser and PPE they supplied to Care Homes, NHS Community Staff, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance and some East of England Ambulance Stations.

The Judges delved more deeply into the work of the Freemasons and found a number of other significant Community initiatives including six £10,000 grants to good causes and £20,000 towards boosting antibody testing. Totally unexpected, it came as a complete surprise when the Pride of Essex Awards 2020 Presenters detailed the finding of the Judges and announced the ‘Community Top Team in Essex’ was the Essex Freemasons Community Fund.

The Pride of Essex Award presenters explained that:

  • The EFCF was set up in 2019 with money from the charitable donations of Essex Freemasons to award grants to registered charities and organisations supporting communities. Six £10,000 grants were made this year
  • The Fund executive were also tasked with responding to PPE needs of groups across Essex (which received additional recognition in the new category of HOPE -‘Heroes of Pandemic Essex - Team Award)
  • Some of the initiatives and grants include £20,000 towards boosting antibody testing with a further £100,000 pledged to fight the virus in the East of England
  • 50 litres of hand sanitiser was given to the Essex Search and Rescue Team of 63 volunteers who find and help missing and vulnerable people in Essex
  • 50 litres of clinical grade sanitiser was donated to each of the seven hospices in Essex
  • A £10,000 grant was given to the Essex Child Death Review Team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow to fill funding gap due to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Hand sanitiser and face shields were provided to Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Service, face shields were supplied to all nurses in the Community Mental Health Teams in mid and south Essex and to District Nurses in the south of Essex
  • All 506 Registered Care Homes in Essex were offered face shields for all their staff. More than 320 care homes requested support and £10,000 worth of face shields has been supplied
  • Personal bottles of hand sanitiser were given to all Ambulance crews across Essex as a ‘Thank You’ from Essex Freemasons and that Freemason volunteers delivered all these items personally

In these unsettling and challenging times, this Award for the EFCF as the Community Top Team in Essex is also a first-class honour which further enhances the charitable reputation of Freemasonry in all the Provinces and Districts in UGLE.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW.Bro Paul Reeves, acknowledged this recognition by the Community for the good work of all the 9,000 Freemasons in Essex who donated money as well as those who volunteered to deliver the items across the County.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the lockdown was that the PoE Awards could not be presented as usual, so the various sponsors of the awards were asked to present them following the online presentation ceremony. Mr. Ian Watson of Watson & Co Accountants, the category sponsor, who has been a long-term sponsor of the PoE Awards, presented the award to W.Bro Colin Felton, the Chairman of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund and VW.Bro Paul Reeves.

VW.Bro Paul Reeves said “each one deserved a handshake as personal recognition and that it was also a tribute to the late Rodney Bass OBE, the Provincial Grand Master of Essex who died in July 2020, under whose leadership the EFCF was set up, together with many of the initiatives which had impressed the Judges.”

Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro Tony White, emphasised the true depth and continuity of support for the Community in Essex, in that the Judges had awarded the Freemasons the ‘Team of Pride’ Community Award, after learning about their ongoing support of local charities across Essex in 2014.

In these unsettling and challenging times, this Pride of Essex 2020 Award for the EFCF as the Community Top Team in Essex is well deserved and helps enhance the reputation of Freemasonry for charitable giving, not just in Essex but throughout the UK and overseas.

*****

Pictured Left to Right:

W.Bro Lee Taylor - Assistant Provincial Grand Master (who led the PPE Initiative (which won us the HOPE Award)).

W.Bro Colin Felton - Chairman of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund

W.Bro Ian Watson - Watson Accounting

VW.Bro Paul Reeves – Deputy Provincial Grand Master

Tony Hales

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Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex