by Steve Hallberg, Provincial Grand Treasurer
Having been in the accountancy business for 47 years, I thought I’d seen it all. I’ve met an Accountant called Mr. Balance (Peter) and a Bank Manager called Mr Fiddler (John). I’ve seen the dot.com bubble burst, the financial and banking system brought to its knees, the property market collapse and the three-day week, when the winter of discontent was in force. Remember living and working by candle light?
However, never have I seen anything like the events we have witnessed over the last two months. The most frustrating thing is we can’t all get together in our Lodges and moan about it! I’m sure when this period in our lives is over we will look back in the knowledge we in Masonry did our bit.
You may be forgiven for thinking everything stopped when the country came to an abrupt halt in March, and lockdown was announced – how wrong you would be. The Province has been very busy on many fronts in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, both in terms of our own Brethren but as importantly, the communities we live in. Our benevolent funds are registered charities, and, like every charity in the country, are facing unprecedented calls on their resources – a ‘perfect storm’, to coin a phrase. As life and the economy gradually resumes some form of normality, I do fear that some businesses will struggle with the new normal, and some of our own members will be faced with the most difficult of circumstances and loss of livelihoods, either as business owners or faithful employees.
It is for such situations that the original Lincolnshire Freemasons Benevolent Fund (we call it the Old Fund) was constituted. Every year our Petitions Committee deals with dozens of requests for assistance through John Grimwood, our wonderful and very hard working Provincial Almoner. In fairness most cases are usually for older Brethren, or their widows, but sometimes the youngest of brothers who have had an extreme event put them or their family in a desperate situation .
The four members who constitute the Petitions Committee can deal with a case in less than 24 hours if circumstances dictate, which I believe is to be marvelled at. The cases, although kept anonymous, are reported in March and September to the LMCA meeting attended by Charity Stewards and Almoners. As trustees of the Funds we are naturally very happy to see a high percentage of those Charity Stewards and Almoners at those meetings, and they see first-hand the assistance being given at great speed to distressed Brethren at local level.
Do you need help?
Linking with the charitable side of our Province last week the MCF launched a new section on its web site designed to offer support to any Freemason or family facing difficulties, no matter how they are caused. That document is to be found on line at this link which offers the phone number of 0800 035 6090, and an email address of email@example.com. Please make sure everyone is aware of this development, and are able to show it to anyone who might benefit from it.
Please pay your subs
On a Lodge note, and as hard worked Lodge Treasurer for three Lodges, have you missed the nudge in the back or tap on the shoulder by your Lodge Treasurer asking for your subs? If you are one of those who doesn’t pay on a standing order please take the opportunity to review your subscriptions and keep the Lodge finances working well. I’m sure your Treasurer will be very appreciative of not having to chase around in these most trying of times.
I hope that all our members will take the view that looking after the financial welfare of the Lodge as well as each other is extremely important. We may not be meeting at the moment, but it will have financial liabilities to meet, and can only function if everyone plays their part.
Finally, I wish everyone and their loved ones remain safe and I look forward to the day we can greet each other in the manner to which we have become accustomed.