News

Around the Province

Please send all your Mark & RAM Lodge Festival news and event items (plus quality photos/ video) to webmaster(at)oxonMBF2025.org.uk (replacing '(at)' with '@') for inclusion on this website.



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Ginny Cumming smiles as one of her husband's losing bets goes past in the background

They were Under Starter's Orders

 News 15th Jul 2022 Updated 21st Jul 2022
A party of thirty (Mark Masons, their families and friends) came "under starter's orders" and enjoyed a great day at Newbury races organised by Allan Dishington and Barry Weston.
On a beautifully sunny day, it was an opportunity to meet up with friends and have some fun; this was particularly welcome after so many months of restrictions on social interaction.
There were mixed fortunes on the gambling front. The Festival Secretary's wife backed three winners and had other placed horses. Her success was sadly offset by her husband's lack of judgement of equine potential.
This was a brilliant day out, greatly enjoyed by all who attended and raising £300 for Festival funds.



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Wendy and Ginny pose in front of Trillium, a fast filly who won her race and won them some money

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Barry Prior smiling as he calculates his winnings; Wendy and Ian Wright are pleased for him

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The Festival Secretary gives some racing tips which are sensibly ignored by Allan Dishington and Chris Reynolds

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Steve, John and Rita enjoying the sunshine


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Click to view letter (in new window)


Festival Fund Raising Update

 News 18th Jul 2022 Updated 19th Jul 2022

Dear Brethren,

Please click below to read a letter from the Secretary and Executive Officer of the 157th MBF Annual Festival 2025 in Oxfordshire.

20220718 Regular Giving Letter.pdf

S&F,
Mocky Khan
Provincial Communications Officer

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Oxfordshire PGM, DPGM and Mocky Khan with the Cheshire Festival and their PGM


Oxfordshire celebrates Surrey's success!

 News 2nd Jul 2022 Updated 9th Jul 2022
A delegation from Oxfordshire, led by our Provincial Grand Master and Deputy Provincial Grand Master went to Brighton to support the culmination of the 154th MBF Festival hosted by Mark Province of Surrey.
Due to covid, the Surrey Festival preparation has been hampered, they even lost their original hotel booking at the last minute and had to find new venue. Surrey Festival Committee found a great alternative venue at Hilton Brighton Metropole. Despite all the problems, Surrey organised a fabulous event with 360 Brethren from all over the country attending.
Members of Oxfordshire Festival Committee explored Brighton, checked out the bars, the shops and had made friends with fellow Brethren and most importantly took notes to help our own festival.
At the dinner, Oxfordshire sat with the Festival Committee from Cheshire who will be in holding their festival in 2024. Drinks were shared as well as ideas to raise money.
After a dramatic build up, the final amount raised by the Surrey Festival was revealed and they raised a tremendous amount - £1,002,022. Well done Surrey!
Our Festival has recently hit the £100k mark, which is great. We need to keep going and keep the money rolling in!

More photo's can be seen in the latest Mark weekly newsletter.


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(L-R) Sam Lydiatt (Marcus's grandson), VWBro Steve Willoughby, WBro Leo Catney, WBro Marcus Smith, VWBro Barry Prior


Spills and Thrills

 News 6th Jul 2022 Updated 8th Jul 2022
On a number of occasions our Provincial Grand Master has said that one of the main objectives of our MBF Festival is to have fun as well as trying to raise some money. On Wednesday evening a number of Brethren did just that. W Bro Leo Catney of Windrush Car and Motorcycle Lodge organised a visit to Oxford Speedway.
Although some Brethren fell by the wayside or didn't take up the offer several did attend at Oxford Stadium to watch the match between Oxford Cheetahs and Plymouth Gladiators. The evening started with a complimentary drink then a tour of the pits and the stadium followed by a chicken curry meal including a dessert. The party then settled down to an action packed evening of racing.
Although the weather was very kind, we all watched from the comfort of the spacious enclosed bar.
The enjoyment of the evening was completed by victory for Oxford!
Watch this space as, hopefully, W Bro Leo will be prepared to organise another visit in the not too distant future. If he does then I would encourage as many of you to attend if you would like a convivial as well as exciting evening.



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(L-R) Steve Bowers, Tony Judd and Peter Gilkes


A visit to the Home of Cricket

 News 27th Jun 2022 Updated 6th Jul 2022
As an antidote to the pyrotechnic approach of Ben Stokes and his England team, Oxfordshire Brethren and friends visited Lord's to enjoy the gentler cricket provided by Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Worshipful Brother John Grout and the Festival Secretary, as MCC members, were able to introduce twelve guests into the Lord's pavilion. Although the lunch of bangers and mash was not quite in keeping with the genteel surroundings, it was very much enjoyed, washed down with agreeable pints or even-more-agreeable glasses of Malbec.
Some of us went to the Lord's Museum and other parts of the ground (Marcus Smith visited the shop and purchased a very interesting item of headwear), while others stayed in the pavilion with an eye on the televised England game mentioned at the start of this piece.
Almost £200 was raised for the Festival and a most enjoyable time was had by all.


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(L-R) Marcus Smith and Jim McSherry

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Swinging in the Sunshine

 News 1st Jun 2022 Updated 10th Jun 2022
Freed from his duties as Didcot Mayor, Mocky Khan and his friend Manj joined the Festival Secretary for an afternoon of fun at Hadden Hill Golf Club, Didcot.
In glorious sunshine, and spending more time in the undergrowth than might have been strictly necessary, all three players had an enjoyable time and raised £100 for Festival funds.
As 'cooling lotions' were consumed afterwards, mutterings of "hustler" and "bandit" were directed at the Festival Secretary, but he either chose to ignore them or, more likely, did not hear them in the first place.


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OMMBA - Festival Events Incentive to Lodges

 News 29th May 2024
Dear Brother Secretaries and Scribes,
The Oxfordshire Mark Masonic Benevolent Association (OMMBA), as an extra incentive to Lodges to organise events, has agreed that it will match sums raised by Festival events run by Lodges, up to an individual total per event of £1000.
Examples of such events are the Golden Hind event run by University Mark Lodge and the trip to Lord's organised by Thames Mark Lodge.
Lodges seeking matched funding should contact W Bro Steve Pope, Secretary of OMMBA at prgalm.mark(at)oxfordshirefreemasons.org
(replace '(at)' with '@').
Sincerely and fraternally,
David Cumming PrGJW
Secretary, MBF Annual Festival 2025, Oxfordshire


First Festival Landmark Reached £100,000

 News 29th Apr 2022 Updated 10th Jun 2022
Despite the obstacles of Covid-related restrictions over the last two years, our MBF Festival total has reached its first major milestone; £100,000 has been raised so far.
The number of 'planned giving' contributions is on the rise, almost eighty Brethren have become Festival Stewards, and events are being planned by a number of Lodges.
This gives us grounds for real optimism as we enter the final three years of our Festival period. Well done, Brethren; keep it up.

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Oxfordshire Mark Provincial Ladies Festival Gala Banquet


Oh, We Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside!!

 News 18th Mar 2022 Updated 9th Apr 2022
The Oxfordshire Mark Masons' Provincial Ladies Festival was held over the weekend of 18th-20th March.
Fifty guests responded to the invitation from Wendy Wright, the Provincial Grand Master's lady, to join her and Ian at The Queens Hotel, Bournemouth, and a great time was had by all.
During the gloriously sunny weekend, the guests dined, danced and had a thoroughly good time, glad to be making new friends and meeting old friends socially after many months of restrictions.
The weekend, which was brilliantly organised by Worshipful Brother Barry Weston, included dinner (with a quiz and dancing) on Friday evening and a formal banquet (with even more dancing) on Saturday. Some guests began their festivities at lunchtime on Friday, and consequently paid the price ... you know who you are!!
All who attended are looking forward to a similar event next year. Those who did not attend missed a great weekend.



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Update for The Mark Benevolent Fund

March 2022


Thank you from Helen & Douglas House

Thank you so much to the Trustees of The Mark Benevolent Fund for your support, and wonderful donation of £3,000 in August 2021. Your kindness has helped us to provide vital, expert hospice care for babies, children, young people and their families.

As you know, Helen & Douglas House cares for terminally ill children from Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties. We offer specialist hospice care for children and their families, wherever it is needed. This might be at our home-from-home hospice, at hospital or out in the wider community, including the family home. Our personalised care includes respite stays, pain relief, symptom management, end-of-life care and bereavement support. We help children live as fully as possible, and whilst time is precious, we enable families to make lasting and treasured memories. We do everything we can to support families practically and emotionally during these incredibly tough times, helping them to cope at every stage of their child's life, and beyond.

Recent stories of care

Here are some examples of the recent care our incredible team has delivered:

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Supportive respite stays
Our supportive stays are a lifeline for many families, giving them an essential break from the strains of full-time care for their terminally ill children. Some families choose to stay in our dedicated on-site family flats, so they can be only a minute away from their child, or in the child's private bedroom. Other families use this time to get things done at home, spend time with their other children, or simply to recuperate. Tim, Toby's dad said, "The breaks keep us sane. They allow us to be the people we are. We'd fall apart without it". Having families back in house after such a long time of restrictions has been wonderful, not just for the families but for our staff too.

Our supportive stays allow mothers and fathers to take time off from the exhausting role of full time carer, and to just be parents to their children. It makes a world of difference to hand over the responsibility of dealing with medication, bathing, dressing and other care duties, and to have time to read, play or talk together. Something as seemingly simple as walking in the garden can be difficult for families if they do not have specially adapted access at home or the time to keep a garden maintained. Families enjoy spending time in our much-loved, beautiful garden relaxing outside and just being in each other's company.

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"Helen & Douglas House gave us the chance to spend three precious days with Ryan going for walks around the grounds. They provided anything we needed to make all the memories we could whilst offering us constant support and reassurance that when the time came, they would be there for us."
Paul, Ryan's Daddy

While staying with us, the children have opportunities to do things that they would not be able to do at home. This can be everyday activities that are too difficult to do at home, such as taking a bath or playing with other children. They can also enjoy swimming in our Therapy Pool, playing and listening to music or enjoying therapeutic animal visits – most recently from two penguins, Pringle and Charlie!

For children who are unwell or who have disabilities, opportunities for play and fun can be overlooked as their clinical needs are often the focus, and time during the day can be limited. Our Play Specialist enables children to play and have new experiences, while adapting to each child's specific needs and interests. Setting and clearing up activities takes time that many families don't have.

This time is invaluable for families, as it gives them the chance to create new memories together and for mums and dads to enjoy just being a parent and having fun together. Other families come to us with newly diagnosed children and have been so focused on their care and coming to terms with their child's condition that they are sometimes nervous to try new things. We support them with this and show them activities and toys that are appropriate and how these can then be developed in the future.

Bereavement services for families
Our Family Support and Bereavement Team is here to offer support for parents, partners, siblings and the whole family. We provide support at our hospice, at home or in hospital, depending on what the family prefer. We put families' needs and wishes at the centre of the care they receive, providing both one-to-one and group support around the many issues of living with a terminally ill child and dealing with grief and loss, from diagnosis all the way through to bereavement.

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Immy passed away at Helen & Douglas House from a brain tumour when she was 2 years old, having already lost her twin sister in the late stages of pregnancy. Her mum, Kathryn said, "Helen & Douglas House have been so supportive to us since Immy passed away. I have regular counselling to help me survive and get through the tough days. We also get to join a parents bereavement group which helps us to realise we are not alone, and we can talk to others who are feeling the same as us and just understand how we feel. Lester attends a regular dads' group which is a great way for him to talk to other dads who often find it hard to talk to counsellors. Without this support I am not sure we would have got through the first year on our own, there is nowhere else that offers this support and we would be totally lost without it."


Every year we organise a Remembrance Service, where we light candles to honour the precious little lives of the children we have cared for. The service provides time and space for families to remember their child and for bereaved families to come together. Unfortunately, once again this year we were unable to hold the service in person, but we held an incredibly moving virtual service which can be viewed here: youtu.be/Wcx3qYXqnZ8, and we sent accompanying Remembrance boxes to families. One of our bereaved parents fed back on the virtual service saying "Our son died nearly 4 months ago now and the pain has certainly not lessened, but we took comfort in the service and it was lovely to see the faces of staff we worked closely with during the hardest 6 weeks of our lives again. Thank you so much again to every member of the team who was involved in the making of the virtual remembrance service. Helen House is a very special place, filled with the most wonderful people."

In addition to the support this team provides families, they also support the rest of the clinical and care teams employed by Helen & Douglas House, providing de-briefs and counselling sessions to talk through and cope with the loss they face as part of their professional lives.

Thank you

We would not be able to offer the personalised, one-to-one hospice care that so many families rely on without the generosity of our funders and supporters. As a charity we need to raise £3.6 million each year to fund our care costs so we can continue supporting families. We rely on voluntary donations for the majority of the funding needed to provide these services, with only 19% of our care costs coming from statutory sources.

We would like to sincerely thank the Trustees of The Mark Benevolent Fund and the lodges that nominated us for so kindly supporting our work. With your help, we will continue to provide vital care for terminally ill children and their families, supporting them wherever they need us.

Thank you.


"You walk through the door and the pressures and the daily worries and stresses are just lifted because you know he's in such good hands. You can't thank them enough. They go above and beyond, and they are always there for you. Not only when you go and stay, but they're always at the end of the phone. I think it takes a very special person to work at Helen House and they are all wonderful. Families like us would just be lost if Helen House didn't exist."
Lauren, Finley's Mum
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Click the picture above to visit Jonathan's JustGiving page (in new window)


Cambridge to Oxford Walk for Oxfordshire MBF Festival

    News 17th Jul 2021 Updated 17th Jul 2021

 Over 5 days in August, I'll be walking the 80+ miles from East to West, from Cambridge to Oxford, to raise money for the Oxfordshire MBF 2025 Festival.

It's a fantastic charity that supports a range of good causes locally, nationally and worldwide.

It's the first time we've hosted the Festival, and a small group of about 300 people trying to raise £500,000, so we need all the support we can get.

If anyone were to be willing to sponsor me, I'd be really most incredibly grateful.

And do let me know if any of you would like to join me for a section of the route.

My aim, naturally, is to raise more money than Adrian ! 


Donate now at:
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/J-ROSE4

  Latest News

OMMBA have agreed to donate £100 to Jonathan's walk.

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Click to view letter (in new window)


Major Capital Grant to support Hospices in England & Wales

  News 26th Apr 2021 Updated 28th Apr 2021

Dear Sir and Brother

Please find below a link to a letter from the Grand Secretary with an important announcement from the Mark Benevolent Fund.

26.04.21_M.B.F.Major_Capital_Grant-Hospices_in_England_Wales.pdf

Keep safe and well.

Masonic Support Services



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Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons
Mark Masons' Hall, 86 St James's Street, LONDON, SW1A 1PL
Tel: 020 7839 5274 / Fax: 020 7930 9750
Website: https://markmasonshall.org



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Click to view letter (in new window)


Mourning for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

  News 12th Apr 2021 Updated 16th Apr 2021


To: All Heads of Orders in England, Scotland and Wales
Cc: All Provincial, District, Divisional and Regional Secretariats in England, Scotland and Wales & Exexcutive Committee Members

Dear Sir and Brother

Please find below a link to a letter from the Grand Secretary.

12.04.21 Letter to Heads of Orders in Great Britain re mourning for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.pdf

Fraternal regards
Masonic Support Services


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Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons
Mark Masons' Hall, 86 St James's Street, LONDON, SW1A 1PL
Tel: 020 7839 5274 / Fax: 020 7930 9750
Website: https://markmasonshall.org



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MBF 2021 East Lancashire Calendar


MBF Festival 2021 Merchandise

    News 24th Feb 2021 Updated 24th Feb 2021
East Lancashire Province, hosts of the 153rd Mark Benevolent Fund Annual Festival in 2021, have produced a unique Souvenir Festival Calendar for the year 2021 and copies are now available.
These large, wall hanging calendars feature twelve contrasting prints of iconic sights in East Lancashire, commencing with the beauty of Pendle Hill in January and ending with Manchester's colourful Christmas Market in December.
The 12 original watercolours were painted by Annette Young over the past four years specially for this calendar without cost to the Province.
Calendars are priced at £10 each and all proceeds will go to the MBF. So, let us brighten your kitchen or office wall and at the same time provide much needed support for our Mark Benevolent Fund.
Thank you very much for your support.
Visit the website for details: www.wordpress.eastlancsmark.org

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Click the picture above to visit Adrian's JustGiving page (in new window)


Adrian's Mad March Hare Challenge!

     News 14th Feb 2021 Updated 2nd Apr 2021
Final Day 31 Update.
The Trainers are in the bin! When I started this challenge many people said I was mad, well there was a bit of a clue in the name of the challenge!
Target of 16,250 steps per day and 503,375 over the full 31 days.Steps achieved 709,821 an average of 22,897 per day and a total of 322 miles walked.
Together we have SMASHED it!!!
Thank you all so very much for your donations and words of encouragement all of which was humbling.
The total amount raised including Gift Aid is £2,906.25 which is absolutely brilliant and amazing and far more than I had envisaged raising at the start all thanks to you wonderful people. Many charities and good causes will benefit from your generosity.
Thank you all; I had fun and really enjoyed this challenge.
Adrian

Ah I hear you say peace at last! Not quite ... I now lay down a challenge to each and every one of you:
What are you going to do either as an individual, lodge or group to support your festival?

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The Festival Secretary (left) and three of his
former colleagues at Caversham Heath Golf Club

Golf Fundraising At Badgemore Golf Club

    News 28th Nov 2020 Updated 26th Jan 2021

Thanks to John Grout's negotiating skills and the generosity of the owner of Badgemore Park Golf Club, the Festival Secretary and three of his former colleagues at Caversham Heath Golf Club played a four-ball 'friendly' at Badgemore. They are pictured here after the round, played in 40 mph winds. This latter is some excuse for the less-than-impressive scoring, but they had great fun and raised £100 for Festival funds.
If you are a golfer (you don't have to be very good!), put Friday 17th September 2021 in your diary. This is when we plan to hold a Festival Golf Day at Badgemore Golf Club. We can't promise 40 mph winds, but it will be fun.









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