The Scrip Purse
A Column from the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s Team
A very warm welcome to you all to this, our 3rd regular feature in Arena. We have been very busy over the last two years running monthly almoner training seminars and other activities such as the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s Tea Room, Working with Carers UK and many other initiatives with which to support the membership in these challenging times. In this edition, we highlight the Almoners Lodge, Florence Nightingale Lodge No 706, and the Metropolitan’s Adopt-A-Widow scheme.
We are always looking for interesting and relevant questions to go in our “Q&A” section! Email any questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All will be answered.
W Bro Darrel Palmer PAGSwdB SLGCR, Metropolitan Grand Almoner
An Invitation to join Florence Nightingale Lodge No 706 – The Almoners’ Lodge
Florence Nightingale Lodge was constituted in 1857, and through its success over many years, it has established itself as a leading Lodge. Unfortunately, after over a century and a half of thriving, like many Lodges, it eventually found difficulty in attracting new members, and there was a real possibility of the Lodge having to return its warrant.
In 2014, the Metropolitan Grand Almoners’ team decided on a strategy to augment their association with London Lodges and Chapters by creating a Lodge for Almoners. The concept was to develop a Lodge where members and guests would be able to discuss and communicate ideas for the welfare of London Masons. Florence Nightingale Lodge No 706 presented itself as a viable option for this initiative, and on the 17th of November 2014, the first vanguard of 37 joining members took up residence. Since then, the Lodge has welcomed another 33 joining members.
Florence Nightingale Lodge was Consecrated on the 18th of June 1857, when the “Lady with the Lamp” was just 37 years old. It originally met at the Town Hall in Woolwich. The Lodge commemorates her steadfast devotion on duty throughout the Crimean War and now serves London as a hub for Almoner activity, promoting best practice and exposing members and guests to presentations and lectures aimed at developing knowledge that benefits not only London but the wider Masonic community, as well as the skill set required for the role.
The Lodge now has well over 60 members from all walks of life. The Metropolitan Grand Almoner, two of his predecessors, all his assistants and many Almoner Support Officers are members of the Lodge. We also have Provincial Grand Almoners and a number of visiting volunteers.
We enjoy three meetings a year, the third Monday in October, January, and April. No ceremonies are worked outside of a traditional Installation ceremony in October. The Lodge simply presents a wonderful opportunity for us, as a group of like-minded Brethren, to exchange experiences and get to know one another in a relaxed atmosphere.
We have received talks by a representative of Macmillan Cancer Support, Ruth Dunkin of the Stroke Association, entitled “The work of the Stroke Association in the community,” and by Dr Caroline Moore, a professor of urology at University College, who explained her work as head of a team researching prostate cancer. She also related her early days of being sponsored by the Freemasons Research Fellowship.
Our last talk in April was presented by W Bro Lee Cannon PPAGSwdB (Herts), FRSPH, MLPI, who delivered a talk on “Mental Wellbeing and the Ambassador’s Role.” A subject with special relevance at the moment, following the Covid lockdown.
During our Installation meeting in October, Sam Maddocks is giving a talk on “Making a Difference -The Role of the MCF Advice and Support Team”.
At our first meeting next year on the 16th of January 2023, VW Bro Chris Cain PGSwdB, who has spoken before at Florence Nightingale, will be speaking again about the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute, and working with dementia, to provide an in-depth understanding of Alzheimer’s and related conditions. This meeting will be held in conjunction with the Kent Club. All brethren are invited.
When a Lodge or Chapter surrenders its warrant or charter, Florence Nightingale Lodge is there to take in any unattached widows, ensuring they will not be left out in the cold. The ‘Adopt a Widow’ scheme has been an enormous success story for the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s team.
In addition, the Lodge has recently been approached to accommodate elderly Masons whose Lodges have been erased and make them honorary members of Florence Nightingale. This not only ensures their welfare by providing ongoing Almoner care. But also allows them to continue their enjoyment of their Freemasonry.
The Lodge looks set to continue to grow and to keep promoting the excellent work of Almoners throughout London and the provinces by providing much-needed help and advice to all our brethren and dependents who so desperately need our assistance
For further information, or if you are interested in visiting or even joining the Lodge, please contact W Bro Bob Tuthill PAGStB at email@example.com
Adopt A Widow
When a Lodge or Chapter sadly hands back its Warrant or Charter, consideration ought to be given to their widows, who often go overlooked. They may be adopted by a newly-formed or amalgamated Lodge that arises from the closure of the old one – but often, this is not the case. The Metropolitan Grand Almoner runs a specialist scheme, “Adopt a Widow”, that can assist in the introduction of widows to Lodges and Chapters. This support is additional to that provided by Metropolitan Grand Lodge in the closure pack.
To facilitate a smooth transfer, contact should be made with W Bro Mike Halford LGR as soon as the Lodge or Chapter has resolved to proceed with closure. Bro Mike heads up the Adopt a Widow scheme and will consult with the unit’s Almoner for the smooth transfer of unattached widows to Florence Nightingale Lodge until a permanent Lodge or Chapter can be found to adopt them. Mike will be the point of contact to coordinate any handover with the Almoners of receiving Lodges or Chapters.
We welcome the support of the Provinces in this scheme and have excellent collaboration with the Provincial Grand Almoners, who will do their best to find a Lodge in the province that will support our widow and will collaborate with them should a widow live outside London and need specific help or require a visit. Where practicable, they will be guided to a local Masonic widow’s association.
We are always in need of more units willing to adopt unattached widows, so should your Lodge or Chapter be willing to participate in the scheme or you require further information, please contact W Bro Mike Halford LGR at firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions & Answers
Q1: Have any measures been put in place in preparation to alleviate any financial hardship members and their families may encounter as a direct result of the current and pending cost of living increases?
A1. The MCF regularly reviews the various financial levels associated with the different forms of grants. This was a leading subject of conversation at the MCF conference in October 2022. We are hopeful that the government will continue to be able to provide some level of financial help. An information pack is being prepared, which we will distribute to the membership shortly, that will give updated contact information for all the help agencies and charities available and general guidance regarding specific subjects. If in distress and uncertain what to do, contact your ASO or the MCF direct www.mcf.org.uk or Tel: 020 3146 333 or 0800 035 60 90
Q2: How can I get more involved with the work being carried out by the Almoners team?
A2: We do expect that you would have attended the Almoner’s Seminar. If it has been longer than two years since attendance, then please do attend one. Support is available, and the information is constantly updated. They take place every month over Zoom, and it costs nothing to attend. The last date for the remainder of this year is 29/12/2022. You can sign up to attend on Rosetta. The course finishes with the question of whether you would like to be involved in our team. If that is the case, let us know, and we will then contact you and discuss how best you can fit into the team and any training that you may require to do so. We are always looking for Volunteers.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 50 December 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 50 here.