The Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim has raised a staggering £40,000 for Action Cancer in Northern Ireland.
The money raised will go towards providing the essential services offered to the people of Northern Ireland for free such as Breast Screening, Health Checks and counselling sessions.
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations.
In Antrim alone there are over 5,000 members; over 30,000 across Ireland and six million worldwide.
Freemasons are the second largest charitable donors in the UK (after the National Lottery Fund) with over £33 million raised last year by more than 180 masonic groups.
rovincial Grand Master, RW John Dickson, said: “It’s a common mis-conception that Freemasons only look after other Freemasons, that is simply not true, yes we have a number of Masonic charities which do a lot of good work, but we are committed as an organisation to helping others in need, whether they have links to Freemasonry or not.
“I chose Action Cancer as our nominated charity in what was the 150th year anniversary of the Provincial Grand Lodge in Antrim, it is a charity very close to my heart, I lost my dear wife to cancer and I personally wanted to be able to help in whatever way I can.
“I know so many of my fellow Freemasons have their own personal stories too and that’s why this fundraising initiative was so important to many of us and why we raised such a wonderful amount of much needed money for a very worthy charity.”
Gareth Kirk, CEO of Action Cancer, said: “It costs us £80 per person to deliver our free breast screening service, £25 for our free health checks and £40 per for our free counselling and coaching sessions.
“While these are free to those who qualify, they still need to be paid for. As a charity we solely rely and the kindness and generosity of organisations and individuals such as the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim and we thank them for all the time and effort that went into achieving such an impressive figure. This money literally helps to save lives and keep families together here in Northern Ireland.”
Lodges from across the Antrim area came together to raise this money and through simple donations from members and many fundraising events, such as the annual golf day and sponsored cycle ride, the Provincial Grand Lodge managed to exceed its original target.
John, who has been a Freemason for over 40 years, added: “I am proud to be a Freemason; Freemasonry is steeped in history and dedicated to helping people in society in any way we can.
“Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.
“The Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities over the years and benevolence has always been the cornerstone of who we are.
“Our members engage in acts of benevolence in a variety of ways, either through simple gestures such as gift giving, or through the raising of monies for a variety of funds which help a wide variety of people. Freemasons of Ireland continue to put benevolence and kindness to others at the forefront of our membership.
“Other recent Charity benefactors have included The Northern Ireland Hospice – who we raised over £36,000 to equip two rooms in the new hospice in Belfast. The annual Black Santa campaign, The Tsunami Relief Fund and the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) – where we donate teddy bears for the benefit of distressed sick children visiting emergency Rooms in hospitals throughout Ireland.”