Mark Masons’ Hall, nestled in the bosom of the fashionable St James’ area of the West end, is home to ten of the ‘Progressive Orders’ in Freemasonry as well as being one of the main masonic venues in the capital.

Each of the Orders has something different to offer the Brother seeking further enlightenment. Still, they all have one thing in common – a fundamental ethic of helping others by their charitable activities.

It is an undisputed fact, even in the 21st century, that giving is not just about donating, it is about making a difference. Here we shine a light on the work of two of the four Benevolent Funds headquartered at the Hall. Every year the members from among the Orders based at 86 St James’s Street generate significant charitable activity with hundreds of organisations benefitting from donations of time and money. 

In contrast to these many ad hoc charitable acts, the central response finds its roots in the mid-nineteenth century and the foundation of the Mark Benevolent Fund (M.B.F.). Set up to provide a quick response to the needs of Mark Master Masons and their dependants, its founding principle – he who gives promptly gives twice’ – is as relevant today as it was in 1868 and is the distinguishing characteristic of the Fund.

Besides providing support to individuals in need, a large part of the work of the M.B.F. involves assisting registered charities to reach their goals through worthy causes grants ranging from a few thousand to several million pounds. In the last year, Mark Masons have been proud to witness the M.B.F. supporting a wide range of initiatives across London. 

‘Young & Inspired’ a charity catering for children and young people hit by poverty and social exclusion, received a grant of £2,629 for the purchase of toys and books to be used at their premises in Hackney. ‘Ocean Youth Connexions’ has been in operation for over seventeen years and is a youth project that serves the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The M.B.F. were delighted to have the opportunity to finance an upgrade to the facilities at their Caxton Hall centre through a grant of £3,680.

Recognising the importance of sport for the young and particularly those with disabilities, the M.B.F. were pleased to respond to a request from the LondonWheelchair Rugby Club at Stanmore for a grant of £25,935 to provide a new team minibus. Moving from the oval ball to the round one, Long Lane Junior Football Club in Greenwich received a grant of £60,450 for new boilers and roof repairs at their clubhouse on the Kidbrooke Playing fields in the Borough of Greenwich.

In March, Mark Masons from across the country celebrated the M.B.F.’s partnership with Lifelites which saw grants totalling over £140,000 distributed to hospices caring for disabled children and those with life-limited conditions to purchase specialist assistive technology packages. Two London hospices benefitted from the partnership, Richard House Hospice in Beckton received a grant of £4,754 while Noah’s Ark Hospice in Barnet received £8,085.Last year saw the completion of a twoyear partnership with St John Ambulance to replace 53 vehicles in their frontline fleet with state-of-the-art ambulances and mobile treatment centres for £3.3m. London’s share of this significant grant was £76,250, and just days after the vehicle handover, it was on duty at the London Marathon.

One of the chivalric Christian Orders based at Mark Masons’ Hall is the Red Cross of Constantine which regularly supports charities working directly with the welfare and care of children. The Grand Sovereign’s Care for Children Fund is just twenty years old but in that relatively short time has proactively used its limited resources – grants are usually up to £2,500 – to help organisations in London and further afield.

Honeypot Children’s Charity helps young carers and vulnerable children and has used their grant to improve facilities at their Hammersmith centre. The Log Cabin in Ealing provides a setting where children and young people with additional needs or disabilities can socialise, grow, and have fun alongside their mainstream peers. They too received a grant of £2,500 to upgrade facilities at their West London base.

Overcoming the isolation often experienced by children and adults whoare deafblind is the focus of SENSE. They successfully applied to the Fund for a grant of £2,500 for their High Barnett centre, and we wish them well in this most challenging part of the care sector.

These Benevolent Funds, plus those catering for the needs of Knights Templar and Secret Monitor Masons, are all about opportunities. They create opportunities for those in need; for the youth sector; for the aged; and much more. And by responding to opportunities, they can help charities to achieve their goals sooner than would be the case without help from others. But most importantly, memberscan feel proud about what the Benevolent Funds accomplish on their behalf.

The Orders administered from Mark Masons’ Hall are Mark, Royal Ark Mariner, Knights Templar including the Degree of Knight of Malta, Red Cross of Constantine, Royal & Select Masters, Allied Masonic Degrees, Order of the Secret Monitor, Scarlet Cord and the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 41 July 2020 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 41.