The Metropolitan Grand Almoners Team

WBro Darrel Palmer PAGSwdB MetGAlm describes the work of the Metropolitan Almoners’ Team

Like most things Metropolitan, administratively, the structure of the Metropolitan Grand Almoners Team is unique in comparison to his counterpart Provincial Grand Almoners in the Provinces.

The Metropolitan Grand Almoner
operates with 10 Assistants, five of
whom are operational each leading a
team of 8 Almoner Liaison Officers

Each ALO is responsible for maintaining
continuous contact with the Almoners
of his allocated 40 to 50 units.

Bro Darrel underscores the importance
of the role of the Almoner s role,
sentiments shared by the Pro Grand
Master recorded in an article in FMT
(Spring 2019):

“I believe that some Lodges will the the collar of the Almoner and Charity Steward as needing a pair of shoulders to sit on. Surely these especially important offices deserve more than that, and care should be taken when making these appointments.”

We must appoint Almoners for their
ability and capacity to do the job and
not just give the position to anyone who
may want a collar, as may have become
the tradition in some Lodges.

Dedication, perseverance and good
communications are essential traits in
an Almoner.

Brethren chosen without proper
consideration are not only at risk of not
being seen in a good light but, perhaps
in a time of need, shamefully letting
down a fellow member of their Lodge.

With an enthusiastic Almoner in the
post, he will be able to cultivate an
excellent rapport not just with his
members, honorary members, and ex-members,
but also with his ALO whilst
providing tremendous support during
his tenure.

This relationship can sometimes be an
uphill struggle for the ALOs, especially
when the appointed Almoner has little
or no interest in actually embracing the
role. So what is being done to remedy
this situation?

With the raised profile of video
conference platforms such as Zoom and
Microsoft Teams, Almoner training is
now online and updated. It is not only
targeting the development of unit
Almoners, it is extending its reach to all
Brethren in a bid to highlight the
significance of the role, and hopefully
go some way to addressing the issue.

Training capacity, in part thanks to
Zoom, will routinely be able to train
1,000 participants annually, delivering
high-quality training underpinned by full

There is also a dedicated Almoner
Training Hub from which two of the
Assistants W Bro Bob Gardner and
W Bro Martin Vidler coordinate the
content as well as dealing with post-event
analysis and certification.

ALO training is also in the process of
being updated, and we are developing a
relevant monthly bulletin for every
Almoner, Secretary and Scribe E.

We use Facebook, and WhatsApp closed
groups to advise Almoners and provide
assistance, and email for briefings,
guidance and notices.

The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced
an increased volume of new challenges.
W Bro Michael Stirton is our team’s
Welfare Coordinator and has had to have
a much closer interaction with the MCF
due to increased need.

Michael oversees our team of seventeen
highly trained Visiting Volunteers as well
as being our lead administrator for
applications for grants to the
Metropolitan Almoner’s Fund (MAF).

The London Freemasons Charity (LFC)
supports the MAF. It gives the
Metropolitan Grand Almoner the ability
to sanction swift one-off grants for
Brethren in financial difficulty of up to
£1,500 on a match-funding basis.

The MAF is focussed on supporting
emergency claims where the Masonic
Charitable Foundation (MCF) is unable
to help.

To go some way to giving back to the
LFC, Preloved Regalia was set up and
is currently managed by two Assistants
W Bro Martin Vidler and W Bro Bill
Dowley and has thus far generated

Preloved Website:-

The MCF and The Metropolitan Grand
Almoner’s Team work together with
the objective of providing solutions to
all those who may be in need and distress.
This is a very harmonious relationship
and brings added value to all that we do.

Florence Nightingale Lodge No 706 was
repurposed in 2015 and has become a
thriving hub Lodge for Almoners across
Metropolitan and receives regular visits
from Provincial Grand Almoners from
Provinces up and down the country.

Its non-progressive setup allows focus
for two of the three meetings in each
year to cover a plethora of issues
providing members and guests with
valuable insights.

Further details at:-

What happens to any number of Lodge
widows when a unit sadly surrenders
its warrant?

We have an Assistant for that!

WBro Mike Halford is our Erased Unit
Widows Liaison and he will arrange an
adoption for any widow who is not under
the support of a craft unit.

Florence Nightingale Lodge is the first
port of call for unattached Widows, but
any London Lodge or Chapter can apply
through the ‘Adopt a Widow Scheme’.

For details contact Mike Halford at

Set up at the beginning of Covid-19
suspension, a new hotline accepts calls
and text messages and guarantees a
response within two hours.

Any Brother in difficulty for whatever
reason can get directly get in touch with
the Metropolitan Grand Almoner s team
in seconds.

The applicant is then put in contact with
the appropriate Help route which is
managed to conclusion by an

Over 300 calls have been received within
the last eleven months.

The hotline number 07792 925 071.

We are currently conducting a survey
of our ALOs to identify any issues they
may be experiencing from within the
team and with their allocated units.

Our findings will prompt the launch an
online survey of Metropolitan Almoners
in a bid to ascertain their opinions of the
support we provide as a team or indeed
to drill down to root of any issue which
presents itself.

We would therefore encourage all
Metropolitan Almoners to make every
effort to have their say when it goes live!

Finally, in all this activity, the rules,
guidance and spirit of the GDPR are
being strictly adhered to.

All Almoners are instructed with regard
to its requirements. It underpins the
‘Confidentiality’ ethos of the Almoners

Brethren, I hope you ve found this

Clearly there are many difficulties in life
for our brethren and their families and
many of these are made more complex
by the current pandemic.

However I hope the resources and
dedicated individuals I’ve described
above give you an indication of the
support available for London Masons.

And if there are any areas you d
like to get involved in please do
get in touch!

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 43 January 2021 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 43.