The Scrip Purse

W Bro Darrel Palmer PAGSwdB, SLGCR, Metropolitan Grand Almoner writes …

‘A very warm welcome from the Metropolitan Grand Almoner and his Team to our regular feature on Arena. We are looking forward to providing information, interesting stories, and a regular Q & A section. We are here to help, and you can always contact the Metropolitan Grand Almoner on the 24/7 hotline 07792925071’

Welcome to the first edition of the ‘The Scrip Purse’. This will now be a regular feature in Arena. Our aim is to inform you of the assistance that is available to you and update you with our latest initiatives.

We are interested in what you think. What we could do better, or services that you think should be provided. If you have any stories that you think would benefit members through publication, then please let us have them. We want this to become very much your page for Almoner related subjects.

2020/2021 has seen the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s team engaged in a hive of activity including a complete review of its: operating parameters; communications delivery; and, in a 21st century of ever-changing needs, member support; together with the launch of new initiatives.

Further information on these initiatives as well as information that will benefit you, will be featured in future editions.

‘I believe that some Lodges still see the collar of the Almoner as needing a pair of shoulders to sit on. Surely this very important office deserves more than that, and care should be taken when making these appointments.’ 
MW Pro Grand Master, Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, FMT Spring 2019 
Our Mission Statement is to offer a wide range of support, care and services to our members and their families, as they navigate through life’s changes.

We have three strategic goals that we believe will help us to achieve our mission between 2022 and 2023. The first is to Raise the Lodge Almoner’s Profile. Our second is one that many have transitioned to over the Covid period, which is to Improve our ways of working to be fit for purpose in the 21st Century. Finally, the third is to Enhance our support and services, to meet our members’ needs.

‘Did you know the MCF provides financial assistance to our membership at the rate of £40 per minute ?’
As we look forward towards our regular Masonic commitments, the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s Team has, throughout the Covid Pandemic, successfully supported London Masons in many ways providing, ‘Successful Support’ which has become our raison d'etre.

The team has developed a vast network of interconnecting contacts, which is at the disposal of every London Almoner to assist them in the pastoral care of their members. The whole team constantly reviews potential services that could enhance the overall support for our members.

The Metropolitan Grand Almoners Team is headed by the Metropolitan Grand Almoner and his 10 assistants. 

Five operational assistants who look after Metropolitan Lodges and Chapters. Five project assistants focused on various initiatives that we run. 

My five operational assistants are John Dolman, Steve Fanthorpe, Bob Tuthill, Peter Davies and Barry Laws. Barry also assumes the role as our strategic and e-project manager lead.

Each assistant has 300-400 units in their remit, and they are supported by 40 Almoner Support Officers (ASO) who cover approximately 40-50 units.
My six project assistants consist of Michael Stirton (Metropolitan Welfare Officer and Visiting Volunteer management), Robert Gardener (Comms, Training and Retrieval), Martin Vidler (Comms, Preloved regalia), Bill Dowley (Preloved regalia), Mike Halford (Adopt a widow) and Attilio Grandani (Technical Support Analyst).

Both myself and my assistants are happy to hear from you at any time and our contact details are on the Almoner’s Rosetta page.

Should you be interested to know which of my Assistants or ASO’s look after your lodge or wish to get involved in any of our initiatives, information can be found on our Rosetta page.

Here are two success stories that we would like to tell you more about

The Almoners Zoom Tea Room
This first came online back in December 2020 as a product of the Covid Lockdown. Originally an informal forum for isolated masons to drop in and out as they wish and discuss any topic, within masonic guidelines even Football! We ran sessions throughout the Christmas of that year with a view to terminating the initiative shortly after. However, it was so well received and continued to draw in Masons from within London, the Provinces and around the world. It was agreed that we would maintain three sessions each week and offer an Almoner’s Surgery using a ‘Breakout Room’ for confidential matters, in February 2021 we had added a third session on Sunday mornings. Save from one or two technical issues, the Zoom Tea room has endured ever since. The Tea Room in the last 12 months has provided over 300 hrs of Zoom service.

Almoner Training
Our training was in the Old Board room at FMH and perhaps due to cost and travel, only attracted low numbers. Training has been revamped, moved online and held monthly free of charge, booking is via the Almoners page on Rosetta. The session usually lasts around an hour and is followed by a short questionnaire, which can be completed within a short timeframe after the training. This is the only way that participants can be recognised for having undertaken the training. 
So far, We have seen some 800 Brethren undertake this training. Our objective is to train every new Almoner on appointment and provide refresher training to existing Almoners, which we recommend should be every 3 years. 

‘We have seen some 800 Brethren undertake our Almoners Training Course. Have you taken the course yet? No! you can find our training dates on our Rosetta page including details as to how to sign up’.

You can also request from your Almoner the latest copy of the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s letter (No 8), which will have these details.

We invite you to submit any questions which will receive a rapid response to . We would like subject to agreement, to select questions that may be applicable to all the membership and feature them in future editions. 


This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 48 April 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 48 here.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 48 April 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 48 here.