Guy Roberts of the MCF reports

London Freemason W Bro Les Hutchinson PSGD will be the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s new Chief Executive and the man responsible for the next chapter in the story of Freemasonry’s central charities that stretch back more than 300 years. The appointment has been widely welcomed within Freemasonry and the wider charity world.

In 2016 David Innes was given the enormous job of bringing the four previously existing Masonic charities together administratively. Simultaneously he also had to preserve and increase the services and opportunities available to Freemasons and wider society.

David has succeeded in forming a major new charity that provides around £12 million each year to thousands of Freemasons and their families in difficulty, as well as giving approximately £5.5 million in grants to more than 400 charities across England and Wales.

With his task of creating one of the UK’s largest and most influential grant-giving charities complete, David is looking forward to a well-earned retirement and handing over to Les, who has been by David’s side every step of the way as the MCF’s Chief Operating Officer.

Bro Les has been actively involved in Freemasons’ charities since he joined the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys as a management trainee in 1988, rising to become its Chief Executive.

In addition to his work at the MCF, he has supported other charities, including serving as Chairman of the Young Lives Foundation in Kent and Director of Crossroads Care in Surrey.

Les is an active Freemason, holding senior positions in West Kent and in London. He was initiated into Fortis Green Lodge No 5145 in 1989. He represented Jerusalem Lodge No 197 as Grand Steward in 2018 and currently holds the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon.

David’s last six months have been inevitably dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen the MCF commit over £2.5M in additional funding to support charities and projects responding to the coronavirus. The charity also committed to matching COVID-19 donations received from Freemasons into a dedicated Relief Chest, up to a further £1m and will work closely with UGLE, Metropolitan Grand Lodge and the Provinces to identify strategic projects that will have the biggest impact in responding to the aftermath of the pandemic and showcase Freemasonry doing what it does best.

However, this incredibly significant expansion of the MCF’s work in response to the virus has, of course, been accompanied by a huge shake-up in the way that the charity works. Between them, David and Les have overseen the charity moving from an almost entirely office-based organisation to one that works almost entirely from home. It is a tribute to them and to their colleagues throughout the charity that this has taken place with almost no disruption to MCF’s basic services, as well as seeing a major increase in grant-giving activity and support.

Speaking shortly after his appointment was announced, Les said:

“I’ll be aiming to build on David’s tremendous legacy. MCF will be working closely with UGLE to create the greatest possible impact for the Craft as a whole.

“I’m immensely impressed with the way the MCF staff have coped during the pandemic and continued to put our beneficiaries first. I am honoured to be taking over such a strong charity, which is needed now more than ever.

“As a London Freemason, I am proud to say that MCF has a great track record of assisting Brethren in difficulty across the capital, as well as supporting many excellent charities. This valuable work will continue to grow, and I’ll look forward to seeing as many of you as possible now that the office is starting to re-open.”

In the last year eighteen London charities have received £446,679 from the MCF, while in the same period London Freemasons have benefitted from support to the tune of more than £1,140,000.

This ranges from financial support to help Freemasons who are unable to afford everyday living costs, to payments for a range of specialist and life-saving medical treatments. There is help available for children and dependent family members, with assistance for students and with scholarships, as well as grants for residential care homes and respite care for family carers.

London Freemasons or their families who are having trouble are welcome to call the MCF enquiries line on 0800 035 60 90. Trained staff will be happy to listen in confidence and advise them of their options.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 42 October 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 42.