News & Events
Oscar's Happy Feet are Dancing to a New Theme!
This is Oscar Grainger and his family at the Masonic Hall in Paignton. R.W.Bro. Peter Balsom, Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire and his Executive, along with W.Bro. Darren Coleman-Heald, P.A.G.D.C., Charities Manager at Mark Masons’ Hall, were representing the Mark Benevolent Fund to present a cheque for £6,000, giving Oscar the final piece of the jigsaw to allow him to have his life changing operation and support him in his rehabilitation.
At 18 months Oscar was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. This means Oscar has increased muscle tone in his legs which causes stiffness and difficulty with movement, coordination and balance. He uses specialised equipment and has daily physio to help him become more independent.
It was advised that Oscar is a good candidate for a procedure called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR). Without this life changing surgery Oscar will most likely need more invasive surgery as he grows, and he could lose more of his independence.
Since Oscar’s parents started the campaign in April 2018, NHS England have made the decision to fund the SDR operation and some post op physiotherapy.
We wish Oscar every success with the operation in June and we will be keeping you up to date with his progress.
Issued from the Charities Office
Mark Masons’ Hall
St John Ambulance
At the turn of this century St John Ambulance had a mixed fleet of aged, worn-out vehicles. Post millennial ambulance legislation rendered most of the fleet redundant and this led to the development of the Crusader 900 Ambulance, a purpose built £40k vehicle jointly designed by the SJA and Renault.
St John Ambulance estimated they needed 100 Crusaders almost immediately and committed to raise £2m by public subscription. This was matched by The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons and the Mark Benevolent Fund committing to fund 50 of the Crusaders, and these were duly handed over in local ceremonies across the country during 2001/02, including Bristol.
By 2017, those vehicles had also worn out and needed replacing. Once again the Grand Lodge of MMMs, the MBF and the St John Ambulance charity joined forces to replace these 2001/02 vehicles and a £3m fund was donated, sufficient for up to for 52 state of the art ambulances and support vehicles, to be handed over during 2017/18. This latest donation marks the 140th anniversary of St John Ambulance in 2017 and the 150th anniversary of the Mark Benevolent Fund in 2018.
On 26th June, after a short Service of Dedication by St John’s County Chaplain, the keys of a new ambulance were handed to His Honour Simon Darwall-Smith (Chair of the Avon County Priory Group of the Order of St John) by the President of the Mark Benevolent Fund, RW Bro Dr John Wright PGSW. The hand-over was at the Raleigh Road HQ of Bristol’s St John Ambulance and was attended by PGM W Bro John Platts, DPGM W Bro Steve Rawlings and a plethora of Bristol Mark Masons and supporters.
PGM RW Bro John Platts congratulated and thanked the assembled Brethren for their fund raising efforts which had resulted in the purchase of two essential pieces of ambulance equipment: a) a portable defibrillator and b) a twin-pack mobile radio phone for use by the on-duty crew; both pieces of equipment had already been installed in the ambulance.
The St John Ambulance volunteers were very enthusiastic about their new vehicle and set about discovering its features, and there was even talk of “drawing lots” to see who should drive it first – but that may have been a degree too far!
And, to top off a lovely evening, we retired into the main hall and there enjoyed a refreshing buffet, prepared and served by our own Fredy Eyermann, who else could it have been?!
St John Ambulance can trace its origins back to 11th century monastic hospitallers who provided care for sick, poor or injured pilgrims coming to the Holy Land.
By the Late Middle Ages the hospitallers had been succeeded by the founding of the Venerable Order of St. John, a French order of charitable chivalry which has much in common with Freemasonry but to which it is not connected in any way.
The Order migrated England where it became The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, and is now more commonly known as the Order of St John - an Order of Chivalry of the British Crown.
The St John Ambulance Association was set up in 1877 to teach first aid and provide on-the-spot treatment in emergencies, initially in heavy industry but then also in villages, seaside towns and suburban areas.
In 1887, trained volunteers were organised into a uniformed Brigade to provide a first aid and ambulance service at public events. In many parts of England, St John Ambulance was the first and only provider of an ambulance service right up to the middle of the 20th Century, when the National Health Service was founded. When there were far fewer doctors and hospital beds than today, St John Ambulance nurses looked after the sick and injured in their own homes.
The St John Ambulance Brigade and St John Ambulance Association merged in 1968 to form St John Ambulance, a single organisation providing both training and first aid cover, and is now the leading supplier of ambulance services and first aid training courses in the UK.