Toy Appeal Success! Pictured are Castle Grove Masonic Hall chairman Richard Bentley, left, and toy appeal co-ordinator Graham Shires
A toy appeal by Leeds Freemasons is bringing festive cheer to a number of local charities.
So popular has the initiative been that more than 300 gifts will be shared between four groups – Leeds Children’s Hospital, Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People, Leeds Children’s Charity, and Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.
The Castle Grove Masonic Lodges Festive Toy appeal was launched in November 2018, with the intention of bringing the various Lodges together to provide something tangible to young people in the local community.
Initially, the toys and gifts were to be donated to Leeds Children’s Hospital, however, the response proved so overwhelming that a large number of gifts were also donated to Barnardo’s.
This year, the number of charity recipients has been increased to four, including Leeds Jewish Welfare Board which will receive Chanukah gifts for 28 children under its care.
Leeds Freemason and toy appeal co-ordinator Graham Shiers said: “Once again, I’ve been absolutely staggered by the response of lodge members to the toy appeal.
“Since launching this year’s appeal in October, we have been inundated with both toys and financial donations. The money has been used to buy more gifts, including pyjamas and clothes for children living in poverty.
“I would like to thank the Masonic community who meet at Headingley’s Castle Grove for their generosity. Thanks to them, a number of children who may not have had a present to open on Christmas Day will receive at least one.”
Graham added: “One of the three great pillars that Freemasonry is founded on is charity, and charity is very close to our hearts.
“Each year the Province of Yorkshire West Riding presents grants totalling £200,000 to a wide range of organisations including schools, youth organisations, hospices and community clubs.
“We are very proud of our support of the communities we live and work in and these toys, gifts and clothes will go to four great charities that do so much for local children and their families.”
Huddersfield’s Forget Me Not Children's Hospice has received a £21,000 computerised entertainments package from national charity Lifelites and Yorkshire Freemasons.
Children with life limiting illnesses from Huddersfield, Calderdale, Bradford and Wakefield are cared for at the Bracken Hall-based Russell House.
Some of them were on hand to experience the state-of-the-art Eyegaze, mobile magic carpet, sensory unit and other technological treats as Lifelites London-based chief executive Simone Enefer-Doy, made the official presentation.
Mark Provincial Grand Master James Steggles handed over a £4,035 cheque as part of a Mark Benevolent Fund nationwide sixfigure financial support to Lifelites which provides specialist entertainment and educational back-up to over 50 children’s hospices throughout the country.
At Forget Me Not’s opening, Lifelites were given £20,000 from West Riding Masonic Charities to launch their support and a further £10,000 in 2015 when the technology was up-graded.
When Simone embarked on a 2,500 mile journey across Britain and the Channel Islands last year to help raise the London-based charity’s profile, WRMCL again stepped in with a £10,000 donation at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Forget Me Not chief executive Luen Thompson expressed her gratitude for the wonderful backing and explained that it cost around £4m a year to provide palliative care both in children’s homes and at the hospice with only 4% available from government sources.