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Townsville Freemason Ron Donnellan was awarded the prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence (OSB) Jewel for his commitment to Masonic charity, in September last year. 

A Freemason of some 48 years, Ron has always set an example for others, giving his time and energy to the community. His positive can-do attitude and compassion for others are what sets him apart. When presenting him with his award late last year, North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte, commended Ron for his ability to rise above any challenge and for always putting others first.

The retired teacher is probably best known for establishing the Joyful Foundation in memory of his late daughter Joy. Under Ron’s leadership, the organisation has empowered hundreds of disadvantaged primary school students across North Queensland to reach their full potential through the provision of the essentials they need to learn, such as stationery packs. They are also advocates for anti-bullying and promote a more caring environment at schools through the installation of buddy benches.

He is an inspiration to us all. Congratulations Ron!

Photo: North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte presents Ron Donnellan with his OSB Jewel, in September 2019.

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

The Leukaemia Foundation’s patient accommodation facilities in Townsville will continue to be a home away from home for blood cancer patients from rural and remote Queensland, following a sizable donation from the Central West Queensland Freemasons.

As Aramac Masonic Lodge, some 550km away closed its doors for the last time in 2019, they had one final wish – to help support outback cancer patients and their families.

So together with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, the Lodge recently donated $60,000 towards the Queensland Freemasons Village, which offers accommodation and support for patients and their families while they undergo treatment at Townsville Hospital.

Freemason David Gray, formerly of Aramac Masonic Lodge, said he was delighted to have made the journey up to Townsville to celebrate the donation.

“$60,000 could provide over 750 nights of accommodation, which act as a home-away-from-home for families during blood cancer treatment,” he said.

“People with blood cancer from our own community in Central West Queensland have stayed at the Village, so we know how having a place to stay made an immense difference for them,” he said.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said last financial year the Leukaemia Foundation provided 5,213 nights of accommodation to 125 families at Freemasons Village – with 72 of these families staying more than once during their blood cancer journey.

“Every day another 41 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer, and unfortunately most regional and rural Australians who are diagnosed will have to leave their home, work and local community behind to relocate to a major city for their treatment,” he said.

“Providing this accommodation service in Townsville is the Leukaemia Foundation’s way of giving blood cancer patients living in regional and rural areas a chance to access life-saving treatment with their loved ones by their side, free of charge.

“The Leukaemia Foundation is deeply grateful for this incredibly generous donation which will have a huge and positive impact on Queensland families in their greatest time of need during their blood cancer journey.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark was appreciative of Aramac Lodge for bringing this initiative to the organisation’s attention so that together a bigger difference could be made, through their Grassroots Grants program.

“Our focus is to alleviate suffering and to empower people to lead better lives, which is why this initiative appealed to us,” Gary said.

“At a grassroots level, we recognise the importance of ensuring health services remain accessible to regional and remote Queenslanders.” 

Photo: Leukaemia Foundation Queensland Freemasons Village Centre Manager Marie Morris accepted a cheque for $60,000 from Aramac Lodge representative David Gray. David and his wife Jenni (first from right) travelled from Central West Queensland to Townsville to handover the donation. They were joined by representatives of the North Queensland District.  

Find a Masonic Lodge in your area 

Guests from as far as Sydney, were among the 150+ people in attendance at the North Queensland District Grand Installation in May. The important event, which takes place every three years, marked the ‘handing over of the reins’ or installation of the new District Grand Master and Deputy District Grand Master.

Beresford Whyte was installed as the District Grand Master by the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland Alan Townson (now immediate past Grand Master). It was then the new District Grand Master’s role to install his Deputy, John Playford.

In his first speech as District Grand Master, Beresford Whyte said this role was both the highest honour and heaviest responsibility.

“I trust that these two balancing aspects of the office of District Grand Master may keep me in equilibrium, so that I may carry out my duties with simple efficiency, and that you may, at the end of my term, not be disappointed with your choice,” he said.

He also spoke about his desire for the District Grand Lodge to be an organising and educational body, as opposed to just having an administrative role.

Following the pomp and ceremony, guests made their way from the Townsville Masonic Centre to the Installation Banquet at the Mecure Inn. With the festivities underway, a number of presentations also took place including, the Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel, the highest benevolence honour, being bestowed on Norm Souter-Smith.

Look through a Gallery of photographs from the District Grand Installation.

 

The prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel was recently awarded to Norm Souter-Smith of Cleveland Masonic Lodge for his dedication to the community.

Having been a Freemason for over 26 years, Norm has excelled in his role as the coordinator of the annual Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball.

Initially taking on the role of publicity officer, over the years Norm has made every effort to help keep this tradition alive for the region’s youth.

He ensures that the whole community is engaged with this event through fundraising activities such as raffles, ticket sales, sponsorship and general volunteer engagement.

Thousands of dollars have been distributed to local charities, with the help of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland. 

More recently, during the Townsville floods in February, Norm went out of his way to make sure others in his community were ok.

He became Hand Heart Pocket’s liaison on the ground, helping those in most need to apply for Disaster Relief funding.

In the weeks after the floods, Norm was still checking in with members of the community to make sure they were alright. Congratulations Norm!

Photo from left: Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel recipient Norm Souter-Smith and his wife Beryl who was also recognised by the then Grand Master Alan Townson (now immediate Past Grand Master).

This year didn’t get off to a good start for North Queensland with the region being ravaged by floods in February. Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark reflected on the impact that the North Queensland Freemasons had in the immediate aftermath, with Hand Heart Pocket’s support, to help people get back on their feet.

“Thanks to the Freemasons on the ground in Townsville who were able to quickly identify those who needed our support the most, we were able to act quickly and provide those people with a one-off disaster relief grant,” Gary said.

“Twenty-four families were given a hand up, with a total of $48,000 being distributed.”

“People were of course, also receiving on the ground assistance from other support agencies and the government, including emergency payments. We would especially like to thank our members on the ground for keeping us updated on the situation,” he said.

North Queensland Freemason Norm Souter-Smith recalls how the local Masonic community provided practical support during the height of the weather event, as well as during the cleanup and recovery stages.

“It was such a distressing time, but we decided to roll up our sleeves and do what we could to help each other to get through this,” Norm said.

Now, six months on, people are slowly but surely rebuilding their lives. However, by most estimates, it could take a good 12 months or more to fully recover, with 1,500 of the 3,000 homes affected, still not habitable.

“Those that received assistance from Hand Heart Pocket all expressed their gratitude. In the last couple of weeks I have been in contact with eighteen of these recipients. Ten are still not back in their homes, some hope to return before Christmas, others after Christmas.”

“When you enter the houses of those who have returned, most are still not fully finished. The walls are yet to be painted, light fittings yet to be bought, and gardens neglected.”

“The owners talk of furniture ordered, but not yet delivered. You walk around and notice pictures on the walls but no family photographs, new side tables and chiffonieres without little collectables and new fridges without grand-children’s drawings held on by magnets. In fact, not even any magnets.”

“All those little things which make the house a home. Returning to their home is just the start of the recovery,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland provides Disaster Relief assistance to members of the community when a natural disaster has occurred such as a cyclone or flood, giving them a hand up to help them get back on their feet.

Photo: North Queensland Freemason Michael Fry and his wife Jacqui. Michael points out the height to which the water rose.

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

Efforts to scale up Men’s Shed activities on Magnetic Island have been backed by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, who provided a $10,000 boost on behalf of the local Freemasons.

As one of six community initiatives across Queensland, to share in over $50K as part of Hand Heart Pocket’s 2019 Grassroots Community Grants round, Magnetic Island Men’s Shed will put the funds towards the fit-out of their newly built facility – having outgrown their current space.

Ashlar Magnetic Masonic Lodge Coordinator Ian Gregory said that his Lodge had supported the Men’s Shed since 2018 and that the group was deserving of this latest grant because they not only helped their members but also the community at large.

“This really was the icing on the cake for Magnetic Island Men’s Shed, having already secured funding for the construction of the shed from elsewhere,” Ian said.

“The grant will enable the Men’s Shed to provide additional new equipment and resources.”

“A greater selection of projects will be available to members to suit their interests, so we’re excited for what they will be able to achieve in this new space and the positive impact that this will have on them both mentally and physically,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said men’s mental and physical health was one of their key focus areas as part of their long-term strategy.

“Through our grassroots support we’ve been able to fulfil a community need which will ultimately empower local men to lead better lives,” Gary said.

“We are grateful to Ashlar Magnetic Masonic Lodge for bringing this initiative to our attention so that we can make a bigger impact at a grassroots level,” he said.

Photo: (Left to right) District Grand Lodge of North Queensland Secretary Peter Drew, Ashlar Masonic Lodge Coordinator Ian Gregory and Magnetic Island Men's Shed President Cameron Walker. 

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

Drought-affected communities have again received a hand-up from the Masons of North Queensland, who together with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and Masonic Lodges throughout the state, have donated $1.45 million in the last four years.

Hand Heart Pocket’s latest initiative, the Drought Disaster Relief Appeal, saw the charity donate an additional two dollars for every one dollar donated by its members and Masonic Lodges, meaning that the Townsville Freemasons’ $8,920 contribution has been tripled to $26,760.

District Grand Master of North Queensland Les Keane said it’s amazing what can be achieved when you band together.

“A collective contribution of $26,760 from Masonic Lodges in the District and Hand Heart Pocket is a fantastic result,” Les said.

“Thank you to everyone who gave their time or money to give a hand up to drought-affected communities. Our impact will be felt across Queensland,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the response has been amazing.

“We are grateful to the Townsville Freemasons for their efforts,” Gary said.

“Freemasons across the state have rallied to make a significant contribution towards providing a hand-up for drought-affected families and communities – collectively contributing $450,000 with Hand Heart Pocket over the past six weeks. This takes the total funds distributed over the last four years, on behalf of Freemasons, to $1.45 Million, this is an extraordinary effort across our membership”.

With this money, Hand Heart Pocket will provide Eftpos cards to be distributed through its partners on the ground so that funds can get to where they are needed most, helping to put food on the table and pay for essential bills.

“We’ll be working with the Western Drought Appeal and their associated distribution channels, the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Queensland Education and the School of Distant Education parent support group to distribute the Eftpos cards to where they are needed most,” said Gary.

Find out more about the Charity of Freemasons Queensland

The task of providing oxygen to patients onboard one of Townsville’s Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) aircrafts will be significantly easier after the Freemasons of Bowen joined forces with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to donate a new high-tech transport ventilator.

The compact all-in-one Hamilton-T1 ventilator has a built-in turbine, eliminating the need to carry oxygen cylinders onboard – making it a huge space-saver. The “intelligent” device can also automatically adjust airflow, according to the patient’s condition and provide real-time visual information about how the patient’s lungs and heart are responding during the flight.

Kennedy Masonic Lodge, initially contributed $10,000 through Hand Heart Pocket’s Dollar for Dollar Grassroots Grants, before putting in another $5,000 and securing a further $36,450 through the organisation’s Dollar for Dollar Plus Grassroots Grants to bring this initiative to fruition.

Kennedy Masonic Lodge representative Robert Andersen said it was a pleasure to provide a hand up with the fit out of this device in one of the two aircrafts in use in Townsville.

“When we came to know that the RFDS had plans to fit this device in up to 10 of its aircraft across Queensland, we wanted to do what we could to help,” Robert said.

“In the last 16 years, the Lodge has donated in excess of $130,000 to the RFDS in Townsville. More recently with the help of Hand Heart Pocket, we’ve continued our support of this valuable service,” he said.

“What’s great about this life-saving device is its versatility. Anyone from an adult, child or newborn can be hooked up to it and given that the RFDS responds to such a wide range of situations, this is exactly what they need.”

Last financial year alone, the medical team in Townsville transported 2090 critically ill or injured patients – travelling as far north as Cairns, out west to Mt Isa and south to Brisbane.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said investing in innovative life-saving equipment to empower people to lead better lives is what this initiative is all about.

“We believe in providing sustainable support that delivers positive outcomes to charitable organisations that have limited access to other funding sources,” Gary said.

“Thanks to the relationship that Kennedy Masonic Lodge has cultivated with the RFDS, we were able to team up to bring an important grassroots initiative to fruition,” he said.

Photo: Kennedy Masonic Lodge representatives Alf Pearce, Kevin Yarrow, Steve Fisher, Merv Tickle, Robert Andersen and Roy Facey with Townsville Royal Flying Doctor Service nurse Ashlea Turnham and Base coordinator Gail Hill.

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

Since the mid-1990s, North Queensland children with hearing loss have been empowered to reach their full learning potential with the support of local charity, Hear and Say.

Just recently the Hear and Say Centre in Townsville received a visit from the local Freemasons, who met with staff to hear how a state-wide grant for half-a-million-dollars from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland is making a difference on the ground. 

The grant, handed over earlier this year, will help to cover the funding gap to deliver critical early intervention services, ensuring continuity of support for deaf children throughout Queensland for the next year – till the full financial impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is known in late 2018.

District Grand Master of North Queensland Les Keane who attended the special morning tea said it was a privilege to hear from those at the forefront of delivering this innovative support to local families.

“It really put into perspective, the impact that this state-wide grant is having at a grassroots level,” Mr Keane said.

“As well as a tour of the facility, we sat down to learn how local children are being empowered to hear, listen and speak, with the help of Hear and Say – going on to have the same opportunities in life as their peers with good hearing,” Mr Keane said.

“We are so proud that this grant was made on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland, for what it has made possible for children in North Queensland and throughout the state,” he said.

Collectively, the grant will mean that 200 children across the state will continue to have access to Hear and Say’s Audiology Services, and 300 children can take part in the Early Intervention Program at Hear and Say’s Centres in Townsville, Brisbane, Toowoomba and on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

Hear and Say Chief Executive Officer Chris McCarthy stressed how important essential listening and spoken language therapy is to a child’s development.

“It can take up to six years to teach a profoundly deaf child to listen, process language, and speak, using the latest technology and an Auditory-Verbal Therapy approach, so it’s vital that our services remain accessible – for children to be ready for mainstream schooling,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We are extremely grateful for this funding from Hand Heart Pocket. Without this, Queensland children could miss out on vital services and programs that build their potential.”

“We also thank the local Freemasons for their show of support for our local Hear and Say, families. It truly means a lot to them to know the local Freemasons are supportive of the grant.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said providing sustainable support to charitable initiatives that have limited access to other funding sources was the organisation’s focus.

“Our values are centred around empowering people to lead better lives,” Mr Mark said.

“Support for education initiatives for children with a disability aligns with Hand Heart Pocket’s long-term strategy, and we are delighted that this partnership is enabling more children in Townsville and throughout Queensland to have a future which will not be limited by their hearing loss.”

Photo: The Freemasons of Townsville recently visited the local Hear and Say Centre to hear how Hand Heart Pocket’s half-a-million-dollar state-wide grant is impacting local children. 

Find out who Hand Heart Pocket helps

North Queensland Freemasons have welcomed an auspicious group of young ladies into society at the 84th Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball while also raising funds for several local charities. 

In elegant white dresses, debutantes mastered the tradition of being presented, curtsying and performing two presentation dances in the company of Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill and District Grand Master Les Keane.

Secretary of the Townsville Masonic Charity Ball Committee Norm Souter-Smith said the event was a huge success and an important custom in the community.

“So many people enjoyed a tradition that has spanned decades in Townsville,” Norm said.

“It was a privilege for the Masons to form part of the official presentation ceremony, where young ladies walked through an honour guard highlighting the different orders and levels of Freemasonry.”

“The Ball is not only an opportunity for young ladies and their partners to present what they have been practising for weeks, but it is also a chance to support charities and initiatives who rely on financial donations.”

This year $4000 was raised and will be distributed between four local charities including, the Joyful Foundation, Townsville Junior Eisteddfod, the Mayor’s Christmas Appeal and the District Grand Master’s Christmas Appeal which will support Food Relief NQ.

“Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland will match our donation to the Joyful Foundation, effectively doubling our impact,” he said. 

“We’d like to thank everyone involved in organising, supporting and attending this year’s Debutant Ball.”

Ladies aged 16 and above can participate in the next Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball, which will be held mid-way through 2019.

Photo: Debutantes enjoyed a lovely evening at the Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball and $4000 was raised for local charities.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland

Townsville Freemason Ron Donnellan was awarded the prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence (OSB) Jewel for his commitment to Masonic charity, in September last year. 

A Freemason of some 48 years, Ron has always set an example for others, giving his time and energy to the community. His positive can-do attitude and compassion for others are what sets him apart. When presenting him with his award late last year, North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte, commended Ron for his ability to rise above any challenge and for always putting others first.

The retired teacher is probably best known for establishing the Joyful Foundation in memory of his late daughter Joy. Under Ron’s leadership, the organisation has empowered hundreds of disadvantaged primary school students across North Queensland to reach their full potential through the provision of the essentials they need to learn, such as stationery packs. They are also advocates for anti-bullying and promote a more caring environment at schools through the installation of buddy benches.

He is an inspiration to us all. Congratulations Ron!

Photo: North Queensland District Grand Master Beresford Whyte presents Ron Donnellan with his OSB Jewel, in September 2019.

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

The Leukaemia Foundation’s patient accommodation facilities in Townsville will continue to be a home away from home for blood cancer patients from rural and remote Queensland, following a sizable donation from the Central West Queensland Freemasons.

As Aramac Masonic Lodge, some 550km away closed its doors for the last time in 2019, they had one final wish – to help support outback cancer patients and their families.

So together with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, the Lodge recently donated $60,000 towards the Queensland Freemasons Village, which offers accommodation and support for patients and their families while they undergo treatment at Townsville Hospital.

Freemason David Gray, formerly of Aramac Masonic Lodge, said he was delighted to have made the journey up to Townsville to celebrate the donation.

“$60,000 could provide over 750 nights of accommodation, which act as a home-away-from-home for families during blood cancer treatment,” he said.

“People with blood cancer from our own community in Central West Queensland have stayed at the Village, so we know how having a place to stay made an immense difference for them,” he said.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said last financial year the Leukaemia Foundation provided 5,213 nights of accommodation to 125 families at Freemasons Village – with 72 of these families staying more than once during their blood cancer journey.

“Every day another 41 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer, and unfortunately most regional and rural Australians who are diagnosed will have to leave their home, work and local community behind to relocate to a major city for their treatment,” he said.

“Providing this accommodation service in Townsville is the Leukaemia Foundation’s way of giving blood cancer patients living in regional and rural areas a chance to access life-saving treatment with their loved ones by their side, free of charge.

“The Leukaemia Foundation is deeply grateful for this incredibly generous donation which will have a huge and positive impact on Queensland families in their greatest time of need during their blood cancer journey.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark was appreciative of Aramac Lodge for bringing this initiative to the organisation’s attention so that together a bigger difference could be made, through their Grassroots Grants program.

“Our focus is to alleviate suffering and to empower people to lead better lives, which is why this initiative appealed to us,” Gary said.

“At a grassroots level, we recognise the importance of ensuring health services remain accessible to regional and remote Queenslanders.” 

Photo: Leukaemia Foundation Queensland Freemasons Village Centre Manager Marie Morris accepted a cheque for $60,000 from Aramac Lodge representative David Gray. David and his wife Jenni (first from right) travelled from Central West Queensland to Townsville to handover the donation. They were joined by representatives of the North Queensland District.  

Find a Masonic Lodge in your area 

Guests from as far as Sydney, were among the 150+ people in attendance at the North Queensland District Grand Installation in May. The important event, which takes place every three years, marked the ‘handing over of the reins’ or installation of the new District Grand Master and Deputy District Grand Master.

Beresford Whyte was installed as the District Grand Master by the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland Alan Townson (now immediate past Grand Master). It was then the new District Grand Master’s role to install his Deputy, John Playford.

In his first speech as District Grand Master, Beresford Whyte said this role was both the highest honour and heaviest responsibility.

“I trust that these two balancing aspects of the office of District Grand Master may keep me in equilibrium, so that I may carry out my duties with simple efficiency, and that you may, at the end of my term, not be disappointed with your choice,” he said.

He also spoke about his desire for the District Grand Lodge to be an organising and educational body, as opposed to just having an administrative role.

Following the pomp and ceremony, guests made their way from the Townsville Masonic Centre to the Installation Banquet at the Mecure Inn. With the festivities underway, a number of presentations also took place including, the Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel, the highest benevolence honour, being bestowed on Norm Souter-Smith.

Look through a Gallery of photographs from the District Grand Installation.

 

The prestigious Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel was recently awarded to Norm Souter-Smith of Cleveland Masonic Lodge for his dedication to the community.

Having been a Freemason for over 26 years, Norm has excelled in his role as the coordinator of the annual Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball.

Initially taking on the role of publicity officer, over the years Norm has made every effort to help keep this tradition alive for the region’s youth.

He ensures that the whole community is engaged with this event through fundraising activities such as raffles, ticket sales, sponsorship and general volunteer engagement.

Thousands of dollars have been distributed to local charities, with the help of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland. 

More recently, during the Townsville floods in February, Norm went out of his way to make sure others in his community were ok.

He became Hand Heart Pocket’s liaison on the ground, helping those in most need to apply for Disaster Relief funding.

In the weeks after the floods, Norm was still checking in with members of the community to make sure they were alright. Congratulations Norm!

Photo from left: Order of Service to Benevolence Jewel recipient Norm Souter-Smith and his wife Beryl who was also recognised by the then Grand Master Alan Townson (now immediate Past Grand Master).

This year didn’t get off to a good start for North Queensland with the region being ravaged by floods in February. Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark reflected on the impact that the North Queensland Freemasons had in the immediate aftermath, with Hand Heart Pocket’s support, to help people get back on their feet.

“Thanks to the Freemasons on the ground in Townsville who were able to quickly identify those who needed our support the most, we were able to act quickly and provide those people with a one-off disaster relief grant,” Gary said.

“Twenty-four families were given a hand up, with a total of $48,000 being distributed.”

“People were of course, also receiving on the ground assistance from other support agencies and the government, including emergency payments. We would especially like to thank our members on the ground for keeping us updated on the situation,” he said.

North Queensland Freemason Norm Souter-Smith recalls how the local Masonic community provided practical support during the height of the weather event, as well as during the cleanup and recovery stages.

“It was such a distressing time, but we decided to roll up our sleeves and do what we could to help each other to get through this,” Norm said.

Now, six months on, people are slowly but surely rebuilding their lives. However, by most estimates, it could take a good 12 months or more to fully recover, with 1,500 of the 3,000 homes affected, still not habitable.

“Those that received assistance from Hand Heart Pocket all expressed their gratitude. In the last couple of weeks I have been in contact with eighteen of these recipients. Ten are still not back in their homes, some hope to return before Christmas, others after Christmas.”

“When you enter the houses of those who have returned, most are still not fully finished. The walls are yet to be painted, light fittings yet to be bought, and gardens neglected.”

“The owners talk of furniture ordered, but not yet delivered. You walk around and notice pictures on the walls but no family photographs, new side tables and chiffonieres without little collectables and new fridges without grand-children’s drawings held on by magnets. In fact, not even any magnets.”

“All those little things which make the house a home. Returning to their home is just the start of the recovery,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland provides Disaster Relief assistance to members of the community when a natural disaster has occurred such as a cyclone or flood, giving them a hand up to help them get back on their feet.

Photo: North Queensland Freemason Michael Fry and his wife Jacqui. Michael points out the height to which the water rose.

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

Efforts to scale up Men’s Shed activities on Magnetic Island have been backed by Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, who provided a $10,000 boost on behalf of the local Freemasons.

As one of six community initiatives across Queensland, to share in over $50K as part of Hand Heart Pocket’s 2019 Grassroots Community Grants round, Magnetic Island Men’s Shed will put the funds towards the fit-out of their newly built facility – having outgrown their current space.

Ashlar Magnetic Masonic Lodge Coordinator Ian Gregory said that his Lodge had supported the Men’s Shed since 2018 and that the group was deserving of this latest grant because they not only helped their members but also the community at large.

“This really was the icing on the cake for Magnetic Island Men’s Shed, having already secured funding for the construction of the shed from elsewhere,” Ian said.

“The grant will enable the Men’s Shed to provide additional new equipment and resources.”

“A greater selection of projects will be available to members to suit their interests, so we’re excited for what they will be able to achieve in this new space and the positive impact that this will have on them both mentally and physically,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said men’s mental and physical health was one of their key focus areas as part of their long-term strategy.

“Through our grassroots support we’ve been able to fulfil a community need which will ultimately empower local men to lead better lives,” Gary said.

“We are grateful to Ashlar Magnetic Masonic Lodge for bringing this initiative to our attention so that we can make a bigger impact at a grassroots level,” he said.

Photo: (Left to right) District Grand Lodge of North Queensland Secretary Peter Drew, Ashlar Masonic Lodge Coordinator Ian Gregory and Magnetic Island Men's Shed President Cameron Walker. 

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

Drought-affected communities have again received a hand-up from the Masons of North Queensland, who together with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and Masonic Lodges throughout the state, have donated $1.45 million in the last four years.

Hand Heart Pocket’s latest initiative, the Drought Disaster Relief Appeal, saw the charity donate an additional two dollars for every one dollar donated by its members and Masonic Lodges, meaning that the Townsville Freemasons’ $8,920 contribution has been tripled to $26,760.

District Grand Master of North Queensland Les Keane said it’s amazing what can be achieved when you band together.

“A collective contribution of $26,760 from Masonic Lodges in the District and Hand Heart Pocket is a fantastic result,” Les said.

“Thank you to everyone who gave their time or money to give a hand up to drought-affected communities. Our impact will be felt across Queensland,” he said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the response has been amazing.

“We are grateful to the Townsville Freemasons for their efforts,” Gary said.

“Freemasons across the state have rallied to make a significant contribution towards providing a hand-up for drought-affected families and communities – collectively contributing $450,000 with Hand Heart Pocket over the past six weeks. This takes the total funds distributed over the last four years, on behalf of Freemasons, to $1.45 Million, this is an extraordinary effort across our membership”.

With this money, Hand Heart Pocket will provide Eftpos cards to be distributed through its partners on the ground so that funds can get to where they are needed most, helping to put food on the table and pay for essential bills.

“We’ll be working with the Western Drought Appeal and their associated distribution channels, the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Queensland Education and the School of Distant Education parent support group to distribute the Eftpos cards to where they are needed most,” said Gary.

Find out more about the Charity of Freemasons Queensland

The task of providing oxygen to patients onboard one of Townsville’s Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) aircrafts will be significantly easier after the Freemasons of Bowen joined forces with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland to donate a new high-tech transport ventilator.

The compact all-in-one Hamilton-T1 ventilator has a built-in turbine, eliminating the need to carry oxygen cylinders onboard – making it a huge space-saver. The “intelligent” device can also automatically adjust airflow, according to the patient’s condition and provide real-time visual information about how the patient’s lungs and heart are responding during the flight.

Kennedy Masonic Lodge, initially contributed $10,000 through Hand Heart Pocket’s Dollar for Dollar Grassroots Grants, before putting in another $5,000 and securing a further $36,450 through the organisation’s Dollar for Dollar Plus Grassroots Grants to bring this initiative to fruition.

Kennedy Masonic Lodge representative Robert Andersen said it was a pleasure to provide a hand up with the fit out of this device in one of the two aircrafts in use in Townsville.

“When we came to know that the RFDS had plans to fit this device in up to 10 of its aircraft across Queensland, we wanted to do what we could to help,” Robert said.

“In the last 16 years, the Lodge has donated in excess of $130,000 to the RFDS in Townsville. More recently with the help of Hand Heart Pocket, we’ve continued our support of this valuable service,” he said.

“What’s great about this life-saving device is its versatility. Anyone from an adult, child or newborn can be hooked up to it and given that the RFDS responds to such a wide range of situations, this is exactly what they need.”

Last financial year alone, the medical team in Townsville transported 2090 critically ill or injured patients – travelling as far north as Cairns, out west to Mt Isa and south to Brisbane.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said investing in innovative life-saving equipment to empower people to lead better lives is what this initiative is all about.

“We believe in providing sustainable support that delivers positive outcomes to charitable organisations that have limited access to other funding sources,” Gary said.

“Thanks to the relationship that Kennedy Masonic Lodge has cultivated with the RFDS, we were able to team up to bring an important grassroots initiative to fruition,” he said.

Photo: Kennedy Masonic Lodge representatives Alf Pearce, Kevin Yarrow, Steve Fisher, Merv Tickle, Robert Andersen and Roy Facey with Townsville Royal Flying Doctor Service nurse Ashlea Turnham and Base coordinator Gail Hill.

Find out more about the North Queensland Freemasons

Since the mid-1990s, North Queensland children with hearing loss have been empowered to reach their full learning potential with the support of local charity, Hear and Say.

Just recently the Hear and Say Centre in Townsville received a visit from the local Freemasons, who met with staff to hear how a state-wide grant for half-a-million-dollars from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland is making a difference on the ground. 

The grant, handed over earlier this year, will help to cover the funding gap to deliver critical early intervention services, ensuring continuity of support for deaf children throughout Queensland for the next year – till the full financial impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is known in late 2018.

District Grand Master of North Queensland Les Keane who attended the special morning tea said it was a privilege to hear from those at the forefront of delivering this innovative support to local families.

“It really put into perspective, the impact that this state-wide grant is having at a grassroots level,” Mr Keane said.

“As well as a tour of the facility, we sat down to learn how local children are being empowered to hear, listen and speak, with the help of Hear and Say – going on to have the same opportunities in life as their peers with good hearing,” Mr Keane said.

“We are so proud that this grant was made on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland, for what it has made possible for children in North Queensland and throughout the state,” he said.

Collectively, the grant will mean that 200 children across the state will continue to have access to Hear and Say’s Audiology Services, and 300 children can take part in the Early Intervention Program at Hear and Say’s Centres in Townsville, Brisbane, Toowoomba and on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

Hear and Say Chief Executive Officer Chris McCarthy stressed how important essential listening and spoken language therapy is to a child’s development.

“It can take up to six years to teach a profoundly deaf child to listen, process language, and speak, using the latest technology and an Auditory-Verbal Therapy approach, so it’s vital that our services remain accessible – for children to be ready for mainstream schooling,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We are extremely grateful for this funding from Hand Heart Pocket. Without this, Queensland children could miss out on vital services and programs that build their potential.”

“We also thank the local Freemasons for their show of support for our local Hear and Say, families. It truly means a lot to them to know the local Freemasons are supportive of the grant.”

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said providing sustainable support to charitable initiatives that have limited access to other funding sources was the organisation’s focus.

“Our values are centred around empowering people to lead better lives,” Mr Mark said.

“Support for education initiatives for children with a disability aligns with Hand Heart Pocket’s long-term strategy, and we are delighted that this partnership is enabling more children in Townsville and throughout Queensland to have a future which will not be limited by their hearing loss.”

Photo: The Freemasons of Townsville recently visited the local Hear and Say Centre to hear how Hand Heart Pocket’s half-a-million-dollar state-wide grant is impacting local children. 

Find out who Hand Heart Pocket helps

North Queensland Freemasons have welcomed an auspicious group of young ladies into society at the 84th Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball while also raising funds for several local charities. 

In elegant white dresses, debutantes mastered the tradition of being presented, curtsying and performing two presentation dances in the company of Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill and District Grand Master Les Keane.

Secretary of the Townsville Masonic Charity Ball Committee Norm Souter-Smith said the event was a huge success and an important custom in the community.

“So many people enjoyed a tradition that has spanned decades in Townsville,” Norm said.

“It was a privilege for the Masons to form part of the official presentation ceremony, where young ladies walked through an honour guard highlighting the different orders and levels of Freemasonry.”

“The Ball is not only an opportunity for young ladies and their partners to present what they have been practising for weeks, but it is also a chance to support charities and initiatives who rely on financial donations.”

This year $4000 was raised and will be distributed between four local charities including, the Joyful Foundation, Townsville Junior Eisteddfod, the Mayor’s Christmas Appeal and the District Grand Master’s Christmas Appeal which will support Food Relief NQ.

“Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland will match our donation to the Joyful Foundation, effectively doubling our impact,” he said. 

“We’d like to thank everyone involved in organising, supporting and attending this year’s Debutant Ball.”

Ladies aged 16 and above can participate in the next Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball, which will be held mid-way through 2019.

Photo: Debutantes enjoyed a lovely evening at the Townsville Masonic Charity Debutante Ball and $4000 was raised for local charities.

Find out more about Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland