Charity is at the heart of what we do
The Mark Charity.
The Mark Mason's Charity is the Mark Fund of Benevolence. It was formed in 1868, is affectionately referred to as the MBF, and is genuinely close to a Mark Mason's heart. It works in parallel with the Grand Charity, and prides itself on its speed of response. The majority of its funds are for the benefit of distressed Mark Masons and their dependants, but like all good charities, it keeps a small separate element for other Masonic and non-Masonic purposes.
Some of the great causes which have been supported by the Fund are shown below, but very many more worthy causes benefit from the selfless generosity of Mark Masons.
- In 1994 every Mark Lodge was invited to nominate a Hospice. The Mark Fund of Benevolence then sent a cheque for £1000 to each Lodge for members to present to the Hospice of their choice, a total sum of £1.5 million.
- In 2000 the Mark Fund of Benevolence agreed to provide each division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade with a new ‘state of the art’ ambulance, costing approximately £40,000 each, a total amount of £2 million. The Durham ambulance was handed over in August 2000 in a ceremony at Auckland Castle.
- In 2003 £2,000,000 was distributed to hospitals specialising in the early detection and treatment of Prostate Cancer.
- More recently money has been made available for research into and support for those with Osteoporosis.
- Current activity is centred on a project to support the charity ”Hope for Tomorrow” with a £2.6m grant to provide ten mobile chemotherapy units at a cost of £260.000 each which culminated in the Sesqui-Centenary of the fund in 2018.
Durham became a Keystone Province in 2002 in recognition of the donations made by the Lodges and Province to the Fund and, in 2003 all the Mark Lodges received their Grand Patrons’ collarettes from the Mark Fund of Benevolence. Within the Mark Province of Durham there are around 40 Mark Lodges with a membership of around 1,600. Separate from the Grand Mark Fund of Benevolence, the Province of Durham has its own Mark Benevolent Fund. It administers funds donated by both Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodges, it is able to respond quickly to any case of a Brother in distress pending the arrangement of more permanent assistance as well as supporting appropriate local charities and an increasing number of brethren are wearing the collar and jewel of a patron of the Mark Fund of Benevolence following substantial personal donations.
In 2016, the Province of Durham was awarded the Grand Patron Gold status in the Mark Benevolent Fund. Durham is only the second Province to receive Grand Patron Gold status.
The Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master, Richard Victor Wallis JP was pleased to accept the invitation of the Provincial Grand Master to attend the especial Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham, on the 29 November 2016 at the Lancastrian Suite, Dunston, Gateshead. The theme on this memorable occasion was the celebration of the Province of Durham attaining Grand Patron Gold status in the Mark Benevolent Fund.
During the meeting Richard Victor Wallis,JP was delighted to be able to make the presentation of the Grand Patron Gold Award collarettes personally to each Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodge from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham. Never before had 67 Grand Patron Gold Collarettes been presented in one year which is outstanding in the 148 year history of the Mark Benevolent Fund.
During the Centenary year of the Province of Durham, we are running the Centenary Fund to generate funds, which are being matched by the Durham Provincial Benevolent Committee to provide donations to worthy causes supporting young people. Each Lodge will be able to nominate causes and will be able to present the donations directly on behalf of the Benevolent Fund / Centenary Fund. It is hoped to exceed £60,000 which will enable up to £1000 to be presented by each Lodge. More news will be announced as we close in on our centenary in 2020.