W.Bro. Tim Cockings – Provincial Grand Almoner                      

It is now fast approaching September which will mean I have been in post as Provincial Grand Almoner for twelve months having taken over the post from W.Bro. Graham Bennett.   I am very grateful to Graham for the detailed handover he gave me enabling me get on with the job immediately I was in office.  Thank you Graham.   And what a journey it has been.  But more Importantly what an honour it has been to represent the Province as it’s representative overseeing the Lodge Almoners of the Province of Cornwall and being their point of contact for advice and support.  Additionally, I work closely with my experienced and knowledgeable Advice and Support Team Worker, Ali Chapple and our hard working and dedicated team of Visiting Volunteers.  Of course I must mention the UGLE and the MCF for the incredible work they do in supporting us behind the scenes.  It couldn’t happen without any of you.  So quite a big team, or should I say family really, with the aims; to advise, assist and get help for Freemasons and their families in time of need.   And what a terrific job you all do.  Thank you to all of you.

Well, I started my role last September by attending a PGA training session at the Masonic Charitable Foundations’ offices in Grand Lodge.  This set me up with the basic knowledge and software training and enabled me to carry out my duties when I returned to Cornwall.   And of course, I met many of the MCF staff members face to face who I communicate with now on a regular basis.   Shortly after this, in October, I was fortunate enough to attend the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Almoners Biennial Conference in Bristol.  I say fortunate because the conference gave me so much information from virtually day one that I could take away and build on.  Again, I was fortunate to meet more MCF staff and fellow M & PGA’s.

Not only am I responsible for the Lodge Almoners in our Province but I also work closely with our Provincial Grand Charity Steward W. Bro. Alan Powell.  Our roles are very much aligned and quite often we work together swapping ideas and hopefully making improvements for all our Almoners and Charity Stewards.  As such I am also a committee member of the Cornwall Masonic Charitable Foundation.  You will have seen the great work the CMCF did this year with nearly £125,000 going to local charities at a presentation carried out in King Arthurs Great Hall in Tintagel on the 21st May.  More details of this event can be found in the ‘News’ section on the Provincial website.  It makes for a very good read and there is a link to a lovely video of the day’s proceedings.

On the 1st July the PGCS W.Bro. Alan Powell and myself delivered a Workshop for Lodge Almoners and Charity Stewards at Truro College.  It went down very well with new and experienced Brothers and seemed very worthwhile going on the feedback we received afterwards.   Well, the pasty’s and coffee went down well anyway?!  The intention is to hold these workshops every two years.  I will however be putting together a shorter version of this workshop for Almoners who missed the main workshop and which I will be able to deliver to small groups around the Province.  More details to follow.

As part of my responsibilities, I am also a committee member for East Cornwall for the Friends of Cadogan Court Association and in July I attended their country fair open day At Cadogan Court, Exeter which was supported with a very good turnout.  Representative’s and family members from the Provinces of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset were in attendance along with the Widow’s Son’s who are great supporters of this home.  There were many of them from our Province and the roar (the Widow’s Son’s that is!) they made when they arrived and left was truly spectacular.  But I’d say that anyway as a fellow biker.  There were many stalls selling all sorts, a barbecue, music and I came away with some lovely Devon Strawberries, half a dozen delicious double yoked eggs (didn’t know they were double until I got home!) and some, here we go Somerset Clotted Cream (cringe!!).  I know!  Anybody can attend and next year I will send a memo out in good time to advertise it with dates and details.    For more information about Cadogan Court and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute care homes please contact them on 01207 596 2400 or visit their website at www.rmbi.org.uk.  The RMBI have 18 care homes throughout England and Wales.

We have helped many Freemasons and their families over the past twelve months during my tenure as PGA and it has been down to the sterling work of our Almoners who waste no time in contacting me and seeking assistance as soon as they get wind that someone needs help.  But it goes beyond getting help from the MCF as some Lodges have gone that extra step in making sure their fellow Brothers are looked after appropriately, especially those who can no longer make our meetings because of various medical or physical conditions.  Thank you Brothers.   But it doesn’t stop there either.  Once the MCF have the claimant on their system our AST, Ali Chapple and our Visiting Volunteers go to work visiting and completing forms on behalf of the claimants.  Again another big thank you.

If you require or know of anyone requiring advice or help then please contact myself on 07939 649 688 or email me at almoner@pglcornwall.org.uk, your Lodge Almoner or you can go direct to the Masonic Charitable Foundation on 0800 035 60 90 or email them on help@mcf.org.uk.  All calls are taken in total confidence.  However, if you are really concerned about divulging personal information you can contact the MCF direct and ask for your case to be completely confidential.  All I then see on my system is a case number and blank pages.  No name or any details whatsoever.  You will be incognito.  I will shortly be putting out information regarding mental health counselling for adults, young people and children.  In the meantime if you would like advice on this subject matter please do not hesitate to get in contact me or call the MCF direct.

Finally Brethren, if you need some advice or guidance about what the MCF can offer then please do not hesitate to make contact with me.