LOCAL Freemasons will be celebrating a major fund raising campaign on Saturday when a cheque for more than £1.5 million will be presented to one of their four major charities, the Freemasons Grand Charity, which has donated more than £100 million to support people in need since 1981.
Each year the charity provides grants totalling nearly £8 million to medical research, support for vulnerable people, youth opportunities, hospice services, air ambulances and disaster relief in the UK and across the world.
It also provides assistance for Freemasons and their dependants in financial need and in the five years to December 2012, more than 100 people in Staffordshire received assistance totalling £221,000.
Freemasons who meet in Leek have contributed £18,000 during the five years the appeal has been running.
All the money has been contributed by the 3,000 members of the 100 lodges in Staffordshire and the Provincial Grand Master, Dr Sandy Stewart, TD, will make the presentation to the President of the Grand Charity, Richard Hone, QC, before nearly 500 members and their partners who are attending the cheque presentation dinner at Keele University.
The Freemasons Grand Charity also funds hundreds of nationwide charities each year and they are chosen because they all aim to make a significant difference to people in need.
In recent years it has donated more than £200,000 for research at Keele University into agerelated hearing loss, which is producing impressive results.
Last year it donated £5,000 to the Prince's Trust in Staffordshire to help young people access jobs in the construction industry. And during the last 29 years the seven hospices in Staffordshire have received more than £300,000.
The Midlands Air Ambulance has also received grants of £132, 500 since 2007 as part of a nationwide Grant Charity initiative to support the vital work carried out by air ambulances and the West Midlands region of the British Red Cross was given a new Responder emergency response vehicle to provide support to UK emergency services and first aid cover for local communities.
The chief executive of the Freemasons Grand Charity, Laura Chapman, said: "We hope it is clear to see from the range of causes we fund that the Freemasons Grand Charity is dedicated to providing support for a wide variety of charitable services each year.
“We are immensely grateful to Freemasons and their families in Staffordshire for their contribution to our funds."
Staffordshire's Provincial Grand Master Sandy Stewart said: "It has been our intention to raise as much as we could to further the marvellous work of the Grand Charity. It has been a difficult time financially for many of our members and our numbers have fallen during the past ten years.
“We set no target and I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the enormous efforts they have all made.
“I look forward to announcing the final amount on Saturday."