Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations.
In Antrim there are over 5,000 members, over 30,000 across Ireland and six million worldwide.
Freemasons are the second largest charitable donors in the UK (after the National Lottery Fund) with over £33m raised last year by more than 180 masonic groups.
Provincial Grand Master, RW John Dickson explains what the organisation does for external charities; “It’s a common mis-conception that Freemasons only look after other Freemasons, that is simply not true, yes we have a number of Masonic charities which do a lot of good work, but we are committed as an organisation to helping others in need, whether they have links to Freemasonry or not.
“I chose Action Cancer as our nominated charity in what was the 150th year anniversary of the Provincial Grand Lodge in Antrim, it is a charity very close to my heart, I lost my dear wife to cancer and I personally wanted to be able to help in whatever way I can.
“I know so many of my fellow Freemasons have their own personal stories too and that’s why this fundraising initiative was so important to many of us and why we raised such a wonderful amount of much needed money for a very worthy charity.”
Mr Dickson, who has been a Freemason for over 40 years, added: “I am proud to be a Freemason. Freemasonry is steeped in history and dedicated to helping people in society in any way we can.
“Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.
“We are an organisation which is caring, honourable, promotes peace, loyalty and the good order of society and upholds the law.
“The Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities over the years and Benevolence has always been the cornerstone of who we are.”
Thanking the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim, Gareth Kirk, CEO, Action Cancer said: “It costs us £80 per person to deliver our free breast screening service, £25 for our free health checks and £40 per for our free counselling and coaching sessions.
“While these are free to those who qualify, they still need to be paid for. As a charity we solely rely and the kindness and generosity of organisations and individuals such as the and we thank them for all the time and effort that went into achieving such an impressive figure.
“This money literally helps to save lives and keep families together here in Northern Ireland.”
Lodges from across the Antrim area came together to raise this money and through simple donations from members and many fundraising events, such as the annual golf day and sponsored cycle ride , the Provincial Grand Lodge managed to exceed its original target.
If you are interested in joining the Freemasons of Antrim visit http://www.pglantrim.org