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Having taken over the responsibility of the Almoner function within the Province in April of this year, I must firstly congratulate my predecessor W.Bro. Tony Morrell for the hard work and dedication he brought to the role over the last 14 years together with the way in which he was able to transfer the duties of the office to me with the minimum of upheaval.  He will be a hard act to follow.

Last year it was reported that the Freemasonry Cares initiative promoted by the Grand Charity was progressing well with a large number of lodges taking advantage of the explanatory talks offered by the Provincial Almoner Team to ensure that as many Brethren as possible understood how the Grand Charity could assist them or their dependants in cases of emergency.   Regrettably there are still a number of lodges not having taken advantage of these talks although their continuation might be overtaken by the important changes being made nationally to the manner in which the charities will be operated. Masonic Charitable Foundation. In April 2016, following a long review and pilot scheme, the Foundation (MCF) came into being. 

The Grand Charity, Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Masonic Samaritan Fund and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Fund were amalgamated into one overall fund (MCF).  The aims of the Foundation are to optimise resources, reduce running costs and be more professional in their approach by streamline applications, ensuring that multi- need applications can be actioned within the same overall team thus saving time, and above all by offering an enhanced service to Lodge Almoners.   It is early days but the service from MCF and in particular the local assistance from the Advice and Support Team representative Alison Chapple is second to none.

In November at the National Almoner Conference in Manchester, the important changes previously mentioned were discussed and the findings will be implemented where necessary in 2017. Training of Lodge Almoners. The training/revision sessions for Lodge Almoners which were run throughout the Province in 2013/2015 are considered to be still an important requirement for Lodge Almoners particularly bearing in mind that the changes to be shortly implemented will in themselves need to be understood in conjunction with the earlier sessions.  These sessions will be organised by W.Bro. Peter Durrant and W.Bro. Les Pym with dates and venues being sent early in the new year.  It is important that all Lodge Almoners attend one of these sessions to ensure that they are brought up to date concerning their important duties. Although the Masonic Charitable Foundation reports a single figure for all activities in Devonshire, for clarity I have broken down the amounts and total beneficiaries` under their former headings. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. (MCF) Due to the 12 months up to the end of September 2016, 24 new and repeat applications were made to the Grand Charity from this Province resulting in a total of ££67,540 being granted.  These figures do not include benefits paid to annuitants from other Provinces living in Devonshire. Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. (MCF) The number of grants awarded was 32 totalling the sum of £67,083.  There are a further 2 cases awaiting assessment. Masonic Samaritan Fund. (MCF) The number of grants awarded for consultations, operations, medical treatments and home adaptations was 36 totalling the sum of £131,173. (MCF The Royal Masonic Benevolent Fund There are 22 Devonian residents living in RMBI homes throughout the country.  The total cost of RMBI support for these residents for the year amounted to £93,066

Cadogan Court RMBI Home

Alterations to the Home to allow for the needs of dementia patients are completed and the Centre Court facility has been overhauled and refurbished thus providing additional recreational areas. Devonshire Provincial Charities. The Education and Fortescue Fund and the Wake Fund continue to provide grants to Masonic and non-masonic applicants.   The Provincial Grand Master has been able to give a considerable number of grants from his personal fund for urgent cases.  Grateful thanks go to the many lodges in the Province who have provided donations from their charitable funds thus enabling the Provincial Grand Master to make these grants available. Devon Masonic Widows Association. As in earlier years the nine branches continue to meet regularly although a number of them suffer from low membership.  The lodge almoners and Branch Liaison Brethren who continue to enthusiastically support these meetings must be commended for their dedication. General. The Provincial Almoners Report last year highlighted the fact that many Lodges recognised that there was the need to improve the care and support of those Brethren who have been and are being faced with many social and personal problems.  I am pleased to report that there is every indication that Lodges throughout the Province have recognised this social need and are working actively with outside agencies who are themselves able to give support to distressed Brethren and their families. I am indebted to the Provincial Grand Master and his Executive together with the heads of other orders who have so actively supported the Almoner function in Devonshire and my thanks must also go to VW Bro. Nick Ball for his continued support as the Liaison Officer of the function.  Without the ongoing support of W. Bro Peter Durrent and  W.Bro Les Pym my assistants and W.Bro Tony Morrell and W.Bro Vic Mcginnes who act in a very active support role, together with the staff of the Provincial Office, the Almoner team would not be able to operate in the manner that we hope we do and they all have my thanks. Finally. Everything achieved in Devonshire at the behest of the Masonic Charitable Foundation and our local charities also could not be put into place or operate effectively without the dedication of the Lodge Almoners who give of their time unstintingly and my special thanks must go to them.

R.C. Munro
Provincial Grand Almoner