Every Spring and Autumn Freemasons from all parts of Devon would normally meet to give support local charities & organisations throughout the county who are in need of assistance, nominated by their local lodge, this year The Loyal Lodge of Industry in South Molton selected “ChemoHero” to make the donation of £830.
In 2012 Lisa Wallis. BEM. was diagnosed with a stage 2 breast cancer, being only 29 years old it came as a great shock to her and her family. Entering treatment not more than 2 weeks after diagnosis Lisa found herself in a hospital room incredibly unprepared for what was to come. She and her husband Rob had taken no money and no food and so the seven-hour day in the hospital felt even longer.
Her next treatment followed two weeks later where she found herself sitting opposite a lady who was 80 years old. As she listened to the wonderful nurses' talk and care for the lady she learnt this lady was going to be heading home on her own… Lisa at this point became panicked about who was going to care for lady, who would help her with her medication regime and how would she know what was going to help her?
Lisa started to develop the idea of a box of kindness that she would fill with items that she was soon learning to be helpful for her as she gained more knowledge on the side effects of chemotherapy.
She spoke of the idea of a box of kindness and so her students and colleagues got behind her idea and raised the first £500 to start making these boxes Lisa had become increasingly passionate about.
She heard of another local lady receiving treatment not far from her and so delivered a box of kindness to her, this lady went on to tell the hospital all about this magical box she had received and so before Lisa knew it she was being invited up to the local hospital to talk about distributing them through the hospital…. Lisa's dream was quickly becoming a reality.
Even their son Stanley came up with a name for their newly founded charity as he said one day…
Mummy your the chemo and I’m the hero as I helped find your cancer!.
ChemoHero was on its way regularly delivering boxes up to the Local Chemotherapy unit.
As the boxes were going out the products were coming in and so they were quickly growing out of running the charity from their front living room, luckily a wonderful local businessman Steve Boden had heard of Lisa's charity and so arranged to meet with her to see how he could help. The following week ChemoHero was moved into the premises of Boden Fire and Security.
This move opened up so much potential but it was on the condition that the charity became registered so ChemoHero became just that!
Fast forward 3 years and ChemoHero has gifted over 1000 boxes to local chemotherapy patients in North Devon. The boxes are gifted by the nurses on the patient's first treatment, this enables the nurses to give the patients something positive in their treatment journey.
Lots of local businesses now either donate products or offer their services, as well Lisa makes sure that all fundraisers get the opportunity to pack a box for a patient as she’s a strong believer that ChemoHero must carry a community feel because without the community ChemoHero would not be what it is today.
The money donated by the Freemasons is raised through the “WAKE Fund” a trust conceived by William Alexander Kneel, the Provincial Grand Master from 1970 to 1984, the late owner of Kneels laundry & dry cleaners (now Johnsons). This fund stands at £2 million and the interest earned is given annually to local non masonic organisations in need of help. Since the first disbursement in 2001 over £850,000 has been given to over 900 worthy causes selected by members of the 131 Masonic lodges based in the county.
This spring Ian Kingsbury JP. Provincial Grand Master for the Devonshire Freemasons would have presented cheques to 9 deserving causes. but due to lockdown restrictions cheques totalling £7,500 have been sent directly to the charities concerned.
Ian Kingsbury said
“it is a great shame not to be able to meet the representatives of the charities we are funding this year but, I am delighted that the Freemasons of Devon are able to contribute to these important local causes many of which are so competently run by volunteers and hopefully these donations will make a real difference, we are acutely aware that in these extreme times Covid 19 makes fundraising for charities even more difficult than usual so are happy that we can continue to help".
W Bro Clive Eden PAGDC
Provincial Grand Communication Officer