News 7th Apr 2022 Updated 9th Apr 2022
On 5th April the Committee of OMMMBA met to consider a number of items. In particular the Committee approved the following donations:-
Oxfordshire Provincial Craft 2022 Festival £1,000
MBF 2022 Festival hosted by the Province of Surrey £1,000 this is additional to the earlier approved donation of £1,000
MBF 2023 Festival Hosted by West Yorkshire £1,000
MBF Fund for the Ukraine £2,500
MBF 2025 Festival - our own – a matching donation of up to £400 in respect of The Golden Hind event organised by University Lodge of Mark Masters No. 55
Were a request to be made, the committee agreed to assist the widow of a Brother whose front door had been damaged by the emergency services when attending to assist her.
No other requests for assistance have been received
Bonus Ball Bounces Back
Covid has compounded the problems with the running of the bonus ball as subscribing members have reduced without new numbers being sold.
The current rules prevent a game being run unless all 59 numbers have been sold. After consideration the committee agreed that the rules should be amended to permit games to be run
provided 40 numbers have been sold.
This does mean that games can continue. This may result in a small reduction in the prize monies.
The Bonus Ball Competition finances our Almoner's Fund which is used to provide annual gifts to our widows and to offer small immediate assistance if requested.
Click here to locate an application form to purchase a number. I urge all Brethren to support our Provincial Grand Almoner and the Almoners of
your Lodges by immediately signing up to purchase a number, or even two as a surprise for your wife/ partner. Thank you.
VW Bro Barry Prior, Chairman, OMMBA
Update for The Mark Benevolent Fund
Thank you from Helen & Douglas House
Thank you so much to the Trustees of The Mark Benevolent Fund for your support, and wonderful donation of £3,000 in August 2021. Your kindness has helped us to provide vital, expert hospice care for
babies, children, young people and their families.
As you know, Helen & Douglas House cares for terminally ill children from Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties. We offer specialist hospice care for children and their families, wherever it is
needed. This might be at our home-from-home hospice, at hospital or out in the wider community, including the family home. Our personalised care includes respite stays, pain relief, symptom
management, end-of-life care and bereavement support. We help children live as fully as possible, and whilst time is precious, we enable families to make lasting and treasured memories. We do everything
we can to support families practically and emotionally during these incredibly tough times, helping them to cope at every stage of their child's life, and beyond.
Recent stories of care
Here are some examples of the recent care our incredible team has delivered:
Supportive respite stays
Our supportive stays are a lifeline for many families, giving them an essential break from the strains of full-time care for their terminally ill children. Some families choose to stay in our
dedicated on-site family flats, so they can be only a minute away from their child, or in the child's private bedroom. Other families use this time to get things done at home, spend time with their
other children, or simply to recuperate. Tim, Toby's dad said, "The breaks keep us sane. They allow us to be the people we are. We'd fall apart without it". Having families back in house after such a
long time of restrictions has been wonderful, not just for the families but for our staff too.
Our supportive stays allow mothers and fathers to take time off from the exhausting role of full time carer, and to just be parents to their children. It makes a world of difference to hand
over the responsibility of dealing with medication, bathing, dressing and other care duties, and to have time to read, play or talk together. Something as seemingly simple as walking in
the garden can be difficult for families if they do not have specially adapted access at home or the time to keep a garden maintained. Families enjoy spending time in our much-loved, beautiful garden
relaxing outside and just being in each other's company.
"Helen & Douglas House gave us the chance to spend three precious days with Ryan going for walks around the grounds. They provided anything we needed to make all the
memories we could whilst offering us constant support and reassurance that when the time came, they would be there for us."
Paul, Ryan's Daddy
While staying with us, the children have opportunities to do things that they would not be able to do at home. This can be everyday activities that are too difficult to do at home, such as taking
a bath or playing with other children. They can also enjoy swimming in our Therapy Pool, playing and listening to music or enjoying therapeutic animal visits – most recently from two penguins, Pringle
For children who are unwell or who have disabilities, opportunities for play and fun can be overlooked as their clinical needs are often the focus, and time during the day can be limited. Our Play
Specialist enables children to play and have new experiences, while adapting to each child's specific needs and interests. Setting and clearing up activities takes time that many families don't have.
This time is invaluable for families, as it gives them the chance to create new memories together and for mums and dads to enjoy just being a parent and having fun together. Other families come to
us with newly diagnosed children and have been so focused on their care and coming to terms with their child's condition that they are sometimes nervous to try new things. We support them with this and
show them activities and toys that are appropriate and how these can then be developed in the future.
Bereavement services for families
Our Family Support and Bereavement Team is here to offer support for parents, partners, siblings and the whole family. We provide support at our hospice, at home or in hospital, depending on what
the family prefer. We put families' needs and wishes at the centre of the care they receive, providing both one-to-one and group support around the many issues of living with a terminally ill child and
dealing with grief and loss, from diagnosis all the way through to bereavement.
Immy passed away at Helen & Douglas House
from a brain tumour when she was 2 years old, having already lost her twin sister in the late stages of pregnancy. Her mum, Kathryn said, "Helen & Douglas House have been so supportive to us since Immy passed
away. I have regular counselling to help me survive and get through the tough days. We also get to join a parents bereavement group which helps us to realise we are not alone, and we can talk to
others who are feeling the same as us and just understand how we feel. Lester attends a regular dads' group which is a great way for him to talk to other dads who often find it hard to talk
to counsellors. Without this support I am not sure we would have got through the first year on our own, there is nowhere else that offers this support and we would be totally lost without it."
Every year we organise a Remembrance Service, where we light candles to honour the precious little lives of the children we have cared for. The service provides time and space for families to
remember their child and for bereaved families to come together. Unfortunately, once again this year we were unable to hold the service in person, but we held an incredibly moving virtual service which
can be viewed here: youtu.be/Wcx3qYXqnZ8, and we sent accompanying Remembrance boxes to families. One of our bereaved parents fed back on the virtual service
saying "Our son died nearly 4 months ago now and the pain has certainly not lessened, but we took comfort in the service and it was lovely to see the faces of staff we worked closely with
during the hardest 6 weeks of our lives again. Thank you so much again to every member of the team who was involved in the making of the virtual remembrance service. Helen House is a very special place,
filled with the most wonderful people."
In addition to the support this team provides families, they also support the rest of the clinical and care teams employed by Helen & Douglas House, providing de-briefs and counselling
sessions to talk through and cope with the loss they face as part of their professional lives.
We would not be able to offer the personalised, one-to-one hospice care that so many families rely on without the generosity of our funders and supporters. As a charity we need to raise £3.6 million
each year to fund our care costs so we can continue supporting families. We rely on voluntary donations for the majority of the funding needed to provide these services, with only 19% of our care costs
coming from statutory sources.
We would like to sincerely thank the Trustees of The Mark Benevolent Fund and the lodges that nominated us for so kindly supporting our work. With your help, we will continue to provide vital
care for terminally ill children and their families, supporting them wherever they need us.
"You walk through the door and the pressures and the daily worries and stresses are just lifted because you know he's in such good hands. You can't thank them enough. They go above and beyond, and
they are always there for you. Not only when you go and stay, but they're always at the end of the phone. I think it takes a very special person to work at Helen House and they are all
wonderful. Families like us would just be lost if Helen House didn't exist."
Lauren, Finley's Mum
Oxfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons 2021. All Rights Reserved.
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