Hope For Tomorrow in Action

The Province of Surrey is currently working towards the 2022 Festival. As such, Surrey is also an ardent supporter of the Hope for Tomorrow charity. On 31 March 2016, the Kent Hope for Tomorrow mobile chemotherapy unit was deployed to Tesco Extra in Dover. So it was that a Surrey delegation consisting of David Else, Chairman, Chris Eley and John French, Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Stewart Butcher and Jack Love, Present and Past Provincial Charity Stewards, David Barden, Festival Treasurer (and Kent Provincial Almoner) and Bill Barr, Festival Secretary, journeyed to the wilds of Kent to see the charity in action. As you might have expected, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward for the Province of Kent, WBro Ian Gallehawk, also tagged along. As the pictures show, clearly the Brethren from Surrey arte made of sterner stuff as WBro Ian felt unable to remove his coat and scarf on a bright and sunny, yet still somewhat chilly day!

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The delegation was met by Clemency “Clemmie” Rubinstein, Community Fundraiser for Hope for Tomorrow, together with the NHS staff who drive and staff the unit. Tesco allows the unit to be sited and employed there and supplies the electricity free of charge. The benefits of the location are that family is able to drop off a loved one needing treatment and park free (a real bugbear at many hospitals) and go off to shop, whilst treatment is undertaken. Free access to the Tesco staff canteen is the cherry on the cake.

On entering the unit, the first item of note was the portrait of David Mills. David was Christine Mills’ husband.  Christine founded Hope for Tomorrow in 2003 following David’s passing away from cancer in 2002.  His picture is on every unit.  Every unit’s suite is also called the David Mills Suite in his memory. Every unit is named after someone special. Near to the portrait is a plaque explaining that the unit visited is named “Caron” in memory of Caron Keating. Caron was the daughter of Gloria Hunniford, the Patron of the charity. Caron sadly lost her battle with cancer.

Going on board was a particularly exceptional event as a patient, Ruth, was undergoing treatment at the time of our visit. She was being tended by Victoria and Alison, who, along with Bryan, the driver, make sure that the unit is on the road five days a week, every week. It has been particularly useful since the closure of the Celia Blakley unit at Ashford as the unit has ensured that fewer people have to make the sometimes long and difficult journey to and from Canterbury for treatment.

Ruth spoke about her experiences as a long term patient receiving chemotherapy treatment. As can be seen in the picture, Ruth was actually receiving chemotherapy treatment as she discussed her experiences. Ruth was very clear that her long and difficult journey through the process of treatment had been made significantly easier by her being able to access chemotherapy through services provided by the Hope for Tomorrow chemotherapy unit. Clemmy also discussed her experiences as a patient before the Hope for Tomorrow units became available. Most of us have been affected by cancer in some way. If we haven’t personally experienced it, then we will have people close to us, who have. To listen to Ruth and Clemmy talking about their experiences was as enlightening as it was moving.

There can be no doubt that the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons is supporting a most worthwhile cause in Hope for Tomorrow. Our Festivals are helping to make it happen and are making a real difference to the lives of patients and their families, many of whom face long and difficult journeys. Let us all be proud of our Grand Lodge and proud of our Province and let’s do all we can to support the 2020 Festival. At the end of the day it’s not for us, it’s for the many people, who are benefitting from the generosity of individual members and Lodges!

Article by Ian Gallehawk PG Charity Steward with thanks to Bill Barr for contributions to the article and to Chris Eley for some of the pictures

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