A Short History
The Fund came into existence in 1868 on the suggestion of the Reverend Canon George Raymond Portal, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. His views on charity were far more radical and progressive than the general thinking of the time. He felt that for charity to be effective, it had to be disbursed swiftly and without the bureaucratic formalities of other Masonic charities. To him it was wrong for there to be any delay in providing assistance to those in need and his own Latin tag “Bis dat qui cito dat” – he gives twice who gives promptly – became, and still is, the principal guideline of the Mark Benevolent Fund (M.B.F.) The Fund has disbursed many millions to individual petitioners and an even greater sum in grants to charities within the wider community. A major grant of £1.6m has been made to the RNLI help fund a new lifeboat, Addenbrooke’s Hospital Trust received over £2m for machines to help in the diagnosis of prostate cancer and a pledge of £2.6 million has been made to Hope for Tomorrow Cancer Charity for the purchase of mobile chemotherapy units throughout the UK.
When it comes to individual Petitioners things are handled slightly differently. When a Lodge Almoner is made aware of a Brother or his family in distress he would arrange a visit to assess the circumstances and then complete a grant application form which is then passed to the M.B.F. Each application is reviewed, any further information deemed necessary asked for and then submitted to the M.B.F. Petitions Committee.
Every pound received in donations to the M.B.F. starts in the pocket of a Mark Master Mason. No public or third-party funding is requested or received.
Funding for Blood Bikes charities across England and Wales
Most blood bike charities come under the umbrella of the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes (itself a registered charity) which acts as a representative body for blood bike groups. Their aim is to assist in the promotion of public health through voluntary support of hospital services. The charity provides out of hours transportation services for local NHS sites in the movement of blood and human tissue. Other organisations can also benefit from the work they do, all free of charge thus reducing the strain on NHS funding.
The Blood Bikes Charity relies solely on donations and the time and commitment of their volunteers, many of whom are motorcyclists or who have an interest in motorbikes.
In May 2017 the Mark Benevolent Fund Charity Walk took place encompassing all Royal Parks in central London along the seven-mile route of The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk. The event was embraced by hundreds of Mark Master Masons, their friends and families, and raised an astounding £437,934. The Trustees of the Mark Benevolent Fund wanted to give something back to the Brethren in the Provinces who had given so generously and a decision was taken to invite all blood bike charities in England and Wales to apply for funding for a new vehicle. Mark Provinces covering the majority of England and Wales are serviced by these charities and all that applied received a new vehicle and the Leicestershire & Rutland Blood Bike was handed over the the group in August 2018. To date, the M.B.F. has sponsored 16 Blood Bikes and 10 Blood Cars.
The M.B.F. renews its partnership with St. John Ambulance
The M.B.F. has donated £3.2 million to St John Ambulance to fund a combination of 52 mobile treatment centre vehicles and support vehicles throughout England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. Our partnership with this organisation highlights the M.B.F.’s continuing commitment to supporting projects with a wider community impact. Our previous collaboration with St John Ambulance was to celebrate the Millennium in 2000. Each Province in England and Wales was allocated an ambulance using a grant of £2 million. These ambulances, although coming to the end of their life in the UK, will be refurbished and sent off to countries far and wide to continue their life-saving services.
The Leicestershire & Rutland Mobile Treatment Centre vehicle is put to use at events across both counties as volunteers deliver lifesaving first aid to members of the public, and was handed over to the charity in December 2018 at a ceremony at Leicester Cathedral.