Monday, December 19, 2011

Freemason Edward Smethurst

East Lancashire Masonic Charity
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The Young Peoples Committee
WBro Paul G Chadwick

Appointed Members
WBro Peter Cole
WBro Edward G Smethurst
WBro H Nigel Pickering
WBro Roger Tinker
This Committee organises events for younger persons who are beneficiaries of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and also ensures that on the occasion of their birthday and at Christmas they are remembered by way of a monetary gift.
Additional support is provided by way of book tokens to be spent at their discretion, the finance for these to be provided from several trust funds specifically designated for this purpose.
THE YOUNG PEOPLES COMMITTEE - A 25 year personal perspective from both a Committee member and a former beneficiary by Edward Smethurst.
As I write this article, I see that I am getting old! and that the 16 October 2006 will mark, not only my 38th birthday but also the 25th Anniversary of my association with the Young Peoples Committee.
On the 16th of October 1981, my life radically changed forever when my father was tragically and suddenly killed in a house fire on my thirteenth birthday. As you would expect, this left a huge hole in my life. This date also triggered my first involvement with the warmth and fraternity of the craft and with the Young Peoples Committee, an organisation which so positively demonstrates the values of Freemasonry, and which in my own experience makes a real difference to the lives of its beneficiaries.
25 years later, I am now fortunate enough to sit on the Young Peoples Committee, and to experience its excellent work from, the other side of the fence, as a committee member as opposed to a beneficiary. The work of the Young Peoples committee, however attracts little publicity, and I have been asked to write this short article in order to communicate to brethren, and to Lodge Almoners in particular, the services and events offered by the Young Peoples Committee, and to hopefully ensure that the young dependants of Brethren who have sadly passed away are encouraged by lodge almoners to participate in the events and services offered by the Young Peoples Committee.
The Young Peoples committee is expertly administered by a welfare officer,  Julie Ward ( E-Mail telephone 0161 832 6256) and Julie is the first point of contact for both Lodge Almoners and beneficiaries.
A typical year in the life of a beneficiary might be as follows;
Christmas - Every year a Christmas party is organised which usually involves an evening out at the Theatre or the pantomime, and a nice dinner. Each beneficiary also receives a Christmas gift from the Committee of book tokens or cash.
Spring - A day out would be organised to, for example a zoo or a museum, or a place of interest. The beneficiaries are regularly surveyed and consulted as to their preferred destinations
Summer - A day out to a theme park is normally arranged. This year over 30 of us had an excellent, albeit a very wet day at Alton Towers. Nothing however could dampen the spirits of the children who had a thoroughly enjoyable day in the Theme park, followed by a meal in a restaurant on the way home.
Autumn - This year for example, we have a day out in Blackpool arranged for 25 October 2006, to coincide with half term. The Fun packed day will include Blackpool Zoo, followed by a meal out, followed by the illuminations, before returning to Manchester to rendezvous with parents at around 9.30pm .
In addition to the above the Young Peoples Committee is forward thinking and flexible enough to arrange "one-off" events where there is a need or an interest expressed by beneficiaries. The emphasis is on fun and informality and meeting the needs of the children.
When I was a beneficiary, I also particularly valued the regular contact that I had with the welfare officer, who in those days was Margaret Dryburgh. During difficult times in my own childhood, following my bereavement, I would often telephone Margaret and I would always receive a sympathetic ear and good advice. As I had no parents to attend my graduation, Margaret even accompanied me to my graduation ceremony and was always there for me, when I needed her.  Julie Ward now performs this valuable role and clearly has a similarly warm relationship with many of the beneficiaries, maintaining regular contact and a watchful eye over the welfare of the beneficiaries.
At a time in my own childhood when I needed positive influences, and role models in my life, they were often to be found in the Young Peoples Committee members, and their partners. Russell Allamby was the Chairman of the young Peoples Committee back then, and always found time to enquire with genuine interest as to how I was progressing and to spend his time offering his guidance and advice when asked. These traditions continue and the committee is now ably chaired by Paul Chadwick. Peter Cole, Stephen Smith, Nigel Pickering and myself form the rest of the committee team. For me the work of the Committee symbolises in many ways what Freemasonry is all about. The Committee enjoys a real sense of fraternity.
All events are of course completely free of charge to beneficiaries, and to an accompanying parent or guardian, should they wish to attend. Should brethren or Lodge Almoners have potential beneficiaries in mind , who they believe might benefit from the services offered by the Young Peoples Committee I would strongly urge them to get in touch and to  contact Julie Ward ( Tel 0161 832 6256, E-Mail ).

Edward Smethurst

Committee member

Young Peoples Committee