A major milestone in the development of the COUCH Wellness Centre took place last week, with the much-anticipated sod-turning ceremony to mark the start of construction and what is set be a huge turning-point for Far North Queenslanders impacted by cancer.
Representatives of the Carpentaria District Freemasons and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland attended the event, alongside health officials, members of the Cairns business community and other prominent figures.
The development, which is the first of its kind for the Cairns region, will deliver services that provide a holistic approach to cancer care, to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer (and beyond) as well as their carers. The services will include allied health and complementary therapies, as well as a focus on skills and education on how to live with cancer, group support and other well-being and beauty services. A library, café and dining area, children’s playground and therapy pool will also form part of the precinct.
The Freemasons District Grand Master Henry Condon said it was an honour to attend and witness history being made, knowing that the Freemasons had played an important part in making this happen.
“For the people of our region who are impacted by cancer, they will be able to get the holistic support they need in a unique rainforest environment rather a clinical hospital environment,” Henry said.
“We are proud to support a locally-focused project that will improve cancer-sufferers’ overall health outlook,” he said.
Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland supported the regional initiative by providing a grant for half a million dollars on behalf of its members last year. The funds will go towards the construction of a large double pavilion, the first of the pavilions to be built on the Manoora site, to house specialist and support service providers.
COUCH Chair Ron Holden said the sod-turning ceremony was a wonderful example of a community rallying behind a dream to make it a reality.
“This milestone has been achieved by a most amazing range of dedicated fundraisers, donors, volunteers, and supporters from across the community pulling together and I sincerely thank them one and all on behalf of the cancer suffers in our region,” he said.
The Woodward family donated a 2.5-hectare property on Reservoir Rd in 2008, but it wasn’t until a $500,000 donation from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and the confirmation of $1.5 million from the Australian Government that the project could fully get underway.
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said it was fantastic that stage one of the construction was underway.
“The decision to support the development of the COUCH Wellness Centre was made in consultation with the Carpentaria District Freemasons who brought this initiative to our attention,” Gary said.
“Our values are about alleviating suffering and empowering people to lead more independent lives. We also look to support charitable projects that have limited access to funding and will make a significant impact on the community, so this initiative was perfect for the charity of Freemasons Queensland to support,” he said.
The Woodward family are well known for their commitment to the development of the region, dating back over 100 years. Gordon and Jack Woodward and their father Charles (Snr), were integral in the early development of the Carpentaria Freemasons’ Homes in the 1970s and Woodward Retirement Village in the 1980s, both previously owned by Masonic Care Queensland.
“They were Freemasons, and the donation is also a great way for us to continue to support the charitable work of Freemasons in the District,” said Gary.
“We are proud to be one of the many supporters of this incredible Centre that will empower families in Far North Queensland impacted by cancer to lead better lives,” he said.
Construction of the $3 million stage 1 facility is now underway, with the opening due in April 2019.
Photo: Members of the Carpentaria District and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland attended the COUCH sod-turning ceremony – seen here alongside COUCH representatives and Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch.
It’s not often that you get to meet those that have directly benefited from your philanthropy, but that’s exactly what the Carpentaria Freemasons did recently.
The District Grand Master of Carpentaria Henry Condon and his Deputy Raja Chohan visited one of Camp Quality’s family camps in Cairns to see the impact of the $290k grant announced last year from the state’s Masonic charity, Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.
It was one of dozens of camps held around Queensland in the last year, which were funded by the grant, enabling children impacted by cancer and their families to create memories outside of hospital.
District Grand Master of Carpentaria Henry Condon described the visit, as a special experience, where they were able to meet with families and see firsthand the impact of the program.
“We enjoyed a puppet show provided for the children entitled Laughter is the best medicine, which gave them a chance to forget the stresses of hospital visits,” Henry said.
“Our discussions with volunteers and parents, and interaction with children, really emphasised the importance of the significant assistance that Hand Heart Pocket provided,” he said.
“What a privilege to be part of a such a generous, caring group – and – to realise that we have the capacity to help those in need!”
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said it was hugely important for the Freemasons of Queensland to see how the contribution, made on their behalf, was enhancing lives.
“It’s been our pleasure to support Camp Quality this past year to enhance the lives of 725 Queensland families impacted by cancer throughout the state,” he said.
Camp Quality CEO, Kylea Tink, was quick to echo how important the support from the Freemasons across Queensland has been for kids impacted by cancer and their families in the past year.
“Thanks in large part to this funding, Camp Quality has been able to support a growing number of families across the state, focusing on what we do best - bringing them laughter, light and fun during a period of darkness,” she said.
Photo: The District Grand Master of Carpentaria Henry Condon and his Deputy Raja Chohan recently visited one of Camp Quality’s family camps in Cairns to see the impact of the $290k grant announced last year from, Hand Heart Pocket.
The campaign for a dedicated palliative care room at a local Aged Care facility in Mareeba, will soon be realised, after the local Freemasons donated $42,500 towards the project.
Granite Masonic Lodge with the help of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, came up with the funds, which will allow terminally ill residents at Mareeba Gardens Blue Care to have the opportunity to use this area with their loved ones.
The funds that have been donated will enable Mareeba Gardens Settlement to purchase specialised equipment and furnish the room to facilitate a homely setting appropriate for palliation.
Granite Masonic Lodge representative, Roy Blakeney, said this was an important first step for the region, where local palliative care support in general has been limited.
“Granite Lodge is very proud to have contributed to this project which will help to improve the quality of life of terminally ill nursing home residents at Mareeba Gardens,” Roy said.
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer, Gary Mark, commended Granite Masonic Lodge for giving back to the community in this way.
“It’s evident that Granite Lodge has the best interests of its community at heart,” Gary said.
“Providing vital support for those nearing the end of life aligns with Hand Heart Pocket’s values which are about alleviating suffering. That’s why we were so keen to support this local initiative,” Gary said.
Photo: Granite Masonic Lodge representatives Carl Richardson and Roy Blakeney with Mareeba Garden Settlement Service Manager Sam Bugat and Facility Manager Brian Ashfield.
Those attending the Carpentaria District Quarterly Communication, earlier this month, took time to recognise one of its members for his commitment to the fraternity.
RW Bro Noel Wheeler PJGW who was initiated into Allan Lodge No. 284 in December 1957, was presented with his 60 Year Jewel by the District Grand Master RW Bro Henry Condon.
RW Bro Noel served as Worshipful Master of Allan Lodge No. 284 in 1970 and again in 1997. He also went on to join other Lodges - today he continues to play an active role in both Allan and Temple Memorial Lodges.
At a District level, he rose to District Senior Grand Warden in 2001. Grand Rank was first conferred on him in 1986 as Past Junior Grand Deacon, then Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1999 and Past Junior Grand Warden in 2007.
We congratulate RW Bro Noel on reaching this special milestone.
A donation of almost $12,000 has been handed over to Carinya Home for the Aged in Atherton enabling the purchase of a range of specialised equipment to ensure the safe and dignified care of residents.
Four electric beds, two bariatric wheelchairs and a bariatric shower/commode chair will be purchased with the funds donated by Atherton Duke of Connaught and Fraser Masonic Lodges in conjunction with Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.
Atherton Duke of Connaught representative Les Simpson and his wife Barbara said that they wanted to thank locals for getting behind the Lodges’ fundraising efforts.
“On behalf of the Masonic Fraternity, we would like to thank the community for their support, we couldn’t have done it without them,” Les said.
“Enhancing residents’ wellbeing and empowering staff to care for residents in the most effective manner was the intention behind our donation,” Les said.
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer, Gary Mark endorsed the efforts of the masons in the Tablelands.
“I congratulate both Atherton Duke of Connaught and Fraser Masonic Lodges for taking the lead to raise funds for this vital equipment,” Gary said.
“For many years the Lodges have worked to give a hand up to those in need, enabling people to lead better lives which Hand Heart Pocket fully supports. That’s why we were ready to match their latest fundraising efforts and effectively double the impact of their donation,” Gary said.
Photo courtesy The Tablelander.
Freemasons of the Carpentaria District came together on Friday afternoon, to witness Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland handover a cheque for $500,000 to the COUCH Action Group, who are behind the development of the COUCH Wellbeing Centre in Cairns.
The proposed development for the Far North Queensland region will deliver services that provide a holistic approach to cancer care with the primary goal of improving the quality of life for people living with cancer (and beyond) as well as their carers.
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer, Gary Mark, said that the decision to support this project was made in consultation with the Freemasons in the District, who helped to identify a deserving cause that Hand Heart Pocket could support and would benefit the people of Far North Queensland long into the future.
He said the funds would specifically go towards the construction of a large double pavilion, the first of the pavilions to be built on the Manoora site, which will house specialist and support service providers.
“This Centre will be the first of its kind in Cairns and will without a doubt be an asset to the region. Hand Heart Pocket is proud to support this regional initiative that will help to empower people living with cancer and their families, improving their quality of life,” Gary said.
The District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Carpentaria, Lyndon Brandt, echoed these sentiments, saying the District was proud to be involved in the development of the COUCH Wellness Centre, through the donation made by Hand Heart Pocket.
“We are grateful to Hand Heart Pocket for supporting the charitable efforts of Freemasons in this District and for seeing the value of this initiative, that will make a significant difference to those in Far North Queensland,” Lyndon said.
“It’s also important that we recognise the generosity of the Woodward family who, for over a century have played a leading role in the growth of Cairns. In particular, the generosity their forefathers showed the Freemasons when they donated land towards the development of an Aged Care Facility and the Woodward Retirement Village in the 1970s & 1980s.” he said.
Hand Heart Pocket is the Charity of Freemasons Queensland and provides sustainable support that delivers positive outcomes by giving a hand up not a hand out to communities, to other charities and to individuals. It works with its network of Masonic Lodges to identify grassroots needs in local communities around Queensland.
Photo: Carpentaria District Freemasons with Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark (third row, second from left) and Hand Heart Pocket Chairman Tom Wiltshire (third row, first from right)
Carpentaria District Freemason Jimmy Offer from Endeavour Lodge was recently recognised by Cancer Council Queensland for raising funds for their facilities in Cairns.
For many years without fail Jimmy and fellow Freemason Winston Jennings from Bentley Park Lodge have travelled around the Chillagoe area collecting old car batteries for recycling. Whatever funds they raised from extracting these precious metals have gone directly towards the Cancer Council’s Marylyn Mayo Lodge in Cairns – a home away from home for regional cancer patients receiving treatment in the city.
Congratulations to both Jimmy and Winston on their tireless efforts.
Every year for the past two decades Endeavour Lodge has sponsored two bursaries at Cooktown State School as their way of giving back to the community where their Lodge was originally founded in 1875.
Now based in Cairns, roughly four and a half hours south of Cooktown, Endeavour Lodge which has a travelling warrant, attempts to meet in its birthplace at least once a year to celebrate its foundation and to maintain its strong links with the community.
Endeavour Lodge representative Ian Jackson said it was great to be back in Cooktown to recognise two of the school’s most deserving students who each took home a certificate and $250 to put towards their education.
“It was an absolute privilege to represent Endeavour Lodge and Freemasonry at the Cooktown State School awards night,” Ian said.
“These two students have actively participated in and contributed to a wide range of school activities whilst achieving a high standard in industry, reliability, initiative and sociability.”
“Some of the fundamental principles of Freemasonry are charity and to foster good citizenship and values within society, so it was tremendously rewarding to be allowed to represent the Lodge and justly reward these two young people for their efforts,” he said.
Endeavour Lodge is unique in that, while they are now based in Cairns, it continues to attract members from Cooktown, the birthplace of the Lodge.
Murray Lodge No.177 has donated three new portable fridge freezers to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Cairns after securing a dollar for dollar subsidy from Hand Heart Pocket, the charity of Freemasons Queensland.
The Eclipse MR40F Fridge Freezers will be used on board the aircrafts to keep vaccines and medication at the right temperature for extended periods, allowing staff to spend more time treating patients in outback clinics.
Photo: RFDS representatives thank Freemason Alan Sims (second from left) for Murray Lodge’s support of the vital service.
Tyson Tully Lodge with the support of Hand Heart Pocket, the charity of Freemasons Queensland recently donated a bench seat to Tully State High School’s arboretum. The Outdoor learning and recreation space was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi in 2011 but has since been restored with an array of native and Indigenous food plants.