Each and every year, the South Wales brethren go on a pilgrimage to Great Queen Street, London in April, to support the Brethren and Companions of our Province who are receiving Appointments and Promotions, and every year for the last two decades, forty or so brethren have shared that journey by getting up at an ungodly hour to climb onto the Coach filled with chatter and of course Gin (for the return journey).
One of the stalwart members of that band of pilgrims has been W.Bro Phillip Gabriel of Doric Lodge, this year however, he rang me on the Sunday before the Annual Investiture to let me know that his daughter, Kelli, had lost her fight with that dreaded and most feared of illnesses. It has been a long battle bravely fought by Kelli but she sadly succumbed serenely, surrounded by her family.
Following an emotional phone call with Phillip, I carried on arranging the quizzes and prizes for the Coach trip, each year I have nagged and cajoled eminent Masons to make a donation of Masonic based trinkets for prizes, this year was no exception, and Paul Clement, Phil Saunders, Rob Payne and Peter Williams all gave generously, in fact a lot of the gifts were too good to be just prizes. Inspired by my phone call with Phillip, I realised that this was an opportunity to support a brother and his family at a time of great heartache and for them, to realise they were not alone and that the brethren were there to support.
I decided therefore to sell and raffle the more special gifts with the view to raising a small amount so that the Gabriels could donate it to their charity of choice in memory of Kelli. My goal was £200, but by the time I stepped off the coach when we returned to Swansea on the Thursday, we had raised £440, but, it didn’t stop there, donations from the PGM’s discretionary fund, various Lodges and individuals donations have been received since April and I am delighted to inform you that a grand total of £2000 was raised and on 28 June we went to Maggies in Singleton Hospital where the PGM together with Phillip and Anne Gabriel handed over the monies.
Maggies is a Charity providing Cancer support and information for both victims of the disease and their relatives, they are funded purely by donations and each year the Swansea branch needs to raise £600,000 to keep its doors open, they were a great support and comfort both to Kelli, Phillip and Anne. We met with Owain Rees (no relation, but my father did have a bike!) and he is the Centre’s fund raising officer, he’s pictured in the attached photo along with Phillip and Anne Gabriel and of course our PGM, and he gave us a guided tour of their facilities, they are in a truly unique building just up from the main Singleton hospital complex and it has a very calming and tranquil atmosphere.
Many thanks to all who contributed to this donation, it is a great pity that it was under such sad circumstances but once again the generosity of Freemasons knows no bounds when called upon.
For further information on Maggies, visit the website here.