IN the usual way amongst Freemasons, Louis Marchesi Masonic Lodge which meets at Uffculme, set to planning how they could help the refugees fleeing to Poland to escape the invading Russian forces.

Within 10 days they had turned a plan into a reality.

Although this started off as a Louis Marchesi lodge enterprise, it has now been infiltrated by Round Table and Lady Kingsman who have been very generous with their time and resources.

Due to the large influx of donations they had to source a warehouse, which was quickly found in Eurotech Park, Plymouth, this was needed to house the £75,000 worth of goods already donated, a figure that is growing daily and 56 volunteers to catalogue, box, wrap, palletise and load it onto lorries kindly organised by Gregory’s Transport which has agreed to fully fund the first lorry and driver and then supply further needs at a generously discounted price.

They recently sent their first articulated lorry with 92,304 of brand new items to the Ukraine/Polish border having taken advice from the Red Cross as to where the most important crossing points were, with more to follow in the coming weeks, or until the funding of the lorries and drivers runs out, each subsequent lorry costing £4,600 to dispatch.

To date they have raised more than £13,000 including almost £1,200 of their own money and £2,000 from the Devon Provincial offices of Craft and Royal Arch Freemasons.

The original plan was for three vans with several Brethren and Round Tabler’s as drivers.

Due to the vast amount of donations, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t a cost effective way to get the supplies across and so they contacted some local companies.

Gregory’s transport has been instrumental in advising on the logistics and customs paperwork which would have slowed them down immensely.

They have had hi-vis vests made with the Province of Devonshire Freemasons emblazoned on the back along with several sponsors.

Back at home in the safety of Devon, a Freemason based in Torquay has been in contact with the Foreign Office and has offered a home to a family from Ukraine in a three bedroomed house near St Marychurch, free of any costs for a year, this will be available to a refugee family as soon as the authorities allow.

The United Grand Lodge of England is keenly aware of the events which are currently taking place in Ukraine and is immensely encouraged by the quite exceptional and rapid response to the call for charitable donations to provide relief to those who have been, and are, suffering from events in Ukraine.

The joint UGLE/MCF appeal has raised £350,000 to-date to help those who are being affected in the region.

This sum has been raised in a shorter time than in any recent appeal, which indicates the strength of compassion felt by individual Brethren to those affected by the war.   Thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine will be given help and support from Freemasons in England and Wales, following a £50,000 grant to the British Red Cross.

This has been boosted by more than £250,000 of donations to the Freemasons Ukraine Crisis Appeal.