On November the 30th Charity Stewards from Manchester Lodges braved the weather and attended a 2026 Festival Launch Seminar at Manchester Hall.

The seminar was hosted by the District Charity Representatives for the Sykes and Derby Districts, WBro. Stephen Thomson and WBro.Tony Stephenson respectively.

The 2026 Festival Appeal in aid of the MCF was officially launched at the annual meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on the 18th of November.

WBro. Thomson began the meeting by describing some of the outstanding work that the MCF carries out on behalf of the members, their families and charitable causes in general.

Julie Ward, who is the Director of Operations at ELMC and also the Festival Liaison Officer then explained the close relationship that exists between the MCF and the ELMC. She told the Brethren that the majority of Masonic benevolence funding is provided by the MCF. This funding is then administered by the East Lancashire Masonic Charity, in partnership with the MCF, The Provincial Grand Almoner and the Provincial Welfare Officers.

Julie Ward pictured with the District Charity Stewards.
WBro. Thomson then introduced Charlotte Hulson who has received assistance from the MCF throughout the majority of her life. She explained that how as a young girl she had enjoyed trips to the theatre and as she got older she received support towards her education enabling her to secure a First in her degree course, and most recently the MCF provided funding for new windows at her home.

Charlotte Hulson
Charlotte was followed by Amanda Naylor, the CEO of North West Charity of the Year, Manchester Youth Zone who had received an MCF Community Grant of £45,000.

Manchester Youth Zone is based in Hapurhey and provides a unique and safe place for children aged between 8-19 and 25 with exceptional needs. Amanda told the audience that the charity had used the funds awarded by the MCF to provide the children with much needed educational guidance and equipment including laptops.

Danny Jones-Percival from Youth Zone then elaborated on the Junior Choices Program that the charity provides to its children, a scheme that has recently been shortlisted for an Early Intervention Award at the Children and Young People Now Awards

Amanda and Danny from Manchester Youth Zone.
WBro. Thomson then explained that a Festival Appeal is a concentrated period of fundraising usually lasting five years. A Festival takes place in almost every Province every 11 years.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the East Lancashire Festival Appeal has been delayed for one year so will only last four years.

A target of 2.4 million pounds has been set for the 2026 Festival Appeal.

In Manchester, the 2026 Festival Appeal will have its own committee headed by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro. Mark Davis PSGD, assisted by the District Chairmen and the District Charity Stewards

WBro. Thomson explained that each Lodge and Chapter will have its Festival Representative in the form of its Charity Steward. They will be responsible for the promotion of the Festival within their respective Lodges and Chapters and for encouraging their members to donate to the Festival.

The best way to support the Festival is by regular personal giving as these donations receive 25% Gift Aid.

WBro. Stephenson then presented the Charity Stewards with a “tool kit” to enable them to begin their Festival fundraising activities straight away.

Festival Tool Kits
For those Lodges and Chapters unable to send a representative to the meeting the Festival tool kits will be left in the Lodge or Chapter pigeon holes located in reception on the third floor.

The evening concluded when WBro. Mark Davis thanked the District Charity Stewards, the guests and all those in attendance for all of their commitment towards the 2026 Festival Appeal.

To donate directly to the Relief Chest please follow this link https://tinyurl.com/2p9dcd23