I was very honoured and delighted when asked by the PGM to become the Provincial Grand Almoner. I was appointed in the Royal Arch in March 2010 and in the Craft on November 18th 2010.
My background is Health Service related having spent nearly thirty years as a member of the Lancashire Ambulance Service dealing with all aspects of Patient Transportation and Care, Operational Planning & Control, Accident & Emergency Response, Training and Development, Trauma Counselling and Operational Station Management.
I was initiated into Freemasonry in Huncoat Lodge, No. 8542, at the Masonic Hall, Clayton le Moors, in 1986. Since that time I have been involved as Almoner in a number of Lodges and Chapter and have always found the role very rewarding, having the privilege of seeing just what help our Masonic Charities can do.
Since 2002 I have been a member of the East Lancashire Masonic Benevolent Committee (ELMBI/ELMC) representing the Accrington District and I was appointed as the Deputy Chairman/District Almoner for that District in 2005.
I am very passionate about the Almoners role, to me it’s the best office in a lodge or Chapter, it makes you realise that It is a blessing we cannot foresee what the future holds in store for any of us, but it is comforting to know that for those Brethren or Companions and their dependants who do fall on difficult times or come to experience short term problems, that there is an Almoner willing to give help and advice and that they can be safe in the knowledge that funds are available which may be able to provide a measure of relief to them, although important as those funds may be, Masonic relief is much more than simply providing financial assistance.
The Lodge Almoner's remit is far broader than that, it requires patience, sensitivity, compassion, a listening ear, a caring heart and a lot of hard work.
We must never forget that those in difficulty do not necessarily want others to know about their predicament, and are sometimes reluctant to ask for help, East Lancashire folk are very proud and don’t like accepting Charity, but as Almoners we have to have the caring heart to show that we do care, that Freemasonry cares, that the East Lancashire Masonic Charity cares, and that it is not Charity we are offering it’s just a helping hand in times of difficulty.
The work involved by the Almoner can be time consuming, it can be frustrating, even heartbreaking in some cases, but there is a quiet reward in the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped a Brother or Companion and his dependants in their hour of need by reaching out to try to improve their quality of life.
Another important part that we must not forget is Pastoral Care, the phone call or visit to the widows and absent Brethren or Companions just to see if they are alright, something which is by no means the sole responsibility of the Almoner, it is the obvious duty of every Freemason and yet sometimes an important duty that we all neglect.
As the Provincial Grand Almoner working alongside the Welfare Officer, the Chairmen of the Benevolence Committee and the Comforts fund Committee, we are all part of a team dedicated to offering help and advice, to listen to any of your concerns and prepared to discuss ways in order to try to give the best help and assistance for those in need within this Province.
A willingness to listen
A pair of helping hands
A whisper from the heart that someone cares and understands
The gift of Friendship
Brian J Carter
Provincial Grand Almoner