Provincial Grand Officers Chapter 3747 - 10 MAY 12 -Page 2


"Advancing Surgical Standards"


The MEGSupt and 2nd / 3rd Provincial Grand Principals (left) with the 3 Chapter Principals (right).
Centre - Professor Gus McGrouther with 3 surgical research colleagues - Drs Navdeep Upile, Christina Lo and Paul Sykes


In 2013 we will be celebrating, together with all of those under the banner of Supreme Grand Chapter, the Bicentenary of the Royal Arch. This is a very significant milestone; 200 years ago the Royal Arch was formally recognised as the completion of pure and antient freemasonry, by the two great English Grand Lodges who, in 1813, came together to also form the United Grand Lodge of England. This then will be the ‘official birthday’ of this magnificent Order to which we belong.

Supreme Grand Chapter is also raising money to create a Research Fund for the Royal College of Surgeons, to be administered along side a similar 250th Anniversary Fund set up by the Craft in 1967. Freemasonry has always supported the Royal College of Surgeons since 1800 when it was founded. The Royal Arch Fund though will be very specifically focused towards supporting a special programme: The Surgical Research Fellowship Scheme. The Royal College of Surgeons is a Registered Charity (not part of the NHS) and plays a vital role in the support of surgical research. Their mission is to enable surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. They do this by a process including education, audit, research and support. The Surgical Research Fellowship Scheme support surgeons to undertake a surgical research project. This scheme enables the brightest and best surgeons to explore treatments for conditions and injuries that affect millions of people worldwide. This scheme relies only on voluntary donations from individuals, trusts and legacies. Continued funding is needed to maintain the number of worthy research projects that are supported. Less than 2% of funding for medical research is given to surgical projects and innovations in surgery are only driven by research. Think how many people you know who have had hip or knee replacements, strokes, reconstructive surgery, cancer surgery or eye and ear surgery. Advances occur in all of these areas continuously and this is only because of the research that is possible because of funding from schemes such as this. This is why Supreme Grand Chapter has chosen to support this cause and why we in East Lancashire are choosing to offer our support as part of our own celebrations and in recognition of 200 years of existence of this Supreme Degree.

Professor Gus McGrouther explained why he, the Royal College of Surgeons, and especially the Surgical Research Scheme, are indebted to Freemasonry. "Freemasons have given enormous support over 16 years in assisting the training and licensing of Surgeons. Funding for the Surgical Research Scheme is only provided by philanthropic donations, the Government does not provide any funding. Freemasonry is the single biggest donor to the scheme. Over 150 aspiring Surgeons apply each year for funding and they are each questioned by various Professors. We identify about 70 each year that we would like to fund but manage to fund only 15 to 23 cases each year."

"I have with me tonight three colleagues who have been undertaking research into common cancerous surgical conditions. Be mindful that only 2% of the total funding available goes into surgical research. As far as surgery is concerned, if each of you present tonight has not already had surgery, then at some stage you will undoubtedly be on my waiting list!"

Professor McGrouther then introduced one by one his three colleagues to give us a short address on the significance of their work. This brief introduction to surgical research really brings home the importance of our funding and explains why Supreme Grand Chapter hope to raise £1 M for the Scheme as part of the Bicentenary celebrations of the Royal Arch. Once we have this greater awareness then every RA Mason in the Province will have no hesitation in digging deep to put forward the minimum £10 donation towards the fund that we in the Province in East Lancashire are seeking from each Companion of the Order.



Christina Lo is a Surgical Registrar (general surgery). From Hong Kong she did her A levels in Bristol and studied medicine in London before developing her current interests. She spoke of current research into Breast Cancer. Imagine a 28 year old young lady with two children aged 5 and 3. She has breast cancer with metastatic disease already present. Previously healthy she now has 6 months to a year left to live; imagine the impact this will have on her family. Similarly, the 65 year old retired lady looking forward to a Mediterranean cruise which now will never happen. Current treatment for breast cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and endocrine (hormonal) therapy. Beyond this it is difficult to obtain funding for further research but what I and my team have now been able to do is look into further treatment options. Cancer cells need support from surrounding healthy tissues to survive including having a blood supply. We are seeking to halt or reduce the interaction with surrounding tissues and inhibit profactor secretions etc. The most effective of the new drugs developed will then enter clinical trials.

Christina also commented that some of her funding has come from Hong Kong Freemasons - a truly universally philanthropic organisation.




Navdeep Upile is doing research into head and neck cancer. He is from Yorkshire originally and then from London moved back to Liverpool where, under Professor Jones, he is undertaking his research. Head and Neck cancer is the 6th most common form killing 7000 people per year in this country. By the time of diagnosis it has often already spread and surgery must be tailored for every individual to remove primary and secondary tumours. 50 years on the success of treatment for Head and Neck cancer has not progressed. He is looking at genetics, particularly with tongue and tonsil cancer and developing the best practice personal treatment plans for individual cases to try to improve surgical outcomes and prognosis.





Paul Sykes qualified from Cambridge, studied further in London and now is learning surgery at Manchester. His interest is Pancreatic Medicine and Surgery. Pancreatic Cancer is the 12th most common but the 4th greatest cause of cancer death. 10 years on there has been minimal improvement in survival rates and outcomes and the hope is to develop better cancer drugs. At Liverpool they are researching nanotechnology using particles 10,000 times smaller than the width of a hair. These can be trained to target cancer cells, either marking them to improve MRI imaging so they can be detected early or the particles can be loaded with anti-cancer drugs targeting the cancer cells with high doses but minimising damage to healthy tissue and hence chemotherapy side effects. This will also enable much higher doses to be given.








Concluding, Professor McGrouther commented that there have been great advances in surgery. Recently he met someone who had a heart and 2 kidney transplants. Nowadays this is routine surgery but we need donors! He recalled a head cancer patient who had surgery and the Professor had given him a poor prognosis. Asking what to do in the time he had left the Professor told him to do what he enjoyed (which was playing golf). The other day, 20 years on, the Professor received a call from the patient saying his advice had been terrible - he still had a terrible golf handicap! Thus today many cancers are curable. These youngsters who have spoken today will be the ones saving us when things go wrong!

At the Festive Board Sir David Trippier warmly thanked the speakers for a memorable night, they had made it complete. Their presentation had been moving and he thanked them for taking the time and trouble to come. He wished them every possible success with their research and careers. he went on to say that 15 years ago at Manchester Town Hall he attended the Manchester Naval Officers Association Anniversary dinner. Prince Philip had been a guest and one of Sir David's friends, Commander Noel Mitchell had pointed to Prince Philip that prior to the Crowning of the Queen he had outranked him (who at that time was a Lieutenant) but shortly afterwards he became Admiral of the Fleet. Prince Philip had responded that that was nothing; two days after the Crowning at 8 am he joined the Army and by 6pm he was a Field Marshall!

Turning to the First Principal, the Deputy Grand Superintendent EComp William J Porter, he said he owed him a debt of gratitude for the knowledge and support he had offered since his own Installation. He said that Bill was a valuable friend, supported and adviser. He also smiled that he had always wanted to say to his Bank Manager, "The debt I owe you can never be repaid!"

In response EComp Porter thanked the MEGSupt for his words. He also expressed how this half yearly meeting had been turned into something very special. All the Companions had been enthused and just tonight we have raised in excess of £900 towards the Bicentenary Appeal.