Floods in East Lancashire
From The Deputy Provincial Grand Master
We will all be aware of the recent flooding which has now impacted on large areas of our Province and our neighbours. The damage and distress now experienced in parts of East Lancashire will mean that some of our own members will have undoubtedly been affected – and we have all seen throughout the media how extensive this now is.
At this most difficult time therefore, it is vital that we are all vigilant to any need and hardship, especially amongst those who are elderly and disabled, but anybody from our extended family directly affected by the flooding.
We have a fantastic membership in East Lancashire who time and again, demonstrate their caring and compassionate nature. A simple telephone call to those of our members in the affected areas can be worth so much and I urge each and every member of our Lodges to consider who might benefit from such a call. And this is not just a matter for our Lodge Almoners. We know our own members and their needs and we can all play a part in caring to care.
Our charitable capability is here to assist if required, but the practical help we can all give now is what is important.
From those who have been affected, I sincerely hope that the hardship and distress you have experienced is soon relieved and I am sure all of East Lancashire will join me in sending their very best wishes.
VWBro Derek N. Thorhill
Deputy Provincial Grand Master
On Boxing Day, 2015, the Ribble Valley experienced the worst floods in 50 years. In Whalley and the surrounding area 38 properties were under at least 6 feet of water and 252 properties became water damaged.
There was an immediate response to the flooding. Over 40 council staff and hundreds of community volunteers co-ordinated by the Whalley Lions delivered skips, helped to clear houses, distributed aid, manned phones and offered general assistance. The Whalley Lions gathered 20 volunteers to assist within 2 hours and 90 people within 24 hours. The Village Hall opened its doors to be a tea and coffee station, the Fire Brigade erected walls directing water to the River Calder and people were available to talk to and comfort those affected, local builders offered their services. The floods continued for several days with more rain following. Flood relief coordinators came from Cumbria, off-duty firemen came out and members from local churches and mosques offered assistance.
The aftermath continues. Many people are still displaced from their homes and many are still living upstairs in their homes. The recovery could last 18 months or longer. Many homes need re-plastering, some need rebuilding work. Many people were left in need. The facts are that 104 people were un-insured, many others had insufficient funds to meet their insurance excesses and many businesses were affected. Historic buildings were damaged and local tourism ground to a halt. The emotional distress and loss to many is still very acute.
Financially there is an ongoing need for support. Various funds, donation and assistance have been available to local people:
- Ribble Valley Borough Council distributed £500K in flood recovery grants to over 200 households and assisted in finding emergency accommodation for those affected.
- Households affected were able to claim up to £5000 to protect their properties from future flooding under the government funded Household Flood Resilience Grant Scheme.
- Farmers have been able to apply to the Farming Recovery Fund for Support.
- Households and Businesses affected received 100% Council Tax or Business Rates relief for a minimum of 3 months.
- LEGO donated Lego and Duplo to local children as belated birthday presents.
- The Whalley Historical Society provided £10,000
- Abbey Lodge Whalley gave an immediate donation of £500.
- And many more.
The Grand Charity (now Masonic Charitable Foundation) donated a total of £75,000 to flood relief in Lancashire and Yorkshire, in the wake of devastation caused by storms over the festive season. The donations were to give continued support to individuals and families suffering as a result of flooding, and follow on from a £30,000 earlier in the year to the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund 2015 and the province of Cumberland and Westmorland. £25,000 of this came to East Lancashire.
The Province of East Lancashire set up a ‘Flood Relief Fund’ whose income, included the £25K from the Grand Charity, a donation from the ELMC, a donation from the 2015 PGM’s discretionary fund and many donations from Districts, Lodges, Chapters and brethren – totalling circa £60,000. This money is cared for by the ELMC and dispersed by the Provincial Flood Relief Committee chaired by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. To date it has dispersed £17,500 to the Whalley, Billington and District Flood Relief Committee, £5000 to the Radcliffe Flood Relief Appeal (which has been providing vouchers to those with need), £1000 to support the flooded Rochdale Food Bank, £500 to an individual applicant, and £1000 to Pendleside Hospice whose charity shop was flooded.
The Flood Relief Fund still has over £30,000 and is next meeting on 23rd June 2016 to consider further applications, including one from the recently flooded Middleton Masonic Hall.
The Whalley, Billington and District Flood Relief Committee 2016 chaired by David Bell (himself a local Freemason and member of the Whalley Lions) was set up, reserving grants for charitable purposes to relieve hardship in the area caused directly or indirectly by the storm and flooding on 26th December 2015.
It provides relief for individuals or families who have suffered significant property or possession damage, including heating equipment, childcare equipment, basic furniture, essential white goods and restoration. The fund prioritises uninsured goods, properties with high insurance excesses or no insurance, low income families, those with young under 50 or the elderly over 70 and disabled residents. The Fund doesn’t support vehicles, possessions covered by Insurance or businesses.
Between 28th February and up to 5th May 2016, 30 cheques had been issued following personal visits by committee members totalling over £15,150. On that date the fund had remaining £21,877 with 76 people still to visit.
Income to date for the Whalley, Billington, and District Flood Relief Committee has included £17,500 from the Province of East Lancashire’s Flood Relief Fund, £17,000 from the Whalley Lions (including £5000 from a charity banquet held at the Gibbon Bridge and £2,500 from their Clifton Arms Charity Walk), £500 from Abbey Lodge Whalley and £6000 from the Alhabib Welfare Foundation.
Province of East Lancashire Emergency Response Committee
The initial response from Freemasons in East Lancashire to floods in Burnley and Pendle, Salford, Radcliffe and others was slow and disappointing, although local Freemasons in Whalley were quick with an initial donation and some members offering local support. Some Freemasons and their families were affected by the flooding, some quite severely.
Earlier this year the Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier, set up the Provincial Emergency Response Committee, chaired by Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Chairman of the ELMC, Chad Northcott. Its remit is to ensure the Province is prepared for a rapid response to future emergencies or disasters affecting our local communities. The Committee includes the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Provincial Grand Almoner and the Provincial Grand Charity Steward.
The Committee is formulating a Disaster Response Plan which will ensure we can anticipate the need for support, assess the nature of the response required, be ready for action, respond rapidly with practical support and financial aid and assist in the ongoing and sometimes lengthy recovery phase. This will involve Districts, Halls and brethren at all levels in the Province with coordinating communication, our initial response activities and support in the recovery phase. The ELMC will maintain a Disaster Relief Fund(currently the Flood Relief Fund) for future needs, and continues to welcome your donations.
Flood Relief From the Grand Charity
Following on from the disastrous recent flooding in Cumbria, Westmorland, Lancashire and Yorkshire over the Festive Season the Masonic Charitable Foundation have provided another £75,000 in relief funding. This is in addition to the £30,000 already donated to the Cumbrian Relief Fund
Funding for East Lancashire has amounted to £40,000
£10,000 has gone to East Ribble and £5,000 to Radcliffe