• Article by Bro. Alan Carter CBE ISO

“What are Friends for?”
By Bro. Alan Carter CBE ISO,

Chairman , Association of Friends of Zetland  Court

Someone asked me  “What is the purpose of the Association of Friends of Zetland Court.   Surely the RMBI should provide for the needs of all 63 residents and staff?”   Well ideally yes, but in reality no.   All RMBI Homes have to keep to a tightly controlled budget.   As a registered charity “the Friends'” objective is to “advance the charitable object of the RMBI in the provision of amenities for residents and staff”.

This objective is met in two main ways, by providing personal services for the residents and by buying urgently needed specialist equipment for which the Home had not budgeted

The Friends provide volunteer drivers for the car and minibus which take residents and carers to medical appointments, for shopping and for outings to the beach.    The Friends pay for the hire of a very large beach chalet, for all entertainment and social activities as well as vehicle maintenance.   Residents receive cards and gifts on birthdays.   Father Christmas calls with presents and wine for a festive Christmas lunch.   Freeview TV  sets are being provided in the recently refurbished bedrooms.   The hairdressing salon has been modernised to professional standards.   Volunteers maintain a library service and staff the shop providing essential amenities.

Recently the Home Manager sought help  – she needed a hoist costing over £5,000.     A need for some reclining chairs was also identified, and both requests were approved without delay.     That’s what Friends are for!

Traditionally the Friends financial support comes from the Provinces of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire.   In February Lodge Secretaries are sent Fete tickets, which for £1 combine admission and a cash prize draw.    Lodges are also invited to take part in the Fete.   In recent years  Dorset Lodges have provided some 90% of the stalls, a most commendable  record.     Even more participation would be welcome!

There are some 16,300 Masons in the three Provinces, so you might expect ticket sales to exceed that figure by a considerable margin.   Unfortunately not.   The net profit from ticket sales plus takings on the stalls on the day comes to about £13,000.    Of course distance makes it difficult for Lodges far from Bournemouth to attend, but that is no reason not to support this Masonic charity.   A reasonable sales target of 2 tickets per Member is surely achievable?

Support can also be given through membership.   The former Life Membership has been replaced by a tiered system, starting  with “Friend” for £5 per year, rising to “Grand Patron” for a single donation of £250.    Over 20 Lodges and Chapters have become Grand Patrons and have their names displayed on an Honours Board at Zetland Court.   Full details are on the website – www.zetlandcourt.org .   So, get involved by becoming a Member  and persuading your Lodge or Chapter to join the list of Grand Patrons!

The next Fete will be on Saturday 7 JUNE 2014.    I look forward to seeing you there.