What is The Festival?

As Manchester Masons, we have all heard by now that our Masonic Province of East Lancashire has begun a major fund-raising appeal – The 2026 Festival, and we are aware that we are being asked for their support.

But how many of us really understand what the aims of The Festival are and where the money goes? We asked W.Bro Steve Thomson, a District Festival Manager in Manchester, Director of The East Lancashire Masonic Charity and member of the Appeals Committee to tell us all about it.

He explained, “Our National Charity, The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), gives around £19 million every year to good causes both domestically and around the World. Recent examples include providing emergency aid during the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine. As you can imagine, in order to sustain that level of giving, the charity relies upon the generosity of our membership so when a Festival appeal is made to our Province, it’s important that we rise to the challenge, enabling the continuing good of Freemasonry in the World”.

But what of local causes? Steve continued, “The MCF is particularly important to our own Province because its annual giving includes well over £400 thousand to our brethren and communities in East Lancashire. The money we receive from MCF is distributed by our own Provincial charity – The East Lancashire Masonic Charity (ELMC). It’s the partnership between these two charities that has made our charitable work within The Province so successful”.

So, what does The Festival aim to raise and what role can MLC play in ensuring its success? “The target is to raise £2.4 million by 2026,” said Steve, “Now, that’s a lot of money but when you consider that we’re only asked to give this kind of amount every 11 years and compare it to the amount that MCF gives our Province every year, you can very quickly see why we’re keen to back The Festival. If we support MCF, MCF can continue to support us for years to come”.

“There are many ways for the MLC to support the appeal – sponsored challenges and fund-raiser events, for example. You can arrange your own or join in with Area and Provincial functions. Recently, the MLC had a presence at the Hewlett Court Jubilee Garden Party which I know helped with the success of that event. However, the very best way for the Level Club to support us is by encouraging all its members to partake in regular personal giving, as all donations received this way are boosted by a 25% bonus in tax relief”.

Steve concluded, “I cannot recommend enough that every Mason, particularly new Masons, conduct their own research and familiarise themselves with The Festival appeal and the work of MCF. Check out the MCF website and our Provincial Festival brochure for more details on what we aim to achieve.”

“Charity has always been a cornerstone of the Masonic philosophy and our National Charity is the greatest tool we have to implement charitable giving. We must give it our support. As Masons, we all made a pledge during our initiations that we would give freely if we were so able. But for me personally, it was only when I saw and appreciated the very real and tangible effects that our giving had on the World, that the true value of charity made my own Masonic journey complete”.

You can contact Steve directly at Stephen.thomson@boc.com or on 07720 633950 to discuss any Festival related matters.

To find out more about MCF visit https://mcf.org.uk/