“Oh, I am so grateful,” says Gladys, her bright blue eyes crinkling around the edges as she smiles.
We are in a care home, sat in the bright and airy bedroom that Gladys calls her own. A comfortable-looking green armchair takes pride of place in the centre of the room. The chair is positioned facing a window which overlooks the London skyline.
“In my nineties, I wasn’t able to go upstairs in my house anymore,” says Gladys, who recently celebrated her 103rd birthday. “After my husband died, I lived in the kitchen. I had terrible back trouble and used an easy chair, but eventually it wore out. I didn’t have enough money to heat the house, let alone buy a new chair.”
Gladys’ husband was a Freemason. He was introduced to the Craft by the owner of the company at which he worked for his whole life.
It was Gladys’ nephew, Ron – also a Freemason – that took the first step in seeking help when Gladys needed it.
He contacted his Lodge Almoner who visited Gladys and put her in touch with the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Gladys talks fondly of her Almoner, Sassoon. She says: “He is a lovely, friendly man. He made a big fuss of me on my recent birthday!”
Initially, Gladys was reluctant to ask for help. She and her husband had always been self-sufficient and she felt that there were more deserving cases. But Gladys was told that the Foundation exists for cases just like hers and once she understood that her mobility needs and financial situation made her eligible for support, she agreed to apply.
“The application process was so simple,” says Gladys.
“I was never made to feel that I was asking for help.”
We provided Gladys with a rise and recline chair within a few weeks. When she moved into the care home she took it with her.
“I spend part of most evenings in my chair and sleep in it every night,” says Gladys. “I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. It has made all the difference to my later years.”
Every year, the Foundation supports hundreds of widows like Gladys. Our offer of support for a Freemason’s family does not end once he has passed away.