The Freemasons of Antrim have partnered with Age NI and Julian Simmons to launch a daily challenge designed to inspire positive actions every day leading to a happier, more fulfilled life for the 5000 freemasons in the Antrim area, their family, friends and neighbours.
Throughout the pandemic the Freemasons have been reaching out and supporting their local communities in practical ways through a number of initiatives including, essential bag drops, fundraising and delivery of medical supplies to name just a few. The partnership with Age NI is a chance for this organisation to spend some time focussing on the personal wellbeing and mental health of their members, an issue which they are sadly not immune to.
The project challenges people to complete a daily activity each day for two weeks, these include taking the time to write a letter to someone you can’t be with, planting in the garden or window box, baking or cooking something from scratch or even playing a game always enjoyed in the past. The hope is that keeping active, keeping connected, continuing to learn and taking notice of the positives in life around us will help maintain a positive mindset.
Provincial Grand Master John McLernon says; “The ‘Freemasons Fortnight Challenge’ is a project that I hope we can all have a bit of fun with, setting ourselves daily challenges to help us continue to see the positives in life and look forward to brighter, more sociable days ahead. It is a simple challenge that we are all capable of completing and I hope that our members will enjoy taking part and reconnecting while doing so. We hope that this project will easily be shared with loved ones and people in the local community – we are all in this together and we will stand strong against the challenges that life throws at us!”
Helping to launch the project and encourage people to get involved is TV star, Julian Simmons. His father, a Freemason, passed away when he was just a young boy and Julian says the organisation reached out with the offer of help for his family at what was a very difficult time indeed;
“When my father passed away, I was just 11 years old, he had been an active Freemason and loved attending his lodge meetings.
“The Freemasons immediately reached out to my family and offered great support emotionally, they also offered to support my education by offering me a place in the Freemasons school in Dublin. I choose to stay at home but I am grateful for what they offered.
“To this day, despite the school no longer being in existence, this wonderful organisation of men continues to support the education of many children who have lost their Freemason fathers, an amazingly kind and generous thing to do at a time when families are in desperate need.
“I am delighted to support the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim in this exciting and worthy cause as they aim to eliminate feelings of loneliness and isolation across the province.
“On a personal level I have certainly found these last months difficult and while a positive mental attitude and plenty of phone calls with friends has helped there are days when it is more difficult than others, I’m sure having the focus of a challenge such as this will help many people through the darker days.”
Linda Robinson, Chief Executive of Age NI explains to importance of such activities; “We know the past few months have been hard for older people. Age NI is dedicated to improving later life, we have lots of services, advice and tips and we are here to help. Over the winter, it will be more important than ever to look after ourselves and each other, to keep active and to stay connected. This can make such a difference to how you feel.
“We are pleased to partner with the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim to support this excellent Freemasons Fortnight Challenge. We share the same spirit, that everyone can use a little help from their friends and community occasionally.
“The Freemasons are fortunate to have an existing supportive community and this Fortnight Challenge will provide a tremendous focus to help people take care of themselves and mind each other throughout the winter.”
You don’t have to be a Freemason to get involved with the Freemason Fortnight Challenge, simply visit www.pglantrim.org to get your free downloadable brochure.
Picture caption: Julian Simmons is pictured with Provincial Grand Master John McLernon and Linda Robinson, Chief Executive of Age NI launching the initiative.