John & Mary Bell

“I first became aware of Hope For Tomorrow in 2010 and immediately realised what a simple but brilliant idea it was, eminently suited to a mainly rural county like Wiltshire where I live. At that time there were two MCUs [Mobile Chemotherapy Units] on the road; Gloucester and Somerset.

I contacted the Charity to see what the prospects were for a Wiltshire vehicle. They informed me that they were in the process of providing an MCU for Wiltshire but were still fundraising to raise the capital sum for the purchase of it. During my talks with Christine and the other members of the team, I noted that the Charity was being run by a small enthusiastic and dedicated team, in an office building in Christine’s garden. I resolved to start trying to raise funds for the Charity.

Being a Freemason, I was aware of the support given by Freemasons generally to charities other than Masonic charities, and raised the issue with my Provincial Grand Master (PGM) at that time. He was supportive of my intentions and I started fundraising amongst Mark Master Masons within the Province of Wiltshire, with his backing. The response from the brethren was absolutely amazing. During that first year we raised £32K donated mainly by the mark lodges and Brethren. During this period my wife Mary joined with me and supported me in what had become our joint fundraising efforts. We, but mainly Mary, organised a fund raising weekend in the garden of our home, over two days, comprising a Cheese and Wine party on the Saturday evening and a Sunday afternoon tea party, which raised in excess of £3,500, also raising awareness of the Charity in our surrounding area of villages and churches. There were many smaller fundraising events organised in our area by others as a direct result of this first weekend. Also during this first year, in conjunction with my PGM, I made application to the Mark Master Masons Fund of Benevolence, based in London, who very kindly gave £70K to the Charity to finalise the purchase of the Wiltshire vehicle.

My position in Freemasonry meant that I travelled mainly all over the South of England, from Essex in the East, to Cornwall in the West, but sometimes further afield as far as North Wales and Tyne and Wear, to other Provinces and meetings allowing me to promote the Charity, within Masonic circles, wherever I went and whenever it was possible. When the first Wiltshire vehicle was launched I arranged for representatives from the Province of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to attend, enabling them to see an MCU and meet members of the Charity team. As a result, their Provincial Grand Master, Rt.W.Bro. John Prizeman, decided to raise funds for the Charity within his Province, knowing that Hampshire would soon have their own MCU.

As a direct result of my initial introduction of the Charity to Mark Master Masons, Hope For Tomorrow is receiving significant funding from the Mark Benevolent Fund. This substantial donation has secured the future of ten new MCUs, a huge step towards achieving their dream of having a Unit in every county in the UK.

Masonic connections apart, Mary and I have continued fundraising and supporting the Charity. I have given many presentations in places as far apart as Kent, Ipswich and Surrey, as well as locally, Mary as far as Stroud in Gloucestershire. We completed a joint Sky Dive from 10,000ft. at an airfield near Swindon, raising over £6,500 and organised, mainly by Mary again, a second weekend of fundraising in our garden as before, but on this occasion we raised £6,000.

More recently Mary and I raised awareness and promoted the Charity to the organisers of the concert ‘Rock Against Cancer’, who will again this year allow Hope For Tomorrow to have facilities within the show ground to promote the Charity, and help with the event, which will result in a donation to the Charity. Mary and I have helped at many fundraising events organised by the Charity and will continue to do so whenever possible. I continue to promote the Charity within Masonic circles and have been made a Trustee of the Mark Benevolent Fund in London. Mary and I will continue to promote Hope For Tomorrow whenever and wherever possible.

We are both very proud of what we have achieved in helping Hope For Tomorrow, and immensely proud of being made Ambassadors.”

John and Mary received their Ambassador awards from Lord MacLaurin, during a ceremony held in October 2014.

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