Home Charity Children go to the Newbury Pantomime thanks to Freemasons

Children go to the Newbury Pantomime thanks to Freemasons

by Peter Wells

This year the Berkshire Freemasons’ Panto Project came to Newbury.

For nearly 20 years the Provincial Panto Project, with the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC,  https://berkspgl.org.uk/local-charity/) has purchased all the seats for a Panto performance at the Theatre Royal Windsor and made them available to children with special educational needs and other challenges.

In 2022 a new approach was announced, taking the Project to more venues, and thus more children, across the Province.

In Newbury this led to a joint initiative with the Corn Exchange – their ‘Pay It Forward’ scheme. With funding from the BMC and other charities, individuals, members and point-of-sale donations they raised over £8,700 in 2022. This meant that they were able to offer seats for a performance of Jack & the Beanstalk to 530 people who had either never, or would not otherwise have been able to attend, a Panto. This included 317 children on Pupil Premium from eight schools, and a further 213 tickets for other individuals, groups and families.

Local Freemasons Ian Wharton and Paul Wilding are now working to build and develop the relationship between Newbury Freemasons and the Corn Exchange. During 2024 there will be

opportunities for Masons to demonstrate the key Masonic value of ‘Service’ by getting involved with Corn Exhange community activities. In particular a new Learning Centre to be built in the old Newbury Library will require a lot of help! 

The BMC  provided £1,500 towards the ‘Pay It Forward’ scheme for 2023’s panto, Beauty & the Beast. On 2nd December 2023 a group of Masons attended the Gala performance to launch the season.  The attached photo shows some Newbury Masons and their guests taking full advantage of the ‘meet-the-cast’ opportunity! 

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