Welcome from The PGA Jamie Gwatkin

Welcome to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Suffolk Almoner’s Section. I hope that this will provide you with any information or guidance needed to support your role as Lodge Almoner. I am immensely privileged to head up a dedicated Provincial Group Almoner team which should provide support to all Almoners throughout the Province. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that pastoral care is at the centre of our organisation and I am humbled by the support and enthusiasm that I have been given by many Lodge Almoners throughout Suffolk when dealing with cases during this time.

Pastoral care is at the heart of the Lodge Almoner’s role and this simply means offering intentional friendship, listening, contact, and support. There should be no boundaries or difficulty to whom you offer help to. In this sense, every mason is an Almoner.

Being an Almoner involves trying to anticipate possible loneliness and hardship, be it financial or medical. It means establishing a relationship with the members so that early detection of possible distress can be picked up.

As PGA, it is my responsibility to lead and coordinate the activities of the 68 Lodge Almoners within the Province of Suffolk, ably assisted by 9 Group Almoners, Visiting Volunteers, Initiative Leads and the MCF Advice and Support Team plus the MCF itself. My annual report to the Province summarises our work throughout the year. I am responsible for the information communicated in these web pages and for keeping the Provincial Executive informed of news from our Almoners.

To maintain effective communication and support, the Province holds an annual Almoner’s conference which was started by my predecessor and which has proved immensely popular. To this there are regular group meetings to talk about issues on a more local level. I am willing to be invited to speak at individual Lodge meetings. As PGA, I am a member of the committee of “The Friends of Cornwallis Court” and represent the Province at regional and national conferences of Provincial Almoners and at meetings of the RMBI and Masonic Charitable Foundation. My aim is to provide an effective Provincial Almoner Service throughout the province and to assist all freemasons, their families, and dependents when in need.

My work involves coordinating the team of Visiting Volunteers who assist with applications for support from the MCF. I manage the Provincial Almoners bank accounts and the Suffolk Provincial Benevolent Fund which distributes emergency aid where needed. I monitor the Province’s activities with the MCF via the interactive GAMES Program to ensure that all cases are effectively managed and dealt with.

I would like to visit as many Lodges and groups as possible during my tenure as PGA. This will include Lodge meetings, Ladies Fellowship lunches, Widows dinners, fundraising events, and coffee mornings at Cornwallis Court.

I am keen to maintain a pro active service to all Almoners. Therefore, if you need any help I will be only too pleased to assist. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Jamie Gwatkin
Provincial Grand Almoner