Recently, two senior Masons from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Valencia, plus a third from the Grand Lodge of Spain, visited the Masonic summer school in Guadalest. This school has been funded by Freemasons in Spain for the past three years and is designed so that disadvantaged and underprivileged children are able to visit the school for ten days and learn about subjects they would normally not be able to study.
Every place is fully funded by the Masons so the children’s parents or carers do not have to pay a cent towards the cost. This year we have funded a record, forty-two children in total. Twenty-two of these children have come from the El Preventorio children’s home in Gandia, eleven from the Red Cross in Javea and others from around the region.
The funding has been donated entirely by local Masons, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Valencia and the Grand Lodge of Spain who are delighted to be able to send so many children to the school who otherwise would be unable to attend. It should be noted that this is not a holiday, though it must appear so to the children. This is an educational trip where all students are expected to learn about subjects which will be totally new to most of them.
The basic curriculum encourages brotherhood and companionship. It teaches the children to get on with each other, to help and care for each other and for the older children to help and mentor the younger ones. Educational subjects include country walking, swimming, cycling, canoeing, archery, rock-climbing, quad biking, astronomy, music, drama and improvisation among many others.
Local volunteers visit to teach these subjects and the lessons are largely given by volunteers. The mentors who guide the children are little more than children themselves with ages ranging from eighteen to twenty-five. Some are former students who enjoyed the experience so much they have chosen to return and encourage other youngsters to take part. A great way for them to put something back for the chance that they were given!
The three Masons who visited were the Provincial Grand Master of Valencia, RWBro Michael Shilan, the Provincial Charity Steward WBro Trevor Bagnall and, for the first time, a representative from the Grand Lodge of Spain, RWBro Barrie Mansell who is an Assistant Grand Master but was attending as the District Grand Master of Mark Masons. They were all incredibly impressed by the work undertaken by the school which is run by Snr Juan Carlos Ortuño who built the entire centre himself.
It is obvious from the faces of the children how much they enjoy this brief respite from their normal lives and it creates a memory which will stay with them for ever.
The Provincial Grand Master said that he felt the school was an incredibly worthwhile undertaking and has made the centre one of his Provincial charities for this year. He is proud and happy that, through the selfless work of all the Masons both locally and nationally, so many children could participate and he wanted to offer a brief word of thanks to all the Masons throughout Spain who have made this possible.