Metropolitan Grand Stewards sunshine coach

W Bro Michael Aminzade LGR, MetJGD reports

Cranbrook Primary School, based in Ilford, has always tried to give its pupils the best possible experience at school. But sometimes, ensuring that pupils with significant disabilities aren’t left out of key activities involves a level of complexity. For instance, to take all pupils to swimming lessons requires two different public buses, doubling the necessary staff, and the spent. Sadly, it is not always possible, and some children stay behind.

Enter the Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Lodge No 9812.

In 2019, the Lodge held a gala evening at the Connaught Rooms on Great Queen Street, with over 150 people attending. As part of the event, there was a raffle, with prizes ranging from golf weekends away to scooters or bottles of wine. The Worshipful Master, W Bro Joe O’Shaughnessy PAGStB, decided to dedicate the funds raised for Variety, the Children’s Charity, also known as the Variety Club.

Variety was founded in 1927 in the US city of Pittsburgh. Since 1947, the UK arm has driven projects to assist children with disabilities and children living in poverty. They run many programmes. For instance, the annual ‘Variety Great Days Out’ offers over 20,000 children the unique opportunity to take part in cultural and entertainment events. They provide grants to youth clubs and children’s hospitals and fund wheelchairs and other equipment for disabled children. They also donate ‘Sunshine Coaches’ to schools and non-profit organisations that work with children with special education needs and Disabilities. Daily, over 15,000 British children use these specially adapted vehicles.

The Variety Golf Society gives its members the opportunity to enjoy rounds of golf on some of the best courses in the UK while raising funds for Variety’s different programmes. This is how the Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Lodge came to know about the charity and how Bro Joe chose the Cranbrook project for the gala evening.

The collection at a Lodge festive board earlier in the year combined with the gala evening raised thousands of pounds for the Sunshine Coaches. And two years later (delay courtesy of the pandemic), the Sunshine Coach was finally offered to representatives of the school gathered at Hadley Wood Golf Club. In attendance were the Lodge’s current Worshipful Master, W Bro Clive Sullivan PGStB, the Master Elect, W Bro Ed Bottomley PGStB, the Lodge’s Secretary, W Bro Scott Simpson PSGD, and several other Freemasons who are also members of the Variety Golf Society.

The new Sunshine Coach allows Cranbrook to take pupils with disabilities to swimming lessons and many other activities far more often than they were able to before. The Coach will help hundreds of pupils take part in opportunities they might otherwise not have.

Cassim Bana, Deputy Head Teacher of Cranbrook, said how ‘the joy on the children’s faces when we drove our new Variety Sunshine Coach through the front gates at Cranbrook Primary School was incredible. They were all waiting for us in the classroom when we drove the Coach in, and they burst out to come and see it. Their faces were beaming with smiles of joy and happiness. That what it’s all about. We have been out and about on day trips, to the local swimming pool and even to the beach, so to say our new Variety Sunshine Coach is a new lease of life for our pupils is an understatement!

‘Thank you so much to Red Communications, The Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Lodge and Variety Golf – The Children’s Charity for making such a huge difference to our pupils’ lives. We are forever grateful!’


This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 46 October 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 46.