On the 10 June 2016, the Two Ridings Community Foundation organised a thank you meeting for the donors to the York Flood Appeal, at Brew York, Walmgate, York. Brew York was an embryonic business that had just started when the Boxing Day floods hit the area.
The purpose of the meeting was to allow the victims of the floods to thank some of the main donors to the York Floods Relief Fund, which also included flood relief for Tadcaster within the Masonic Province of Yorkshire West Riding. The organisations which attended included Nestle, the Rotarians and, of course, the Freemasons of North and East Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.
Nestle had donated £100,000 which started the fund off. This was quickly followed the Craft Freemasons Grand Charity donating £100,000 to the flood appeals for Cumbria, West Yorkshire and York. The Craft Freemasons of Yorkshire North & East Ridings donated another £25,000 to the Two Ridings Flood Appeal, to be used for the needs of those victims in York.
At the same time, the Mark Master Masons of North & East Yorkshire donated £25,000 for the flood victims in York and the Mark Master Masons of West Yorkshire a further £5,000 ring fenced for use in Tadcaster, where a road bridge had collapsed causing havoc to transport. West Yorkshire Mark also made similar donations to Community Foundations in Calderdale, Leeds and Bradford and donated £3,000 to the Tadcaster Emergency Action Group via the Tadcaster Community Charity ‘i2i’. All Mark donations were financed from the Mark Benevolent Fund.
The Communications Officer for Yorkshire North & East Ridings Craft Freemasons, W.Bro. Tony Burke, represented the Craft. The Mark Master Masons of North & East Yorkshire and West Yorkshire were represented their respective Provincial Grand Masters, R.W.Bro. Bob Clancy (North and East Yorkshire) and R.W.Bro. Jim Steggles (West Yorkshire) together with their wives.
The afternoon was a wonderful opportunity to talk to some of the victims, one of whom told all present that he was so humbled the response from people whom he had never met. He was actually in Scotland when the floods hit York. He saw the reports on television and cut short his trip to return home. On his return, he found his house under 4 feet of water. When he eventually managed to get into his house, he discovered that most of his treasured possessions, his photographs of his Mum and Dad and his daughter growing up, had all been lost. His passport and personal papers were also a soggy mess.
His house was uninhabitable and he was told that it may be months before anyone could live there. He had contacted his landlord, who couldn’t offer him alternative accommodation. He was desperate for help and had to move in with his daughter, sleeping on her sofa while her family made room for him.
He then made an approach to the Two Ridings Community Foundation, who sorted out accommodation for him and gave him some short-term financial support to allow him to re-build his life. As the time went on, they supported him not only physically but also mentally to overcome this tragic event in his life. He could not thank the donors enough and in his last sentence to the gathering he said, “It really does restore your faith in humanity.”