Care home creates ‘Visitor Pods’ to help families see loved ones thanks to East Anglian Freemasons


Visitor pods to allow families and friends to visit residents at a Bury St Edmunds Care Home during the COVID-19 pandemic have been created thanks to a £2,000 donation from Freemasons across Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk. The £2,000 donation has helped to create indoor and outdoor COVID-19 ‘Safe Spaces’ at Cornwallis Court. The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Cornwallis Court Outside safe place 3Gazebos, seats and planting – just add visitors!

Cornwallis Court provides residential care, nursing and dementia support for up to 68 residents and is situated close to the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

Visits to care homes have been severely restricted during the COVID-19 lockdown, significantly impacting residents, families and friends and staff alike. Cornwallis Court has tried to maximise visits where and when possible. The RMBI has supported their care homes to design individual safe spaces for residents to meet both inside and outside the home.

Denise O’Brien, Home Manager at Cornwallis Court, came up with the idea of using six garden gazebos and several rows of topiary trees to create an ‘open visiting’ space to allow residents to spend time with their families and friends, while maintaining guidelines on social distancing due to COVID-19.

Denise said: “We’re very grateful to freemasons from across East Anglia as well as to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for this generous grant which has enabled us to support family visits as much as possible through these challenging times. As well as enabling us to safely welcome more visitors we look forward to using the outside spaces and gazebos for the benefit of our residents once the restrictions are eased.”

George Brennan, a Cambridgeshire Freemason who liaises with Cornwallis Court, said: “I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to help families stay in touch with their loved ones during this very difficult time. This novel idea of visitor pods – both inside and outdoors – has been a real success”.

Cornwallis Court residents using indoor visit podsVisitors and residents can use indoor pods


Michael Hinton, Communications Officer, Cambridgeshire Freemasons
Telephone: 07770700837


Notes to editors:

Cambridgeshire Freemasonry

The Masonic Province of Cambridgeshire is relatively small, with Masonic Centres in Cambridge, Ely, Newmarket, March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and Wisbech. There are around 1500 Freemasons and 30 individual lodges. We pride ourselves on our friendliness and inclusivity, with members drawn from all walks of life and professional backgrounds. We welcome enquiries from anyone who is curious about our values and our history.

More information is available on our website and enquiries should be directed to our Provincial Office in Cambridge via our online contact form.

About Cornwallis Court and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution

Grand Lodge started the Royal Masonic Benevolent Annuity Fund for men in 1842 and for females in 1849. In 1850, the first Home was opened in East Croydon, named the “Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons”, and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) was established. The Home remained in Croydon for over 100 years until 1955 when it was transferred to Harewood Court in Hove after identifying the need for bigger premises. In 2016 the four Masonic charities consolidated into the Masonic Charitable Foundation, with the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution becoming The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Company.

Cornwallis Court has been open since 1981 and provides a home for some 74 residents who are Freemasons, their wives, widows or female dependants, who need the first class care and attention provided by the staff of the Home including 23 residents in the nursing wing plus Geoffrey Dicker House which provides further secure accommodation for up to 23 residents who need support for dementia.

About the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country. Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the MCF awards millions of pounds each year to local and national charities that help vulnerable people, advance medical research and provide opportunities for young people. The MCF also helps to fund vital services such as hospices and air ambulances and regularly contributes to worldwide appeals for disaster relief. In total, MCF support helps to improve the lives of thousands of people every year in England, Wales and internationally. As well as providing grants to charities, the MCF supports Freemasons and their families with a financial, health or family need. Visit

For further information about the Masonic Charitable Foundation, please contact:
Guy Roberts, Press Officer
0203 146 3311

United Grand Lodge of England

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest social and charitable organisations in the world. Its roots lie in the traditions of the medieval stonemasons who built our cathedrals and castles. For Freemasons, there are four important values that help define their path through life: Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Charity. In today’s world filled with uncertainty, these principles ring as true as they have at any point in the organisation’s history.