Thousands of disabled young people can take part in Duke of Edinburgh Awards thanks to Cambridge University Freemasons


Thousands of young people with disabilities and special educational needs will be able to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards thanks to a grant of £35,000 from a Cambridge Freemasons Lodge.

The huge grant from the Isaac Newton University Lodge will add to the £300,000 strategic partnership between the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Chancellor of Cambridge University the Duke confers an honorary Doctorate of Science on Sir Andrew Wiles in 2010

Overall, an estimated 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs will now be able to take part in the Award scheme as a result of the partnership, which will ensure that young people with diverse difficulties and disabilities will be able to build crucial skills and become more independent; it aims to offer students the same experiences available to their peers in mainstream education.

The Cambridge-based Lodge is primarily for past and present members of Cambridge University and the donation reflects the 35 years that His Royal Highness served as the University’s Chancellor.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who founded the Awards in 1956, was himself a Freemason, having been introduced to Freemasonry in 1952 at the age of 31 by his father-in-law King George VI.

Simon Duckworth OBE DL, Trustee of Isaac Newton University Lodge, said:

“It seems fitting that the Lodge, established in 1861 for the benefit of Cambridge undergraduates, should make this first and powerful gesture. As a university that has made excellence and opportunity at the heart of its tradition, this support to a world-renowned Awards scheme that has done so much to give young people invaluable experiences and self-confidence echoes the values we cherish.

“This donation is a tangible way for the members of Isaac Newton University Lodge to express our respect and gratitude for all that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh accomplished in his long life. We hope this will encourage other Lodges to support such a good cause.”

Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the MCF said:

“Achieving a Duke of Edinburgh Award is a life-changing experience, particularly for those with physical or learning difficulties, who can find themselves excluded from outdoor activities due to a lack of accessible equipment or trained support staff.

“I’m enormously grateful to the members of Isaac Newton University Lodge for this generous donation which will help us to support a remarkable project founded by a remarkable man who was himself a Freemason.”


Chancellor of Cambridge University


Notes to Editors:

Photo 1. Chancellor of Cambridge University, the Duke confers an honorary Doctorate of Science on Sir Andrew Wiles in 2010 (photo from the Cambridge University Website)
Photo 2. Young disabled boy taking part in his DofE award
Photo 3. Chancellor of Cambridge University (Photo from the Cambridge University Website)

About 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 or to our Provincial Information Officer:
Jon Cooper 07714 763427

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)

 About the United Grand Lodge of England:
The Premier Grand Lodge, which became the United Grand Lodge of England, was founded at the Goose and Gridiron Pub in London in 1717. It has 48 Provinces across the country and more than 7,000 Lodges, with students over the age of 18 able to join one of the 85 University Scheme Lodges. Freemasons use four important guiding principles to help define their path through life: integrity, friendship, respect and charity. One of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world, Freemasonry’s roots lie in the traditions of the medieval stonemasons who built our cathedrals and castles. Membership is open to people from all backgrounds and the organisation’s aim is to empower members to be the best they can be – it’s about building character, supporting members as individuals and helping them make a positive contribution to society. Freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £48m to deserving causes in 2018 alone. Freemasons do not only donate money – more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work are undertaken by Freemasons every year.

For further information please contact:
Livia Ferreira, public relations manager, United Grand Lodge of England
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9208 | Mobile: +44 (0)7539 578699

Michelle Worvell, director of communications and marketing, United Grand Lodge of England
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9290 | Mobile: +44 (0)7538 512669