On the 4th of April at an emergency meeting of the Cornucopia Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards held at Derby Masonic Hall, a very special event took place.
The RW Provincial Grand Master was duly offered the gavel from the WM of the Lodge and took the chair. He was evidently pleased to have support from the Provincial Grand Masters for Staffordshire ( RW Bro John Lockley ) and Nottinghamshire ( RW Bro Philip Marshall ) along with Charity Stewards and Almoners from those Provinces.
Following an idea by the Provincial Grand Charity Steward Michael Hitchcock, Jyoti Shah ( Consultant Urological Surgeon at Burton Hospital ) and her team undertook Prostate Screening for Derbyshire Freemasons. This was following other initiatives already undertaken for other groups such as the Afro Caribbean community.
At present there is no NHS screening programme for Prostate cancer, now recognised as the biggest cause of cancer deaths in the country having overtaken breast cancer in recent months. Jyoti is passionate about this and sees it as a cancer which can be successfully treated if found early enough, so passionate in fact that she gives up her own time, unpaid to go out into the community and undertake these examinations for groups of men willing to take part. She is ably assisted by Sarah Minns who is equally committed to help in saving lives under threat from the disease.
It is no surprise that the men who undertook the test would have been worried about the results, but Jyoti was able to overcome the problem. With the assistance of Derbyshire Blood Bikes, the blood samples were sent to Burton Hospital on the day of the examination and processed quickly. Many members had a phone call on the same or next day with their results – an amazing service!
Over the last few months, they have tested over 350 members of Derbyshire Province. Unfortunately, fourteen of our members have been diagnosed with the disease, but this has enabled them to commence treatment immediately. Without the initiative, it is almost certain that this would have gone undetected.
150 Masons attended the meeting and both Jyoti and Sarah gave an interesting and informative talk on Prostate cancer, its causes and diagnoses – the audience listened attentively, and a question and answer session followed. They explained that since they have no official source of funding and have to pay for the testing and materials needed, they are dependent upon donations to keep going.
Derbyshire Freemasons are especially grateful to Jyoti and her team, along with the Derbyshire Blood Bikes for all they have done, and as a token of gratitude presented the Ladies with two cheques. One from the Provincial Grand Charity for £4000, and another from the Provincial Mark Charity, also for £4000. Jyoti was somewhat overwhelmed and visibly astonished by the donation which will note help her to continue with the work.
A wonderful festive board followed and a raffle held in support of the scheme, this raised a further £800.
Mark Vallis of Derbyshire Blood Bikes who attended and was accompanied by his wife, later found out that while he was at the meeting he had become a grandfather! His granddaughter had been born during the event. On the next morning the Provincial Office were pleased to give him a TLC teddy bear to mark the event.