The afternoon of Sunday, June 12, marked the presentation of this year’s Otago Freemasons’ Charity (OFC) awards to many worthy recipients. $65,831 was distributed among Otago’s laudable charities and community organisations, without whose caring existence the Province would be a much poorer place. In addition 240,000 dollars (NZD) of funding was provided in the form of fellowships and scholarships to several achievers within medical research encompassed by the University of Otago and, on the arts front, the furtherance of art education within the Dunedin School of Art. A pledge of $35,000 was also made towards the Dunedin Physio Pool Restoration Project community fund. Thus the total donated this year comfortably exceeded $340,000, and the OFC feels justly proud of being able to assist not only the people of Otago but, through the as yet to be recognised advances in medical research, New Zealand as a whole.
The well-attended function skipped along with several witty speakers providing levity.
A considerable number of key personalities were also in evidence, in the form of Monsignor John Harrison, representing the Catholic Bishop of Dunedin; the Hon. Michael Woodhouse, Minister for Immigration; Dr David Clark MP and Claire Curran MP; Professor Dawn Elder, Head of Paediatrics & Child Heath, University of Otago; Professor Leoni Schmidt, Head of the Dunedin School of Art and Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, University of Otago; to name just some, all of whom added lustre to the occasion. Event organiser, and Secretary of the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust, Grant Watson mischievously informed us; “The event usually appears to go well on-the-day but that is fairly deceptive, as to me, it often seems to mimic the proverbial ‘swan on the river’ – the whole affair gliding serenely along, but with the organisers paddling furiously under the surface!”
Nevertheless, from the smallest to the largest, the recipients could not have been happier. To use the University’s Chair of Paediatrics as an example: this branch of the University has now received almost three million dollars from our Trust in recent years; a sum that has bolstered the Department of Paediatrics’ effectiveness considerably. Only time will tell how their sector-leading medical research might benefit the world as a whole.
The afternoon of presentations concluded with drinks and finger food in the Dunedin Freemasons’ Club Rooms. I would say that the laughter and general joie de vivre provide a fair yard-stick by which to measure a day of profit and pleasure all round.