It had been a dull, showery day in Dunedin but a warming burst of evening sunshine brightened the already beaming smile with which Alice Morrison greeted a contingent of Board Members from the Otago Freemasons’ Charity upon her arrival at Dunedin’s Masonic Centre.
Alice, a student of St. Hilda’s Collegiate School, is this year’s recipient of the 2016 Port Chalmers Marine Lodge Masonic bursary. The award was instigated in 2005 to financially assist the most deserving high school leaver in the Port Chalmers area, one who wished to progress to tertiary education but who was possibly financially challenged. In her case, Alice intends to take a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Otago, and will take an additional paper in Anthropological Archaeology. She told the Trustees, “I have always been interested in the humanities, and I am captivated by the way communities and individuals interact, form relationships, and work together to create a cohesive social environment. People may find other people’s issues a drag, but to me, they are fascinating. Such relationships are what make us, as humans, unique.”
Alice was accompanied by her mother, Lana Morrison, and her grandparents, Janet and Gerald to whom, on behalf of the English Constitution, V.W.Bro. Mel Darling explained in brief, the history of the Port Chalmers Marine Lodge No. 942 E.C. Bro. Darling descibed how after 140-years, in 2005 the Lodge sadly had to close its doors, and the Lodge building put up for sale. By 2007 however, from the interest on the proceeds, the Lodge’s first bursary was available and this was duly granted to Jennifer Aitkin. Thus the Marine Lodge’s fourteen decades of contribution to Port Chalmers’ community continues, while its name is remembered annually.
(The Warrant of the Lodge was actually moved to Taradale, a suburb of Napier, in Hawkes Bay, and through this astute action, the Port Chalmers Marine Lodge lives on.)
Alice Morrison would make an excellent Freemason! At the tender age of 17, she is already very active in the community, and a member of Educating Girls Globally (EGG). “EGG is youth group based on an ethos similar to that of Unicef or Amnesty International,” she explained. EGG recently raised money to assist disadvantaged girls, living on the Pacific island of Bougainville, to obtain the basis of an education. Alice is also active within the Presbyterian Support Group, and has once more been spending much of her time helping poor and distressed youngsters, with a wide age range of 12 months to 20 years, by matching donated Christmas gifts to their potential recipients. This is a wonderful initiative, creating some small ray of happiness and hope, and from which these impoverished young people would most certainly not benefit, without the help of concerned people like Alice, plus the many caring and tireless volunteers within Presbyterian Support – Otago.
Alice Morrison manages, somehow, to shoehorn sport into her already jam-packed young life. She is a key member of the St. Hilda’s School’s Senior One netball team, which “just happened” to win the Secondary Schools’ Netball Championships in Otago this year.
At the presentation Alice was asked how she felt upon being notified that she had won the bursary – but it was Lana, her excited mother, who interjected with the answer announcing that Alice had “sat on her bed simply staring at the unopened envelope in her hand.” There she remained for some time, as though plucking up courage to face rejection – but there were cries of joy, hugs with her mum, and “happy tears” when she read that she had succeeded ….. and then she phoned her dad.
As if to match, there was applause, and no shortage of happy smiles, in the Lodge Room as V.W.Bro. Ashley Broad JP, Chairman of the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust (The OMCT committee administers the Port Chalmers Marine Lodge bursary.), stood and presented Alice with her cheque for 5,000 dollars.
Alice told the Trustees gathered that she was “immensely grateful for this wonderful gift.” She described how she has three part-time jobs to help raise money toward her further education, and that her fees for study from March this coming year – not including books, food or accommodation – will be well in excess of $6,000. Thus the award made the difference between going on to university – or not – it was that simple.
Alice Morrison really is quite an exceptional young lady, and the worthy winner of this years’ Port Chalmers Marine Lodge Masonic bursary.
For Further Details:
Email: The Otago Freemasons’ Charity
(Port Chalmers Marine Lodge bursary): [email protected]