The Community Chest project, which will reward groups and individuals with projects aimed at making their communities a better place to live, will officially launch tomorrow at the Cosham Masonic Centre.
A cash pot of £1,000 will be handed out every two months for one-off projects, or to help kick-start longer-term projects.
Funds for the project, which will run for a year, will be raised by a bi-monthly live raffle held at Cosham, Fareham, and Gosport masonic centres.
Readers are invited to nominate local worthy causes who could use funding to further their work.
Nominations can be made by members of charities and organisations, or by individuals who want to put forward a group which has helped them.
The Community Chest project grew from an online raffle initially organised by Andrew Coombes, a brother in the Taverners Lodge 7442, Colin Rattly, of Victory Lodge 3509, Graham Lant, of Forest of Bere Lodge 6612, and Graham’s wife, Susan Lant, of Portsmouth Lodge of Duty 77.
Jon Whitaker, head of the Freemasons in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, said: ‘Graham Lant and his team of Freemasons from the local lodges including ladies lodges raised over £26,000 during the year of lockdown for local charities.
‘All these monies were raised from the pockets of Freemasons and their families.
‘This was an amazing effort to help those charities who were in need.
‘I am delighted that the work in the local community will continue as our team will work in partnership with The News to raise more funds for much needed local causes.
‘Graham and his team have been inspirational in their fundraising and have made it fun for those taking part. We are very proud of them.’
Representatives from four charities the Freemasons supported during the lockdowns will attend the launch event on Saturday.
Mark Waldron, Editor of The News, said: ‘The News is always looking for ways in which we can support our communities.
‘Through this Community Chest partnership with the Freemasons and the generosity of their members we look forward to highlighting and helping some great local causes.’
Nominations are open to any group or individual in Portsmouth and the local authority areas of Gosport, Fareham, Havant, East Hampshire and Winchester.
All entries will be adjudicated by a judging panel, including Mr Waldron, two Freemasons, and two external members.
Roger Maber, provincial communications officer for the local Freemasons, said: ‘Kindness and charitable giving is embedded in our organisation Freemasonry’s core values of charity, integrity, respect and friendship are so well illustrated by this initiative.’
To make a nomination, send details about the group, what the money would be for, and how this would benefit the local community to [email protected]