Suffolk Freemasons pass Punch Trust fundraising milestone

A team of Suffolk Freemasons led by WBro Barry Bloomfield are delighted to have passed

£100,000 in their fundraising efforts for the Suffolk Punch Trust. This remarkable

achievement has been secured in only 4 years and the funds have been generated through

multiple contributions from Suffolk lodges, fundraising events and very kind donations from

Suffolk companies and the general public.

Barry (Rotary Lodge) has spent most of his life closely associated with the Suffolk Punch

horse even from the time they were regularly used for ploughing and general work around

Suffolk farms and other parts of the world. Nowadays the breed is an endangered species

with fewer numbers globally than Giant Pandas. The Suffolk Punch Trust (SPT) in Hollesley

Bay is recognised as one of the key global centres for conservation of the breed and certainly

a most important component of breed management in the UK.

During the pandemic, which was obviously as difficult a time for SPT as everyone else, Barry

recognised the need to help them raise new funds for a variety of different purposes. The

first project he worked on was to help them modernise their capabilities and facilities for

Artifical Insemination (AI) especially since SPT possesses some of the top breeding stallions

in Europe. Obviously, moving these massive animals for breeding purposes is a majorundertaking and

the availability of state-of-the-art AI services means a huge reduction in

transport requirements including costs and logistics. The AI project started in 2020/2021 and

during that project Barry was joined by Bro Dr Berwyn Clarke (Abbey Lodge) and together

they managed to raise the first £20,000 which paid for a new facility at the Trust including

dummy mares and a small processing laboratory for storage and analysis of stallion

“donations”. Recently the funds have been used to train several of the Stud Farm staff so

they are now fully qualified in the AI processes thus opening more potential breeding

opportunities. The AI project was followed up by smaller projects to install a Defibrillator at

the Visitor Centre and to improve the visitor experience in the small animal viewing sections.

During the course of these projects Barry and Berwyn were joined and supported by WBro

Stuart Bowers ( Magna Carta Lodge), WBro Jimmy Jewell ( Phoenix Lodge), Bro Ole Krebs

(Felix United Service Lodge) and Bro Ryan Downing (Rotary Lodge). The team soon realised

that a major burden on the Trust were the vast expenses incurred through the electricity

costs required to sustain the site, especially during the winter season when there was no

income. They therefore set up a Green Punch initiative to raise sufficient funds to install

solar panels on the roof of the Visitor Centre and the real need to reduce the carbon

footprint and to deliver a net zero policy. The first phase of this work is now complete, funds

secured and solar panels and batteries installed and fully functional. Already the impact of

the solar panels is being realised with significant reductions in running costs even during the

winter months and will likely be more evident as the spring and summer progresses. This

part of the project has been so successful that the team is now progressing plans to install

more ground-based solar panels in parts of the SPT estate which are not used for the horses.

Planning permission is now being discussed with the local council as is the possibility of

securing local grant funding as part of the East Suffolk Net Zero strategy.

The Green Punch project has been the major fundraising objective over the past 12 months

and Suffolk Freemasons have been enormously generous at both Provincial and Lodge levels

supported by a JustGiving campaign and a variety of fundraising events. In addition, there

have been many donations from East Anglian businesses and the general public ( both

financial and practical) which have been particularly welcome. All these contributions are

recognised individually on a series of donor boards at the visitor centre. Although the Green

Punch Trust project is still underway the team is also pursuing further specific fund-raisingprojects which

will assist the Trust in their operations including barbecues, wine tasting and

speaker-based lunches and dinners. Recently the team has worked with the Alice Noakes

Memorial Trust who have provided funds for two new much-needed field-shelters which

have just been installed and the horses are already using regularly. This contribution is

hugely appreciated and we hope to continue to work with the Alice Noakes trustees for

further shelters in the near future.

It cannot be overstated how much Suffolk Fremasonry has contributed to these projects and

the fundraising team, the Trust and the horses are hugely grateful. Passing the £100,000 is a

special milestone and we look forward to the next phase.

Dr Berwyn Clarke (Abbey Lodge 1592)