Suffolk Masons continue to support conservation of the Suffolk Punch

Over the last few years many will be aware that a group of local Suffolk Masons, led by WBro Barry Bloomfield (Rotary),  have been actively raising funds for the Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley Bay near Woodbridge. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Suffolk Punch horse is one of the so-called Suffolk Trinity which also comprises the Red Poll cow and the Black Face Suffolk sheep. In terms of conservation the Suffolk Punch horse is the most endangered with less animals globally than Giant Pandas! Consequently, the Trust charity represents a major resource for breeding, husbandry and general public awareness. Although representing a significant tourist attraction to East Suffolk the Trust relies heavily on charity income and bequests/legacies so any fundraising is always welcome. So Barry’s team which includes Bro Dr Berwyn Clarke (Abbey), WBro Jimmy Jewell (Phoenix), WBro Stuart Bowers (Magna Carta) and Bro Ole Krebs (Felix United Services) have been actively supporting a variety of projects to support the Trust needs. The original focus was on upgrading the Trust’s Artificial Insemination capability which included installation of a new dummy mare, improved security in the handling area and a laboratory area for analysing the “donations”! In total over £20,000 pounds was raised from individual donations, local companies and, particularly, from Masonic sources in East Anglia. Sufficient funds were also raised to install an on-site defibrillator at the Visitor Centre. 

The following project concentrated on the use of power at the site. Being such a large site, and with power prices surging in cost, electricity usage at the property throughout the visiotor season and the rest of the year imposed a massive burden on the financial resources. Barry’s team then set out to raise sufficient funds to install 48 solar panels on the roof of the Visitor Centre backed up by battery storage capability to reduce power usage from the National Grid. This was successfully delivered through a variety of new fundraising appeals which, ultimately, delivered a further £30,000 to complete the first phase of the work. This installation has already had a massive impact on electricity costs at the Trust and the savings can, therefore, be used for direct husbandry costs. This considerable achevement of raising over £50,000 was recognised by a celebratory event at the Trust in August 2023 when the Provincial Grand Master,  RWBro Ian Yeldham, presented a  cheque for £50,000 to the Chairman of the Board, Andrew Fane, with many Suffolk masons in attendance. If you visit the Trust you will see that there are a series of Donor Boards where each individual donation is recognised whether public, Lodge, Chapter or other. Since then the fundraising has continued with the team assisting in raising a further £3500 from the Alice Noakes Trust which will allow the purchase of 2 Field Shelters ( thanks to assistance from WBro Larry Bensusan). Still the fundraising continues with funds already secured for Phase 2 of the solar panel system. Plans for 2024 include further specific projects including improvements to the visitor experience including the small animal and viewing areas so fundraising activities are now underway. These include wine tasting evenings in Elmswell (February 3) and East Suffolk (date and venue to be confirmed) and a summer BBQ at the Trust (June 15th 2024). Obviously, the ability to raise funds from Masonic sources in 2024 and onwards will be somewhat impacted by the Suffolk Festival but we are confident that Suffolk masons will continue to support this worthwhile cause and we are all extremely grateful for any help you continue to provide.

Dr Berwyn Clarke