FREEMASONS from the Furness and South Lakeland Group are supporting the Food Bank Appeal this year.

They are one of seventeen groups have come together to donate to the cause, which is supported by the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity.

This year the charity is to donate £30,000 between all the groups for the Appeal, which is an increase of £10,000 from last year.

In previous years each group liaised with their local food banks and provided food parcels and donations.

This year the Freemasons of Furness and South Lakeland were asked to provide a monetary donation to enable the Food Bank to target certain items that were essential for each parcel.

Claire Coulthurst, the Project Manager of the Barrow Food Bank, was delighted to receive a cheque for £3,265 (including £225 from Piel Castle Lodge) from the group chairman Gary Rogerson who was accompanied by David Cottam and Phil Renney, the group charity steward.

A Freemason spokesman said: "Claire explained how the extra funds would be used and greatly appreciated by many people that we would never meet. She also stressed how busy they were this year, as the centre was down on volunteers."

Already, without December figures in the calculations, the numbers of people being fed have increased by 32.5 per cent compared to last year.

But, the group of volunteers are still managing to provide home deliveries, Christmas hampers, well-being hampers, plus 400 extra referrals – on top of the usual foodbank collections during the week.

Gary was touched by the generosity of the members of the Furness group and said: "The problems of the last few years have been compounded, this time by the rise in the cost of living.

"This has affected us all, but in our community, for some, it has had a greater impact.

"Giving and supporting the community is at the heart of Freemasonry.

"We are very happy to support those who are less fortunate than ourselves, especially at Christmas."