In March, Roger Phillips, a member of the Royal Connaught Masonic Lodge in Eastbourne, shaved off his beard in memory of his best friend and former lodge member Derek, who died under our care in 2020. This amazing effort helped raise over £740 for St Wilfrid’s, and thanks to match funding from the Sussex Masonic Charities, we now have over £1,340 to spend on essential equipment for our Inpatient Unit.

Roger (right) with Eric Huke, Royal Connaught Lodge Charity Steward (left) and Kathryn Sutter, St Wilfrid's Trusts Fundraiser (middle)

Roger kindly shared his memories of Derek with us:

‘I met Derek when I joined the Lodge in 2014 – a couple of years after moving to Eastbourne. Derek was kind enough to drive me to our annual BBQ and, despite coming from totally different backgrounds, we immediately hit it off and spent most of the evening quietly chatting together.    

‘Derek was kind, generous, and wise; his motto was always “apply the mind before the hands”. I know he had to learn this the hard way. Many members of our lodge were recipients of his generosity. If you needed something and he had it, you could borrow it or more often than not he gave it you. He was also very proud of his transport consultancy and HGV driver training company. 

‘When he was diagnosed with COPD, he was told he only had six months to live, but he beat the odds by over two years; generous and loyal to the end. His partner of 37 years, Catherine was with Derek at the end. He was fiercely protective of her and gallant in every way as far as she was concerned. 

‘Derek was admitted to the hospice for two weeks in February 2020 before going home where he died on 4th March. A fellow Mason and I were able to visit Derek while he was in the hospice. He was, as always, delighted to see us and despite his clearly visible decline he maintained his usual cheerfulness and optimism.

Before, during, and after Roger's beard shave

‘Derek never saw me without my beard, and I am sure he would be amused that I took a razor to it for fundraising purposes! Thanks to all at The Royal Connaught Lodge and those elsewhere who supported my fundraiser in honour of my dear friend.’

We are very grateful to Roger and the local Sussex Masonic community for their continued support. If you are interested in raising funds for the hospice through your masonic lodge to celebrate our Ruby Anniversary, please get in touch with Trusts Fundraiser, Kathryn Sutter on 01323 434279 or [email protected]