THE BENEVOLENT Fund announced a ú2.8M increase in funds in its 1999 annual report.
The fund was set up 135 years ago to assist widows, orphans and members unable to work because of sickness, accident or old age. Today, the fund improves the standard of living of members and their families facing financial difficulties. It also owns flats and houses at Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
In 1999, a total of 139 cases were assisted by the fund with 22 applicants receiving help for the first time. Help was given to 135 adults and 52 children in the UK, and 39 adults and 21 children overseas.
At the end of 1999, the market value of the capital investments had risen to ú16,152,123 and cash deposits had risen to ú139,486, giving a total value of cash and investments of ú16.3M - an increase of ú2.8M on 1998.
The increase comes in spite of an ú11,801 fall in income from subscriptions and donations since 1998, caused by a fall in Institution membership.
Several accounts of new cases are documented in the report, including a young member who, shortly after buying his first home, learnt he had terminal cancer.
The fund paid for driving lessons for his wife so she could drive him to the clinic for treatment, and gave further assistance when he became unable to work .
A young disabled member was awarded a grant to help buy a specially designed lightweight wheelchair to allow greater mobility at university.
An overseas member died while on a visit to England. The fund was able to assist his widow in getting the necessary documentation for her to attend her husband's funeral in the UK. Further assistance was given in obtaining her DSS widows benefit and a regular grant was also awarded.
Secretary of the Fund Linda McCarthy says: 'If you know of a member who is experiencing financial difficulties please do try and persuade them to get in touch with us. We need your help to find those who could benefit from our assistance.'