THUMBS UP: Toowoomba and District Masonic Council president Barry Hennessy with hospice chairman Graham Barron OAM, director of nursing Eugenie Corbett, Masonic Council representatives David Gwynne and Ken Stephen, and Hospice management committee member Ray Pern, back.
THUMBS UP: Toowoomba and District Masonic Council president Barry Hennessy with hospice chairman Graham Barron OAM, director of nursing Eugenie Corbett, Masonic Council representatives David Gwynne and Ken Stephen, and Hospice management committee member Ray Pern, back.

Masonic head rests easy with hospice donation

TEST-DRIVING one of the six new adjustable beds recently at Toowoomba Hospice meant a lot to Barry Hennessy.

A long-time local pharmacist and the Toowoomba and District Masonic Council president, Barry personally contributed $5000 towards the $22,000 total for the palliative care beds donated by the council's 16 district Masonic Lodges and the charity arm of Freemasons Queensland, Hand Heart Pocket.

"I go right back to the beginning of when fundraising began for the hospice," Barry said, recalling the late Sister Frances Flint OAM and Graham Barron, now an OAM and Hospice management committee chairman, first introducing the hospice concept to the West Toowoomba Rotary Club in the late 1990s.

Barry said cancer treatment held a special place in his heart as a pharmacist, both at Macdonaldtown in Harristown for almost 50 years, and particularly as a partner in the Scott St Pharmacy for 32 years, servicing patients with their chemotherapy needs and providing a 24-hour 365-day a year service to the hospice.

"I've also had many friends who have gone to the hospice in the last days of their lives," he said.

"It's always spotless, a marvellous service and such nice people."

The mobility features of the beds will make hospice clients in the final stages of life as comfortable as possible, as well as reducing manual handling for nurses.

The hospice has operating costs of $1.75 million per year, of which it relies on the community for 52 per cent, so Barry said it very much aligned with the Masonic movement's cornerstones of faith, hope and charity, helping the less fortunate and charities who depend on community generosity for survival.

Born in Miles and moving to Toowoomba in 1948, Barry has been a Freemason for 57 years, serving as Masonic Council president 20 years ago and again this year.

He said while some Masonic Lodges continued to flourish, many country branches which owned their own lodges were "doing it pretty tough", especially due to the high costs of insurance.

With the average age of Queensland's Masons 72, Barry, 81, admitted the movement did struggle for younger members.

"If it wasn't a good organisation, I wouldn't be in it," he said.

"We get a lot of people of mature years joining and saying they wish they'd joined when they were younger, that's how much they get out of it."

If you are interested in finding out more about the Freemasons, phone Barry on 4637 4129.

To volunteer or donate to the hospice, go to toowoombahospice.org.au or phone 4659 8500


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