John Gilmour is a member of King Edward the Seventh Lodge, No 3329.

John was a nurse and retired in September 2019 to concentrate on his training business “New Start Education”.  In the course of his business, he teaches first aid and related topics in the Tameside area.  When Covid-19 hit the country, he returned to nursing on a temporary basis in the A&E at Tameside Hospital.  He has now “retired” once more, although he is expecting a second wave of Covid-19 and if there is, then he will volunteer once more. 

He realised that patients who were ready for discharge from hospital were not being taken home as quickly as one might have hoped.  The vehicles that are normally used to take patients home only operate during the daytime, and John has arranged with the hospital to be able to take people home during the evening.  Those patients are from the Masonic Provinces of Derbyshire, Cheshire and East Lancashire. 

To be able to facilitate this, John bought a former ambulance and took out a bank loan to pay just short of £5,000 for it.  The ambulance had previously been in service with an authority in the south west of England.  He secured the support of a local garage which serviced the ambulance for free.  John then paid for the MOT and insurance and had the use of the ambulance for the purpose described above approved by the local Health Authority. 

The ambulance has now been taken into service and it will be crewed by Community volunteers.  John has provided the volunteers with First Aid training, and of course, he will need to ensure they are CRB checked before they can start transporting members of the public. 

The insurance alone cost John £1100, and that is before he put the names of the volunteer drivers on the policy.  To be able to fund the initiative, John set up a “Go Fund Me” page which so far has raised just short of £3,300.

Other than paying for the insurance, there should be no ongoing running costs for the first year, however John is not charging the Hospital for transferring the discharged patients.  The hospital does pay for transport to transfer patients in the normal course of events, and so to use his facility saves the Hospital money.  The reason why there are no costs for fuel is that an Entered Apprentice in John’s Lodge, Sam Lane, has persuaded his employer to give John a fuel card which is going to be paid through Sam’s employers.  Sam is one of the volunteer drivers.

Once the pandemic is over, the ambulance will be used for John’s New Start Education business in delivering training courses mainly in the Audenshaw and Ashton Districts of the Masonic Province of East Lancashire and Dukinfield area of the Masonic Province of Cheshire.  Those training course will include “First Aid at Work certification”, “Health Professionals CPR training”, and “Kids’ First Aid and CPR training.”  He has recently had an interest from local schools for that type of training for their pupils. 

John is keen to use his skills to support Freemasonry.  He recently donated a defibrillator to Mossley Masonic Hall, and he is willing to provide training in the use of defibrillators at other Masonic Halls.  He would need to charge to do so as, he says, there is a cost for registration of qualified users.  He has also recently purchased a vapour sanitising machine which he is willing to use to sanitise Masonic halls across the Province.

John has already received publicity for his venture through the Manchester Evening News and the PGLEL website, plus Freemasonry Today Online (  He has also been contacted by BBC TV “The One Show” who have indicated a wish to record an article once the ambulance is up and running.