Provincial Priory of Northampton Huntingdon & Bedford

Donation to St John Eye Hospital



Em.Kts Jeff Chambers and Arthur March (PProv1stConst) are both Old Kimboltonians and members of the Wendlynburgh Preceptory 236.


A year ago, at the time of Arthur’s 92nd birthday they had something else in common – they both wanted to visit the Holy Land and, in particular, Jerusalem, to see for themselves the very fount of both our Christianity and our Freemasonry.


As Knights Templar both have supported the St John Eye Hospital Group in Jerusalem for many years and thought it could perhaps be a wonderful opportunity for two twenty-first century Knights Templar to combine a trip to the Holy Land with a visit to the Jerusalem Eye Hospital to see first-hand what our financial support actually delivers. After all “seeing is believing!”


Provincial Priory sanctioned the approach to the Hospital and they petitioned the Preceptory who agreed to provide a donation.

They flew out to the Holy Land on Thursday 15th November accompanied by Arthur’s son, Father David Lawrence-March, a priest and veteran visitor to the Holy Land.

On Monday 19th November they went to the Muristan Eye Clinic in the Old City – just to the south of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and walked through narrow cobbled streets still much as they were at the time of the early Knights Templar nearly a thousand years ago).

Meeting Marlene Katanasho the Clinic’s Manager

We met Marlene Katanasho the Clinic’s Manager who made us most welcome.

The Clinic’s garden boasts a beautiful new sculpture – The Tree of Hope - by world renowned sculptor Mark Coreth. It is in the form of an olive tree with a canopy of swifts (migrating birds which are native to the city). In his own words Mark describes the tree as ‘a symbol of hope for a region that desperately needs it’, and it is hoped that these swifts will go on to become a symbol of St John Eye Hospital worldwide.

 They were taken to the Eye Hospital and met the two CEO’s, Dr Ahmad Ma’Ali (Medical Director) and Peter Khoury (Financial Director) as well as their extremely helpful Personal Assistant, Dania Omari. A guided tour of the Hospital followed and much was learned about its incredible work.

 The St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group is a charitable foundation which operates an ophthalmic hospital in Jerusalem and satellite eye care clinics and hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is the only charitable provider of expert eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, treating patients regardless of ethnicity, religion or ability to pay. It treats approximately 140,000 patients and carries out about 5,000 operations every year.

 Presenting the cheque 

 The crowning moment in our trip was when we were able to present a cheque for £1000 to the Hospital on behalf of our Preceptory

Presenting a gift to Dania

We also presented a small gift to Dania to thank her for her help in organising our visit.


They saw many wonderful historic sites in our travels - including Temple Mount (which dates from the Reign of Herod (37-4BC), the Western Wall (Judaism’s holiest site), the El-Aqsa Mosque (Islam’s holiest site which in 1099 became the headquarters of the Templars) and the Crusader Tower; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the most sacred site in Christendom and which is built around the site of Our Lord’s Crucifixion); the Tombs of the Patriarchs (Sarah and her sons, Isaac and Jacob); Solomon’s Quarries; the Mount of Olives; the Garden of Gethsemane --- to name but a few!


To be able to see is, arguably, God’s greatest gift – and seeing is believing. As Freemasons we believe that our work should be to the honour and glory of God and the welfare of our fellow man (and, of course, woman!). We saw that the Hospital’s work is indeed for the welfare of our fellow man and its staff share similar beliefs to our own. The St John’s Eye Hospital Group helps people to see, thereby helping them to believe; its staff and the work that they undertake, often in very difficult circumstances, are truly awe-inspiring. Seeing both the history of the Holy City and the work of the Hospital Group strengthened both our Christian belief and also our belief in the wider work of our Masonic Order. Arthur and I now firmly believe that, as Knights Templar, we should support the St John Eye Hospital Group in Jerusalem in their wonderful humanitarian work to the best of our ability - and long may our Order continue to do so.