A unique ceremony took place on Saturday when representatives of six charities were invited to a Masonic function where they each collected �1,700 cheques.

The money was raised by members of the 37 Lodges - including those based in Barrhead and Neilston - that form the Provincial Grand Lodge of Renfrewshire East.

It is just part of the �43,000 raised for non-Masonic charities throughout the Province in the past year in a special fund to mark the 275th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

Usually when money is collected for charities, it is representatives of the Lodges who take the cheques to them.

However, on this occasion it was decided to invite representatives of the six charities concerned - Erskine Hospital, Combat Stress, Breast Cancer Care, Alzheimer's Scotland, Beatson Oncology and Yorkhill Childrens' Foundation - to attend the Annual Meeting of the Province held on Saturday, at Lodge Prince of Wales No.426 in Renfrew.

In the unique ceremony that followed the cheques were handed over by Provincial Grand Master David Reid, who along with his office bearers wore their colourful full Masonic regalia. Following the ceremony, the representatives of the charities were invited to join in an evening of music, songs and poetry with a Rabbie Burns flavour. David Reid said: "Altogether Freemasons in this Province raised more than �50,000 for charity over the past year with �37,000 of that going to non-Masonic charities. "The money for the six charities represented today was raised through sponsored walks, gala evenings and raffles. �6,000 was raised in the Province and augmented by �4,200 from The Grand Lodge of Scotland to mark the anniversary of its founding.

"This was shared equally between the charities with each receiving �1,700." David added: "We are delighted that representatives of these charities were able to accept our invitation to be present to collect their cheques at our Annual Meeting and have the opportunity to see us wearing our full ceremonial regalia and then join us for an evening of music, song and poetry on a Burns' theme."