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Our History

"Charity sees the need, not the cause"

In adverse circumstances, good people stand up and develop solutions for the needs they see. William Thompson was such a person.

During World War I following the death of his son Horace on the Western Front, William, at the time the Grand Master of United Grand Lodge of New South Wales (1914-1924), recognised the need to support children of Masons who were orphaned by war. In 1922, he founded the William Thompson Masonic School at Baulkham Hills and, in the following year, the NSW Masonic Schools Welfare Fund (now A Start in Life).

As community needs and government welfare changed over the years, so too has the fund, ensuring its ongoing relevance. In 1972, the constitution was expanded to provide support to any youth deemed to be in necessitous circumstances needing assistance with their education, regardless of race, religion or masonic affiliation.

​Today, A Start in Life is an autonomous Trust, supported by individuals, businesses, trusts and philanthropic foundations. The current scale of assistance provided to students could not be achieved without this breadth of support. Guided by a determination to assist young Australians in necessitous circumstances overcome barriers to their education, A Start in Life is proud of the work we do each year to help our students reach their full potential and enjoy a brighter future.

Top Image (1938), Senior girls completing flag drills and foil exercises in the gymnasium at William Thompson Masonic School. 

Bottom Image (2019), Alumni at their annual school reunion, pictured outside of Cropley House, on the site of the William Thompson Masonic School

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