MORE than £22,000 was given to local charities during a day where Andover’s Freemasons opened their doors to the public for the first time in their history.

The open day was held on March 8, where people could have a tour around the Masonic Centre, in East Street.

A special gala evening was also held for more than 120 guests, including Test Valley Mayor Janet Whiteley and MP Sir George Young.

And 22 local charities were given donations from the five lodges that meet at the centre.

Bill Atkinson, chairman of the open day, said: “This is an historic event for Freemasonry in Andover.

“It is the first time in 140 years the public have had the opportunity to learn more about Freemasonry locally and the work it continues to do in support of local charities.”

He added: “It is an organisation now placing considerable emphasis on openness and public awareness and a part of this is the support given to local charitable causes from funds raised within its membership.”