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Masons across the Province of Durham have been busy in 2019 continuing the superb works of previous years in raising funds towards the 2021 Festival.  This year has seen a wider range of fund-raising events and the Festival Team has started a series of 5 supporter evenings to advertise the great work done this year and to allow fellow local masons to give recognition for their efforts.  The first event took place on Thursday 3rdOctober at St Paul Lodge in Jarrow.


Festival Director John Thompson fronted up the presentation prepared by Gavin Rowell and Steven Piercy with short video footage interspersed with descriptions of the events and then those who took part and were present were invited to stand and receive a token of recognition.


The Masonic Charitable Fund operates as the centralised body, bringing together the work previously done by 4 organisations.  The MCF is now able to operate as efficiently as possible to ensure as much of the money given is passed on to those deserving of the many awards decided and granted.


Durham’s ambitious Festival target for donation to the MCF was set at £2.7M but due to the fabulous work done and donations given, we have already raised over £2.5M, an incredible achievement and also incredibly the work and drive to go higher continues, with an average of £10k a week still coming into the fund.


This money has impacted on the lives of many in our province, 200 masons, their families and friends have already taken part in events this year with more planned to see us into 2020.  Tonight, we thanked 2 ‘strollers’ who joined the gentle walk to Seaham, 6 of the 34 cyclists who pedalled the three provinces, 6 of the 60 dragon boat racers and 2 of the 16 Great North Runners.  Each of these events has allowed masons of all ages, fitness and personal circumstances to join with friends and families in fun activities whilst doing their bit for the Festival.  For every photo of a cyclist, runner or rower digging deep to keep going, there are a dozen images of smiling, happy people taking part or supporting those directly involved.  The efforts of those supporters are equally valid and required, be it a driver, an organiser or a cameraman, all help is necessary to make these events a success.


St Paul Lodge has been particularly busy and successful in their fund-raising efforts and were duly recognised with the award of the Festival Gold Award to their Charity Steward, Gavin Rowell, to wear on behalf of his lodge.  Reigning Master David George emphasised their efforts with a further donation of £200 for John Thompson to take back to the office and send on to the MCF.


So, where does the money go?  We in Durham are a net recipient of grants from the MCF, with worthy causes and local masons being awarded more than we, as a province, raise with 170 masons alone benefiting this year so as a closing comment for those thinking they shouldn’t apply to the fund, quoting to themselves the saying that “there is always someone worse off than you” well sometimes there isn’t so please do not hold back from applying when you are in need.



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