The year started out with celebration for the members of Trinity Lodge, who meet at the masonic hall at Archer Street in Darlington. Clarence Stoddart (Clarry) was celebrating 60 years of continuous membership of Freemasonry in general and Trinity lodge in particular, having been initiated 30/12/1963. Clarry, who now lives in Cheshire, had made special effort to travel over to attend Trinity lodge for the regular January meeting and to share this special occasion with the rest of the members. The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Andrew Foster, was in attendance and was formerly and warmly welcomed into the lodge by members and visitors, in manner usual among masons. Andrew was delighted to have the opportunity to attend and present Clarry with a 60 year certificate to mark his service to Freemasonry within Durham Province, advising that usually this privilege (awards 60 years and above) falls to the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. Andrew was honoured and delighted to be offered the opportunity to attend the celebration and present the certificate as on this occasion the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was unable to attend.
Andrew sat at the front of the lodge with Clarry and discussed Clarry’s membership of 60 years, initially highlighting that his 50 year certificate was presented by John Webster, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master. Clarry informed the brethren that he was proposed into Freemasonry by his father in-law, John Firby, who was a member and past master (1963) of Trinity Lodge. Clarry recalled John telling him that if he proposed his membership that the ask was for him to attend as often as he could and progress through the offices to become a Worshipful Master when that opportunity arose. Work commitments meant that Clarry had to move to the North West around the time that he was Junior Warden of Trinity Lodge. Clarry never faltered in his promise to John, despite moving away he used to book time off from work on Wednesday afternoons in order to attend Trinity Lodge meetings and give his absolute best for each of the offices he held including when he attained the chair of Kind Solomon; 27/12/1976. Clarry also proposed his brother, Harold, into Trinity Lodge who became master in 1989.
Clarry also shared other memories with the brethren including a time years gone by where he recalled things were certainly more formal within Freemasonry. Clarry had been told by the lodge Director of Ceremonies (DC) that he was the DC for their ladies night. Ladies nights back then saw the ladies in their fancy dresses wearing long sleeve gloves as part of their ensemble. The role of ladies night DC came with numerous duties and planning to ensure the evening ran smoothly including liaising with the band master and attendees, filling out the dance cards with requests. On this particular occasion Clarry had been asked if the band could play The Twist, to which he thought would be acceptable. The band played The Twist and it appeared to go down well. Shortly after this dance Clarry was pulled aside and quietly informed “we do not have dances like that at this lodge”.
There was another celebration that shared the evening when Derek Wilde was initiated into Trinity Lodge. Clarry welcomed Derek to Trinity and told him that he had joined a very good lodge. Clarry also presented Andrew with a personal cheque towards Durham Benevolence for £500 to which Andrew thanked Clarry for and reassured it was gratefully received and will be faithfully applied. Celebrations continued downstairs at the festive board before the night concluded.