Date :

Armed Forces Covenant

Armed Forces Covenant

Signing the Armed Forces Covenant

In October 2021 The Masonic Province of Durham along with the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) signed the Armed Forces Covenant. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.  The covenant is a national responsibility involving government, businesses, local authorities, charities and the public.

The UGLE signing of the partnership took place during a ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall led by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent at Freemasons Hall.

Since signing the Armed Forces Covenant, UGLE has demonstrated its support to members through education, family wellbeing, finding a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare, financial assistance and discounted services.

“It is my great pleasure to sign the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the United Grand Lodge of England. We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces and we will continue to promote their welfare, support, and respect amongst all our members.”

The Duke of Kent

UGLE has a strong Armed Forces background through its military Lodges and the partnership represents an important step in further supporting both active and retired military personnel.

The UK government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) recognises UGLE as delivering tangible support for the Armed Forces community since signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

Here in the Province of Durham we are proud to work alongside our Armed Forces and Veterans and look forward to supporting them in the future.

For more information on our activities or to enquire about signing the Covenant please contact our Armed Forces Committee by emailing

<< Back to search results

Date :

Outstanding Voluntary Services to the Community | Durham Freemasons

Michael Graham Donne, a member of Flambard Lodge 6874 and his wife Ruth, have been awarded Durham County Councils’ Chairman’s Medal. This award is the highest civic honour the County Council can bestow and was awarded for, “Outstanding Voluntary Services to the Community”. The presentation took place at County Hall in Durham, by the Chair of Durham County Council, Councillor Joan Nicholson.

Councillor Nicholson’s’ citation read, “We are here today to honour the hard work and devotion of Ruth and Mike. They have both dedicated their lives to supporting the Armed Forces community. Ruth and Mike you have become a vital lifeline of hope and support for so many, especially those going through challenging circumstances. From pandemics and lockdowns to the cost of living crisis, you have offered unwavering support. You ensure that the voices of our most vulnerable are heard and their needs are met. Through your work with SSAFA you have helped countless people get back on their feet and regain their self-esteem. You have created a support network that has been described as lifesaving – especially during lockdown. I was moved to hear how you both, along with other volunteers, made sure that those facing isolation and social exclusion felt seen and supported. Your extraordinary efforts serve as an inspiration to us all…

<< Back to search results

Date :

Armed Forces Covenant Signing Reaffirms Our Commitment | Durham Freemasons

We as Freemasons have reaffirmed our commitment to the armed forces community by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant, undertaken by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master John Paul Thompson and the Freemasons of Durham.

The partnership aims to support members of the Armed Forces community and ensure they have the same access to government as well as commercial services and products as any other citizen.

The Armed Forces Covenant as signed by the Duke of Kent has been replicated across the county by Provinces with Durham recommitting their pledge at Stockton Riverside College on Thursday 16 th February in the presence of His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant Mrs Sue Snowdon.

The Signing on behalf of our Provincial Grand Master John Paul Thompson by Michael Graham Jnr Deputy Provincial Grand Master who’s own son is serving with the Royal Navy was made a little extra special by the arrangement for Durham Freemason Lt Col John Henry being allowed to sign on behalf of the Army in his capacity as a Serving Officer.


<< Back to search results

Date :

Gateshead Fell Celebrate | Durham Freemasons

On Tuesday 15th November the members of Gateshead Fell Lodge gathered at the Masonic Centre, Alexandra Rd, Gateshead to celebrate their 100th Anniversary. An event of such importance was recognized with a full Provincial Team visit led by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham. Over 70 brethren were in attendance.

Neil Walker delivered a concise history of the lodge, explaining how the years immediately after the First World War saw enormous social change in the United Kingdom as communities in towns such as Gateshead on Tyne tried to recover from the upheaval and loss caused by 4 years of war and destruction.

Freemasonry experienced a surge of interest in the post-war years as men looked to re-create that sense of camaraderie and brotherhood they had found in the armed forces. In the years 1919 to 1921 18 new lodges were consecrated in the Province of Durham. By 1st January 1922 4 more Lodges had been granted Warrants awaiting their consecration. One of the 4 was Gateshead Fell Lodge No.4349, whose Warrant was granted on 7th September 1921. Gateshead Fell was one of six Lodges whose Warrants were granted on the same day, whose numbers were 4345 to 4360 inclusive and all in the Province of Durham.

The Lodge was consecrated on Saturday, 3rd June 1922 at 2:00pm at the Industry Masonic Hall, Jackson Street, by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master the Right Hon., The Lord Ravensworth. There was twenty founder members of the Lodge, 8 from Shipcote Lodge, 6 from Saltwell Lodge, 3 from Borough Lodge and 3 from St. Peter’s Lodge in the Province of Northumberland. The first Master of the Lodge was James Scott a Past Master of Shipcote Lodge. The initial fees were a Founders’ Fee of 2 guineas (£350) and an Annual Subscription of 3 guineas (£525). In 1922 a decent weekly wage was around 40 shillings (£2) per week, so founding a new Lodge was not an inexpensive undertaking.

Throughout its 100 years the lodge had the pleasure of admitting an average of just over 3 new members every year, many of them progressed and honoured in various capacities and offices including 2 current members having received Grand Rank and 5 brethren with Acting Provincial Ranks. A further 2 brethren received certificates in recognition of 50 years of continuous membership.

At its peak in the 1950’s Gateshead Fell Lodge had 100 members. Today the membership is a strong 36, under the supervision of the current and most experienced Past Master Trevor Forster Baker. Trevor first took the chair of Gateshead Fell in 1974 serving further terms in ’85, ’99, 09. Trevor was Junior Warden for the 50th and 75th celebrations and had the distinction of being Worshipful Master in the Centenary year, achievements few other brethren can emulate.

To read full history click here:

Lodge proceedings were brought to a close, before which, Mike Davis the Provincial Deputy Secretary read out the Centenary Warrant, which was then presented to the lodge by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, who also presented the brethren of the lodge with their Centenary jewels.

The evenings celebrations concluded at the Festive Board, where the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham responding to his toast, expressed his gratitude to the lodge for their planning of this momentous occasion in the lodge’s history. He went on to thank the brethren for the generous donations given in the lodge room earlier of £1,500 to the Freemasons Grand Charity.

The Master Trevor Baker, in the reply to the lodge toast went on to thank the members of Gateshead Fell Lodge for their unequivocal support and the privilege of electing him to serve the lodge as their Master on this, their Centenary celebration year.

The response to the provincial toast was given by Jamie Matthew Rielly, the Provincial Junior Warden who proposed a toast to Gateshead Fell Lodge in recognition of the Lodges achievement, thanking the members for the warmth of the welcome shown to the team.

The raffle with 20 fabulous prizes raised over £500 and the first number drawn out by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was claimed by his father, Michael Graham Senior who was part of the Provincial Team in the capacity of Comms Officer. Lighthearted whispers of “it’s a fiddle” echoed around the room.

More photos on Flickr here

A most enjoyable and memorable evening was had by all.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Hetton Lyon 75th Anniversary | Durham Freemasons

On the evening of Friday 10th November 2022, the members of Hetton Lyon Lodge No. 6533 of gathered at the Masonic Hall Hetton Le Hole to celebrate their 75 th  Anniversary with some 94 brethren in attendance.   

An event of such importance was recognised with a Full Team Visit led by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham PSGD.   

Ron Smith delivered a précised history of the lodge, World War II, 1939-1945, proved to be a watershed moment in World history, the World was changed forever in very many ways.  

 Masonically it became a time of expansion, due to men returning home from the horrors of war, and others, who had not been in the Armed Forces, were seeking some form of order and stability in society. Indeed 190 new lodges were formed in 1946 and that had risen to over 1000 by 1955. In 1946 Bernard Gilpin Lodge had 182 members with many more waiting to join.  

Against this background 20 Brethren decided to form a new lodge, originally the Founders had suggested that the new lodge be named Bowes Lyon but because of the Royal connection could not be granted; and after further deliberation it was decided to take Hetton Lyon and on the Wednesday 6th August 1947 the warrant was granted and signed by the Acting Grand Master, Edward William Spencer, 10th Duke of Devonshire.  

To read full history click here:  

The evening was finished off at the festive board, where Michael responding to his toast, stated his appreciation to the lodge for their planning that went into this momentous evening in the lodge’s history. He went on to thank the brethren for the generous donations given in the lodge room earlier of £75.00 to Durham Benevolence and £75.00 to Tender loving Teddies, without exception the most successful initiative the Province of Durham have had.  

The Worshipful Master Simon Smiles went on to thank the members of Hetton Lyon for their unequivocal support and although small in number, they were incredibly strong as a unit; a major factor in reaching the evenings celebrations.  

The responses on Provincial Wardens were given thanking the members of Hetton Lyon for the warmth of welcome, the generous hospitality shown to the team and for the gift of a Pen to those in attendance.  

Congratulations Hetton Lyon as we look forward to you celebrating your Centenary. 

<< Back to search results

Date :

‘Veterans at Ease’ | Durham Freemasons

Veterans at Ease is a leading Military Mental Health Charity, committed to helping Veterans, Reservists, Serving Military Personnel and families deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related issues. The charity was founded in 2007 by former soldier Garreth Murrell who suffered from the devastating effects of PTSD 14 years after he returned from Military Operations in Bosnia. Having been suicidal whilst trying to deal with it himself, he discovered NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and in time found that it resolved the psychological effects of his experiences. His passion for life increased and he realized he could help other veterans who are struggling with life after the military and trained as an NLP psychotherapist. Garreth’s treatment was very expensive, so one of the reasons for forming the charity was to provide the same NLP therapy totally free and offer support by trained therapists.

An application was made to the Benevolent Committee of the Freemasons of Durham for a grant to help with the funding of this life saving therapy.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham being one of over 7,000 organizations that have signed the Armed Forces Covenant , making a public pledge to demonstrate support for the Armed Forces community were only too happy to support this worthy cause.

Martin Rankin representing the Freemasons of Durham visited the charity’s Gateshead shop and was delighted to meet with Chief Executive Officer and Lead Psychotherapist, Garreth and present a certificate to go along with the £5,000 grant awarded to the charity. Garreth and staff were overwhelmed with the generosity of such a large and much needed donation and were proud to display the certificate in the main window for all to view.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Freemasons’ annual report reveals 50% increase in membership enquiries | Durham Freemasons

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has launched its 2021 annual report, which shows an increase in the number of membership enquiries from 12,000 in 2020 to 18,000 in 2021, reflecting its commitment to modernisation and transparency.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of visitors to the UGLE website, up from 65,000 in 2020 to 83,000 in 2021, representing a rise of almost 30%.

In 2021, UGLE launched its first National Digital Marketing Campaign (NDMC). The campaign aimed to modernise communication channels with the public and send a clear message about the world of Freemasonry and what being a member has to offer.

Results from the campaign have already started to be seen. Currently, UGLE has a waiting list of 6,000 people expecting to become members, while more than 8,800 membership enquiries were received in less than three months (78% higher than the initial target). Recent research also showed that one in four people would consider joining the Freemasons today, compared to just one in ten when the same survey was conducted in 2018.

HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: “Freemasonry has had a profound effect on its members, drawing people together and celebrating the very best of humanity. I am enormously proud of the efforts of our organisation and its members. I hope that, having read this report, you will agree that we are a unique institution and, more than that, a real force for good in society.”

The annual report also highlights that Freemasons were busier than ever in 2021 in their local communities, looking after and supporting the vulnerable. They donated three million soft-toys for Teddies for Loving Care, while more than 33,000 adult, young and parent carers were supported by a donation of more than £715,000 from Freemasons. The funds helped to provide crisis support, guidance, advice and information.

Elsewhere, Freemasons donated more than £550,000 to help individuals experiencing mental health issues across the UK.

The Armed Forces and Freemasonry have always been inextricably linked, so this combined and illustrious history made the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant a perfect fit for the UGLE and its Provinces. The signing took place during an event at Freemasons’ Hall in October 2021 and demonstrated the UGLE’s support for members of the Armed Forces in several areas, including education, family wellbeing, getting a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare, financial assistance and discounted services.

Looking forward, the annual report also gives a glimpse of the UGLE’s new seven-year strategy known as the Strategic Roadmap. The project is being led by Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and his strategic team. Mr Spence is currently travelling to present the roadmap in greater detail to each region.

The strategy aims to ensure the UGLE is a thriving organisation that members enjoy and are proud of being part of, and which positively impacts communities and supports wider society.

Regarding the Strategic Roadmap, Mr Spence said: “Sustainability of membership is not just concerned with securing new members from across all age groups and backgrounds, but also about motivating and engaging our current membership.”

In 2023, Freemasons will celebrate the 300-year anniversary of the publication in London of The Constitutions of the Freemasons – known as the 1723 Constitutions – which would set a pattern for Freemasonry throughout the world. Understanding their context helps to explain the origins of modern Freemasonry and shed light on the relationship between Freemasonry and society today.

Freemasonry is a unique members’ organisation that has thrived for more than 300 years. Having no political or religious affiliations, we comprise members of all ages, races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. Freemasons gather in their individual Lodges throughout the country, where they have ceremonial traditions that encourage members to be more tolerant and respectful, and actively fulfil civic and charitable responsibilities. They also make time to eat, drink and meet together, often forming lifelong friendships.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Provincial AGM 2022 | Durham Freemasons

Saturday 3rd September 2022 saw the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham return to the Rainton Arena in Houghton-le-Spring.

The Provincial Grand Stewards were on hand as usual with smiling faces to greet everyone on their arrival.

As the final rehearsals and preparations were taking place many of the early arrivals took the opportunity to chat and renew friendships in the robing and changing rooms, before taking their seats in the main meeting area.

The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Andrew Dixon, then called the brethren to order to receive the various processions of Distinguished Guests, Past Rulers and Heads of Orders into the meeting, the final procession being the Officers of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham with the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson last through the doors, apart from his Standard Bearers.

Provincial Grand Lodge was then opened in due form, and after confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting it was that sad time to stand to order and remember those brethren who had passed to the Grand Lodge above since the last meeting which was done in silence and respect.

Before proceeding to work through the agenda John individually welcomed all of his invited guests from various Provinces including Past Rulers of the Craft and Chapter, his own Senior Officers and Heads of other Orders. Patents of appointments were read out and presented to Michael Graham, Deputy PGM, John Watts, Assistant PGM and Andrew Foster, Assistant PGM.

Prior to Appointing and Investing the Provincial Officers for the new Masonic year, John made special mention of Stephen Walker and Gordon Brewis who had stood down in June as Deputy and Assistant Provincial Grand Master respectively, thanking them for their hard work and commitment during their terms in office.

A Provincial Appointment is given in recognition of a Brother’s dedication and commitment over a sustained number of years, during which time he has shown the prerequisite attributes to be considered for a Provincial first appointment. The Honour rewards him not only for his service to Freemasonry to date, but in an expectation of continued support to the wider Province in future.

After the Principal Officers had been re-appointed and this year’s Provincial Grand Wardens

( meet the Wardens here )

had been individually Appointed, Invested, and placed in the West and South respectively , the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies called upon the Provincial Deputy Director of Ceremonies, assisted by the Provincial Stewards to take post.

The Stewards then expertly collected each recipient, escorting them before the PGM to be Invested, receiving their certificate of appointment from the Deputy PGM, and finally taken to their seat and acknowledged with the customary court bow, bursting with pride.

John then “called off” the Lodge in order to receive our guest speaker Brigadier Paul Baker OBE. Chief Executive Reserve Forces and Cadets Association North East England, who took his seat on the dais.

John then gave a short history of Brigadier Paul and then outlined our newly formed Armed Forces Committee, to further our involvement after signing The Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. Paul suitably replied outlining his role in the North East of England, and this will be produced as a seperate item in the near future.  The brethren showed their appreciation.

After Paul had retired from the Lodge the meeting was “called on” again and business resumed.

A collection was then taken in aid of Durham Benevolence where a fabulous amount of £2652.43 was raised in cash with further donations being made by the QR Code and the gift aid to be added to the final total!

Click here to view loads of pic s from today

John then delivered his address:-

Distinguished guests and Brethren all. I thank you for your patience for what has been a busy morning. I welcome you all to our AGM here today at Rainton.

We’ve had a busy 10 weeks since my installation in June, quickly followed by our chapter AGM in July and the celebration event at Ramside culminating in today. With numerous visits and deputations. We have hosted the Pro Grand Master, The Deputy Grand Master, and the Assistant Grand Master. I believe when our distinguished guests returned to London they were impressed with the brethren from Durham and what we had to offer, I know I was.

At this point I would like to congratulate all of those Brethren who I have had the pleasure of appointing today. These honours are not awarded lightly, careful deliberation and time is given to make sure each and every one is thoroughly deserved. I hope you have enjoyed today and will continue to support your Lodges, your Masonic Halls and of course your Province wherever you can and  enjoy the new responsibilities that you are have been afforded.

I would also like to record our thanks to all of those acting officers who have retired from their duties …………….

To read the full address delivered by the PGM,     click here

There being no further business from the Secretary John brought attention to the outstanding service to freemasonry and moreso to the Province of Durham by the retiring Director of Ceremonies Andrew Dixon and thanked him on behalf of everyone present, wishing him well for the future. The newly appointed DC, Martin Rankin was asked to present Andrew to John where he was awarded and presented with the Certificate of Service to Freemasonry.

Provincial Grand Lodge was then closed in due form which was followed by the first 2 versus of the National Anthem, before the processions that had so ceremoniously entered the venue at the start of the meeting, processed out.

A hive of activity soon followed as the Provincial Stewards and the Catering staff went about transforming the venue into a banquet hall for 325 people. The venue looked magnificent and full to capacity for all to enjoy and the meal was duly served by the catering staff to the happy gathering to round off a fabulous day hopefully enjoyed by all.

Well done to everyone who made the day such a success, and congratulations to anyone who received a Provincial Appointment.

Another landmark achieved. Roll on next year.

<< Back to search results