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A ‘Special’ and ‘Historic’ day for Durham Freemasons 

Over one hundred and forty attendees took their places at Gateshead Masonic Hall on Saturday for the Consecration of Anglers Lodge No.10049.

The Provincial Grand Master and Consecrating Officer, John Paul Thompson, accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, John David Watts, Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Clinton Elliot Leeks, Andrew Charles Moule and Dr Rakesh Bhalla, led an impressive Consecration team.

Clinton Leeks opened the lodge in the three degrees, allowing the Provincial Grand Master to take over proceedings and addressing the Brethren on the object of the Meeting.

John explained that this occasions’ purpose was to Consecrate and Constitute a new Lodge, giving a brief history of events leading to this day.

In 2017 the Durham Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity was formed by a small group of Freemasons from around the Province. The Charity brought an interactive fishing and countryside experience to people with special needs by running fishing events. Participants, mainly children, came from special needs schools and centres or who had suffered personal trauma and importantly, enabling the Masonic volunteers to reach out and work closely in the community and hopefully to ‘Catch a Smile’ along the way! 

From this background grew a significant ‘ esprit de corps ‘ among those like-minded Brethren who made up the Branch membership and bonds of friendship and respect soon developed.

Members began to visit each other’s Lodges and became involved in delivering presentations promoting the work of the Charity.

Social evenings were arranged to fund events and it wasn’t long before someone postulated the idea of creating a Masonic Lodge, based on the theme of the Fishing Charity. The concept was received with tremendous support and enthusiasm and from that ‘embryo’ of an idea, The Anglers Lodge No.10049 was born.

PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTERS ADRESS Read Here

John then called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary, Tom Gittins, to state the wishes of the brethren, and to Read the Warrant.

The Provincial Grand Chaplain, Julian Ward, delivered an Oration on the Nature and Principals of our Institution. Immediately after, John Thompson, then continued with the Consecrating ceremony before allowing a presentation of the lodges Bible, by Jonathan Stapley on behalf of the family of the late, Andrew Watson, for which there wasn’t a dry eye in the lodge.

ORATION – Anglers Lodge Consecration

Immediately after, the Installing Officer, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, John David Watts stood, to proceed with the Installation of the Master designate, David Lawrence Georgeson Grey. Who finally invested his officers and ‘smashed’ closing the Lodge…. Those who were there will know!

After photographs, the Consecration Team and all the visitors sat down for a fish themed festive board, where they were served, Fisherman’s Pie followed by Angler’s Trifle then finished off with cheese and biscuits.

On the toast to The Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson replied by saying it had been such a special day for Durham Freemasons and for him personally as The Consecrating Officer to consecrate The Anglers Lodge No.10049, the first in 10years for the Province. Best wishes to all the founders as their take this lodge forward.

The next toast was to the Anglers Lodge, proposed by Richard Davison, the Provincial Senior Warden. The response by the province’s latest Master, David Grey saying, what a super day! It would be hard to imagine how it could have been better really. What a fantastic job, the Provincial Grand Master did as Consecrating Officer.

The Provincial Team were superb and everything in the ceremony seemed to go according to plan – even the drill! 

There is such a feeling of pride when it’s all come together, and 18 months of hard work has become a reality and very worthwhile! Well done everyone. We have inherited a treasure so let’s enjoy it. We seem to have several potentials, adjoining members, and candidates in the pipeline. The raffle on the day raised the fantastic sum of £840, which will launch the lodges Almoner and Charities funds,all very healthy!

A great start for this new specialist lodge and a historic occasion for Durham Freemasons. Best wishes to all the founders as they take this lodge forward.

Stronger Together

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Dragons Den – Durham Freemasons in Association with Princes Trust

Provincial Crest

Hundreds of young people looking to build new skills will be given a push in the right direction thanks to a £75,000 grant from Durham Freemasons.

The Norman Jackson Bequest fund has committed a massive £50,000 to support community projects delivered across the region by youngsters taking part in The Prince’s Trust’s Team programme, with a further £25,000 donated to the work of the national charity.

“To commemorate Prince Charles turning 75, in his coronation year, we wanted to give a significant grant to a charity or charities connected to the King,” said John Watts, Deputy Provincial Grand Master with Durham Freemasons.

“When we heard about the projects being carried out locally across our province area by those undertaking The Prince’s Trust Team programme, it seemed the perfect fit.”

The 12-week personal development course offers young people, aged 16 to 25, the chance to develop new skills by taking part in a variety of activities and tasks, including a two-week community project.

By working together, with a focus on helping others, Team members brush up on essential skills such as teamwork, confidence and leadership.

Prince’s Trust Teams are held in 13 locations across the Durham Freemasons’ jurisdiction, three times a year, including Stockton, Darlington and Bishop Auckland Teams, delivered by Education Training Collective (Etc.).  The grant will now fund community projects for all 13 Teams for the next two years. 

Volunteers from the Freemasons also committed their time and expertise to act as “dragons” for the young people as they pitch for funding in “Dragons’ Den” style presentations.

With the first round of projects off the ground, the Etc. Prince’s Trust Stockton Team created a play area in the garden at Thornaby Methodist Church.  Stockton Team leader, Sarah Sherriff, said: “It was a big job as the area was so overgrown, but it made a big difference to the church and the community groups that use it.”

Successfully pitching for £657 from the Durham Freemasons’ fund Sarah said: “The team were nervous at first, but they had done their research and so once they got into it, they relaxed and did really well.

“Raising funds for the community project is a struggle these days, so to have this funding helps massively and for the young people it helps with their confidence and public speaking, which is great experience.”

Team member Tamzin Walder, 23, from Stockton, said: “We were so grateful for the support we received.  To see the finished garden and the amount of work we had put in as a team was breath-taking.”

Other Team projects delivered so far include masonry work carried out on the playground at Timothy Hackworth Primary School in Shildon, a refresh of the sensory room for New Steps Care in the Community in Chester-le-Street, redecorating the Tanfield Football Club changing rooms, and building goat pens and chicken coops at Bill Quay Farm in South Shields.

The Etc’s Head of Department for The Prince’s Trust, Gillian Hutchinson, said: “This funding will make a huge difference to Teams delivered across the wider area.  Having financial backing means our young people can make a real difference to their communities. But, beyond that, to have Durham Freemasons engaging with our Team members, through the Dragons’ Den presentations, listening to their plans and offering advice and support, is invaluable.”

The Freemasons’ Deputy Provincial Grand Master, John, said: “What we have experienced so far in our first round of funding is wonderful.  Not only do we get to support a great charity, but we get to see and engage with the young people involved firsthand, and then the projects they deliver benefit the wider community.

“It has been amazing to see the excitement of the young people as they successfully pitch their community projects to us, and then, coming back to see the projects complete, we can see the change in the young people with the growth of their self-belief and self-confidence.

“Some of our members have come back from the “Dragons’ Den” presentations and said, this is one of the most meaningful things they have been able to do as Freemasons.”

Durham Masonic Charitable Foundation contacted Prince’s Trust delivery staff in the North-East with a desire to support the charity and mark the King’s Coronation year. King Charles III established the Prince’s Trust in 1976 with a desire to support young people from all backgrounds. 2023 also marked the King’s 75th birthday.

During a meeting with members of Durham Benevolence at the Prince’s Trust, Cheryl’s Trust Centre we discussed some very practical funding support which the foundation could provide to Prince’s Trust Teams in their catchment area. – The Dragon’s Den Funding for Community Projects on Team Programme.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation were kind enough to donate a total of £75,000 to the work of the Prince’s Trust in this, the Coronation year! This is comprised of a £25,000 donation to the Prince’s Trust Charity and a further £50,000 to be used over 2 years for the support of community projects that young people across the region will deliver as part of their Team programme.

The members of Durham Freemasons have become our new Dragons – meeting young people, supporting their project plans and funding the delivery of worthwhile projects across the region.

Stronger Together

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The Consecration of Anglers Lodge

Places are now available for those wishing to attend and dine.

Reservations will close at 6pm prompt on 16th March 2024,

(these MUST be booked and paid for in advance) Any remaining places for General admission without dining will be released after 16th March.

For Tickets Go To: https://www.tickettailor.com/…/provincialgrandlodgeofdu…

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Provincial Communications Officer

Are you passionate about Communications? Do you have the skills and experience to lead and manage a range of communications activities for the Province of Durham?  If so, we have an exciting opportunity for you to join our team as the Provincial Communications Officer in succession to our current PCO Paul O’Doherty who has effectively fulfilled the role since 2018.

You will be an exemplar of communication and effective role model for the Province by displaying high standards and leadership.

Working with a specific member of the Provincial Executive you will develop and maintain communications strategies that support the objectives of the Province to effectively represent Durham Freemasonry to the membership, their families, and the general public through the strategic recommendations and narrative defined by UGLE.

Please read the attached job description for more detail about the role and responsibilities.

This voluntary role is an appointed Provincial Grand Rank of Provincial Grand Communications Officer (ProvGCO) but we seek expressions of interest from any subscribing Master Mason or Past Master in the Province whatever their current rank.

Expressions of interest are to be submitted electronically to the Deputy Provincial Grand Master at jwatts@durhamfreemasons.org (not more than 250 words) by 29th February 2024.

To view Job description Click Here:

It is anticipated shortlisted applicants will be invited to make a presentation at Provincial Office during March 2024 and the appointment will commence from the Provincial AGMs in May/June 2024,

Stronger Together.

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Membership Team Event

Our Provincial Membership Team have completed their latest 2 information events for potential candidates. The open events took place at Darlington on 12th January and at Chester le Street on the 27th and were hosted by the 2 “Andrews”, Messrs Moule & Foster.

In total, 17 prospective Members were in attendance at the 2 events and they were treated to a wonderful insight into Freemasonry in general and on joining a Lodge in the Province of Durham in particular.

Many of those in attendance had approached the Membership Team during the recent local digital marketing campaign and were delighted to be able to find out more about our wonderful fraternity.

Feedback received following both sessions was excellent, with many already progressing their applications to join Lodges in the Province.

A further digital marketing campaign will kick off soon. Look out for updates on similar events that are being planned now.

Stronger Together

(Photographs are from the event in Chester Le Street where the team were joined by some of our Parkrun Group “fresh” from their latest outing)

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New Assistant Provincial Grand Master

Rakesh Bhalla, PAGDC

Consequent to the recent appointment of a new Deputy ProvGM, I am directed to announce the appointment of a new Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro Dr. Rakesh Bhalla, PAGDC with immediate effect. WBro Rak will assume responsibility for the North West of the Province and will continue in his role as 3rd Provincial Grand Principal in the Royal Arch until further notice.

The Provincial Grand Master adds, ‘Rak has proved to be an important member of the Provincial Executive as 3rd Provincial Grand Principal and will bring this experience to the role of AsstProvGM, and I wish him well in this new role’.

Arrangements are being made to invest both new appointments at Gateshead Masonic Hall on the evening of Wednesday 31st January 2024 – further information will be issued in due course when the arrangements are finalised.

Sincerely and Fraternally,
Tom

T. F. Gittins 

Provincial Grand Secretary / Scribe E
8 The Esplanade
Sunderland
Tyne and Wear
SR2 7BH

Tel: 0191 567 5365
Office: enquiries@durhamfreemasons.org

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Provincial Announcement – January 2024

I am directed to announce the resignation of our Deputy Provincial Grand Master VWBro Michael Graham, PGSwdB with immediate effect.

Since his appointment in June 2022, Michael has supported the Provincial Grand Master and members of our Province with great energy and enthusiasm and has been instrumental in establishing several strategic projects which have improved and modernised our wonderful organisation.

Please be assured that Michael and his wife and family are in good health and wish all members well, and of course, the very best for the future.

His resignation is due to work commitments and personal reasons and not of a Masonic reason.

VW Bro Michael stated, ‘I thank John and his predecessors for every opportunity I have been given, it’s been an honour and a privilege to serve the Province of Durham. I thank all my friends for supporting me in this difficult decision, and I wish the Province all the very best for the future.’

Our Provincial Grand Master RW Bro John Thompson commented, ‘I thank Michael for his dear friendship and the support he has given to our Province, from 2008 Michael has served our Province as a Provincial Steward, Head of Communications, Provincial Senior Warden, Assistant Provincial Grand Master and latterly as Deputy Provincial Grand Master with integrity and distinction and I wish him, Kelly and Joe, all the very best for the future.’  

The Assistant Provincial Grand Master WBro John David Watts, PSGD, will succeed Michael as Deputy Provincial Grand Master with immediate effect and will be invested as will a new, yet to be named Assistant Provincial Grand Master in due course.

I will of course keep members updated as and when necessary.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Tom

T. F. Gittins 

Provincial Grand Secretary / Scribe E

8 The Esplanade

Sunderland

Tyne and Wear

SR2 7BH

Tel: 0191 567 5365

Office: enquiries@durhamfreemasons.org

  Web: www.durhamfreemasons.org

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A personal message from the Provincial Almoner:

“At this special time you may find yourself alone and isolated. DON’T BE! Throughout the festive period my mobile is on for anyone who would benefit from a chat over the phone! We are stronger together. Duncan Maw your Provincial Almoner 07971 350951”

Stronger Together

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Happy Anniversary Parkrun Group

Everyone loves a Birthday party and on Saturday 7th October we gathered to run and commemorate the first anniversary in style of the Durham Masonic Parkrun Group at Sedgefield where it all began one year ago.The driving force of the group Duncan Maw along with our Durham Benevolence chairman John Watts.came up with the idea of bringing our members members, friends and families together at a local parkrun each week to exercise and enjoy a coffee and cake along the way.

Everyone loves a birthday party and following the morning run, by kind invitation at Duncan Maw the group ‘s home (five minutes away from the finishing line), where we will be celebrating our special day with Cake, Champagne and Bacon and sausage Sandwiches.

The memorable morning culminated with our Provincial Grand Master John Thompson and Duncan Maw cutting the birthday cake, John thanked Duncan and the team for an amazing year and the unbelievable success it had proved to be.

Please come along when anyone and everyone can participate in the park run/ walk and help us celebrate!

#Freemasons #StrongerTogether

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