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RIP Queen Elizabeth II | Durham Freemasons

Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned for seven decades and has been a constant in all our lives has died at her beloved home of Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands.

On behalf of the Freemasons of Durham we thank her for a lifetime of dedicated service, we mourn her loss and send our prayers and condolences to the Royal Family.

May God Bless the Queen and God save the King.

John Thompson ProvGM

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RFH Installed Masters Dinner | Durham Freemasons

Monday September 5th saw 53 Durham Installed Masters attend the Ferryhill Installed Masters Dinner, where John Dodds handed over a donation of £800 to Janet McDonagh representing ‘Ferryhill Churches Together Food

The Town of Ferryhill has long been Synonymous with Freemasonry since the first Lodge, The Rowlandson Lodge was consecrated in Ferryhill on the 28 th of August 1909 some 113 years ago in the newly built Dean Bank School. This lodge then met for the next 18 years in the Town Hall until the current Masonic Hall was bought and dedicated on the 31 st August 1927.

Various other Craft Lodges were then formed within the building, Rodger de Ferry Lodge in 1943, Manor Lodge in 1963, Aycliffe Lodge in 1978 and Hammurabi Lodge which came to Ferryhill from Durham in 2017, there are also 5 other Side degree Lodges that meet in the Hall the oldest dating back to 19 th June 1929.

Over these many years the members of all these Lodges have always supported and assisted wherever possible many various Charities, most of which have been the more predominantly well know ones. However, many local ones along with various single donations to individual causes have always been given by the Freemasons of Ferryhill as well.

The Hall is also used for various other Charitable functions as well as Weddings, Christenings, Funerals, and many other celebratory occasions, i.e., Anniversaries and Birthdays.

In 2000 it was decided by several members from the various Lodges which meet in the building to organise an Installed Masters Dinner which would be held once a year with a guest speaker in attendance. A donation of the evening’s proceeds would then be made to the speakers nominated charity. This was a successful event for several years the last one being held in the Hall on 1 st September 2013 over these years a total of £3,823.00 has been given to these various charities

After the recent Pandemic we have all experienced in 2020/2021, three of the organisers of the original event, John Dodds, George Bull, and John Nye along with other members from the other Lodges agreed that we should once again hold the Dinner.

The main aim of this evening would be to raise as funds for a nominated Charity in Ferryhill to assist those in the local community who are experiencing difficulties in their lives.

Together we are Stronger

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Alice House Hospice | Durham Freemasons

On Saturday 13 th August 2022, Graeme Haran met with Janice Forbes from the Alice House Hospice located in Wells Avenue Hartlepool, at 11:00am to present to Gemma a cheque for a magnificent amount of £671.00.

Alice House is a local Hospice that is serving the communities of Hartlepool & East Durham; previously Graeme has raised money for this hospice.

Graeme and Stephen Lancaster along with the help of their wives Sam and Tracey raised this amount with 52 guests including members of Strathearn Lodge 4965, other Lodges and friends attending their summer ball, which was held at Marine Hotel Seaton Carew, Hartlepool on June 18 th 2022. This included a 3-course meal and live music from local band “Guess” followed a Raffle with lots of prizes donated by local businesses and a Closest to the bottle (Coin shove).

This event was first talked about as far back as 2019, as many younger or newer members of Strathearn lodge had not attended a summer ball or Ladies night previously to attending this night at the Marine Hotel, and had started to build up momentum from a meeting in April 2022 with Graeme and Stephen.

Just prior to this event happening, Stephen Lancaster’s daughter Charlotte had gone out of her way by visiting some local businesses trying to build up support for this event.

Cash donations were given by

Reactive design,(Andy Kennedy) Strathearn Lodge

Cranwell Motors (Nick Cavilla ) Strathearn Lodge

Ben Cram (Lego Ben) – Harte lodge

Businesses who donated were

Sensory Spot Is a shop in Hartlepool that offer sensory and educational items

Matteo’s (local family run restaurant in Seaton),

Surfside Fish and Chips,

Larry’s Lanes (local Bowling Alley),

Seaton Tandoori,

Ultimate tanning,

Lyla Bells café

Graeme asked that because the above Businesses had given towards the lodge’s summer ball, it be worth mentioning them by name.

This is a great advert to Freemasonry in Hartlepool and a fantastic donation and gesture. Well done everyone involved.

Thank you cards were given to the Local Businesses who generously donated raffle prizes and were duly appreciated

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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.

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Enjoy your special day | Durham Freemasons

To all who will be attending the complete sell out of the Provincial AGM at Rainton Arena tomorrow, may you have a very happy and fulfilling day. Special congratulations to all of those who are receiving honours or being promoted.

Be happy

Be proud

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Heartfelt Thanks | Durham Freemasons

Gary Callum, a member of Eardulph Lodge, was at the gym when he realised something was wrong.

Little did he know, he was having a heart attack.

On calling his wife Jane, a former nurse, when he got home, the 62-year-old was instructed to call North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) immediately.

“I didn’t have any of the usual symptoms you would expect, I just wasn’t 100%,” he said. “My wife knew what was happening but didn’t want to worry me, she just told me to call 999 straight away.

When paramedic Marcin Andrzejewski and his crewmate Brian Lonie arrived on scene, Gary had become pale and clammy, and it was immediately clear to them he was having a heart attack.

“A quick family history confirmed to us that there was a history of heart disease,” said Marcin, who made the North East home when he moved here from Poland to join NEAS in 2016 and is now based at Prudhoe ambulance station.

“We gave him pre-meds and then made our way to the Freeman Hospital. On the way there, he went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance, but he thankfully came back almost instantly with just one shock of the defibrillator.”

Gary was taken straight to surgery, where it was confirmed he had a clot in his artery and required a stent fitting. He was out of hospital two days later and is now recovering well.

He was able to meet up with Marcin again earlier this week.

“He literally saved my life and I just wanted to be able to thank him in person,” said Gary.

“The service I received couldn’t have been any better, they were so professional and couldn’t have been any more reassuring.

“They might think they were just doing their job but the job they are doing is saving lives, and I’m proof of that.”

Marcin, aged 32, added: “Not everyone would have thought to call 999 but had Gary left it much longer, the outcome could have been very different. The fact that was in relatively good shape I’m sure has helped as well.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet a patient again so I was curious to see him again. This has got to be the greatest reward you can get in this job!”

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Marking Well | Durham Freemasons

Owing to a re location, the Pro Grand Master of the Mark Degree, Most Worshipful Brother Raymond Smith has indicated his wish to retire, and as a result will stand down at the September communication of Grand Mark Lodge.

In consequence of this news, the Most Worshipful Grand Master has been pleased to make the following appointments:

As Pro Grand Master – _R.W.Bro. John Herbert Prizeman, Dep.G.M.

As Deputy Grand Master – _R.W.Bro. Francis Charles Spencer, Asst.G.M.

And as Assistant Grand Master – _R.W.Bro. Prof. Denovan Keith Wilson, Prov.G.M. for Durham

All of the above will be invested on the 13 th September by the Grand Master.

Denny is obviously very proud and delighted to accept this very prestigious appointment and will stand down as Provincial Grand Master of Durham at midnight on the 12 th September leaving David Hanson as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge.

“This is wonderful news for the Province of Durham, Denny is respected by all and we wish him all the best in his new role. Mark Masonry is strong in Durham as a result of his commitment and drive and it’s wonderful that he now has the opportunity to do this on a national level. He has the full support from our Craft Executive, and we wish him good health to enjoy his new role.”    –   John Thompson Provincial Grand Master

Good Luck Denny and many congratulations from all Durham Freemasons.

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John And Red Ted Visit Locomotion | Durham Freemasons

On the morning of Wednesday 20th, July 2022 Ted visited Locomotion, the National Railway Museum in Shildon with the PGM John Thompson and members of the provincial TLC team led by Duncan Maw. Ted took pride of place on some of the most iconic engines currently on display in the museum, including “Locomotion No1”, “Rocket”, the prototype “Deltic” and the “Black Five”.

The PGM soon got into character, dispensed with his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and sporting a driver’s cap for the photo shoot accompanied Ted on his tour of the exhibits. Both particularly enjoyed their time on the footplate of the Black Five pretending to drive this popular engine.

After they were dragged off the Black Five, the party was treated to cuppas and bacon butties supplied by the cafe, which was much appreciated by all concerned.

Charlie Walton from the Friends of Locomotion gave a brief history of the museum and the plans for the new hall to be opened late next year in readiness for the 2025 bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The new gallery will accommodate approximately an extra 50 vehicles bringing the total on site to around 120. This will mean that Locomotion will house the largest collection of heritage rail vehicles under cover for the public to enjoy in the world. And remember, entry to the museum is free!

The Friends, in addition to regularly cleaning the exhibits and raising funds for the museum, provide access to cabs and organise tours of the collection. Tours can be arranged out of hours by request for parties of up to 30 people.

Freemasonry and Locomotion have very similar objectives in terms of reaching out to the community and promoting what they do.  Collaboration between like-minded organisations is a commendable and enjoyable way forward benefitting all concerned in these less than certain times. I’m sure Ted would heartily agree!

Many thanks to Pam Porter and Geoff Cale at Locomotion for their friendly support of this event.


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Helping the Homeless | Durham Freemasons

Earlier in the year Durham Freemasons charity Durham Benevolence made a £1,000 grant to Oasis Community Housing, a charity working with people facing homelessness and those in housing crisis in the Gateshead area.

As restrictions on visiting relax Peter Ross and John Watts representing Durham Benevolence accepted an invitation from David Foster of Oasis Community Housing to attend their Basis drop-in centre in central Gateshead where they met staff from their award-winning Basis Beds supported housing project, the Empower domestic abuse service and Aspire employability service.

John commented, “my last role as a police officer was head of public protection so I know how invaluable interventions by charities are for those in crisis and today we have seen excellent examples of projects to help some of the most vulnerable”.

David Foster from Oasis Community Housing said “homelessness is a complex problem that requires a community solution. Receiving financial support from a community partner like Durham Benevolence means a great deal to us, it means we are supported to continue to bring hope to people facing homelessness”

Peter Ross said, “I’m certain Freemasons across the region will be pleased we selected Oasis Community Housing to receive some of our charitable funds.”

While touring the various projects it was discovered Oasis do similar work in the Sunderland area and the Freemasons look forward to receiving an application to provide financial support to that area.

Main Garden photo L-R

Claire Temple

Oasis Community Housing Head of Crisis Services

Peter Ross, Durham Freemasons Community support grant committee chairman

David Foster

Oasis Community Housing – Key Projects Relationship Manager

Carolyn Wood

Oasis Community Housing – Director of Programmes

John Watts, Chairman of Durham Benevolence.

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