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More Than Grandparents

More Than Grandparents is an Independent registered charity based in Sunderland run by, and for, kinship carers and their families. Clinton Leeks, OBE, Durham’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master, assisted by Robin Middleton, representing the Durham Freemasons Charity, presented a MCF grant of £13,500, to Melanie Nichols, the founder of the charity.

Melanie has since given an update as to where this funding has been utilised, and how the funding has led to the charity working much more closely with the freemasons of the Province of Durham;  

“We are so grateful to have been supported by the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The funding has meant we have been able to continue supporting vulnerable kinship families who simply don’t get the support they need and deserve from statutory services. 

Too often families are left struggling financially as a direct result of stepping in to do the right thing caring for a child that would otherwise have entered the care system. Too often they are left managing their child’s trauma and challenging behaviour. Too often they are left managing extremely difficult relationships with birth parents and supervising contact arrangements and all of this whilst often having other caring roles caring for a sick partner or elderly relative and managing their own life limiting health conditions. 

This funding from the MCF has allowed us to plug some of the gaps in services to ensure that kinship families feel fully supported, reduce isolation, ensure they understand their rights and entitlements, have better access to mental health support, have access to parenting support and to give them a sense of belonging.

Raising someone else’s child is a huge responsibility particularly if the child you are caring for has emotional difficulties as a result of ‘early years trauma’. For a grandparent parenting a second time around it can be exhausting and isolating and at times extremely stressful and a daunting experience.

We hold regular peer support meetings where you can have a cuppa and a chat to people who have had similar experiences. We arrange regular social events, many which have been held with the support of Durham Freemasons at Queen Street Masonic Hall, allowing opportunities for respite and relaxation to reduce feelings of isolation and to encourage positivity and mental and physical well-being. “

Melanie Nichols, CEO,  

More than Grandparents

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Date :

The Durham Cornerstone Launch

Mon 13 November saw the launch of the Durham Cornerstone by the Provincial Grand Master at a regular meeting of Sanctuary Lodge who traditionally pay their respects to the fallen in a moving tribute held annually at this meeting. The evening also saw Brother Sam Jones and Brother Darren Robinson raised to the third degree in an excellent ceremony overseen by Provincial Deputation led by the Provincial Grand Master.

The Act of Remembrance consists of a recital of The Fallen by Laurence Binyon followed by the Last Post. Following a two-minute silence, reveille is played after which the Kohima Epitaph. The hall has in darkness save for a red glow and the flicker of candlelight as WBro Peter Johnson sang an incredibly moving version of the song ‘Bring Him Home’ from the musical Les Misérables.

The Durham Cornerstone

The event was complemented by the attendance of well over 70 brethren which included over 30 Light Blue regalia wearing brethren all seated on the centre leg. This was no coincidence and was meant to represent the importance of the Durham Cornerstone, being guided by the head of the table, and supported by the stronger arms of the outer legs. The Durham Cornerstone logo includes the date the Province of Durham was formed, 1734 which also represents the 1 (st) Regular Step, the 7 liberal arts and sciences of the Second Degree, the 3 degrees of Craft Masonry and the 4 (th) step to complete your masonic journey through pure and antient masonry. Our Foundation; Our Future

The Durham Cornerstone will extend across the entire geographic area of the Province of Durham but will be sub divided into four semi-autonomous Regional Committee led areas, the NE, NE, SE and SW.

The aim of The Durham Cornerstone is to encourage inclusion, involvement, and development by Engagement through social events for members, non-members/masons and partners/families, Discovering all aspects of masonry through visits to masonic themed attractions, talks, events etc. Exploring by encouraging visits to other lodges and RA Chapters and Develop Masons (Craft/RA) by developing knowledge and skills through learning and development events.

This will be achieved by organising a range of relaxed, socially focussed, and affordable events open to both Masons, non-masons, and their families as appropriate. The Durham Cornerstone will also act as a forum for open and candid discussion and be a conduit to inform Province of ideas and issues that are affecting our members and potential new members.

All new masons and current masons up to Provincial Rank are automatically members and once current members attain Provincial preferment, they will not be excluded but lead positions will always be allocated to those wearing Light Blue Regalia to retain the focus on supporting our newer members. The Durham Cornerstone will be part of the Province under a Steering Group chaired executively by the PGM, the Steering Group will be co-chaired by one of the area leads on a rotational basis with the Provincial Engagement Lead and will include the Provincial Grand Mentor, The Provincial Membership Officer, Provincial Learning & Development Officer, a representative of the Provincial Communications Team and a standing Cornerstone Member who will act as major events coordinator for the Cornerstone.

Each area group will be supported by an Area Mentor who will act as Group Mentor. Each group will also be supported by an Area Membership Officer. Their roles will be to support the group.

The four geographical Cornerstone leads selected on a two year rotating basis are as follows:

North East Cornerstone:

Leads Bro Connor Goodfellow and Bro Mick Clark


North West Cornerstone:

Leads – Bro James Newton and Bro Jake Walker


South East Cornerstone:

Leads – Bro James Finney and Bro Tony Graham


South West Cornerstone:

Leads – Bro Chris Bains and Bro Michael Turfrey


The respective leads will be looking for Hall Cornerstone representatives who will join the respective area Cornerstone committees so if you are interested in getting involved email the respective leads.

We want our newer masons to know that they are part of something much bigger than just their respective lodges, they are not only members of our Province but also members of a worldwide fraternity. Watch out for events to be published soon and get involved.


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