Not a Platinum Jubilee but a 78th Anniversary
Stuart J Major, the Worshipful Master of Winlaton St Paul’s Lodge, utilised the change in meeting date of his lodge provided by the bank holiday for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, to attend an altogether different anniversary. On the evening of the 31st May, Stuart, along with several other musicians from the North East, began the long journey to Normandy, France to form part of the invitational Massed Bands of the Pegasus Memorial. All the invited members of this band, who are based around England, and members from Gibraltar and the Netherlands, attend at their own cost, often in their holiday time, to give their time to those who gave their lives.
Arriving on the 1st June, several days before the commemorations began, it gave Stuart time to head to the new British Normandy Memorial, which will be familiar to many with the BBC Breakfast appearances of fellow mason Harry Billinge MBE, as well as his feature in Freemasonry Today. This memorial is situated overlooking the beaches where the men of the Allied Forces stormed ashore to begin the task of the liberation of Europe. It was at this memorial where all 22,442 individuals, serving under British command, who died in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy are commemorated, that Stuart chose to lay a token of remembrance on behalf of Winlaton St Paul’s Lodge.
On the 3rd June, the Massed Bands of the Pegasus Memorial, moved into their new temporary home, consisting of camping in the Benouville Sports Hall, provided by the Madame la Mayor and people of Benouville. This accommodation was greatly received by the band and played home to their miniature Jubilee party, including bunting.
The musical portion of the trip, for the Massed Bands of the Pegasus Memorial, began on the afternoon of the 4th June with a Veterans BBQ, attended this year by a low number of D-Day Veterans, due to the Platinum Jubilee, health and covid concerns. From then it was full steam ahead, with services for the Airborne Forces of the D-Day Operations, in Benouville, at Pegasus Bridge and surrounding memorials, 7 Para Memorial, and also a concert in Benouville for the local community and those who were visiting for the commemorations. In Ranville there were performances at services at the Ranville Crossroads to mark the liberation of the town and at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Cemetery at Ranville. These commemorations in Benouville and Ranville were attended by the local Mayors, Gendarmerie, and populations, as well as officers and soldiers of the Parachute Regiment; Army Air Corps and cadets from the Army Cadet Force, in addition to Chaplains from the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department and most importantly those veterans who made the journey to France 78 years ago, in altogether different conditions.
This was an experience for Stuart, as it was his first time in Normandy and performing abroad for the Massed Bands of the Pegasus Bridge. It was insightful talking to those who had survived D-Day and the Battle of Normandy and a trip full of emotion being at the heart of the services and commemorations by providing the music fitting for the remembrance of those who at such a young age gave their lives, having dropped behind the lines and endeavoured, despite the odds against them, to enable the Allied invasion to gain the vital foothold it needed. Stuart has been invited to return to Normandy next year with the Massed Bands of the Pegasus Memorial and has accepted the kind invitation.
TLC Teddy Initiative……
“thank you Freemasons for the thousands of teddies donated to children’s casualty departments”
Community Support Grants…..
“The grant from Durham Freemasons has made an enormous difference to our service users”
Provincial Annual Meeting….
“The Provincial annual meeting is one of the highlights of my year, it’s great to meet everyone and support all those being rewarded for merit”….
“My husband would be so proud that you still contact me so many years after his death, thank you for remembering me”
“The Provincial annual meeting is one of the highlights of my year, it’s great to meet everyone and support all those being rewarded for merit”
The Royal Arch…..
“I feel that I have a much better understanding of the whole Masonic story after joining the Royal Arch”
What have you gained?
“I’ve made wonderful friendships with people from all walks of life who I wouldn’t otherwise have even met”
In respect to the TLC Teddy initiative
“A child patient copes with medical treatment so much better when they’ve been given a TLC teddy”
What Freemasonry has done for you?
“The teachings of the masonic ceremonies helped me to be a better father, better husband, better son and better neighbour”What Freemasonry has done for you
One of the best things I have ever done…
“Along with getting married, the birth of my children and Sunderland winning the FA Cup, becoming a Freemason is one of the best things I’ve ever done”