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A Day in the Sun At Annual General Meeting 2023.

Saturday 24th June 2023 saw the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham hosted at The Fed Gateshead.

As usual, the Provincial Grand Stewards were on hand 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, Martin Rankin, 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 providing the escort to the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson with the Standard Bearers to the rear.

In Memoriam

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, as the Brethren stood in silence and respect, John paid tribute to the 101 Brethren whose names simultaneously scrolled on the digital screens either side of the dais and of course making a particular note to our Glorious Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Before proceeding to work through the agenda John individually welcomed his distinguished guests from various Provinces including Past Rulers of the Craft, Chapter, Provincial Team and Heads of other Companion Orders.

Prior to Appointing and Investing the Provincial Officers for the ensuing Masonic year, John paid special tribute to Paul Debenham, Michael Shaw & Andrew Thompson.

Brethren at this time I would like to pay special tribute to our retiring Almoner WBro Paul Debenham. I know Paul is not here today due to family commitments. Paul came to me in April and told me he thought it was time for him to step down as Almoner and for another to take the baton. Reluctantly I agreed.

Brethren,  during his tenure, as well as the routine work behind the scenes assisting and guiding our Brethren on personal matters, he established the Caring Volunteer Initiative to ensure we kept in contact with the widowed partners of closed Lodges, He started an  Almoners Page with resources on the Provincial Website and for our almoners and headed the Visiting Volunteers and Retrievals Team. 

He has served the Benevolent Committee for 27 years, and the GP Committee for 14 years, six of which as PGA and he also had the privilege of serving on the Advisory Committee for PGAs in London for 3 years as well as being one of our MCF representatives

Brethren this is what commitment looks like and we thank him for his care and we wish him all the best for the future.

Brethren similar thanks to  WBro Michael Shaw who stood down this year as Vice Chairman of DB. Michael was very instrumental in supporting our charity for many years and especially ensuring DB support continued during the lockdown, and my thanks to our outgoing Provincial Grand Charity Steward WBro Andrew Thompson. Andrew thank you for the support you gave to the festival and especially to our successful launch event.  Andrew was the Province’s first Provincial  Grand Charity Steward and I’m glad to see that Andrew will continue his support for the province in supporting  DB with our annual group break”.

After the Principal Officers had been re-appointed and this year’s Provincial Grand Wardens 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 taking to their seat and acknowledged with the customary court bow, bursting with pride.

John then invited our guest Speaker Bro Shaun Butler the Director of Membership and Communications at Ugle, Shaun joined the United Grand Lodge of England in 2017 – leading on social media across a number of platforms, including the set-piece Tercentenary event at the Royal Albert Hall. He was promoted to Communications Manager in 2019 with responsibility for Membership Communications. During this time, Shaun launched a number of key initiatives, including the First Rising newsletter and other engagement programmes as the country endured lockdown.

In 2021, Shaun was appointed as Deputy Director of Communications and Marketing and led on the first National Digital Marketing Campaign in UGLE’s history, as well as the rollout of UGLE and SGC’s new 7-year Strategy.

Shaun following John’s introduction which included a nod to his other passion outside Freemasonry being a lifelong supporter of his Champions League club Newcastle United was given a loud Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough fc welcome.

Shaun then delivered his presentation entitled ‘Communicating Freemasonry in 2023’ during which he gave an overview of how UGLE is adapting to modern advancements in Communications encouraging us to embrace change, adapt and stem the tide of losses and look to a bright sustainable future as Freemasons.

On closing John thanked Shaun who stood to a rapturous Durham applause

A collection was then taken in aid of The Masonic Charitable Foundation where a fabulous amount of £3700.06 was raised inclusive of gift aid, with all proceeds being credited to the 2032 Festival.

John then delivered what can only be described as an inspirational address and in closing said:

“Can I thank you all for coming today and for making this day so special for those who have been appointed and promoted today and for the very kind attention you have given to this address, Brethren; I’m proud to be a Freemason, and extremely proud to lead this Province and to quote a friend of mine. Your lodge, your province, your future

Photographs of the day Click Here


To Meet The Wardens: Click here

To read John’s full Address: Click Here

There being no further business, Provincial Grand Lodge was closed in due form which was followed by the first 2 verses 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 428 members. 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.

We Are Stronger Together..

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Eardulph 75 Years of Reflections | Durham Freemasons

Eardulph was the last Bishop of Lindisfarne Northumbria, reigning from 796 to 806. For a brief time, he made Chester le Street the centre of Christianity in Northern England, when the body of St Cuthbert resided in the local Church. On Friday 9th June 2023, Eardulph Lodge No. 6645, which took its name from the legendary King, became the centre of Freemasonry in Durham, as the Lodge played host to a full Provincial Team visit to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

In the Lodge room, the members and visitors were treated to a wonderful review of the Lodge’s history, with selected members of the Lodge and visitors recounting their recollections of each decade of the Lodge’s existence.

Kenneth Howe opened the proceedings by reading the words of his great friend, the late Peter Usher, that had been provided for the Lodge’s 50 th Anniversary. Peter recalled how in the 50s & 60s Eardulph was known as the musical lodge. At the festive board, they could call upon a number of pianists, singers and all-around entertainers. He recalled how there was often an early morning retirement from labour, encouraged by exotic festive board menus and some alcoholic consumption. With members including butchers, bakers, hoteliers and gamekeepers – the table was kept well supplied. Discipline was strictly enforced, attendances were high, membership waiting lists were impressive, loyalty was mandatory and morale was unbeatable.

Danny Pollock took us into the 60s and 70s, recalling how he had joined the Lodge after moving to the town from Glasgow. In those days, each Lodge looked after themselves, running their own bar on meeting nights and each had a spot in the cellar for their own stock which was locked away after each meeting. In those days the Master got a discount on his bar bill to compensate for buying all of the drinks for the visitors and Past Masters. Eardulph was still awash with singers and musicians and it was unusual to get home the same day as the meeting started. The Stewards of the Lodge were very busy at the festive boards and ate their meals afterwards, all together in the room under the stairs. Whilst sounding strange, it helped the newer members bond with the older members and the camaraderie amongst the stewards was tremendous.

Taking us into the 80s and 90s, WBro Ian Heaviside, read the words of Ken Beck who could not attend. Ken is the son of Joe Beck, who had been renowned for his harmony. Ken recalled that in those days, prior to the introduction of the smoking ban, the dining room had a cloud of smoke hanging over it by 10 O’clock and you could see the nicotine running down the walls. The cigarette box would be passed up and down the top table and visitors would grab handfuls to be smoked over the rest of the night. Ken also recalled the wonderful entertainers who provided Harmony at the Festive Board but paid particular tribute to Eddie “Keyboard” Kerr, recalling that when Eddie provided harmony, it didn’t matter what song Eddie sang, his keyboard always seemed to play the same tune! Festive boards were always full with between 115 and 120 in attendance. The atmosphere was great and if the meals ran out, the stewards popped to the local chippy.

The Lodge DC, Rob Thompson joined the Lodge after leaving the Royal Marines. He confirmed that in the 90s the Lodge reminded him of the Mess in his marine years, with a contingent of ex-Durham Light Infantrymen, who became known as the “Dessert” Rats for their love of the sweet treats on offer. Rob became a Steward to best serve the Lodge and held that role for around 10 years. The Stewards dining continued to be under the stairs after the tables had been cleared which meant he missed a lot of the goings-on. It was not until he proposed his first candidate and attended his initiation that he enjoyed attending the festive board so much that he decided it was time to come off the Stewards list. Rob confirmed, in true DC style that with the fellowship and friendship, ritual is a very satisfying part of Freemasonry for him and warned that he is looking out for his successor.

WBro David Battensby recalled the “noughties”. Brought up in a household where freemasonry and Eardulph Lodge were frequently mentioned, he had attended the Hall Christmas parties and only ever associated Freemasonry and Eardulph Lodge with fun and enjoyment. He recalled that the quality of the ritual work was inspiring and there was a particularly active social side, especially with Eardulph being a Friday Lodge. Some partners would wait in the lounge until the meetings were finished and would head off to the local Weatherspoons, Chicago Rock which became known to them as The Lodge of Chicago Rock. Several times we were walking home when the sun was coming up and birds were tweeting!! He confirmed that to him Eardulph is more like a family, a second family, giving support and strong companionship.

Bro Scott Butler took us into the 2010s. He recalled sitting on a table with an ex-royal marine, a 70 years old ex-postmaster/come street magician, a painter and decorator, and an ex-policeman. Whilst from different backgrounds, ages, life experiences etc. it felt so natural and he was made to feel incredibly welcome in such an eclectic mix. He confirmed that since joining he had experienced so much, including Dragon boat racing, manning a beer pump at the local jazz festival and buildings Beer Festivals and Gintasias, carrying the haggis at Eardulph’s Burn’s night, visiting a lodge in Scotland, the Chinese new year at Oriental Lodge in the next province over, being part of the contingent of Freemasons of Chester le street at remembrance Sunday and not forgetting snapping his hamstring whilst trying to play cricket for the Masonic team. In such a small space of time, he has made so many fantastic memories. Whilst Covid lockdowns have featured heavily in his Masonic journey, Scott was grateful for the way in which the lodge managed to stay in touch, via WhatsApp and Skype meetings, providing the opportunity to ‘meet’, albeit virtually, have a laugh, check in on each other, keep up to date with goings on and enjoying the odd quiz.

Our final Contributor was Chris Cullen, the latest initiate into Eardulph Lodge, having joined in January 2023. Chris confirmed that he is one of six initiates this year and having asked them all how things are going he confirmed that the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. They are all enjoying making new friends and have been made to feel incredibly welcome. They have already visited other local Lodges and have been out socially with their wives and girlfriends, although never at the same time! The lodge Whatsapp group has helped the “newbies”  keep informed and be a part of the lodge discussions, as well as inflicting various brethren’s attempts at humour. On behalf of all of the Brethren, Chris thanked Eardulph Lodge for the past 75 years and wished it a long and successful future.

At the Festive Board, John was presented with a cheque for £750 to go towards the next Festival in 2032. He paid tribute to the Lodge and thanked all of the contributors for the wonderful recollections they had shared of the history and camaraderie of the Lodge. The packed festive board were then treated to the return of spectacular harmony to Eardulph when they were entertained by Jada, the Granddaughter of Alan Jenkins, who had been supported in with her recent scholarship travels by Durham Benevolence, who treated the Lodge to a wonderful medley of songs as a thank you for the support of Durham Freemasons.

This was a truly memorable evening and one that will live long in the memory of all of those present, even those who ended up leaving the day after the event began!

Stronger Together

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Hartlepool Masonic Benevolent Association

Since the end of the pandemic, it’s been quite a busy 16 months for the HMBA from February 2022 to May 2023 the HMBA received excluding the Tall Ships appeal 26 applications for support funding.

In this period the HMBA have supported these applications with additional funding amounting to £3,060.00 which would have been a lot more had the funds been available. The Tall Ships appeal to send four pupils on the race from Holland to Hartlepool was very well supported with every Lodge in Hartlepool contributing plus a very large donation from Durham Benevolent Ltd. 

There were two lots of applications from Stranton Lodge for four food banks based in Hartlepool, in total, they received £1,400.00, (£350.00 each). There was also a separate application from Heugh Lodge for Hartlepool Food Network which received a further £375.00. These food banks do a sterling job and support a lot of families in Hartlepool who are struggling due to the current economic climate, well done to Poolie Time Bank, Hartlepool Baby Bank, Holy, Trinity Church and Hartlepool Food Network, keep up the good work.

Following a very successful Race night to which the families and friends of the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group were invited, the Haven of Rest Lodge was able to donate £1,000.00 to the group and requested support from the HMBA to assist with the general day-to-day running costs. the HMBA supported this worthy cause with a donation of £500.00, a total amount of giving £1,500.00.

Heugh Lodge and Heortnesse Lodge both requested support for Catcote Parents and Friends to assist with arranging residential visits, events and equipment that School funds cannot provide. In total, they received £500.00.

The younger generation did not miss out on five applications from St Helens Lodge requesting support for some very worthy causes.

  • 1st Hartlepool Boys Brigade to cover day-to-day running costs and equipment. The total amount of giving was £320.00.
  • Headland Boxing Club to assist with purchasing of new training equipment, and their continued ability to provide training and support for Hartlepool youth. The total amount of giving was £600.00.
  • Seaton Cricket Club U17 Football to assist with day-to-day running costs and equipment. The total amount of giving £600.00,
  • Lab Gym to assist with their Christmas Toy appeal and support for Alice House Hospice. The total amount of giving was £200.00.
  • Hartlepool Headland ABC to provide training facilities and support for Hartlepool youth. The total amount of giving was £200.00.

The bulk of the other donations went to various necessary services that we all, unfortunately, may need at some time, where would we be without them.

  • . Support for the Appy Aven CIC Community Projects, a group aimed at providing multicultural community support and activities. The total amount of giving was £225.00
  • Harbour of Refuge Lodge. Support for the running costs of the Hartlepool citizen advice centre in line with their letter, a Total amount of giving £300.00.
  • Harbour of Refuge Lodge. Support for the running costs of the Hartlepool Town Pastors (Street Angels). The total amount of giving was £300.00.
  • Heugh Lodge. Request support towards the general running costs of the RNLI Hartlepool station, a Total amount of giving £150.00.
  • Heugh Lodge. Request support towards the general running costs of the Alice House Hospice. The total amount of giving £150.00.
  • Clarence Lodge. Request support towards the general running costs of the ‘’Stray Aid’, a group aimed at saving the lives of stray animals. The total amount of giving £150.00.
  • St Helens Lodge. Request support for the Hartlepool MS group to assist with running costs.

The total amount of giving was £200.00.

  • Request support for Lily Annes Cafe for their continued supply of ‘food and requisites’ to the needy of Hartlepool. The total amount of giving £200.00.

The HMBA is run by representatives from each Hartlepool-based Lodge, with 100% of all monies received being distributed to charities or worthy causes in Hartlepool. If you want to make a donation or have any spare cash that the HMBA can use please contact your HMBA representative as listed below.

Clarence Lodge No2462.                                                    Bill Florentine. Secretary.

Connaught Lodge No 2961.                                                Lewis Ayers. Treasurer.

Harte Lodge No 4217.                                                        Duncan Maw. Chairman.

Haven of Rest Lodge No 4350.                                          Brian Footitt.

Heortnesse Lodge No 4639.                                              Kevin Godfrey.

Heugh Lodge No 7773.                                                      Paul Fryer.

Stranton Lodge No 1862.                                                   Ian Hewetson.

Strathearn Lodge No 4965.                                                Kris Middleton.

St Helens Lodge No 531.                                                   Peter Richardson / Paul Manley.   

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A Wonderful Evening Spent Celebrating Denny’s 50 years | Durham Freemasons

The Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson along with the Deputy Provincial Master, Michael Graham, two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Andrew Moule and John Watts, along with a Provincial Deputation attended Palatine Lodge at Wearside Masonic Hall in Sunderland.

The reason for this visit was to ‘Mark’ a very special occasion for 50 years of Freemasonry for Denovan “Denny” Keith Wilson.

To help celebrate his achievement, many distinguished brethren, heads of Orders, friends and in addition for the Mark, the Deputy Grand Master, Francis Spencer attented. With 130 in the Lodge room, additional seats were required to accommodate the huge numbers for the evening.

After the Lodge being opened, Denny gave an illustrated talk on Palatines’ Lodge Warrant, which is the first ever issued by Premier Grand Lodge, and by extension the United Grand Lodge of England, being dated 14th January 1757.

It was then the turn for the most important part of the evening, two chairs were sited just in front of the pedestal in a ‘Parkinson’ style layout. John Thompson then discussed Denny’s 50 years of membership with him, after which the Deputy Provincial Secretary, Mike Davies was then called to read out the long service award.

After the Lodge was closed and the Deputation had paraded out, over 100 brethren then retired for to dine. They were greeted by a string quartet playing throughout, an excellent five course meal and a huge raffle to benefit the charity of Denny Wilson’s choice. This was certainly going to be a night to remember.

John Thompson responded to his toast, again by thanking Denny for his 50 years service to this Province and highlighting the importance of the connection between Craft and Mark freemasonry.

A thoughtful and insightful response from Denny in his reply to his toast so typical of him, given in a most eloquent way. ‘’Thank you to all at Palatine Lodge and Province for making the arrangements for what turned out to be a great night for all and one that will linger in our memories’’.

In addition to a unique presentation of the Lodge number in pounds for Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham charity. The Chairman of Durham Benevolence and Durham 2029 MBF Festival, John Watts, was very grateful when each benefited 50% of the over £500 raised by the raffle that evening.

Such a wonderful occasion to celebrate 50 years of service to Craft Freemasonry, for a true and respected gentleman that is “Denny” Keith Wilson.

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Durham Freemasons Sponsor Tall Ships Trainees | Durham Freemasons

Durham Freemasons Sponsor Tall Ships Trainees

The Hartlepool Masonic Benevolent Association (HMBA) with support from Hartlepool Freemasons and the Durham Benevolence Charity have sponsored four pupils from the Dyke House Academy School Hartlepool to take part in a 7-night voyage of discovery from Den Helder, Holland, home port of the fleet of the Royal Dutch to Hartlepool Marina.

The local Freemasons led by Bill Florentine as part of their continued community engagement recently presented the pupils with a donation of £4,000 allowing them to take part in the voyage of a lifetime when they embark experience aboard three magnificent sailing vessels, Jolie Brise, the Wilde Swan and the Golden Leeuw.

The HMBA is keen to engage with the Hartlepool community and support local activities.

The team building Event will see the trainees becoming integral members of the team during the race and taking part in Crew Activities, the Crew Parade, Prize Giving and Crew Party when they reach the finish line on the 8th-9th July in Hartlepool alongside a fleet of over 30 ships, where a warm Northeast welcome awaits them and 1000’s of people as they join in and celebrate at one of the largest FREE maritime events in the UK.

Four days of atmospheric celebrations will transform Hartlepool’s Waterfront into a spectacular display of music, art, dance, and song and of course, there are the Ships!

Photo 1 (Left to Right) Lucie Marie Wylie, Kaci-Mai Good, Jack Griffiths (Teacher) Imogen Davies and  Callum Bromley.

Photo 2  Pupils with representatives of the HMBA, at the rear (Left to Right) Steve Mckie, WBro Bill Florentine (HMBA Secretary, Peter Richardson (HMBA Trustee) and Derek Muirhead.


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Feed Bellies not Bins | Durham Freemasons

The Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson, led a full Team visit to Corinthian Lodge in Shildon on Tuesday 23 rd May. The Lodge room was full, with over 75 brethren in attendance to witness Gavin North receiving his 2 nd Degree in an excellent ceremony performed by the officers of the Lodge.

The 3-course meal served (photos included) at the festive board was enjoyed by all present, and only afterwards were they informed that the food they ate was 100% rescued by and donated by “Shildon Alive”, who had in the recent past received a donation from Durham Benevolence, of £1,000.00 match funded by the MCF.

The Project Manager of Shildon Alive, Paula Nelson, who had attended a benevolence meeting last year, and spoke passionately on the subject of “Feed bellies, not bins” was present at the festive board accompanied by Tracy Chapell, the Food Co-Ordinator. Both speakers enlightened everyone as to the millions of pounds worth of food, which would end up in landfills, although perfectly edible, which was rescued by the likes of Shildon Alive, who used the food to benefit the local community where it was needed.

The brethren present were asked to make a donation, suggested at £10 per head, in lieu of payment for the meal provided. A super raffle was also held and when both totals were added to the collection tray from the Lodge room, a magnificent sum of £1440.00 was donated to Durham Benevolence, to then be presented to Shildon Alive, gratefully accepted by Chairman John Watts. John in his reply thanked everyone for their generosity, and by resounding acclaim, all those present hoped Durham Benevolence would increase the £1,440.00 to £2,000.00 as an additional grant.

In his concluding remarks, John gave huge praise to Stan Hunter. the Benevolence Representative of Corinthian Lodge, for all of his efforts in arranging the meeting to take place.

#strongertogether  #durhamfreemasons  #oneorganisation

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Durham Lodge of Installed Masters Centenary | Durham Freemasons

John Paul Thompson, the Provincial Grand Master, led his mini team to the Durham Lodge of Installed Masters 100 th Birthday celebration on Monday 22 nd May 2023. Following the formal salutations, the past Provincial Grand Master, Norman Eric Heaviside gave a presentation on the history of the lodge and took those present back to the beginning of the 20 th Century, more specifically to the Great War of 1914 /1918 with a few anecdotes of one hundred years of the DLIM.

At the end of the Great War soldiers returning home were left searching for the lost comradeship they had developed whilst fighting together. Fortunately, many men found the answer to this loss in freemasonry.

After the war, the demand for membership placed a huge strain on the eighty-eight existing lodges in the province and within the short space of only five years, twenty-three new lodges were consecrated to meet the sudden influx of candidates. During this five-year period, the membership of approximately 9000 at the end of the Great War, increased by 3500, a rise of almost 40%

A group of forward-looking installed masters proposed the forming of a lodge, solely devoted to lectures and improving Masonic knowledge and understanding.

The first Minutes of the DLIM Lodge Committee was dated 9 th December 1920 when fourteen past Masters attended to discuss the formation of this Lodge. There is a Minute Book of every Committee Meeting held from 1920 up until 1988, all handwritten.

With the incredible support from its 95 founder members, the Lodge was consecrated 100 years ago, taking place in Old Elvet.

Other members of the Lodge however, who were appointed Provincial Grand Master’s much later, were Col F Walton, the Rt Hon the Lord Barnard, Dr Alan Martin Davison and Norman Eric Heaviside. Our present Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson, is to be installed as Master of this Lodge next year.

In 1939, the Lodge was suddenly asked to hand their warrant in. Thankfully, it was only to keep it safe during the war, along with all the other Lodge warrants, held in the Strongroom at Provincial Office. The Lodge was given a small, printed copy of the warrant allowing the Lodge to meet in compliance with the Book of Constitutions. It was certainly put to full use, as the Lodge continued to meet quite regularly during the war.

In 1998, the Lodge celebrated its 75 th Anniversary at Hedworth Masonic Hall, South Shields. To mark the anniversary a new Banner, designed and produced by Tom Coulson and Max Gaskin, was paraded around the Lodge Room and Dedicated by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, the Revd Jack Marsden.

The Banner, which is proudly displayed at every Meeting, was provided by the generosity of Charles Marshall and Harold Easton.

In the year 2000, to mark the Millennium, the brethren of Durham Province raised £500,000 to build a masonic hall in a partnership with Beamish Open Museum.

Nowhere, in the British Isles, has a Masonic Hall been seen and visited by over ½ million visitors in the past 17 years.

The Grand Master, the Duke of Kent unlocked the door of the Museum on the opening day, the special key incorporated a Founders jewel from this lodge, now kept on display in our Provincial Museum.

The Centenary Warrant was read out in open lodge by the Provincial Secretary before being formally presented to the Master of the Lodge.

A cheque for £4,441 was presented by the master on behalf of the lodge towards Durham Benevolence before retiring to the festive board where 89 masons continued to enjoy their masonry.

#oneorganisation  #durhamfreemasons  #strongertogether

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Durham Chapter Convocation 2023 | Durham Freemasons

Saturday 20th May 2023 saw The Annual Convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham, with the Fed in Dunston being the venue. The various car parks quickly filled as the Stewards displayed their usual immaculate organising skills to make sure all went with precision so that the Companions could enter the venue and robe in the crimson, purple and blue of the Royal Arch.

This is the premier event in the Royal Arch Masonic calendar, and it provides an opportunity for companions from Masonic Halls throughout the province, along with distinguished guests to renew old friendships, meet future friends and of course, support the many Companions being either appointed or Promoted in Provincial Grand Chapter.

The Chapter room looked magnificent, and many thanks go to all those responsible for the setting up which had been ongoing from Friday evening. The sound of the Provincial Grand Organ so eloquently played by Richard Scothan, as the Companions stood to order to receive the Grand Superintendent and his Co-Principals added to the occasion.

With Provincial Grand Chapter opened in due form, apologies and minutes of the previous Convocation confirmed it was time for all present to remember the 41 companions we lost since our last meeting in July 2022.

After the Roll Call of Acting Provincial Grand Chapter Officers and Chapters, the Grand Superintendent welcomed the Companions, his Distinguished Guests, and Heads of Other Orders.

With the Provincial Grand Treasurer’s Statement of Accounts considered and accepted by the Companions present and the Treasurer re-elected for another 12 months along with the official Auditors, it was time to perform the most important and pleasurable part of the day, to appoint, invest and promote those companions’ receiving honours.

To see the full list of Appointments and Promotions Click Here.

With the Companions newly invested, safely back in their seats and the escorting carrousel of Director of Ceremonies retired back to their positions within Provincial Grand Chapter the Grand Superintendent, John Paul Thompson addressed Provincial Grand Chapter.

In his address John paid tribute to the companions he had the privilege to invest as well as to those retiring acting officers for the support they gave to the province and to Michael Shaw the Deputy.

Those who had been appointed to or promoted in Grand Rank at the April meeting of the Supreme Grand Chapter were introduced and applauded with acclamation.

John also thanked the many Companions present for their support in such high numbers, a testament to their commitment to Royal Arch Masonry, the first on a Saturday, as opposed to the usual mid-week meetings of the Chapter.

Moving onto the subject of membership he expounded on the need to make our ceremonies enjoyable and engaging, allowing Companions not only to perform the ritual to a high standard but also to understand their journey.

In his address, John said I hope you have noticed today companions that our Chapter furniture is looking quite pristine today. For many years we have kindly borrowed these items from Castle Eden, Sunderland, and Durham Chapters. Recently Londonderry Chapter of Amity and Rowlands Gill Lodge closed, and have kindly donated various ‘key’ items for our Provincial ceremonials including these magnificent thrones and many other items related to the Chapter.

To read the Grand Superintendent’s Address in Full Click Here.

A collection was then taken in Aid of Durham Benevolence  raising over £2,000.00   and with the companions having the opportunity of donating electronically by scanning a QR code on the back of the order of proceedings all donations made this weekend will be credited to the chapter collection.

Quick link to the donation page here

After the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra informed the Convocation that there was no other business Provincial Grand Chapter was then closed in due form the Grand Organ along with the Companions raised the roof with two verses of the National Anthem.

Remember companions, we are stronger together.

#Freemasons  #oneorganisation

Gallery of photos in Flickr now by clicking here

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Durham Benevolence

durham benevolence

Service, being one of the four fundamental principles of Freemasonry is administered in our Province by the Durham Masonic Benevolent Fund, registered charity number 279313.

As a charity with assets over £8m we are very proud of our low administrative costs mainly due to the time and experience freely given by so many dedicated and enthusiastic Freemasons and by our highly professional staff in Provincial office.

The Provincial Benevolent Committee consists of an elected member from every Lodge in the Province who meet four times a year to agree the way forward for our wonderful Charity. 

Our two residential housing properties at Fulwell, Sunderland and Bishop Auckland are flagships of our organisation and something we take great pride in. These homes enable people to live their lives privately and independently in a safe, secure, and sociable environment.

We are also involved with many Community Engagement initiatives, Providing Community Defibrillators, taking part in and helping to organise Park Runs, working alongside our TLC Teddies and providing Community Support Grants to some extremely worthy causes in the very heart of our communities.

Durham Benevolence is our Charity but is there for everyone, to support, engage and make a difference to lives across our Province.To contact us please email or should you wish to make a personal donation please click here.

Durham Benevolence Logo


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Useful documents

DB – Community Support Application Form
DB – Guidelines for Community Support Grants
2 documents
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Cadet NASA Visit | Durham Freemasons

2505 (Bishop Auckland) Squadron consisting of 41 cadets and 7 volunteers staff was formed 59 years ago to provide a community-based squadron (then called the Air Training Corps) for young people across Southwest Durham.

The squadron is part of a UK-wide force of more than 30,000 young people aged between 12 and 20 years. Their aim is to promote and encourage a practical interest in aviation, providing training which is useful in service and civilian life while encouraging a spirit of adventure, leadership, and good citizenship.

Flt Lt Ian Pepper the Officer Commanding and Flt Sergeant Caroline Hodgson have come up with an inspirational educational idea for the squadron to learn about the application of (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s in space exploration. The training includes certified courses, guest speakers and external trips. This culminates when six cadets and three staff are to travel in October 2023 to the USA to continue exploring flight and space including a visit to NASA to partake in training as astronauts. On their return, they will share their experiences on the expedition with a presentation to the squadron and parents

Funds to pay for this fantastic opportunity have been raised by many means and the cadets with their parents backing have worked hard to reach their target, a huge achievement on its own

Durham Freemason and Chair of the squadron Royston Smart advised the squadron Officer Commanding, Ian to apply to the Freemasons of Durham for a Community Support Grant and this has resulted with a visit from freemason Stan Hunter joining Royston in presenting a well-earned certificate from the Benevolent Committee of the Durham Freemasons.  This accompanies a grant of £1,000 awarded and this resulted in a huge cheer from the squadron.

Stan and Royston were given a tour of the squadron’s operating Centre where Stan had a crash course on the in-house flight simulator (do not travel on his aircraft) after which refreshments were served, concluding on a remarkably interesting evening. A special patch has been designed by Cadet Cpl E Totty to mark the occasion, a sample of which was given to Stan as a memento.

Flt Lt Ian Pepper and the cadets are happy to visit the Benevolent Committee and give a presentation of their once in a lifetime experience.

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