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Durham Freemason Drops InTo D-Day 80th Anniversary

An account by W Bro Andrew Whelan, Rose of Raby Lodge, No 1650

During the recent 80th Anniversary of D-Day events in Normandy, I took part in a parachute drop from a Dakota (DC3 Placid Lassie herself a D-Day veteran) with over 100 fellow members of the Pathfinder Parachute Group to honour the memory of the British Airborne Forces who took part in Operation Overlord. The drop took place onto an original 6th Airborne Division D-Day Drop Zone (DZ Kilo) near the village of Sannerville, the weather was very favourable, with all five chalks completing their drops with only two minor casualties.

During my time in Normandy, I took full advantage to visit all of the major operational areas and to marvel at the accomplishments of our forebears.  Pegasus Bridge and the Merville Gun Battery were top of the list as an ex Paratrooper but having worn many different Cap Badges over my 40 years in the military visits to Juno Beach where the RAF Regiment came ashore and the Wings Museum to remember the cost to Aircrew were also essential. The occasion was very memorable, however, we must pause and reflect that during Operation Overlord the UK suffered 11,000 killed and 54,000 injured or missing but this is only part of the story as French Civilians paid a heavy toll in causalities with 12,500 either killed or missing. A heavy toll, but freedom is never free.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Col William S. Smith November 1787.

It was a privilege to honour members of the British Airborne Forces who had 80 years earlier descended from the sky by parachute and glider as part of the Allied Forces liberation of Europe from Nazi oppression.

“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking”

General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Order of the day 6/44)

Stronger Together

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‘What did the Freemasons ever do for us?’

At the latest Tees Lodge No. 509 Sunday Lunch we presented charitable donations (some in conjunction with Durham Freemasons Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation) to:

Tees River Rescue £3000, Stockton Netball Club £1000, Butterwick Hospice £500, MIND £500 and the wonderful Roseberry Community Consortium £250 who entertained us with their superb young choir…If your charity – particularly small and local would like to see if we can possibly help, please ask…the process is quite simple. Oh – and an Easter Egg hunt in the Lodge room for the little and big kids!

Making a difference…Happy Sunday feeling!

Stronger Together

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Could you be a First Responder

Sat in the lodge room and the Brother beside you collapses forward.  What are you going to do?

Out for a walk and the person collapses in front of you. What are you going to do?

You might have many minutes; you might only have as few as 3 minutes to make a difference.

You are first on the scene; you are now the first responder.

In March the 3 Lodges and Chapter that meet at Tow Law Masonic Hall joined forces together with a handful of local people and asked the North East Ambulance Service to make a visit to explain just what a first responder could do.

The North East Ambulance Service offer training so that if you did find yourself as First Responder you would have a much better chance to help someone.

Alex Mason carefully explained the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, what to look for and what actions to take.

We were given training in CPR and shown how to use a defibrillator and importantly how and when to get to a defibrillator.

The North East Ambulance Service offer this training for free, but it was our pleasure to support their charity which helps towards the cost of the provision of community defibrillators, recruiting volunteers and a cadet scheme.

Michael McLaren representing the Lodges and Chapter that meet at Tow Law Masonic Hall giving a cheque for £150 to Alex Mason of the North East Ambulance Service.  

Stronger Together

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