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Inspector General | Durham Freemasons

Michael Shaw, the Deputy Grand Superintendent of the Chapter was installed as Inspector General for the District of Durham in the Rose Croix degree at Archer Street, Darlington in the presence of a full house in the Lodge Room and Banquet Hall.

St Cuthbert Chapter hosted this prestigious event and a team of officers from the Supreme Council 33º of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, arrived to perform the Installation Ceremony.

Rail delays had caused a scare when the team had not arrived at the allocated start time but after a short delay the proceedings got under way. The installing team, led by David Kenneth Williamson, the Lieutenant Grand Commander, who is pictured with Michael in the Banquet Hall proceeded to install Michael in a ceremony which went without a hitch.

The superb meal which followed the ceremony was enjoyed by a packed banquet hall in great company. The formal proceedings were concluded with a short toast list, after which all were left to reflect on superb evening.

Many congratulations Michael.

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Raymond Gregory Snaith | Durham Freemasons

Raymond Gregory Snaith

(Died 24/11/2022)

I am sure it was with great sadness that we all learned of the death of Ray Snaith on Thursday 24 th November. He had not enjoyed good health for a few years but the previous week was reported to be very unwell in the hospital and due to be discharged home on palliative care. His funeral takes place Today 5 th December 2022 at 10.30 am at All Saints Church, Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe.

Ray was in the teaching profession and ended his career as deputy headmaster of Billingham Campus School.  He was married to Pat and had an adult family. He enjoyed helping his children and especially playing the role of doting grandparent. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this sad time.

I first got to know Ray in the early 2000s when with another he visited lodges throughout the Province, selling wooden laths to prop open securely the lids of masonic cases, thereby avoiding hand injuries, should the lid suddenly fall shut, the proceeds being for the then Festival. He had a splendid line in patter which convinced the most obdurate refusenik to part with cash for his wares!

What shone through then were two qualities which he possessed in great measure, a tremendous enthusiasm for Masonry and a keen sense of humour, of fun. Those qualities never left him. His enthusiasm for Masonry was matched by a great knowledge of it and his ability to deliver ritual in an exemplary fashion. It was hardly surprising that these qualities brought him to the notice of the rulers in various orders, and honours came his way, thick and fast.

In the Mark Master Masons Degree, he was a member and Past Master of Steadfast Lodge No 846 in Darlington, becoming Provincial Grand Registrar in 1999, Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 2002, and a Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2004/5. In 2008 he was appointed to Grand rank as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. He was a Founder and Past Master of Indaba Lodge of MMM No 1936.

In the Craft, he was a Past Master of Darlington Lodge No 6158 and was appointed Past Provincial Grand Registrar in 2000, Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2005 (W Bro Denny Wilson was the Senior Warden), and promoted to Past Provincial Senior Warden in 2007 and had been appointed in Grand Lodge to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2005. He became a member of Indaba Lodge No 9454.

In the Royal Arch, he was a Past First Principal of Chapter of Vigilance No 111 and was appointed Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals in 2003 and Deputy Grand Superintendent in 2006, consequent to that office he was appointed Past Grand Sword Bearer in Supreme Grand Chapter. He remained Deputy Grand Superintendent till 2009. He had also joined Indaba Chapter No 9454 and was its First Principal in 2004.

Ray was also in Knights Templar in Tees Preceptory No 316 and was its Preceptor in 2011, he was appointed Provincial Almoner in 2012 and Provincial Sub-Prior in 2013. In 2014 he was appointed Past Great Standard Bearer (B) in Great Priory.

He was perfected into Mount Grace Rose Croix Preceptory No 849 (North Yorkshire), was a member of the higher degrees and subsequently joined Tees Chapter Rose Croix No 374.

I got to know Ray very well in the years 2006 to 2009, through the Royal Arch, as I was the Provincial Third Grand Principal with Derek Warneford being the Second Grand Principal and of course, the late Derek Richmond as Grand Superintendent. We were charged with raising the profile of the Royal Arch and thereby increasing its membership in the Province, as well as having oversight of its running. I found Ray to be innovative in his approach and ever-ready with ideas as to how we could achieve our objectives. Executive meetings were always friendly, and Ray would always give a fair hearing to all opinions even if he did not hold with them. Ray was the driving force behind the Chapter Roadshow, a successful recruiting tool. When Derek Richmond died in February 2008, Ray became the Deputy Grand Superintendent in Charge until the investiture of E Comp Eric Heaviside later in that year. Ray conducted the Provincial Annual Chapter meeting in 2008. At that meeting, I delivered this prayer for Derek which is so totally appropriate for Ray: –

“O True and Living God Most High, we bless thy holy name for all who have completed their earthly course in thy faith and fear and are now at rest. We remember before thee this day thy servant Raymond Gregory Snaith, rendering thanks to thee for the gift of his friendship and for his life of service and devotion. And we beseech thee, in thy loving wisdom and almighty power, work in him, as in us, all the good purpose of thy holy will.

So mote it be.”


Peter Athen Smith

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Dunelm & CHUF | Durham Freemasons

John Williams, the master of Dunelm Lodge who meet in Darlington, selected the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) as his charity to support during his term in office when he was installed in 2019. With the impact of Covid 19 on many organisations as well as Freemasonry it meant join would remain at the helm of Dunelm lodge for 3 years.

The charity is close to John’s heart as his grandson spent the majority of the first year of his life in the Freeman hospital, where the support from the charity to his parents was exceptional and helped them through what was a very tough period in their lives. His grandson is now a healthy 8-year-old.

The members of the lodge took it upon themselves to raise as much as they could over the course of John’s mastership and achieved a magnificent total of £3,320. This was beyond any expectations and thanks applies to each and every member who donated towards the total. Dunelm lodge then applied to Durham Benevolence for additional funding to increase the amount.  Durham Benevolence also gave generously and added a further £1,680 to take the total donation to £5,000.

On the 8 th of November John and lodge Charity Steward, Mick Redpath, went along to the CHUF offices in Gateshead to find out more about the great work they do and to present Alicia Clovis-Mothalib (CHUF fundraising manager) with a certificate confirming the donation of £5,000. The donation will be used in part for the purchase of Christmas teddy bears and selection boxes for the 300 child patients treated this year who will attend the CHUF Christmas party and also towards the charity’s emergency nurse’s fund.  The emergency nurse’s fund is to support parents on their initial, sometimes traumatised, arrival with sick children from locations far from home with practical measures associated with accommodation, cost of travel and parking. CHUF were extremely grateful for the support that was given by Dunelm Lodge, and the freemasons of the Province of Durham.

Photo 1 (L-R): John Williams, Alicia Clovis-Mothalib & Mick Redpath.

Photo 2 (L-R): John Williams & Mick Redpath.

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Stronger Communities | Durham Freemasons

Durham Freemason Denis Slater was extremely pleased, not only to be nominated for, but to be presented with a stronger communities award for his contribution to sports 2022.  Denis, formerly of Darlington Lodge and now a member of Strathmore, who meet in Barnard Castle is chief instructor at Kyosho Karate club who train at Hurworth primary school.

The Hurworth Kyosho Karate club was founded in 1982 with Denis being one of the founder members.  The Hurworth club is one of two not-for-profit clubs with the other Kyosho Karate club meeting at Barrow-in-Furness.  Denis is a 4 th Dan black belt in karate and is currently attempting to attain his 5 th Dan with Karate International in Leeds.

Denis could not be more dedicated and has volunteered his evenings twice a week for the past 40 years teaching students from the age of 5 up to adults with specialised classes to suit different ages.  Denis inspires confidence in children with low self-esteem, orchestrates and directs his assistant instructors and brings a fun and safe place for many.  Denis’ dedication does not just sit with the 2 classes per week, Denis can be seen taking time out of his personal life to transport, coach and develop students at competitions around the UK, training a team to win several medals at the European Open in Manchester in 2016.

Denis personifies what it takes to be a local volunteer delivering a local community club to adults and children, providing his students with a positive and safe environment to build lifelong friendships and sense of community spirit with a real sense of family in the club.

Denis was nominated for the award by his son Michael Slater who had the following to say:

“Over 40 years ago my late uncle Stuart walked into my Mam and Dad’s house and said to my Dad, get your shoes on we are going to try karate and off they went. Little did Dad know this would be a journey he would dedicate most of his life to. My Dad, for a long time, has taken time out to teach, train and inspire individuals and deserves some recognition. I’m proud as punch to say that he was nominated for contribution to sport at the Darlington Stronger Communities Awards, and I’m even prouder to say he won.

Congratulations Dad.”

1st photo     Denis presented with award by Barry Thompson on behalf of Darlington FC

2nd photo    Members of the Kyosho karate family.  Left to right: Michael Skingley,  Darren Taylor (a member of County Lodge Darlington and Chief instructor at Barrow Kyosho Karate Club), James Reese, Denis Slater, Michael Slater (Denis’ son who nominated him), George Skingley.  All are instructors at Hurworth Kyosho Karate Club

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Lest we Forget | Durham Freemasons

The Freemasons of Durham turned out in large numbers to pay their respects in the many organized parades and marches throughout the province. Here is a selection of photos from those submitted and many more will be added to the Provincial Flickr page later.

More photos to view here

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Band of the Coldstream Guards Northern Tour | Durham Freemasons

A concert with the Band of the Coldstream Guards at the Dolphin Centre, Darlington, Friday 30 th September 2022.

At the end of September, the world-renowned Band of the Coldstream Guards will be visiting County Durham, with engagements in Durham and Darlington. During their visit they will engage with up to 1500 County Durham school children in free aspirational workshops to build their musical skills, increase their self-esteem, and appreciation of music. Many of these young musicians will also have a unique opportunity to play with the Band of the Coldstream Guards at a special commemorative concert in the Dolphin Centre, Darlington, on Friday 30 th September.

For the young people taking part, this project will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with an iconic military band. The musical workshops will be designed to present positive musical challenges and encourage young people to step out of their comfort zone, promote musical growth, and build confidence.

The Band of the Coldstream Guards is one of the oldest and best-known military bands in the world. During its long and distinguished existence, the Band has achieved a worldwide reputation for excellence. The Band of the Coldstream Guards leads the way in producing and performing the absolute best military music, and their work delights music fans of all ages around the globe.

The concert will also include performances from local musicians, including the Pipes and Drums of 102 Battalion REME, the Ravenswood Singers, and the Cardinal Hume School Choir. The concert has been generously supported by the Province of Durham Freemasons.

John Thompson, the Head of the Freemasons in Durham, said “The Freemasons have members from all walks of life, with many having a military connection, so when the opportunity came to support the Band of the Coldstream Guards as they tour the region, working with over 1500 children in local schools, we just had to get involved.”

The concert will celebrate the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and will present a rare opportunity for residents of County Durham to experience a live performance of a high-calibre military band. The concert will also raise funds for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the national charity of the British Army.

Lieutenant Colonel Barney Barnbrook, Regional Director for The Soldiers’ Charity, said “The Charity is proud to be part of this poignant and moving concert, celebrating the life and service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and extremely grateful to the Lord Lieutenant, and to the Province of Durham Freemasons, for their support to this event.”

Tickets for the concert are available for £10.00 per person online at or via the QR code below.

Click here for  Dolphin Centre Concert Flyer

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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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Assistance for Children in Ghana | Durham Freemasons

On the 12th of June Excellent Companion Allan Stokoe presented a a cheque for £3,970 to Mr Joseph E Sudhakar the consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

This generous donation was supported by Darlington Royal Arch Chapter, by making a generous donation of £500.

Mr Sudhakar and his surgical team travel every year, at their own expense, to Ghana, there to operate on children with genetic deformations in their legs and feet.

Last year, the team undertook 33 major operations, on infants, during their one week visit to Ghana.

This year the team travel out on the 3rd September and they anticipate that they will once again carry out around 33 operation for which they make no charge.

With the donation of £3,970 the team have been able to purchase a much needed portable piece of medical equipment, which will be used to ease the pain of the children post surgery.

Being portable the team retain possession of the equipment, which will enable them make use of the equipment in any location where they operate on a not for profit basis.

Ex Comp Allan Stokoe has over the past three years raised over £64,000 making donations to organisations such as:

Blood bikes

The Great North Air Ambiance Service

St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital

Sportsman’s Lodge

Help 4 Heroes

Salvation Army Night Shelters

Chemotherapy unit Bishop Auckland Hospital


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Town Crier Ian’s Day In The Sun With Robson | Durham Freemasons

TV star Robson Green was in Barnard Castle on 22 nd June for his latest TV programme to be shown on BBC2 about local market towns, of which Barnard Castle is considered one of the best the Northeast has to offer.

Robson was treated to a guided tour of ‘Barney’ by none other than Town crier and Freemason Ian Kirkbride.

It’s been quite a busy year already for Barnard Castle’s Town Crier, Ian who also happens to be Secretary of the Nevill Lodge of Installed Masters in Darlington.

In this the Queens Jubilee Year his hectic schedule has included “Proclamations, Beacon lighting” duties and accompanying the Town Mayor during the annual “Meet Parade” celebrations’

This celebrity encounter coincided with the hottest day ever recorded in the UK so Ian was, in his words, “pretty warm under that cloak” and grateful that his outfit will be more appropriately suited to the ‘switch-on’ of the Town’s Christmas lights.

Ian Kirkbride a Freemason truly engaging with his community, should any Durham member have a similar story to tell, we would be delighted to hear your story please contact us at: or

Stronger Together

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