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A Diamond Celebration at Fraternity

A special celebration was planned for the May meeting at the Lodge of Fraternity, who meet at the masonic hall at Stockton.  The Master of the lodge, Lee Harrison, welcomed into the lodge the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, John Watts, who was accompanied by a number of Grand and Provincial officers.  Following salutations, lodge steward Kwan Cheung gave a presentation on his “Vis Moot experience” in Vienna.  Vis Moot is an international competition and since 1994, it has been held annually in Vienna, Austria, attracting more than 300 law schools from all around the world.  The objective of the Vis Moot is to foster study in the area of international commercial arbitration and encourage the resolution of business disputes by arbitration.  Kwan explained to the brethren about how he was given the opportunity to go as a result of the educational funding provided by the Durham Freemasons Charity.  Kwan expressed his appreciation for the opportunity that he was given as a result of the funding.

The next agenda point related to the star of the evening, Ronald Studholme.  John invited Ron to sit with him at the front of the lodge in front of the Master, where the rest of the brethren would be able to see and hear them.  John gave his sincere congratulations to Ron on his fantastic achievement of sixty years long service in Durham Freemasonry.  Ron explained to the brethren that he was born in Ingleton village, which is around 3 miles from Staindrop.  Ron’s father, brother and two brother-in-law’s were members of Rose of Raby lodge.  Ron applied to join the Rose of Raby lodge at the age of twenty-two.  At that time there was a four year waiting list to join so Ron wasn’t made a member until he was twenty-six.  Because of the popularity at the time Ron recalled that the initiation ceremonies were done in twos with eight people joining every year. 

Ron recalled that he was working at ICI and that he had moved to live at Norton where he went on to have his family.  He also remembered daunting journeys travelling to Staindrop on winters nights with his “old leaky radiator car”.  He was initiated and passed in 1964, raised in 1965 and joined the Lodge of Fraternity in 1976.  Ron kept both memberships for five years but only retained his membership to the Lodge of Fraternity after 1981, where he became Master in 1984.  Ron was honoured and appointed by the Lord Barnard with the acting rank of ProvJGD in 1992, further promoted to PPGReg in 2003 and then PPJGW in 2013.  Ron joined the Nevill Lodge of Installed Masters in 1996, after having encouragement to join from well-known brother Bill Dixon, and became Master in 2022.

Ron was presented with his fifty years long service award in 2014 by the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master at the time, Stephen Walker, who is now Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master and who was also in attendance at the meeting.  John presented Ron with his certificate for sixty years long service after it was read out to the brethren by the Provincial Secretary, Tom Gittins.  John expressed to everyone how much of a pleasure and privilege that it was to be there to present the certificate to Ron and that he looked forward to the seventy year milestone.

At the festive board downstairs Ron’s long term friend and another long serving member of the lodge, David Clark, presented Ron with a bottle of whisky and some flowers for Ron’s wife Cindy.  Although it was pointed out that the recipient of the gifts may be the wrong way round.

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150 years @ Fraternity

On the 26th of October the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson, had the pleasure of leading his team of Provincial officers to the Lodge of Fraternity.  Both members and visitors had gathered to celebrate a very special milestone in the history of the lodge; Lodge of Fraternity was consecrated one-hundred and fifty years ago in 1873.

All of the visitors were warmly welcomed into the lodge by its members and were then treated to a presentation led off by the Worshipful Master, Richard Barlow, and supported by his team of lodge officers.  The presentation gave snippets of the lodge history through the years touching on founder members, membership during war time, some callouts to individual lodge members on various topics as well as peaks and troughs in membership over the time. 

As part of the history it was highlighted that back in 2007 the lodge applied for membership of a new initiative from the United Grand Lodge of England. The initiative being the Universities Scheme, as a means of introducing Freemasonry to younger members.  The lodge has a wide demographic ranging from 20 to 85 years of age.  All of the brethren showed their appreciation of the presentation, and the hard work that has gone into it, in a manner usual among masons. 

During the second rising Richard had the pleasure of presenting a cheque to John for masonic charitable purposes to the value of £1,418; which is the number of the lodge as a mark of the occasion.  John was also able to surprise Richard by presenting him with a signed and framed certificate from The Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham for the lodge commemorating their 150 year achievement.

Downstairs at the festive board everyone in attendance was gifted a 2024 pocket calendar, a pen and also a booklet to commemorate the 150 years of the Lodge of Fraternity.  John responded to his toast and thanked the lodge for their 150 years of service in the Province of Durham. John also highlighted what a proud achievement it is and how appreciative he was able to be there celebrating with the lodge members and visitors.

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