Date :

Harte Chapter Centenary Celebrations | Durham Freemasons

Monday the 26th of September was a night of special celebration for the members & visitors of Harte Chapter 4217, who meet at the Masonic Hall at Raby Road in Hartlepool.  A lot of preparation had been invested in advance by a number of companions to make sure everything was in place to celebrate Harte Chapter centenary, having been founded in 1922.

John Thompson, Grand Superintendent, welcomed the Provincial Team (led by David Hanson, Second Provincial Grand Principal) in his capacity of Zerubbabel of Harte Chapter.  The companions were treated to a rich & detailed history of Harte Chapter that was prepared & delivered by Darren Bethell, Scribe Ezra, where appreciation was shown by all companions in a manner usual among Royal Arch Masons.

Companion David Kirwan took the floor & presented John with a trophy for the centenary of Harte Chapter.  The trophy being very detailed demonstrated that a lot of time & effort had been put in by David to craft it by his own hands.  David explained that he had joined Harte Chapter as a joining member where he was warmly welcomed by the members, which he very much appreciated.  David has never found the opportunity progress in office due to busy work commitments but has enjoyed every minute of being a member & wanted to give something to the chapter as a thank you & also something that can be looked after & displayed for many years ahead.  John commented on how wonderful he thought the trophy was & thanked David for his kind gift.  David also pointed out that there is a secret door on the back of the trophy.

A facsimile of the centenary charter was read out by Tom Gittins, Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, who advised that the official charter is delayed due to a shortage of materials.  Tom also advised the companions that he is sure that the Grand Superintendent would be happy to visit in the future to officially present it when it arrives.  David Hanson presented the facsimile to John on behalf of the Province.

John presented David Hanson with two cheques from Harte Chapter; one for £100 towards Durham Benevolence & the other also for £100 towards TLC teddies.  David thanked John & the members of Harte Chapter for their kind generosity.

After the business was concluded upstairs the companions enjoyed a fantastic festive board & each others company downstairs as well as a raffle with many prizes.  The raffle raised the grand sum of £561.75!

Click Here For Lodge History

We are Stronger Together

<< Back to search results

Date :

225 Years Of Royal Arch Masonry | Durham Freemasons

Thursday 15th September 2022 saw the Companions of the Chapter of Strict Benevolence No 97 celebrate 225 years of Royal Arch Masonry. The Chapter was delighted to receive a Deputation from the Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham – A Full Team Visit led by EComp Michael Shaw, Deputy Grand Superintendent. Michael was supported on this occasion by the Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals, The two Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals and other Acting Provincial Officers totalling 21 in all. The Deputation were honoured to be asked to join in the celebrations which underlined the importance of the heritage of our past, the values of our present and the shared challenges that lie ahead.

The arrangements for the evening were made in large part by E Comp Roy Neville and he and the Chapter ensured that every Companion present felt part of this celebratory meeting and not just a peripheral member or visitor. Roy also gave a short history of the Chapter taken from a booklet produced in 2002 by the late E Comp Con Culkin. Roy emphasised that the although the evening was not an official anniversary, it is nevertheless undeniable that the Chapter of Strict Benevolence was constituted in 1797 and that the evening was an opportunity for the Companions to celebrate that fact.

Roy pointed out that 1797 was of course only 21 years after the American Declaration of Independence, 8 years before the battle of Trafalgar and 18 years before the battle of Waterloo (and long before that was proclaimed by ABBA!). Our first Grand Superintendent in Durham was appointed in 1788, just 9 years previously and so the Chapter of Strict Benevolence is indeed an ancient and honourable Chapter.

We were treated to an insight into one of our founding members Michael Scarth and the part he played in bringing the chapter into being as well as a profile of the man himself. A father, an active Mason, businessman and pillar of the community. Michael became master of his Lodge after 12 months, Provincial Junior Grand Warden within 4 years and founder and first Z of The Chapter within six years. A truly remarkable Mason. Roy also explained why today an unofficial anniversary and the mysteries of why the Chapter was did not meet for a period after 1839, resuming where it left off in 1852 with the same officers on the floor.

Following the meeting we retired to an excellent festive board where EComp Shaw responded to the toast to the Provincial Officers, reminding us of the value of the shared experience of the Royal Arch and the enjoyment that we can all get from it. He was also pleased to receive from the Scribe Wayne Rumley, a copy of the history of the Durham Harodim and a history of Palatine Lodge No97 both written by Con Culkin.

All in all, it was a fitting way for the Companions of the Chapter to celebrate this milestone in their history and they look forward to the future with renewed vigour.

<< Back to search results

Date :

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


<< Back to search results

Date :

Provincial Royal Arch Convocation | Durham Freemasons

Friday 15 th July 2022 saw The Annual Convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham return to Rainton  Arena after an absence of 8 years. The recently refurbished venue welcomed a plethora of companions resplendent in the crimson, purple and blue of the Royal Arch.

The return also saw the Grand Superintendent, EComp John Paul Thompson preside over his inaugural convocation following his recent investiture in June of this year.

Wildly recognised as the highlight in the Royal Arch Masonic calendar, 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.

It is quite something to witness when the Chapter is set out in an auditorium of this size, richly embellished this year by the roar and magnificent 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.

With Provincial Grand Chapter opened in due form and apologies and minutes of the previous Convocation confirmed it was time for the Companions present to remember those companions we have lost since our last meeting, sadly 40 companions have passed since September 2021 and a total of 152 companions since our last physical meeting in May 2019.

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 fire up the carrousel of as the Grand Superintendent Appointed, Invested and Promoted the worthy Companions who were lucky enough to receive a letter of appointment on the 17th April 2022.

At this point in the proceedings, John paid tribute to E Comp Paul Anthony Lee Hopper who stood down as 2nd Provincial Grand Principal at the recent special Installation meeting held at Dunston on 25 th June. He thanked Paul for his dedication to the Order and invested him with a Collarette to mark his retirement after some 10 years of active service.

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, EComp John Paul Thompson addressed Provincial Grand Chapter.

In his address, he paid tribute to the Companions he had had the privilege of investing as well as the Companions those retiring acting officers for the support they have given to the Province, to Michael Shaw our Deputy, our past GS John Arthur and himself over the last year

Those who had been appointed to or Promoted in Supreme Grand Chapter. At the April Meeting of the Supreme Grand Chapter, where the Ceremony was presided over by The Pro First Grand Principal, Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, were introduced and applauded with acclamation.

He also complimented the Companions on the high attendance which is a testament to your commitment to Royal Arch masonry, on what was a day of work for many himself included, stating “I can assure you this will be the last Provincial meeting which occurs during the week”

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

John spoke of his delight at how the Province was beginning to host social, sporting and charitable events outlining a number that are in the planning stage and would be announced in the near future.

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

A collection was then taken in Aid of  Durham Benevolence raising with gift aid over £1,500 , 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.

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.

 Gallery of photos in flickr by clicking here

<< Back to search results

Date :

A Remarkable Milestone | Durham Freemasons

The presentation of long-service awards within the Province is something the recipient and their Masonic colleagues always look forward to. Sadly, the recent suspension of Masonic activities as well as the advance of time often means the recipient is not able to attend to receive the award in person.

Such is the case with Excellent Companion Raymond Macaree. Raymond will be 97 years young in August 2022 but has been unable to attend his Lodge, the Lodge of Industry, his Chapter, Minerva Chapter of Industry, as well as his Knight Templar Preceptory and his Rose Croix Chapter, for some time. His two daughters, Vivien and Pamela, make sure he continues to stay safe and well.

Raymond has a long and distinguished Masonic career, becoming a Grand Officer in both Craft and Royal Arch, a Past Constable in the Provincial Priory of Durham and attaining the 32° in the Ancient and Accepted Rite.

His service has been recognised with certificates to mark 50 years and 60 years in Craft Masonry, 50 years in Royal Arch Masonry and 30 years in Knight Templar Masonry. Earlier in 2022, Raymond celebrated 60 years as a Royal Arch mason. Determined not to let this achievement go with a form of celebration his colleagues in the Minerva Chapter of Industry resolved to present the award in person as soon as it was practicable to do so.

Consequently, on Wednesday 29 th June Excellent Companions Malcolm Ross and Neil Walker from the Chapter, accompanied by Eminent Knight Chris Mullaney, visited Raymond at his home in Newcastle to make the presentation. Chris is the Provincial Almoner in the Knight Templar Order and keeps in contact with Raymond on a regular basis.

True to his great sense of propriety, Raymond had assembled a catering committee for the purpose; his elder daughter Vivien and her husband, David. His visitors were well provided for with tea, coffee, cake and biscuits as we reminisced with Raymond on some of the highlights of his masonic journey, the people he has met and the events he has attended and taken part in. He was in excellent form and it was a pleasure to see him looking so well. He also pointed out that space on his office wall had been prepared to take the latest addition to his impressive collection of certificates of Masonic service.

Congratulations Raymond on achieving a remarkable milestone in Royal Arch Masonry, and in the words of your late contemporary, Sidney Pattison, we wish you well.

(L to R) in photo: Chris Mullaney, Neil Walker, Raymond Macaree and Malcolm Ross)

<< Back to search results

Date :

A Landmark Day For Durham Freemasons | Durham Freemasons

Today, Saturday 25 th June, saw Gateshead bathed in sunshine, as over 400 Durham Freemasons and Brethren from many other Provinces gathered to witness the installation Ceremonies of WBro John Paul Thompson as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent.

Some 4 years have passed since the Freemasons of the Province of Durham witnessed an event of such high importance, emphasised by a packed FED Banqueting Suite who enjoyed a wonderful day with all the pomp and pageantry you would associate with such a momentous occasion.

Both Provincial Grand Chapter and Provincial Grand Lodge were reciprocally opened in due form by the Presiding Officer, Bro Stephen William Walker, before he graciously handed over to the Pro Grand Master, Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, to preside over one of his last such investitures in the provinces, having recently announced his retirement year, having been appointed as Pro Grand Master on 11 March 2009.

Peter went on to preside impeccably over both ceremonies, supported by Charles Hopkinson-Woolley, Grand Director of Ceremonies of UGLE.

The day also saw Michael Graham appointed as Deputy Provincial Grand Master having served as Assistant Provincial Grand Master since 2018.

Other appointments included the reappointments of Clinton Eliot Leeks, Andrew Moule and the returning John David Watts as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, and the appointment of Andrew Peter Fall Foster as Assistant Provincial Grand Master to complete the quartet.

It was a fitting day for Stephen William Walker, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, and Gordon Brewis, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, to stand down from their respective positions having both served the province with distinction.

Likewise, in the Royal Arch Michael Stuart Shaw was reappointed as Deputy Grand Superintendent, David Nigel Hanson was appointed Second Provincial Grand Principal, and Rakesh Bhalla was reappointed as Third Provincial Grand Principal, with Paul Anthony Lee Hopper standing down as Second Provincial Grand Principal, also having served with distinction.

Following his investiture as our Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent, John  gave his addresses, each inspiring and both rapturously applauded by the brethren.  We congratulate him and look forward to a bright future under his leadership.

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

To read the Provincial Grand Master’s Address in full  Click Here .

At the conclusion of the formal proceedings, the room was hastily transformed into a banqueting suite to allow over 300 members to enjoy a fabulous luncheon and continue the celebrations into the early evening.

Together we are stronger.

Follow this link to view further images on our Flickr feed.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Not a Platinum Jubilee but a 78th Anniversary | Durham Freemasons

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 31 st 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 1 st 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 3 rd 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 4 th 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.

<< Back to search results