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Nice One Cyril | Durham Freemasons

On Wednesday 22nd March the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson, accompanied by his Director of Ceremonies Martin Rankin attended Surtees Lodge in Shildon to acknowledge Cyril Kell who at 92 years young celebrated 65 years continuous membership in the craft. John was welcomed into the lodge by the Master, Robert Taylor Watson.

John then addressed the lodge and gave an insight into the life of Cyril:-

Cyril was born in Eldon Lane; his father and grandfather were both prominent freemasons in Shildon and founder members of Byerley Lodge.  It transpired that Cyril at one point in his life lived in the Masonic Hall in Middleton Road as his mother and father occupied part of the building as the lodge caterer and caretaker, respectively.  It necessarily followed that Cyril would join the craft and he was proposed into Surtees Lodge in 1958 by his father.

Cyril began his working life at 14 years old and started his apprenticeship in the Blacksmith’s and Joiner’s shop before commencing his lifelong career as a Teacher of Mathematics and Engineering in Toft Hill, Witton Park and Barnard Castle.   Cyril served his country as part of his National Service in 1952/53 in Korea and Egypt, seeking active duty in both conflict zones.

Cyril found it difficult to attend his lodge regularly due to the selfless care he devoted to his late wife and daughter.  John reminded the brethren that by Cyril’s example we should always be mindful that “family comes first”.

The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then read the citation on the certificate, and this was then presented to Cyril to the delight of himself and the brethren assembled.

At the festive board Cyril responded to his toast by thanking the brethren for a wonderful night and finished by saying that he has always been proud to be a Freemason and he told John that he would save a space on his wall for a further certificate in five years’ time.

To add further to the night’s festivities in the lodge room, the lodge Senior Warden James Fredrick Forster rose to his feet to announce to the lodge that a Charity Event that had been supported by Surtees Lodge had come to a successful conclusion.  This was the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, where Jim’s grandson Olly Collins along with 3 of his friends had rowed across the Atlantic Ocean from La Gomera in Tenerife to Antigua.    Jim gave a wonderful presentation to the brethren regarding the challenge and read a diary entry which explained the monumental moment “the lads” completed their row into Antigua harbour.     The Provincial Grand Master along with Dennis Robinson presented a cheque to Jim for £2000 from Durham Benevolence. Jim had raised £1,000 from Surtees Lodge which had been match funded by Durham Benevolence to support the Atlantic Endeavour team take part in their epic crossing. In doing so they raised tens of thousands of pounds in memory of their friend Oli Hilsdon.  Oli was a friend to all of the team and a dearly loved member of the community they grew up in. He lost his fight to Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive type of brain tumour, just days before his 27th birthday. Oli cared deeply for others, was wickedly funny and was brilliantly smart – he was an inspiration to all who knew him and set a true example of how to live life fully.

A rightly proud grandfather Jim, then thanked the brethren for their fundraising efforts and the Provincial Grand Master and Dennis for the cheque.  He has promised that his Grandson would be coming to the lodge at a future meeting to give a more detailed account of his voyage.   The “lads” set away on their “crazy idea” to row the Atlantic in 40 days…. they exceeded their own expectations and finished alongside professional teams IN 33 DAYS 23 HOURS AND 24 MINUTES.  What an amazing achievement.

To find out more about the challenge and their charitable exploits please visit the website below

Click Here for more information

All in all, a fabulous night at Surtees Lodge.

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Alan James Moore 60 Years Service to Freemasonry | Durham Freemasons

It was 60 not out for Alan James Moore of Trinity Lodge when he received his 60 year service to Freemasonry certificate at his home  from VW Bro George Clark, PDepProvGM, on 8th February 2023, as a consequence of Alan suffering from deteriorating health, which has prevented Alan attending Vane Lodge’s regular meetings.

Alan was initiated into Vane Lodge Bishop Auckland, on Friday 8th February 1963 following on in his father’s footsteps, and became their worshipful Master on 2 occasions 1975 and 20 years later in 1995 having 2 years earlier taken the chair of Trinity Lodge.  Alan remains a highly respected freemason and as a stalwart of the lodges he is a member, and was particularly delighted to receive honorary membership of Vane Lodge in 2022.

He presented Vane Lodge with their  current Past Masters Jewel, other donations over the years have included his farm hosting barbeques  raise funds in aid of Provincial Festivals for Vane Lodge. The farm is also the base for Alans other great passion in life, that of training race horses rumour has it, often producing the odd winning steed.

Joining the presentation party of George and Alan’s wife were members of  Vane Lodge George Siddle, Rod Hornsey, Paul Beere and Thomas Stubbs and representing Trinity Lodge, Simon Atkinson and Kevin William.

Congratulations Alan

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A full house at Shildon! | Durham Freemasons

Corinthian Lodge hosted their Installation meeting on Tuesday 24th January 2023, with Brother Tony Clark becoming the new Worshipful Master.

Tony has visited far and wide over the last two years and this was reciprocated by the number of visitors coming to support him on his special night.

The Provincial Senior Grand Warden  Paul Swansbury was in attendance representing the  Provincial Grand Master RW Bro John Paul Thompson.

The meeting was exceptionally well attended with some 98 members in attendance within the lodge room, representing lodges from as far away as Alberta in Canada and Scotland.

This was certainly the biggest event at Shildon since the pandemic of 2020/21, where all witmessed a ceremony of the highest standard, followed by a fantastic festive board, where the laughter and merriment went on until 11 pm.

Hopefully, this level of attendance is a sign of things to come.

Together We Are Stronger

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 “Feed Bellies Not Bins “ | Durham Freemasons

Shildon Alive is a St John’s Church Community Project run by the community, for the community. As well as being home to an advocacy service, the hub is used as a social area, open to the whole community. Activities include a Foodbank and Food for all Programme, Credit Union, Advocacy Support, Job Search, Youth Group, Community Gardens, Intergenerational Learning, and a Dementia Café.

Manager Paula Nelson applied to the Freemasons of Durham for a Community Support Grant to provide financial support for general purposes.

Paula was invited to attend the meeting of the Durham Freemasons Benevolent Committee at Shildon Masonic Hall, on Saturday 10th December 2022 where she gave a detailed insight into the inspirational work and activities carried out by Shildon Alive.

‘Shildon Alive fights food insecurity.’

In the Northeast alone 800,000 tonnes of food waste are generated every year, that’s over one-third of food produced for us to eat. At Shildon Alive their shop and takeaway are open to the whole community. The shelves are stocked with surplus food donated by local supermarkets; food originally destined for landfill. The shop operates on a ‘Take what you need, Donate what you can,’ policy meaning members of the community can come in, fill their basket with a wide range of products, and donate whatever they are able in return.

This enables the community to affordably add healthy food to their diets whilst simultaneously funding the work the charity carries out to benefit of residents of Shildon and the surrounding area. In 2022 they have so far helped 958 people.

During the meeting, local Freemason Stan Hunter had the pleasurable task of presenting Paula with a certificate to go along with the £1,000 Grant Shildon Alive had been awarded by the Freemasons of Durham.

Paula was thanked by chairman John D Watts for a most enlightening talk about the workings of Shildon Alive and all in attendance showed their appreciation.

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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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Cancellation of The Extravaganza 18th June at Shildon Masonic Hall | Durham Freemasons

Due to circumstances beyond their control it is with great regret that this event has been cancelled.

Organisers Charlie Walton & John Deamer Stated:

“We would like to thank everyone who have supported us in organising the event, and unreservedly apologise to those who have purchased tickets and any inconvenience this has caused”.

A member of the organising Committee will be in touch to soon to arrange full refunds.

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