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Durham Go Live on Radio Stitch

Recently … Big Ted accompanied the Provincial Grand Master along Mark Davies, and Colin to Radio Stitch broadcasting to the University Hospitals of North Tees & Hartlepool on Hospedia Channel 1. Base based within North Tees Hospital John, was there to promote TLC within the Province of Durham and the engagement of Durham Freemasons within the community.

The visit proved to be quite a nostalgic event as also attending on behalf of TLC was Freemason Colin Overton who kindly organised the visit. A former volunteer presenter on the station, whose first encounter with the teddies was back in 2006 when he attended the very first meeting held at Penshaw to introduce the TLC scheme to Durham, and at the end of the meeting the then Provincial Grand Master Derek Richmond the time held up a Teddy and asked who wanted the first Teddy. Colin shot his hand up and Derek threw it to him saying “that will cost you a tenner”.Colin gave the teddy to his Granddaughter so technically she was the first child to get a teddy in the Province of Durham.

John and Ted were given a tour of the studio by station manager Elliot Kennedy who explained how the equipment, aspects of radio presenting, production, interviewing techniques, recording and editing and the service delivered to the patients, family and staff at both North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals, along with the stations plans to expand its service to other areas within the Province.

The interview will be regularly broadcast within hospitals, providing a tremendous platform,enhancing awareness of the highly successful TLC initiative and Durham Freemasons as an organisation.

To Listen to the Broadcast Click Here

Stronger Together

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Ravensworth Golf Trophy

For 102 years the golfers of the Province have met to compete for the Ravensworth Golf Trophy – a fine silver trophy presented in 1921, by the Provincial Grand Master at the time,  Lord Ravensworth.

This year, on Thursday, July 6th, 63 golfers met at Roseberry Grange Community Golf Club to compete again for the trophy and were blessed with good weather, a course in excellent condition, good food, good company – and even some good golf (for some!).

The competition was once again held to raise funds for the Provincial TLC scheme and Big Ted was on hand to have his photograph taken with each foursome on the first tee, assisted by our Provincial Grand Master,  RWBro John Paul Thompson.

The winners this year were Andrew Forster and his partner Malcolm Dunstone – both from St Cuthberts Lodge No 3417, who repeated their success of 2021, with a winning score of 47. In addition to getting their names engraved on the trophy, the pair will hold a magnificent crystal trophy for a year with engraved whisky glasses and golfing equipment.

In their foursome that morning was John Illingworth of Trinity Lodge No 4751, who won the “nearest the pin” competition on the 18th hole with a shot within 5ft 5 inches of the hole, winning himself the prize of £100. 

Second and third were 2 visiting pairs, Ian McArthur & Fran Carrigan (score of 44) and John Davison & Peter Walker (score of 43 and ahead on count back), who also won golfing equipment, whilst in 4th place were John Webster and his playing partner Mike Saint of Old Dunelmian Lodge No 8100, who also came in with a score of 43.

On hand to present the prizes at the end of the day, in his own inimitable way, was Kenneth Howe, who confirmed that not only had it been a great day for the golfers, the event had raised the magnificent sum of £1500 for Big Ted and the TLC scheme.

Well done to the organisers, golfers and Big Ted. Here’s looking forward to the 2024 Ravensworth Trophy.

Stronger Together

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A Sign of the Times to Come | Durham Freemasons

When the TLC Teddies were relaunched throughout the Province five years ago a core part of our strategy was to build a close relationship with the many Hospitals that received them and their teams working in the Children’s Accident and Emergency.

It was hoped that over the years the hospital teams would recognise the support given by Durham Freemasons by the provision of Teddies to calm children in distress. We have so far provided over 113,000 of those little bears throughout the Province of Durham.

University Hospital of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have received over 13,000 distraction Teddies. They have become a core part of the Children’s Accident and Emergency Teams procedure for dealing with children in distress.

The Hospital were wishing to show their appreciation for the generosity of local Freemasons and invited The Provincial Grand Master John Paul Thompson, TLC Coordinator Duncan Maw and local Ambassador Mark Davies to attend the installation of the first plaque in the Province acknowledging our support.  It is now prominently displayed at the A & E Reception desk as can be seen in the photographs.

After the plaque was put in place, Nicola Jones, one of the units Paediatric HCA’s, also went onto the hospitals social media feed to highlight the plaque and to acknowledge the support given by local freemasons.

As John Thompson stated, the provision of the teddies and our close working relationship with local hospitals is a shining example of how local Freemasons can provide support and be recognised as a force for good in our local communities. I hope that we will see more plaques displayed in our local hospitals acknowledging our involvement.

Local TLC Ambassador Mark Davies remarked anyone who has had a young family member receive one of these little bears at a time of distress will instantly recognise how valuable they are and how well thought of by the recipients. The time given by the team at UHNTAND today clearly shows how valued the Teddies are.

TLC Coordinator Duncan Maw stated it costs approximately £15,000 per year to supply Teddies throughout the Province and we would like to thank all the Brethren for their ongoing generosity. He also expressed his gratitude to the TLC team for their continued hard work in ensuring the A&E’s throughout the Province are well stocked with supplies of the TLC Teddies.

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TLC Teddies

TLC Teddies

What are TLC Teddies?

TLC Durham provides small teddy bears, known as distraction teddies, to Accident and Emergency departments or Urgent Care Units across the Province of Durham. These are used by medical professionals, with distressed children, to calm them and so speed the diagnosis of their illness and its treatment. Their use saves the NHS considerable staff time and speeds the diagnosis and thus treatment of many injuries where delays can have considerable negative impact on the child’s recovery.

Each Teddy has a label stating “Donated by local Freemason’s” and they are a clear and identifiable sign of freemasons working for and within our communities to make lives better. Funding for the bears is raised from within freemasonry by various means and the funds are ring fenced within Durham Benevolence to be used solely for the provision of TLC Teddies.

We also deliver Selection Boxes at Christmas and Easter Eggs to the various Children’s Wards across the Province. The many letters and cards of thanks received from the nursing staff or from the children are a testament to the value the wider community places on our good work. These small acts of kindness make a big difference.

Our main communication with the wider NHS community and its patents is via our Facebook site ‘TLCTeddiesDurham’ and the active engagement continues to grow. We now have 1,765 likes and reaching often in excess of 4000 people. We would encourage everyone to visit the site to truly gain an understanding of the impact the Teddies have. If you like the site you will then receive notifications when we receive new posts. Many of these are from parents and Hospital staff, across the province, expressing gratitude and thanking freemasons for our kindness.

We raised £14,085 during 2022 and we provided 4248 to be used with children in distress. Since TLC Teddies was launched throughout the Province of Durham we have provided over 115,000 bears to help comfort children in distress.

The Teddies are something Freemason’s are especially proud of as they make a big difference to the children who receive them by “turning tears into smiles” at a difficult time.

TLC Durham


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The Ravensworth Masonic Golf Trophy 2023 | Durham Freemasons

This Competition was started in 1921 with the Winners from the Lodge of Industry. Over the past 101 years it has been the focus of an enjoyable day out for Brethren who like their golf. Whatever their ability they can enter this Annual Competition and enjoy masonic fellowship and at the same time raising funds for our fantastic initiative ‘Teddies For Loving Care Durham’.

To win the Ravensworth Trophy, the winning pair must be two Freemasons from the Province of Durham, representing a named lodge, of which at least one of the pair is a member. Non-masonic guests are welcome to play and, although ineligible to win the trophy, will receive a suitable prize if finishing in a ‘placed’ position. There will also be a prize for Nearest-The-Pin.

The entry fee is £75 per Two-Ball or £150 per Four-Ball paid in advance to include coffee, tea and bacon sandwich on arrival and two course meal afterwards with all profits going to Masonic Charities. It is expected that entries will be made either as a foursome or as a pair. Tee times are reserved from 10.00am.

Those wishing to enter the event should contact Alan Jenkins  at  (07780 304364), Martin Rankin  at  (07850 527100)  or  Craig Pattison  at   (07921 220186)  and inform them of your preferred tee time.

Entries can only be confirmed on receipt of payment by cheque – payable to “ Ravensworth Golf Trophy ” or preferably by bank transfer to:

Ravensworth Golf Trophy

Sort Code 20-45-45

Account No. 03562204

Every hole can be sponsored at a very reasonable cost of £25 with the sponsors details on the Tee Box and full recognition given to their company, organisation, masonic lodge or group. We welcome any contributions towards this – please contact  Bill Baty at (07956125851) for further details.

A Raffle will also be held on the day and any donated prizes would be welcomed.

We look forward to welcoming you to Roseberry Grange Golf Club for this very special Masonic Social Event, one that we hope you will support.

Stronger  together

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Soothing Bears | Durham Freemasons

Scarborough Court is the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institutions (RMBI) home providing support for older Freemasons, their families, and people in the wider community with residential care, nursing and dementia support. Although in Cramlington (Northumberland) it is fully supported by the three Provinces of County Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland from which areas the bulk of the residents are drawn.  Today the three Provinces pulled together to put a smile on the faces of the residents by making the first delivery of “soothing bears”!

Bill Morley DPGM of Cumberland & Westmoreland was made aware several nursing homes in his Province were supplying shop bought Teddies for dementia patients on their wards. These were proving a great source of help of comfort and support, helping ease any distress and anxiety that patients carrying the Teddies were experiencing, from time to time because of their Dementia. Bill immediately thought of the dementia residents in Scarborough Court where he is a member of the Committee of Friends. Sam Buxton the care home manager confirmed they would be delighted to receive Teddies if the Friends of Scarborough Court wished to allow their provision. The home supports up to 37 residents of these currently 18 live in the dementia area. Activities Manager Stacy Hunter stated “these will be a fantastic tool to allow is to bring a very personalised level of comfort to our many residents during their time in the home”.

St. Oswald’s Lodge & Harte Lodge agreed to share the cost of the 1st three boxes of Teddies to Scarborough Court. The Masters Richard Tucker MBE and Jim Durrand presented these to Activities Manager, Stacy Hunter and Phil Armstrong of the Homes Facilities team accompanied by several residents who were keen to take possession of their new friends. Also on hand were John Thompson the PGM of the Province of Durham, and Bill Morley and Alasdair Watson, APGM Northumberland.

One of the highlights of the day was meeting Eric Allison, a Northumberland Freemason, who is the Home’s most long standing resident who is still an active Freemason. He was proud to show Alasdair Watson the photo of him receiving, last year, his 70 th  Certificate in his own Lodge. This again emphasised the amazing support the home provides in ensuring Eric could continue to enjoy his Freemasonry.

Duncan Maw, the TLC coordinator for the Province of Durham, stated “everyone was overwhelmed how quickly the Teddies brought a smile to the residents that were on hand to help receive the bears. The real power of the generosity and kindness of the Brethren across all three Provinces is clearly seen in the many photos published alongside this article.”

It is hoped that other Lodges across all three Provinces will come forward and offer to buy further bears for use by the staff and residents at Scarborough Court. Any Lodge that wishes to do so are asked to contact Duncan Maw at  who will coordinate the supply to the home when required. The home is keen to welcome any contributing Lodge to present the bears and it would be a great opportunity to see the good work undertaken at Scarborough Court.

John Thompson was keen to stress on behalf of all the Provinces “This is a fantastic facility provided by an organisation with its roots deep in Freemasonry. The many services and high level of care offered by the staff at Scarborough Court are not as widely known throughout the provinces as they could be. We all see the regular Provision of Teddies as a real opportunity to raise the profile of the home and to clearly signal to our brethren that it is a multi-province facility that we are all proud of and should contribute towards!”

In Attendance:

JPT, Andrea Thompson, Bill Morley MBE DPGM Cumbria and Westmoreland, Alasdair Watson APGM Northumberland, Richard Tucker MBE WM St Oswald Lodge, Jim Durrand WM Harte Lodge, Duncan Maw TLC Coordinator, Stacy Hunter Activities Manager, Phil Armstrong Facilities Team Member.

And the real stars:

Heather Doonan, Lilly Storey, Tom Heslop, Maureen Meggason and Eric Allison seen standing with JPT and AW

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Winter Wonderland | Durham Freemasons

Freemason Andrew Bull works for the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, who are the mental health and learning disability Trust for County Durham, Darlington, and Teesside. North End House in County Durham is a base for their community affective team and it is here that they hold their first of three, ‘Winter Wonderland,’ events in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) garden.

Young people from the gardening group transform the garden shed into a Christmas Grotto and welcome visitors to the event.

The North End House team dresses up as elves, with Andrew stepping into the role of Santa (whilst he’s not busy at the North Pole). Families and carers of the young people all enjoy taking part in the festive activities on offer.

Now Andrew became aware that their ‘Winter Wonderland,’ was having an issue. It was due to open on the 8th of December when the staff bring Santa’s Grotto to life but presents for children were in short supply and Andrew wondered if the TLC Teddies (Teddies for Loving Care) would help. TLC Teddies are small Teddy Bears bearing a label simply stating ‘Donated by local Freemasons,’ these are distributed to the Accident and Emergency Units and Child hospice and Respite Care Centre’s in County Durham and are given at the medical staff’s discretion to young patients to help alleviate distress. (Over 110,000 to date)

After consultation with TLC Coordinator and Freemason Duncan Maw, Andrew was advised that the TLC Teddies are to specifically provide Teddies for use in Children’s A & E Units, but not to be thwarted the Durham Freemason’s Benevolent Committee were so impressed with the impact of the confidence building work being undertaken, and wishing to support the young people and their families, they provided funds to purchase 100 Teddies for Santa to distribute.

Andrew and his team’s vision is for the ‘Winter Wonderland,’ to offer a Christmas experience for those who may not be fortunate enough to meet Santa elsewhere due to the rising cost of living, or for those impacted by their mental health who feel they would not be able to attend mainstream visits. The Freemasons of Durham were glad to play a small part in helping this to be successfully achieved.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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Hetton Lyon 75th Anniversary | Durham Freemasons

On the evening of Friday 10th November 2022, the members of Hetton Lyon Lodge No. 6533 of gathered at the Masonic Hall Hetton Le Hole to celebrate their 75 th  Anniversary with some 94 brethren in attendance.   

An event of such importance was recognised with a Full Team Visit led by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham PSGD.   

Ron Smith delivered a précised history of the lodge, World War II, 1939-1945, proved to be a watershed moment in World history, the World was changed forever in very many ways.  

 Masonically it became a time of expansion, due to men returning home from the horrors of war, and others, who had not been in the Armed Forces, were seeking some form of order and stability in society. Indeed 190 new lodges were formed in 1946 and that had risen to over 1000 by 1955. In 1946 Bernard Gilpin Lodge had 182 members with many more waiting to join.  

Against this background 20 Brethren decided to form a new lodge, originally the Founders had suggested that the new lodge be named Bowes Lyon but because of the Royal connection could not be granted; and after further deliberation it was decided to take Hetton Lyon and on the Wednesday 6th August 1947 the warrant was granted and signed by the Acting Grand Master, Edward William Spencer, 10th Duke of Devonshire.  

To read full history click here:  

The evening was finished off at the festive board, where Michael responding to his toast, stated his appreciation to the lodge for their planning that went into this momentous evening in the lodge’s history. He went on to thank the brethren for the generous donations given in the lodge room earlier of £75.00 to Durham Benevolence and £75.00 to Tender loving Teddies, without exception the most successful initiative the Province of Durham have had.  

The Worshipful Master Simon Smiles went on to thank the members of Hetton Lyon for their unequivocal support and although small in number, they were incredibly strong as a unit; a major factor in reaching the evenings celebrations.  

The responses on Provincial Wardens were given thanking the members of Hetton Lyon for the warmth of welcome, the generous hospitality shown to the team and for the gift of a Pen to those in attendance.  

Congratulations Hetton Lyon as we look forward to you celebrating your Centenary. 

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Freemasons’ annual report reveals 50% increase in membership enquiries | Durham Freemasons

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has launched its 2021 annual report, which shows an increase in the number of membership enquiries from 12,000 in 2020 to 18,000 in 2021, reflecting its commitment to modernisation and transparency.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of visitors to the UGLE website, up from 65,000 in 2020 to 83,000 in 2021, representing a rise of almost 30%.

In 2021, UGLE launched its first National Digital Marketing Campaign (NDMC). The campaign aimed to modernise communication channels with the public and send a clear message about the world of Freemasonry and what being a member has to offer.

Results from the campaign have already started to be seen. Currently, UGLE has a waiting list of 6,000 people expecting to become members, while more than 8,800 membership enquiries were received in less than three months (78% higher than the initial target). Recent research also showed that one in four people would consider joining the Freemasons today, compared to just one in ten when the same survey was conducted in 2018.

HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: “Freemasonry has had a profound effect on its members, drawing people together and celebrating the very best of humanity. I am enormously proud of the efforts of our organisation and its members. I hope that, having read this report, you will agree that we are a unique institution and, more than that, a real force for good in society.”

The annual report also highlights that Freemasons were busier than ever in 2021 in their local communities, looking after and supporting the vulnerable. They donated three million soft-toys for Teddies for Loving Care, while more than 33,000 adult, young and parent carers were supported by a donation of more than £715,000 from Freemasons. The funds helped to provide crisis support, guidance, advice and information.

Elsewhere, Freemasons donated more than £550,000 to help individuals experiencing mental health issues across the UK.

The Armed Forces and Freemasonry have always been inextricably linked, so this combined and illustrious history made the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant a perfect fit for the UGLE and its Provinces. The signing took place during an event at Freemasons’ Hall in October 2021 and demonstrated the UGLE’s support for members of the Armed Forces in several areas, including education, family wellbeing, getting a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare, financial assistance and discounted services.

Looking forward, the annual report also gives a glimpse of the UGLE’s new seven-year strategy known as the Strategic Roadmap. The project is being led by Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and his strategic team. Mr Spence is currently travelling to present the roadmap in greater detail to each region.

The strategy aims to ensure the UGLE is a thriving organisation that members enjoy and are proud of being part of, and which positively impacts communities and supports wider society.

Regarding the Strategic Roadmap, Mr Spence said: “Sustainability of membership is not just concerned with securing new members from across all age groups and backgrounds, but also about motivating and engaging our current membership.”

In 2023, Freemasons will celebrate the 300-year anniversary of the publication in London of The Constitutions of the Freemasons – known as the 1723 Constitutions – which would set a pattern for Freemasonry throughout the world. Understanding their context helps to explain the origins of modern Freemasonry and shed light on the relationship between Freemasonry and society today.

Freemasonry is a unique members’ organisation that has thrived for more than 300 years. Having no political or religious affiliations, we comprise members of all ages, races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. Freemasons gather in their individual Lodges throughout the country, where they have ceremonial traditions that encourage members to be more tolerant and respectful, and actively fulfil civic and charitable responsibilities. They also make time to eat, drink and meet together, often forming lifelong friendships.

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A Celebratory Night at Sincerity | Durham Freemasons

The Worshipful Master and brethren of Sincerity Lodge No 6036 on Wednesday were very pleased to welcome the Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson and a Provincial Deputation team to their Installation night.

With the help from the number of the Provincial Deputation, over 70 brethren filled the lodge to see the Installing Master, Douglas Barkass, take charge for the night, resulting in the Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Gordon Brewis, being installed into the chair for his third time. Gordon’s first pleasing duty was to hand over two cheques to John Paul Thompson for Durham Benevolence and TLC Teddies which were great fully received. John reciprocated by performing a presentation and explanation of a Grand Lodge Certificate to one of Sincerity’s newest members, David Lee Barnes.

At the festive board the guest were treated to a hearty meal served from a team of stewards from Eardulph Lodge. On John’s reply to his toast, he thanked the brethren of Sincerity for a wonderful evening and commended Gordon Brewis for his service to the Province as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master. John went on to remind everyone the importance of every lodge in the Province to have or invest in a five-year membership plan to keep attendances like tonight, more achievable.

After the Master’s song, Gordon responded to his toast stating, “that was still as emotional as his first time as Master”, he then produced an album containing photographs taken at his first Installation in 1993, to pass around the room for viewing, claiming he looks no different almost 20 years on! You can see from the photos, the jury’s out on that one Gordon.

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