Date :

50 years Chapter Celebration for David Railson

On the evening of Monday 19th December 2022, the companions of Elevation Chapter assembled at the Stanley Masonic Hall. This special meeting was of immense importance, it was a celebration of 50 years service to the Chapter for EComp Thomas William David Railson and the exhalation of Bro Hugh Dorans .

This evening started with the Provincial Grand Superintendent John Thompson being warmly welcomed into the Chapter Room and being introduced to the Companions.

The Companions of elevation Chapter then increased their numbers with a fine exhalation ceremony of Bro Dorans in which many members of the chapter and visitors took part.

The next business of the evening was for the Provincial Grand Superintendent to present the long service certificate to EComp David Railson. John did this in his usual style by inviting David to have a chat with him. Two chairs where placed and the companions took their seats.

David has been married to Christine in 1974 and has 3  daughters Fiona, Lynsey and Gemma….6 Grandchildren Elizabeth, Harrison, Grace, Hannah,, Jackson and Spencer aged 3

David’s  Education was at Newcastle upon Tyne Cathedral Choir of which he eventually became Head Chorister.

He Said “All I particularly wanted to do in those early years was to sing in the Choir and play Cricket.”

He later attended Newcastle Colleges on leaving School and decided  a Police Career was what I wanted to commit myself to as I had been interested in that for some time.

January 1964 saw him accepted into Newcastle upon Tyne City Police, after training was posted to West End Police Station where he met a myriad of characters all in a blue uniform.

After some years served in Divisional Administration ,Crime Intelligence and C.I.D. Promoted Sergeant 1978 …Stationed in Sunderland, Gateshead, Blaydon and Whickham from where I retired as Station Sergeant/ Custody Officer in 1993.

November1968 saw his initiation into Derwent Lodge No 4250 becoming W.M.1983.

His Royal Arch journey started in September 1972 with his exhalation  into Rowlands Gill Holy Royal Arch Chapter No 4694 becoming M.E.Z in 1987 going back to J. and H then M.E.Z. in 1990. After that in 1991 I took over as Scribe Ezra’a post I held for over 20years.

In 1992 received Provincial position of DepProvSwdB

Promotion. to DepProvGDC 1998-2000  and then ProvGDC  2000-2007.

During his  time as ProvGDC. there were many initiatives in which he was involved in organising provincial support for the second and third principals on official provincial visits and the introduction of the revised ritual into the Province, which was a major task.

During all of his time in the Holy Royal Arch Chapter David wrote and delivered many Lectures in and out of this Province , his Church background seemed to just be a forerunner  to Freemasonry more particularly the Holy Royal Arch where the many Biblical references and stories were so familiar. Indeed this followed on into many other  Masonic Degrees.

However ,  in the following years his Masonic Career really took off and in all the many Degrees he is still  a member of, he  achieved Acting Grand Rank in every Degree bar one  He particularly  enjoyed was Dep. Grand EPISCOPUS (CHAPLAIN) in the Order of the Scarlet Cord where he was in that Office for 3 years and gave ‘ orations’ relative to Consecrations and Enthronements over much of the Country, Past P.G.M in The order of Athelstan 2012-17  in Northumbria …P.G.M. Royal Order of Scotland   2017–date in Durham…..  Grand Supt. of The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and The Order of Holy Wisdom in Northumberland and Durham .

On conclusion John invited the Provincial DC EComp Nigel Fallow to present the 50 year long service certificate

E Comp Thompson acknowledged his amazing service to many degrees and thanked him for the work he has done in Durham in promoting the craft and the Holy Royal Arch. John further Commented that many of the things we do today in our visits and deputations and the ritual will read has David’s hand in it somewhere along the line.

Chapter Photos were taken before the evening progressed to the festive board.

Following an enjoyable meal, John Thompson thanked the Chapter for a Wonderful evening and was grateful for the invitation to share in this  special  Celebration. The full room in attendance added to the occasion. John then spoke about everything that was happening around the province and to encourage everyone to go out and enjoy their freemasonry.

Toast followed with Ecomp Railson thanking EComp Thompson for his attendance and the companions and visitors for their support.

All enjoyed an excellent and entertaining evening.

<< Back to search results

Date :

A Busy Night at St Mary’s Lodge | Durham Freemasons

The first Friday in December is the last Regular Meeting of St Mary’s Lodge in their Masonic year. They always invite an individual to present their Annual Lecture/Talk and this year were delighted to have Adam Lamb, the Provincial Archivist, accompanied by Tom Coulson. Adam presented a Talk on the Provincial Grand Masters of Durham.

The Talk was superbly delivered by Adam; it had wonderful content and was received very well by the 45+ brethren in attendance. All retired in plenty of time to enjoy the Christmas festive board with 45 dining, where a wonderful Christmas meal was provided by the caterer and served by the waitresses in attendance.

The night also included the Annual fraternal visit from the Lodge of Industry, their Mother Lodge, where nine of their brethren supported Dr. Tony Richardson, the Master. Tony replied to the visiting brethren’s toast later in the evening.

Joseph Kendall was elected as Master for the ensuing year with his Installation to take place on Friday the 3rd of February 2023 at 5.30pm. The next two months will see Joseph making his preparations for that special evening when he will also appoint his son, Michael Kendall, as Senior Warden and his good friend, Steven Connor, as Junior Warden. Anyone wishing to attend the Installation is most welcome and should contact the Lodge Secretary for more details about reserving a dining place; all are welcome.

Wonderful harmony was also enjoyed, performed by Richard Straughan. In his own very individual style Richard gave some reflections on life with reminiscences of times past and with memories of his father, the late Dick Straughan, a member of Ravensworth Lodge and a Music Hall Legend who provided many hours of harmony for Lodges in the 1980-90s. All agreed it was wonderful to have such good harmony once again.

The Annual Christmas Raffle where all the ‘bottles’ were donated by Lodge Members, raised £400 profit and this will be donated to Charity and presented to the Provincial Representative in February.

So a good night was had by all . . . but that was not the end of it.

Towards the end of the evening, Stephen Willis, accompanied by Alan Jenkins, who are members of the organising committee, presented the Lord Ravensworth Golf Trophy to the Winners of the 2022 event held at Chester-Le-Street Golf Club in July. Bill Baty, a Past Master, and Bryan Scott the visiting support Officer were successful in this and came in with an extremely high score of 49 Stableford points. Stephen relayed the events of the day to the brethren and asked Adam Lamb to make the presentation. As the Provincial Archivist and lead in the Provincial Museum at Provincial Grand Lodge in Sunderland, Adam Lamb had brought the original Ravensworth Trophy (a very valuable item) along and duly presented it to Bill and Bryan. It turned out to be a good day in July with St Mary’s Lodge winning the trophy and £1,000 raised from the event presented to the Masonic Fishing Charity.

St Mary’s Lodge in Gateshead have worked hard in recent years to maintain their membership and have introduced many new members over the past few years, and with membership around the 50 mark they are able to move forward positively using the guidance of the Members’ Pathway for their future development.

The photos show Bill Baty, Bryan Scott and Adam Lamb with the original Ravensworth Trophy and the more recent crystal bowl kept by the Lodge for a year.

<< Back to search results

Date :

“Peter Stracey House” 30 years on | Durham Freemasons

On Thursday 24 th November 2022, the Chairman of Durham Benevolence, John D Watts accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Michael Graham and members of the Durham Benevolence General Purposes Committee joined with the residents of Peter Stracey House to celebrate 30 years since its opening.

In 1992 the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham was honored by a visit of a Royal personage when the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, KG, formally opened Peter Stracey House, situated in Fulwell Sunderland.

It was the first sheltered accommodation owned and managed by Durham Benevolence on behalf of the Freemasons of the Province of Durham.

The building is named after former Durham Freemason Peter Stracey who was born in 1918 and died in 2011 age 93. Peter was honored in many ways, holding the rank of Past Grand Sword Bearer in the United Grand Lodge of England. His greatest achievement was masterminding the project which resulted in the development of Peter Stracey house which on completion cost some 4 million pounds.

<< Back to search results

Date :

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

<< Back to search results

Date :

More than Grandparents | Durham Freemasons

In July of this year the MCF awarded “More than Grandparents”, a charity based in Sunderland City Centre, a grant of £13,500.00 spread over 3 years to assist them in their day-to-day operational costs required to provide vital services.

The charity supports kinship children and kinship carers (most often the children’s grandparents) to access specialist support to help reduce the number of referrals of children into adoption services.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master Clinton Leeks accompanied by Robin Middleton, a member of the Durham Benevolence Committee visited the charity to see first-hand the difference this donation is making and to meet some of the carers involved.

“It was a privilege for me and Robin Middleton on behalf of Durham Benevolence to meet CEO Mel Nichols and some of the carers at “More Than Grandparents” a very friendly and welcoming centre in Sunderland. The stories we heard of decent people striving to cope to keep kinship children out of care with little if any statutory help were inspiring and showed yet again what an MCF grant can do to help to change and improve lives.”

Quote by “Clinton Leeks, Assistant Provincial Grand Master ”

We are so grateful to be supported by the MCF. The funding means we can continue to support vulnerable kinship families who don’t get the support they need and deserve from statutory services. Too often families are left struggling financially having stepped in to care for a child–managing their child’s trauma or challenging behaviour and extremely difficult relations with birth parents and supervising contact, often alongside other caring roles or their own health conditions. MCF funding means we can support kinship families, reducing isolation, ensuring they understand their rights and entitlements, accessing other support and above all creating a sense of belonging.”

Quote by “Melonie Nichols, CEO, More than Grandparents”

Check out the fantastic work done by visiting their website.      click here

<< Back to search results

Date :

Fenwick Lodge150th anniversary | Durham Freemasons

Fenwick Lodge No. 1389 celebrated the second half of the 150 th anniversary or sesquicentennial meetings at the Wearside Masonic Temple, Burdon Road, Sunderland on Friday 21 st October 2022.

The lodge was opened by Dr Ian Cubbin Worshipful Master, with approximately sixty Masons present.

The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro Clinton Leeks, OBE, PSGD was welcomed into the lodge and took the Chair of King Solomon.

After fraternal salutations were given to Clinton, relinquished the chair and returned it to the Worshipful Master.

Ian stated that the lodge had been very privileged to have as their Visiting Support Officer, Bernard Hope who as Past Provincial Grand Orator had been great support to the lodge.  He then invited Bernard to present a history of the lodge.

Bernard’s presentation was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation of about 120 slides which ran behind him as he spoke.

He started by saying that the history of the lodge would not be lists of long dead Past Masters or extracts from dusty minutes but would record the lodge’s journey running alongside that of the city of Sunderland.

He covered the origin of the lodge’s name and its travels the latter part of the 19 th century, through the whole of the 20 th century into the present century linking the lodge with events such as the laying of Sunderland Museum’s foundation stone, the Victoria Hall Disaster, the coronations of various monarchs and even Sunderland Football club’s two successful cup final of 1937 and 1973.

He mentioned the loss of a Brother in the First World War and that the lodge lost no-one in the war that followed.

He also mentioned that the lodge although currently small had managed to gain a Platinum Award in the recent festival and that the lodge’s support for the Province was not just financial but that it had provided three Provincial Grand Secretaries, three Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and one Deputy Provincial Grand Master who had subsequently became Provincial Grand Master.

He brought the history up to date with the previous month’s special meeting at Beamish Masonic Hall at Beamish Museum.

To read full Lodge history Click Here:

Clinton then presented the lodge with their Festival Platinum Award.

The lodge was then closed and after photographs those present enjoyed a particularly satisfying meal at the Festive Board.

He concluded by saying that many present at the meeting might not see the 200 th anniversary, but he felt the lodge would still exist.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Nautilus Celebrates | Durham Freemasons

Friday the 16th September 2022 saw the lodge room of Freemasons Hall, Queen Street, Sunderland  packed with 79 brethren including a small deputation of Provincial Officers led by John Thompson, the Provincial Grand Master, to join with the members of Nautilus Lodge in celebrating their Centenary year.

Past Master David Lawson give an interesting talk on the one hundered year history of the Lodge, with explanations on how the lodge was formed and where it is going in the future.

Click here to view a brief history of the Lodge

In the risings the worshipful master presented John with a cheque to the value of £1425.90 on behalf of the members of the Lodge, to which John expressed his gratitude.

After closing the Lodge all retired to a fantastic festive board which was enjoyed by all present.  A raffle on the night raised the fabulous sum of £745. As a lasting memento everyone who attended received a special centenary glass.

Best wishes for future.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Helping the Homeless | Durham Freemasons

Earlier in the year Durham Freemasons charity Durham Benevolence made a £1,000 grant to Oasis Community Housing, a charity working with people facing homelessness and those in housing crisis in the Gateshead area.

As restrictions on visiting relax Peter Ross and John Watts representing Durham Benevolence accepted an invitation from David Foster of Oasis Community Housing to attend their Basis drop-in centre in central Gateshead where they met staff from their award-winning Basis Beds supported housing project, the Empower domestic abuse service and Aspire employability service.

John commented, “my last role as a police officer was head of public protection so I know how invaluable interventions by charities are for those in crisis and today we have seen excellent examples of projects to help some of the most vulnerable”.

David Foster from Oasis Community Housing said “homelessness is a complex problem that requires a community solution. Receiving financial support from a community partner like Durham Benevolence means a great deal to us, it means we are supported to continue to bring hope to people facing homelessness”

Peter Ross said, “I’m certain Freemasons across the region will be pleased we selected Oasis Community Housing to receive some of our charitable funds.”

While touring the various projects it was discovered Oasis do similar work in the Sunderland area and the Freemasons look forward to receiving an application to provide financial support to that area.

Main Garden photo L-R

Claire Temple

Oasis Community Housing Head of Crisis Services

Peter Ross, Durham Freemasons Community support grant committee chairman

David Foster

Oasis Community Housing – Key Projects Relationship Manager

Carolyn Wood

Oasis Community Housing – Director of Programmes

John Watts, Chairman of Durham Benevolence.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Hudson Chapter – A New Era – Here’s to the next 100 years | Durham Freemasons

On the evening of Thursday 28th July 2022, the members of Hudson Chapter 2791 met at Wolsingham Masonic Hall. This meeting was of Very Special importance – a celebration of the  100 th Anniversary with 75+ members in attendance.

This evening started with a Deputation team visit led by Michael Shaw. There was also a good turnout of acting officers joining him, were warmly welcomed into the Lodge Room.

Allan Britton read the summons and minutes from the Consecration of the chapter meeting held on Saturday afternoon 24th June 1922 of the ceremony performed by Lord Ravensworth assisted by officers of the Provincial Grand Chapter.

Once Allan had finished, Tom Gittins stood and read the Centenary Chapter. This was followed by Michael Shaw presenting the New Charter – saying the Chapter is entering a New Era and everyone should look forward to the next 100 years.

Johnathan Whalley gave an interesting and informative talk about holy garments throughout history before asking Paul Zajac to read the dedication then Johnathan delivered a blessing of the new Surplices for officers of the Hudson Chapter.

The subscribing members of the Chapter stood and were each presented with a Centenary Jewel by Michael Shaw.

Johnathan then gave Michael Shaw a cheque for £500 from the chapter for Durham Benevolence.

Lodge Photos were taken before the evening was finished off at the festive board.

Dave Green thanked the members of Hudson Chapter for their hospitality and for the much-appreciated cheque for Durham Benevolence. Dave then spoke how he had to rewrite this speech as Allan Britton had already talked about all the things he wanted to say.

Dave then talked about how he done some background into Hudson chapter when he visited the Provincial library in Sunderland where he found the roots of the chapter and how it reminded him of a family tree. Dave ended his speech talking about the Provincial Insight emails and encouraging everyone to use the Teams App.

Norman Alderson rose to respond on behalf of the many visitors telling many funny stories, responding in everyone laughing aloud.

All enjoyed an excellent and entertaining evening.

<< Back to search results

Date :

Sunderland City Heritage Action Zone Event | Durham Freemasons

Queen Street Masonic Hall (Phoenix Hall) once again opened its doors mid-refurbishment to the local community as part of the city’s Heritage Event on Saturday 23rd July 2022.

The event was a cross-city, multi-agency event that saw numerous historically important buildings open that door to show and demonstrate how they were all being preserved with a purpose to bring them back into the heart of the local communities and the city.

Onsite at Queen Street there were opportunities for everyone to be involved, making various items in the blacksmiths forge using traditional materials and techniques under the close supervision of a specialist heritage smithy. There were opportunities to work on sections of the random stone, working with traditional hot lime mortar.

This was particularly interesting as it’s part of the ongoing restoration of the building. Sections of brick wall construction and reconstruction techniques were undertaken by visitors and local residents – all techniques and materials will be incorporated into Queen Street Masonic Hall, there for the next 250 years.

The new sliding sash windows to be included in the building were weighted by their volunteers and again, this will remain in place and be incorporated into the building – all fantastic examples of Freemasonry in the Community.

The community were actively involved in restoring our Grade 1 Listed Building, under the supervision of Historic England, knowing their contribution will not be undone but incorporated into the Freemasons Hall – forming and reinforcing local links between freemasonry and its setting within Sunderland.

The restoration apprentice, currently working on this project was at the forefront during the day, enthusiastically showing his work to all who were interested – a very proud young man showing his achievements that will be there for centuries to come.

The event closed at 4:30pm after what was celebrated as a heritage success across the city.

Stronger Together

<< Back to search results