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The Power of Positive Thought

How a Brother of the Province of Durham overcame the isolation of the Covid19 pandemic

During 2020, Freemasons and their families everywhere were affected by the various measures introduced to combat the pandemic we know as Covid19. Many will have lasting memories, but Gary Trotter, Master of Lambton Lodge, which meets in Durham, who was then Senior Warden and who, in more normal times, would have been installed in November 2021, as Master of the Lodge, took steps, at an early stage, to re-focus his normally gregarious life.

Gary, a native of Ferryhill, works for a company within First Group, which delivers transport solutions and Gary’s area of operation mainly comprises arranging and managing alternative transport, when sections of the railway network are closed to allow upgrading for electric traction, landslips, damage to sea defences, general refurbishments, etc. Often, when we see buses and coaches with “rail replacement service” on the front, Gary will have been behind the provision of the facility.

While his company is based in East Lancashire, Gary lives in an apartment on the outskirts of Ipswich, but, in recent years, has spent much of his time in the Thames Valley and the West Country, often attending to railway closures associated with the electrification of the Great Western main line. At the start of the pandemic, Gary’s company decided that personal contact should be kept to a minimum and, for much of the lockdown, was working from home, in accordance with government guidelines, but this, in effect, meant isolation in his apartment.

To combat the isolation and assist with fitness, both physical and mental, Gary decided that he would, starting from the 1st of April 2020, complete daily what he called a “Boris Walk”, usually of some eight miles. During the remainder of that year, he covered over 2,500 miles, lost almost six stones in weight, and became very considerably fitter!

At the beginning of 2021, realising that normal life could still be some way off, he decided to adopt a more focused approach to his daily walks, by taking part in a challenge to complete a virtual walk from Land’s End to John O’ _Groats, a distance of 874 miles. Gary recorded the mileage he walked via a GPS tracking App on his mobile phone and then uploaded this data onto the challenge’s website each day. The website then correlated the data logged with where he would be along the Land’s End to John O’ _Groats route, had he actually been walking it. In the first two months of 2021, Gary had completed an impressive 600.47 miles, which, geographically, placed him just north of Glasgow, near Loch Lomond and, of 10,917 entrants to this challenge, he was in 78th position.

To create a lasting legacy of this amazing effort, Gary invited members of Lambton Lodge and other friends and acquaintances to sponsor his efforts. Through this sponsorship, he raised funds for Masonic charities, sufficient to provide a worthwhile donation to mark his installation as Master of Lambton Lodge and its bicentenary, in April 2024.

Gary recorded his activity from April 2020, by regular posts on his FaceBook account and posted many pictures of the places to which his walks took him, both close to home and further afield, on the few occasions he was away from Suffolk on business. On these latter occasions, he usually started walking at 6.00am, before doing a full day’s work!

Gary completed the virtual walk to John O’ Groats and the cheque for £2,216.07 was presented to the Provincial Grand Master John Thompson on the occasion of his recent visit to present a 70 year long service award to Leonard Middleton Barrett . The money will be allocated to the Masonic Charitable Foundation

Pictures show Gary in multiple locations

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