On Wed. 14 September the Lodge once again opened its doors to welcome a Provincial Deputation, members and visitors to celebrate the Centennial celebration of the founding of the Lodge.
Attending was the Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson, with his Deputation of fourteen Officers, twelve Officers of the United Grand Lodge of England, 28 Members of the Lodge and 28 visitors.
“The Willington Lodge 4028” was consecrated on 14 th April 1920 at Durham Masonic Hall by the Provincial Grand Master, The Right Honourable The Lord Ravensworth and Bishop Weldon, the Dean of Durham. At first the Lodge met in St. Stephen’s Parish Hall and in 1932 purchased the Albert Hall building and 2 shops for the total cost of £720. The Lodge has remained here having undergone various alterations and upgrades.
Since founding there have been 538 members, 97 different Worshipful Masters with three of whom having served for two years.
The Lodge was opened, and its first business was for the Provincial Canon, Julian Ward, to consecrate a new Lodge Banner and a new Lodge Bible. The Banner, having been presented by Billy Archer was created by Mrs Angela Hall and the Bible was presented by Bill Wyllie, the two brethren celebrating 50 years in Freemasonry.
John Thomson then sat with the two recipients and chatted about their personal lives and their history in Freemasonry. William (Billy) Archer was born and lived in Hunwick. He was apprenticed as a joiner and went on to establish his business as a builder. He has three children although his wife, Pat is sadly deceased.
William Thompson Archer (Billy) joined Willington Lodge in 1971 and very quickly began to take an active part in the work of the Lodge. He took the Chair in 1985 and became DC in 1998, the year, that his son Phillip took the Chair. He is still active in the Lodge and was a founding Member of the Weardale Lodge of Installed Masters.
He was promoted to Acting Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1994 and was promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1999
In Willington Chapter he took the chair in 1990 and was promoted to the Provincial rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe N in 1995.
William Henry Wyllie (Bill) was born in Willington and studied at Durham University for a degree in Philosophy and Politics. He went from there and Joined the British Army and was commissioned serving for 17 years. During his career he has visited or lived in 46 countries working in the field of Intelligence, the Dubai police , and various consultancy positions including Chief Security Advisor to Baron George of St. Trudy the then Governor of the Bank of England .He is Chairman of Emeritus of the Security Institute and clearly has a busy retirement. This career clearly made it difficult to follow a Masonic career or attend his Lodge and for 49 years he has submitted his apologies. He has been Senior Deacon in 6 Lodges and currently is Junior Warden in Zetland Lodge 537 in the Province of Cheshire. He is a member of Centenarian Chapter. is First Assistant Sojourner. He is also Junior Warden of St. Hilary Mark Lodge and has held various positions in the Rose Croix.
Bill is married and lives in the Wirral with his wife Annette and between them they have 5 children.
On conclusion both recipients were presented with a certificate by John the Provincial Grand Master
This was followed by Geoff Dunn reading out the first minutes of the Lodge and with the Provincial Secretary, Tom Gittens reading out the Warrant of the Lodge.
Each member of the Lodge then received their Centennial Jewel, which may only be worn by members of the Lodge and the Lodge presented John with a cheque for £500 for Durham benevolence, which as John stated,” Is our Charity”.
Everyone then retired to the festive Board where a very enjoyable meal was presented and all diners were able to use the commemorative Linen serviettes, again made by Mrs. Angela Hall.
Both recipients were then invited to say a few words. Billy Archer responded by saying “There was a very strong bond in the Lodge of friendship and companionship” and Bill Wyllie said that “He had forgotten how beautiful the Lodge was”, and reminded all present that,” The Willington Lodge was his Lodge”.
In his closing remarks John drew our attention that the history of Lodge was part of our Provincial history, and we should attempt to make Freemasonry appealing and attractive to the members.
The evening closing many Brethren remained to chat and enjoy the companionship and friendship which we have all missed due to the Pandemic
More pics here