Celebrating 300 years

A day of festivities at the Raby Gala

Durham Freemasons celebrated a successful gala at Raby Castle on behalf of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, now part of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).

The Gala was officially opened with the X Company Fifth Fusiliers band marching into the main arena followed by a horse and carriage transporting Provincial Grand Master Norman Heaviside, Festival Director John Thompson and MCF Chief Operating Officer Les Hutchinson.

Great North Air Ambulance director of charity services Deborah Lewis-Bynoe received a cheque for £4,000 from the MCF. Norman presented Les with a cheque for £250,000, bringing the total donated, just six months in
to the Festival, to £1 million.

Durham masons preview cathedral sponsored stones

Durham masons who had been generous sponsors of Durham Cathedral’s Great Kitchen project, which is part of its Open Treasure development venture, were among a group of special guests invited to the cathedral.

Two years ago the Province set out to raise £100,000 for a new stone floor in the 14th-century kitchen by asking lodges and chapters to make a small donation, and by providing the opportunity for individuals to sponsor a stone. Through the initiative, Durham masons raised £136,000 in just 12 months, with individuals able to mark out the position of their stone. 

The special preview visit culminated in the 14th-century Great Kitchen, where sponsors were able to view and photograph their stone. 

Musical night in Durham for festival launch

The Sage Gateshead, the world-class music venue on the banks of the River Tyne, was the stunning location to launch the Durham 2021 Festival in aid of the RMTGB. More than 1,000 tickets were sold to brethren and their families for the musical extravaganza, which was opened by community theatre group Enter CIC. Under the direction of Andrea Flynn, 30 children aged 13-20 provided songs from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival show ‘The Wind Road Boys’.

Festival Director John Thompson and Durham PGM Eric Heaviside welcomed RMTGB President Mike Woodcock and CEO Les Hutchinson. The PGM then presented a cheque for £250,000 towards the Festival target of £2,712,768, which follows a previous instalment of £500,000 in November 2014. 

Launching in 2016

In January, the Province of Durham launched its 2021 Festival Appeal for the RMTGB at the Sage Gateshead. 

Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside said: ‘We come across many distressing cases of children who need our help. This is our opportunity to help give them a better life.’

The Provinces of Buckinghamshire, West Lancashire, Leicestershire and Rutland, and Worcestershire launch their Festivals for the new Masonic Charitable Foundation later this year.

Published in RMTGB
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 20:10

Durham 2021 Launched in Fine Style

Sunday 24th January 2016 saw twelve months of preparation and planning finally ended as Andrew and John Thompson’s vision of a Festival launch had finally arrived. The venue was the iconic Sage Gateshead, the impressive world-class music venue on the banks of the River Tyne. A stunning location to launch the Durham 2021 Festival with over 1,000 tickets sold to brethren and their families to witness this musical extravaganza to launch the RMTGB festival.

Although the event didn’t start until 7pm the day started at 12pm for John and his team lead by Andrew Thompson the Project Manager for the launch. It was going to be a long day for musical Director Peter Johnson to pull the show together in 5 hours.

Fortunately Peter was working with performers who were very professional and the hours of planning that preceded the event made the day run smoothly.

The audience were treated as promised to a night of entertainment but with a strong message throughout the night with short 3-minute videos to highlight the work currently being done by the trust.

The show was opened by Enter CIC a community theatre group from Ferryhill under the direction of Andrea Flynn, a group of 30 children from 13-20 who provided songs from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival show ‘The Wind Road Boys’.

The Festival President, John Thompson and Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside then welcomed the 1,000 strong crowd and invited them to enjoy the evening ahead. 

The first video of the night featured Butterwick House in Stockton who have received funding for a wheel chair swing and computer technology via the Lifelites programme.

Entertainment again soon followed with the singing talents of Miss Jasmine Elcock a 13-year-old soloist, this outstanding young lady who is destined to be a star is certainly one to watch.

Local entertainer Chris tame support by Chasing Mumford followed with an eclectic mix of songs involving the audience and raising the tempo of the evening with an excellent performance.

Emily Douglas and Stephen Raine were featured on the next video explaining how talent aid had supported them. Stephen a concert pianist had received support in the past whilst Emily a 15-year-old French horn player currently receives support. They both then entered the auditorium to huge applause and provided the audience with some music from their repertoire.

The half was closed with Enter CIC “Light Shines On” from their musical. The second act was similar to the first with the performers returning to the stage to entertain once again.

The Provincial Grand Master introduced RMTGB President, Mike Woodcock and CE0, Les Hutchinson to the stage to present them with a festival jewel each inscribed with their name, he then presented a cheque for our second instalment of funding. In November 2014 The PGM had presented the representatives of the RMTGB with a cheque for £500,000 and on this occasion a further cheque of £250,000 was presented on behalf of the brethren of Durham.  Mike and Les took to a lectern each and suitably replied and thanked the PGM, The Festival Director and the brethren of Durham for their generosity in starting a Festival with £750,000 already banked. Mike and Les then described the important work done by the charity recounting the early beginnings      

Mike finished his speech by introducing a video about a local Teesside charity Daisy Chain who recently received a grant of £30,000 from the Stepping Stones fund to help finance their alternative education and employability programme to assist young adults with autism help to prepare them for the work environment.

The Sage then erupted with the sound of pipes and drums from the Houghton le Spring Pipe Band as they marched onto the stage providing a varied and bright compilation of music.

The final video of the night was personal story of Durham freemason Graham Parkinson and his wife Claire who recounted the story of how the trust stepped in within two weeks of an application to provide a listening programme for their daughter Minah who was on a two-year waiting list. Since completing the programme Minah’s world has been transformed into a “proper little girl” as described by Graham. The couple were thankful for their support and encourage everyone to support the trust.

The important announcement of the Festival target followed with an introduction by the PGM and the totalizer appeared on the video screen, the numbers appeared in reverse order with the figure finishing with £2,712,768. Eric asked the brethren to support the Director and his team to reach our target.

John Thompson finished by making the important thanks to all who had helped make the day and the evening possible but he singled out the Project Manager Andrew Thompson whose initial idea of the Sage had been a daring one but as John said “We did it”.  John went on to mention the “Jewel in the crown” Peter Johnson the musical director for the launch event who had liaised with the acts and had pulled the show together with many weeks of planning.

John finished the evening by asking the brethren to get behind the festival and lets work together to raise the final £2,000,000 before 2021.

What an amazing evening! To anyone who missed it, well you missed a night that will live long in the memory of all those who attended. To anyone who played a part, no matter how small in making the evening possible we offer our sincere gratitude and to everyone who attended and left the Sage feeling as fired up for this Festival as we did, then lets make this happen.


Friday, 04 September 2015 01:00

New floor for Durham Cathedral's Great Kitchen

New Great Kitchen floor for Durham

A stone-laying ceremony has been held in the Great Kitchen of Durham Cathedral, during which the Dean Michael Sadgrove was presented with a cheque for £136,000 from the masonic community for the Open Treasure development project. Individual masons and lodges raised £121,000; £10,000 was donated by the Grand Charity; and £5,000 by Durham Benevolence.

Saturday, 13 December 2014 11:26

Continuous Giving scheme huge success in Durham

As the Province of Durham gears up for the launch of their next Festival, starting in 2016 in aid of the Royal Masonic Trust for Boys and Girls, it has been extremely encouraging that their Continuous Giving has been an enormous success

Provincial Grand Master for Durham, Eric Heaviside, has always been a champion of the Continuous Giving scheme and his now famous saying of 'The dripping tap will eventually fill the bath' is known Province-wide!

It was therefore with immense pride that Durham were able to invite President of the RMTGB, Mike Woodcock and Chief Executive Les Hutchinson to their Annual Promotions Meeting at Rainton Meadows Arena in November to present them with a cheque for £500,000.

The cheque was presented during the meeting after the PGM had delivered his Christmas Address and after receiving the donation Mike and Les took to the stage to thank the brethren for their fantastic generosity, explain in more depth about the fabulous work the RMTGB carries out and deliver a small talk on the history of masonic charity. Mike ended with the famous quote 'No man stands as tall as when he is stooped to help a child' and the 500 brethren present showed their appreciation with a rapturous applause.

With over 12 months until Durham officially enters Festival the brethren of the Province have given themselves every chance of making a huge difference to this most worthy cause, may the dripping tap continue till that bath overflows!

Cathedral culture

Durham masons have presented £50,000 to Durham Cathedral in support of its £10 million Open Treasure Appeal, and the Province has already committed to donating another similar sum. Durham Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside said, ‘We as Freemasons are incredibly proud of our heritage and are lucky to have this World Heritage Site on our doorstep. Freemasons have had a strong link with this building for many years and that is why we chose to get involved.’ The donation was presented to the Very Rev Michael Sadgrove, Dean of the cathedral, at the Provincial annual meeting. 

The Open Treasure project will create new exhibition spaces for the cathedral, transforming the visitor experience. 

Monday 11th August 2014 was an important night in the history of Derwent Lodge No. 4250, special for one man in particular and indeed for anyone lucky enough to be present on this marvellous occasion

At the end of January 2014, the lodge Secretary made representation to the Provincial Grand Master that they were desirous of holding an emergency meeting in August 2014.

They had a very good reason for wishing to hold such a meeting.

The lodge’s oldest and longest serving member, Harold Rutter, reached his 100th birthday on Sunday 10th August 2014, and the lodge wished to celebrate this outstanding achievement. The Provincial Grand Master was delighted to accede to this request and so granted the dispensation.

The brethren of Derwent Lodge sent out their summons, advertising this emergency meeting, and were delighted when about 70 brethren indicated their desire to join together to celebrate Harold’s centenary.

Among the brethren present were the Provincial Grand Master, Norman Eric Heaviside, and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, George Clark, who had visited Derwent Lodge as recently as Monday 23rd December 2013, when he presented Harold with a certificate congratulating him on 60 years continuous service to Derwent Lodge.

After the Worshipful Master had opened the lodge and the Secretary had read the dispensation for the meeting, the Director of Ceremonies asked the ‘Guard of Honour’ consisting of Harold’s good friends, Colin Urwin, Ronnie Noble, Winston Ridley and Edwin Stanger to retire. After a few moments the Brethren were re-admitted accompanying the man of the moment and guest of honour, Harold Rutter to a thunderous standing ovation by the brethren present.

The Director of Ceremonies then walked the floor of the Lodge to collect Harold and present him to the Worshipful Master, informing the brethren that Harold was the Director of Ceremonies, when he was initiated into the lodge, in 1981, and he was scared of Harold at that time, to which Harold quipped back that he knew the feeling as he was scared of the DC now!

Harold was presented to the Master, who congratulated him on his milestone anniversary, informing him that he would be honoured if Harold would take the chair of Derwent Lodge once again. Harold graciously accepted this honour and the Director of Ceremonies called on the brethren to offer suitable salutation to the centurion, to which Harold thanked them for the warmth of their welcome.

After calling upon the brethren's generosity in the way of a collection in aid of masonic charity, Harold closed the lodge in true Director of Ceremonies fashion, not missing a beat or a word!

The brethren were once again asked to be upstanding, in order to receive the other special guest of the evening, Harold’s daughter Margaret Rutter, there to share in her father’s extra special evening. After photographs, the brethren and Margaret adjourned downstairs to the festive board.

After occupying the Chair of the lodge, Harold also added a first, as he became the first official user of the new stair lift that had been installed by the lodge in Chopwell Masonic Hall, so that members who found stairs a challenge were able to get from the ground floor to the lodge room on the first floor and to the banquet room and bar on the lower ground floor. It is hoped that this chair lift will aid brethren who are infirm attend their Lodge meetings.

Also in recognition of this auspicious anniversary the new toilets on the ground floor were named after Harold, they would be known as the Harold Rutter Centenary Restrooms for the foreseeable future.

65 brethren joined Harold and his daughter, Margaret, for an excellent festive board of Harold’s favourites. These dishes were thoroughly enjoyed by all the brethren present. On the completion of the meal the immediate past master of Derwent Lodge, Dr Paul Mundell, stood to deliver the toast to the special guest, by outlining his life and achievements, both personal and masonic. 

Paul also read an email from Peter Kipps, President of the River Lodges Association, in the email he wished Harold a happy birthday and informed him that the greeting was also posted to their Twitter account reaching 18,500 followers. 

At the completion of the toasts and being a birthday party after all, the birthday boy received his presents and a fabulous birthday cake on behalf of the lodge and his many friends, before being visibly moved as the brethren stood and sang happy birthday to him.

In his reply, Harold thanked everyone for coming, but felt overwhelmed by the turnout. He thanked the brethren of Derwent Lodge for their friendship over the years and Margaret, well, just for being there!

At 10pm Harold and his daughter took their leave, mentioning that even at the age of 100 years old he still needed his beauty sleep! He left to a standing ovation!

All of the brethren present on this magnificent occasion had spent the evening in the company of a very special man and mason and a true gentleman in every sense of the word!

When the Provincial Grand Master of Durham, Norman Eric Heaviside, announced earlier in the year an exciting new initiative to finance the re-flooring of the Great Kitchen at Durham Cathedral as a legacy from Durham Freemasons to celebrate our tercentenary, it was hoped that it would be well received

The manner in which this project has captured the hearts of the Brethren of Durham has been staggering, with donations flooding in from every possible avenue. 'Paving the Way' as it has been dubbed, has already seen over £70,000 pledged as lodges, chapters, individual members and other masonic orders dig deep to support our world heritage site.

To mark the milestone of achieving half the desired target, the Dean of Durham Cathedral, Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove was invited to the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham held at the Lancastrian Suite, Dunston in June.

In a historic moment, Provincial Grand Lodge was 'called off' to admit the Dean who was applauded on entering and taking his seat on the stage. Norman Eric Heaviside then delivered his address to the brethren and invited the Dean to address the brethren and tell them a little more about 'Open Treasure' the major multi phase development project taking place at Durham Cathedral.

The Dean delivered an outstanding talk to the Brethren in which he explained why the project was so important to the cathedral and what part the great kitchen would play in the new display area. He also took the opportunity to thank the Freemasons of Durham for their generosity and enthusiasm and hoped that this partnership that had existed for decades would continue to flourish.

On conclusion of this address the Provincial Grand Master presented the Dean, with a cheque for £50,000 representing half of the money pledged, to rapturous applause by the brethren.

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