Celebrating 300 years
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 00:00

Catching a smile with the Masonic Fishing Charity

Thanks to a donation from Durham Benevolence, and the support of brethren from all around the Province, the Durham Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity hosted its very first event at the Aldin Grange fishing lakes, near Bearpark, in Durham, on Saturday 23rd September

On this bright autumnal morning, the Branch Chairman David Grey, along with Graham Snell, Deputy CEO of the Masonic Fishing Charity, greeted 11 pupils, together with three staff from The Oaks, a large, local authority secondary school, based in Spennymoor, which caters for young people with special educational needs from across South West Durham.

The weather conditions were ideal, apart from a slight breeze; however, they all needed some luck to start catching. This came, surprisingly, in the form of the Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside who had come along to support the event. Shortly after Eric’s arrival, the students were into their first catch which continued at an erratic rate, depending on where Eric was standing. The enthusiastic shouts of ‘got a fish!’ continued right up until it was time to break for lunch, by which time 10 of the students had caught fish.

After the final cast of the day, all the participants retired to a barn to attend an awards ceremony where David Grey and Eric Heaviside presented special trophies, medals and certificates of achievement to each youngster. In response, Harry Wilkinson, the teacher in charge from The Oaks School, thanked everyone concerned for the time given voluntarily by all those who organised the event to bring an interactive fishing and countryside experience to all of his students who had attended this very memorable day.

The Durham Branch held another event more recently at Aldin Grange fishing lakes, which was a recruitment and training day for participants identified from within the Province. Once again, the venue was kindly provided by Brian Hodgson from Agricola Lodge No. 7741.

To find out more about the Masonic Fishing Charity click here.

Nearly 1,000 Freemasons and their families gathered for a special evening of thanks and celebration in style in the world heritage site that is Durham Cathedral in September, as the Province of Durham marked the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary

As well as brethren and their families from all corners of the Province, the Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Eric Heaviside was honoured to have as his special guests HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Sue Snowdon, His Worship the Mayor of Durham, Councillor Bill Kellett, the Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett and the Assistant Grand Master RW Bro Sir David Wootton.

With the cathedral near to capacity, the service was conducted with precision and splendour; tributes associated with any formal Provincial Masonic occasion and with Durham Cathedral. Looking across the cathedral, the rows of pews were awash with gold and masonic blue. The evening was further enhanced with hymns from both the Cathedral Choir and Durham’s very own Masonic Choir, conducted by W Bro Paul Debenham.

In the middle of the service, the Dean of Durham handed over proceedings to the Provincial Grand Master who conducted a special award presentation from Durham Benevolence, distributing £100,000 in community support grants to 10 local charities and organisations who support children or young adults in need.

Award Recipients included:

  • Sunderland Minster – £25,800
  • Friends of Carlton Camp (Hartlepool) – £10,000
  • Enter CIC (Ferryhill) – £10,000
  • Cheesy Waffles (Durham) – £10,000
  • Home on the Range (Spennymoor) – £10,000
  • Heel & Toe Children’s Charity (Chester-le-Street) – £10,000
  • 2505 Squadron RAF Air Cadets (Bishop Auckland) – £10,000
  • Co Durham Young Farmers Clubs (Durham) – £7,000
  • Kayaks (South Shields) – £5,000
  • Hug In a Bag (Durham and Darlington) – £5,000

After the presentation, the Dean delivered his sermon, in particular paying tribute to the charitable giving of Durham Freemasons and went on to commend the very foundations on which Freemasonry is built – a respect for one another, kindness, honesty and trust.

Once again, the Province of Durham showed that when they do something, they do it in style. A wonderful evening was enjoyed by all who attended, with the Tercentenary celebrated in a fitting manner and local worthy causes supported for the future.

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. 

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