A golden and unique Masonic evening took place on 22nd November, at the always welcoming Derwent Lodge No. 4250 in the village of Chopwell, which saw over £10,000 donated to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS)
This was achieved through the collective charitable efforts of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and Durham Benevolence, as well the efforts of Derwent Lodge itself.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Watts was in attendance to firstly recognise the charitable efforts of Derwent Lodge and proudly presented Ken Cook, the Lodge Charity Steward, a well-deserved Gold Award on behalf of the Province for meeting their Durham 2021 festival five-year target in only 22 months.
Durham Freemasons and, in particular, Derwent Lodge have a strong charitable association with the GNAAS and upon closing the Lodge, Ben McWilliams of the GNAA then gave a short presentation in the Lodge room regarding their work. He played a specially recorded video where the Director of Operations at the GNAAS thanked Derwent Lodge and Durham Freemasons for their ongoing support towards this crucial service.
John Watts then had the privilege, on behalf of the MCF, to present Ben McWilliams with a £4,000 grant as well as an additional £1,000 on behalf of Provincial Grand Lodge Durham to contribute towards the next generation of motor vehicles, to assist them with their life-saving work on both land and in the air.
Keith Walker, Derwent Lodge Treasurer, also presented GNASS with an additional £5,300 which had been raised through the support of Lodge members and friends at the annual Derwent Lodge Barbeque. This special event has increased in attendance from 37 to 141 people in the five years that it has been in existence and is now widely supported by the Lodge members, other local Freemasons and the business community.
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.
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.
Arranging the opportunity to present cheques to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) resulted in a very pleasant interlude for a group of Durham Freemasons at the distinctive Rockcliffe Hall Hotel at Hurworth near Darlington. The Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside was joined by Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Webster and Provincial Grand Secretary Phil Rann, plus 3 representatives of Agricola Lodge No. 7741 as cheques totalling £8,000 were presented.
This combined fund-raising and thank you reception was held in the magnificent setting that is the hotel's Victorian building and grounds, and recognised its own association with GNAAS – the hotel's favoured charity.
The sequence of events included an explanation of how the Air Ambulance is both funded and administered, some harrowing case histories and innovative money-raising ideas. It was hoped that one of the aircraft from nearby Durham Tees Valley Airport would make an appearance, and eventually the late morning sun dispersed the lingering mists and allowed GNHAA to land in the grounds. Everyone was able to meet the crew and examine the aircraft in detail.
Mandy Drake, deputy director of fundraising for GNAAS, said: 'Once again we find ourselves indebted to the Freemasons who have come forward with yet another generous donation.
'As a mark of gratitude for their ongoing support we have added the Freemasons’ logo onto our aircraft.'
Agricola Lodge members Trevor Dent, Philip Twizell and current Worshipful Master Richard Tait were thanked for their contribution of £3,000. This resulted from the sale of refreshments at their handily located premises in Old Elvet on Durham Miners' Gala days, with a further £4,000 from the Freemasons' Grand Charity and £1,000 from Durham Benevolence.