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Dunston Bathed in Sunshine for Craft AGM
Saturday 29th June 2019 saw the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham return to the Lancastrian Suite in Dunston. Significantly, the occasion was to witness not only those brethren being honoured in Provincial Rank with first appointments, but also The Provincial Grand Master RW Bro John Arthur presiding over this year’s meeting following his Investiture in October 2018.
As the throng of Freemasons from around the Province and further afield amassed on the sun-baked venue, the huge logistical operation was clearly up and running as the Provincial Stewards greeted everyone on arrival.
As the expectant throng clothed in their respective regalia made their way into Provincial Grand Lodge, the warmth of the outside Sun was eclipsed by warmth of fraternal brotherhood as friendships old and new were rejuvenated.
Before long, The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies was calling the brethren to order to receive the various processions of Distinguished Guests, Past Rulers and Heads of Orders into the meeting, the final procession was, of course, the Officers of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham with the Provincial Grand Master last through the doors, with the exception of his Standard Bearers.
Before opening Provincial Grand Lodge, The Provincial Grand Master welcomed everyone and thanked them for supporting this event, going on to welcome and introduce his distinguished guests.
With Provincial Grand Lodge opened in due form, it was time to stand to order to remember those 56 Brethren who had passed to the Grand Lodge above since the last meeting. As the Provincial Grand Chaplain delivered the eulogy, the brethren stood in silence in respect to departed merit.
Following Salutations, The Provincial Grand Master proceeded to work through the business of the day, from confirming minutes, receiving reports, and electing a Treasurer for the ensuing year, until it was time for the main event of the day, the Appointing and Investing of the Provincial Officers for the new Masonic year.
A Provincial Appointment is given in recognition of a Brother’s dedication and commitment over a sustained number of years, during which time he has shown the prerequisite attributes to be considered for a Provincial first appointment. The Honour rewards him not only for his service to Freemasonry to date, but in an expectation of continued support to the wider Province in future.
The meeting is special in many ways, not least that it is the culmination of untold hours of dedication within wonderful this fraternity being suitably rewarded, whilst allowing the recipients to share the experience with their friends gathered to offer support and congratulations.
After the Principal Officers had been re-appointed and this year’s Provincial Grand Wardens had been individually Appointed, Invested and placed in the West and South respectively. The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies called upon the Provincial Deputy Director of Ceremonies, assisted by the Provincial Stewards to take post.
With Swiss like precision the Stewards collected each recipient, escorting them before the PGM to be Invested, receiving their certificate of appointment, and finally taken to their seat and acknowledged with the customary court bow, bursting with pride.
A collection was then taken in aid of our 2021 Festival where a fabulous amount of £3,675 was raised!
Pictures from the day have been uploaded to Flickr, click here to open the album.
It was now time for John Arthur to make his inaugural address as our Provincial Grand Master. He congratulated those Brethren who had received Grand Rank since the last meeting, and those he had appointment on this occasion. He then placed on record his thanks to the retiring Acting Officers, and those who unselfishly support the many initiatives within the Province. Special thanks was then given to Brethren who have given years of service in their respective roles, naming those who had retired.
Among the foremost of these initiatives, he referred to the Durham Light Blues Club now standing at 87 members, requesting that they stood to be applauded and thanked for their efforts so far.
Having formed a new Executive tasked with the re-organisation of the Province, he reported that substantial progress had been made with the proposed structure, to be circulated in due course. Various working teams are busily developing new initiatives to be rolled out in the future, including the Members Pathway, and Solomon, the UGLE Masonic support database.
Reporting that there had been indeed a slight increase in membership between December 2018 and the end of May 2019, the losses we are experiencing tell us that resignations and exclusions, both controllable losses, could be prevented. Going on to cement in our thoughts the need to change in order to attract new and younger members, review our outdated practices, and have a greater awareness of the needs relevant to this generation.
John went on to detail the work of the Masonic Charitable Foundation and its relevance within the Province of Durham. In 2018, support for Masonic families in Durham totalled £400,475, with a further £150,500 supporting 21 charities. That’s an average of £10,586 per week for those who need it most in our Province. This is equivalent to over £6m over the 11 year time period between Festivals.
Our 2021 Festival, as we all know, continues to deliver beyond all expectations, seeing this year a proliferation of new challenges being taken up by our Brethren. John stated that “we are extremely proud of everyone taking part in those challenges with some 200 masons, family, and friends, having this year already raised £50,000″.
We were then notified that our Festival Director was last Month appointed as a member of the MCF fundraising Committee, thoroughly well deserved. Going on to Announce our online auction in aid of the 2021 Festival, with both prizes and services, we continue to enable Brethren to contribute in new and imaginative ways to our Festival.
You can find it on the Durham 2021 Festival website by clicking here.
In Conclusion, he spoke of enjoying his role as Provincial Grand Master, in this time of transformation in Freemasonry and within this Province in particular, thanking the Brethren for their continued support.
To read the full address delivered by the PGM, click here.
On completion of any other business, The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Stephen William Walker, then proposed a vote of thanks to everyone who had made the meeting possible. As we all know, days like the one enjoyed by all present do not just happen, it takes a considerable amount of effort by the Provincial Secretariat, Director of Ceremonies Team, staff at the Lancastrian Suite, Provincial Grand Stewards and a whole host of others who selfishly give up their free time to enable us all to enjoy the day.
All that was left to do was close Provincial Grand Lodge in due form, and join together in a ceiling lifting rendition of the first verse of the National Anthem, before the processions that had so ceremoniously entered the venue at the start of the meeting, processed out.
A flurry of activity soon followed as the Provincial Stewards and the Lancastrian Suite staff scurried about transforming the venue into a banquet hall for 350 people.
Well done to everyone who made the day such a success, and congratulations to anyone who received a Provincial Appointment.
Same again next year?
TLC Teddy Initiative……
“thank you Freemasons for the thousands of teddies donated to children’s casualty departments”
Community Support Grants…..
“The grant from Durham Freemasons has made an enormous difference to our service users”
Provincial Annual Meeting….
“The Provincial annual meeting is one of the highlights of my year, it’s great to meet everyone and support all those being rewarded for merit”….
“My husband would be so proud that you still contact me so many years after his death, thank you for remembering me”
“The Provincial annual meeting is one of the highlights of my year, it’s great to meet everyone and support all those being rewarded for merit”
The Royal Arch…..
“I feel that I have a much better understanding of the whole Masonic story after joining the Royal Arch”
What have you gained?
“I’ve made wonderful friendships with people from all walks of life who I wouldn’t otherwise have even met”
In respect to the TLC Teddy initiative
“A child patient copes with medical treatment so much better when they’ve been given a TLC teddy”
What Freemasonry has done for you?
“The teachings of the masonic ceremonies helped me to be a better father, better husband, better son and better neighbour”What Freemasonry has done for you
One of the best things I have ever done…
“Along with getting married, the birth of my children and Sunderland winning the FA Cup, becoming a Freemason is one of the best things I’ve ever done”
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