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Grand Rank Conferred 2018
Wednesday 25th April saw people from all over the world descend, once again on the home of Freemasonry as Freemasons Hall in Covent Garden, London hosted the Annual Investiture Meeting of the United Grand Lodge of England.
This special meeting sees brethren from all corners of the world receiving well deserved Grand Lodge appointments and Promotions, conferred upon them by the Most Worshipful Grand Master himself.
The Province of Durham was, as usual, extremely well represented as brethren from every part of our Province congregated to support those receiving honours.
Receiving First Appointments were:
Martin Rankin – Eslington Lodge No4623– Assistant Grand Standard Bearer
Martin was Initiated into Eslington Lodge in 1991and became their Worshipful Master in 1999 in between this time Martin had become a joining member of Winlaton St Pauls Lodge in 1992 and served as their Worshipful Master in 1996 and 1997. In 1998 he became a joining member of Durham Lodge of Installed Masters where he is currently Junior Warden and if that wasn’t enough Martin was the Founding Junior Warden of Dunston St Nicholas Lodge taking the master’s chair in 2002.
In Royal Arch, Martin was exalted into Liddell Chapter in 1994 and became their First Principal in 2006, he also became a joining member of Vane Tempest Chapter of Installed First Principals in 2006 serving as First Principal in 2016.
Within the Province Martin was first honoured by Provincial Grand Lodge in 2003 when he was appointed Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies promoted in 2004 to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer and again in 2011 to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. Martin was then appointed as Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2014, a position that has carried out with great distinction and a role that will end in June at the Provincial Annual Meeting. Martin also serves as a member of the Durham Benevolence GP Committee and is currently organising the 2018 Group Break.
In Chapter Martin was appointed Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2011 and promoted to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2017.
Martin has worked in the Funeral Industry since 1989 and currently runs his own Funeral Directors based in Whickam which he set up in 2007.
Martin married Deborah in 2011 and is Stepfather to Lewis.
Other than Masonry his other Great passions are playing golf at Whickam Golf Club where is holds a rather impressive handicap of five and watching Dunston UTS Football Club.
Clinton Eliot Leeks, OBE – Universities Lodge No2352 – Past Assistant Grand Standard Bearer
Clinton was Initiated into Universities Lodge in 2002 becoming their Master in 2008, he is also a member of Durham Lodge of Installed Masters and Harriers Lodge, which meets in the District of Hong Kong.
In Royal Arch he was Exalted into Universities Chapter in 2010 becoming their First Principal in 2014.
Clinton was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2015.
Clinton holds a BA and MA from Oxford University in Modern History; is a Fellow of the Historical Association; has been a Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong from 1992 to 1997 and in England from 2005 to date; is a Freeman of the City of London; and was awarded the OBE in 1999.
Clinton is an experienced consultant advising a wide range of UK and international businesses, especially those involved in infrastructure development, at senior level on strategy, government relations, procurement, business development, corporate PR and community relations issues. He is also an established trainer and public speaker in the UK and Hong Kong.
In recent years, Clinton held the positions of External and Parliamentary Relations Director for High Speed 2 Ltd, the UK’s new national rail network, and Corporate Affairs Director for Crossrail, London’s new underground rail system.
He was also formerly a Director at the Hong Kong Airport Authority where during the construction and opening of the new airport he led the authority’s external relations team in its relationships with Government, the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group, the business, travel and tourism sectors, and political and community groups from 1992 to 1998. He has also held various senior roles within the Hong Kong Government, and in the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and has paid frequent visits to the PRC in these and his business capacities.
In between hiking around the world, he advises businesses on infrastructure, and is a JP in Sunderland.
Clinton has been married to Victoria for 31 years and they have two sons Edward and Simon who are respectively studying computer science at Newcastle University and working as live and radio “Dee Jays”.
Nigel Ian Fall Foster – St Cuthbert No3417 – Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies
Nigel, was initiated by his brother Andrew into his late father’s lodge The St Cuthbert’s Lodge in 1994 becoming Worshipful Master in 2005 and is currently their Treasurer. He joined Old Barnardian Lodge in 2003 and was Worshipful Master in 2010. He became a joining member of Nevill Lodge of Installed Masters in 2006 and became a founder member of the Durham Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge in 2007.
In Royal Arch Nigel was exalted into Chapter of Vigilance in 1999, becoming their First Principal in 2010. He became a joining member of Nevill Chapter of Installed First Principals in 2014 and is currently their Treasurer.
In the Province Nigel was appointed to Past Provincial Grand Steward in 2007, served as Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2012 and was promoted in 2013 to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden. In the Royal Arch he was appointed Provincial 2nd Assistant Grand Sojourner in 2015 and promoted to Past Provincial Grand Registrar in 2017 and is is being appointed to Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals in May this year.
Nigel was educated at the Royal Masonic School for Boys, on leaving school he joined Barclays Bank where he worked 32 years serving in many different management positions through the Northern Region. After leaving banking, Nigel then took up the position as Vice Principal Business & Finance at Hummersknott Academy and finally retired in December 2016.
Nigel has been married to Valerie for 39 years and has a grown-up son Robert who works as a lighting engineer in Edinburgh. In his spare time, Nigel is a keen small-bore-rifle shooter and is a member of the County 20 Team. He supports Darlington Football Club and has recently taken up woodturning, he is also looking forward to spending more time on the golf course.
William Elliot Hobson – Stanhope No3520 – Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies
Bill was Initiated into Stanhope Lodge in 1979 becoming their Worshipful Master in 1994, he became a joining member of Hudson Lodge in 2001 and served as their Worshipful Master in 2005, he is also a Founder Member of Weardale Lodge of Installed Masters.
In the Royal Arch Bill was exalted into Hudson Chapter in 1983 serving as their First Principal in 1999 and again in 2013.
Bill was recognised by the Province of Durham first in 2001 when he was appointed Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon and Promoted in 2011 to Past Provincial Grand Registrar, in the Royal Arch in 2004 receiving Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner, promoted to Past Provincial Grand Registrar in 2011 and is to be promoted once more in May to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah.
Bill has worked closely with the 2021 Festival over the last few years acting as Area Director for the West of the Province and doing an outstanding job with a real knack for emptying peoples pockets in the name of charity!
Bill is now semi-retired retaining an active role in a small number of companies involved in supplying the Foundry Industry and in a Lodge Park in Weardale.
He has been married to Marina for 42 years and has three children and five grandchildren and in his spare time Bill loves to play Bridge.
Stephen Anderson Willis – Eardulph No6645 – Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies
Stephen was Initiated into Eardulph Lodge in 1990 and became their Worshipful Master in 2000, making him the 6th member of the Willis family to become Worshipful Master of that Lodge.
In the Royal Arch he was Exalted into Cuneceastre Chapter in 2002 serving as their First Principal in 2016 and again in 2017.
Stephen still occupies the First Principal’s chair in his Chapter, is serving as Charity Steward in his Lodge and is also the Treasurer of Chester-le-Street Masonic Hall.
Within the Province Stephen was appointment to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2007 an appointment that was made acting in 2009 and promoted to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2010.
Stephen works as an Accounts Manager for a local firm of Accountants in Chester-le-Street and is married to Joanne with who he has two children, Laura aged 21, who is studying to be a nurse at Liverpool University and Christopher who is 13.
He is also a former Chairman of Chester-le-Street Cricket Club and still plays social cricket. Stephen completed the Coast to Coast cycle ride last year for the 2021 Festival and is currently training for the Coast and Castles later this year.
Receiving a Promotion:
Andrew Bunting –Jurists No8956 – Past Junior Grand Deacon
Andrew was initiated into The Lodge of Jurists in 1986, serving as their Worshipful Master in 1995. He has been their Lodge Secretary for 21 years since 1997. He became a joining member of the Lodge of Freedom in 1991, the Nevill Lodge of Installed Masters in 2008 and St Cecilia Lodge in 2013.
In the Royal Arch Andrew was exalted into the Chapter of Freedom in 1996 serving as their First Principal in 2011.
With regard to Provincial honours Andrew was appointed Provincial Deputy Grand Registrar in 2002 and was promoted to Provincial Grand Registrar in 2006 when he then served as the Acting Provincial Grand Registrar until 2012. In the Royal Arch Andrew was appointed Past Provincial Grand Registrar in 2016.
United Grand Lodge appointed Andrew to rank of acting Assistant Grand Registrar in 2008.
Andrew has served on the Discipline Committee for the Province of Durham since 2002 and has been a member of the panel of the Appeals Court at United Grand Lodge since 2010. Andrew is still in practice as a Solicitor in Middlesbrough but after 44 years in the job is now trying to slow down! He has been happily married to Julia for 43 years with 1 daughter Emily who now lives and works in Switzerland in the Pharmaceutical industry.
Outside of Freemasonry Andrews main interest is classical music with an extensive LP and CD collection of over 15,000 discs. He also gives lectures on recorded music at local music societies.
John Paul Thompson – Harte No4217 – Past Senior Grand Deacon
John was Initiated into Harte Lodge in 1995 becoming their Worshipful Master in 2004, he is also a member Nevill Lodge of Installed Masters which he joined in 2012. John along with fellow Hartlepool Mason’s organises the very successful annual Hartlepool Masonic Carol Service and has done so since 2012. He was also responsible for the organisation of a five-day Masonic Exhibition held in the Hartlepool Central Library in July 2013.
In the Royal Arch John was exalted into Harte Chapter in 1996 and served as their First Principal in 2013 he was also a joining member of Nevill Lodge of Installed First Principals in 2014.
John was recognised by the Province in 2011 when he was appointed Past Provincial Grand Registrar and promoted to Provincial Junior Grand Warden 2013 and to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2014. After being appointed as Festival Director for the 2021 Festival John made sure the whole project got off to a flying start with fantastic energy, drive and organisation and was ultimately recognised in 2017 when he was appointed Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the West of the Province. In the Royal Arch John will be appointed Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah at the Provincial Convocation in May.
John was delighted to receive Grand Rank in April 2015 with the rank of PAGStB.
John lives and Billingham and is a Director of Intelect Uk LTD a group of companies that employ over 200 employees working locally, nationally and world-wide for many of the top food manufactures.
John has been married to his wife Andrea now for over 28 years and has three children Danni, Joseph and their daughter Katie. The family have a Static caravan at Ripon which they loved to visit as often as they can.
We congratulate them all on honours very well deserved and wish them the best of health and happiness to enjoy their new preferments.
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”