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Home, but not alone
Despite living many miles from home and then ill-health preventing Gordon Riddle from being a regular visitor to his mother lodge, Gyrwy, the brethren of Gyrwy, Jarrow, Hebburn and lodges further afield turned out in great numbers, on the 12thApril 2018, to honour him on his special night celebrating his 50thyear as a freemason.
71-year-old Gordon was initiated into Gywry lodge in 1968 and stayed in the area long enough to see his two sons Michael and Phil join his lodge too. Mike has moved away to Staines to further his legal work but Phil is a regular when his pub management job allows him to attend. Gordon’s accountancy training had him working around the country as an accountant, auditor and financial director but he maintained his membership of Gyrwy even when joining lodges close to his homes in Worcestershire (Priory Lodge) and the Isle of Wight (Lee Britten Lodge), becoming Master of Priory in 2005. Gordon retired at 65 and returned to the north east but unfortunately suffered a stroke soon after and is now residing in a care home in South Shields with his lack of mobility making it difficult to attend lodge meetings now.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Watts was on hand to carry out the ceremonial duties and present Gordon with his certificate. John was warned that Gordon’s hearing was not perfect so started off by sitting opposite him in the temple and outlining his life and career but part way through Gordon surprised everyone, including his attentive sons, by asking if he could say a few words. John happily assented and Gordon went on to eloquently say that he honestly never thought that when his father in law initiated him that he would reach 50 years of membership. His private avocations took him around the country but, in football terms as a sunderland fan of the old ground, who felt he had left his heart in Roker Park, in masonic terms, in Gyrwy he felt that this is the finest lodge. Whilst he has enjoyed living away, joining Priory and Lee Britten, meeting people, enjoying their friendship and different parts of the countryside he has always looked forward to coming home. Now that he is restricted in movement he takes great joy in the articles in Freemasonry Today and the Gazette, noting with pride the contributions that freemasonry makes to our community, as illustrated by the photographs of a Teddy in the Community alongside an item on contributions towards a body-scanner, showing the diversity of our ‘giving’ locally and nationally. Gordon believes that freemasonry, open to all men and all creeds, is a fabulous institution, one that he is proud to have been a member of and in closing he thanked everyone for coming along to witness his presentation and long may freemasonry continue.
John took over now and unable to add to such a lovely and unexpected speech asked that his ADC, Ray Lee, read out the certificate. This was another nice moment for Gyrwy as Ray is also a member of the lodge and combining his usual attendance with this provincial duty was a great way to commemorate one of ‘our’ members i.e. as scribe and Comms. Officer I have to add that I am also a member of Gyrwy Lodge so truly a ‘family’ affair on the night and potentially some bias in this report.
After processing out and taking up position for the photographs Gordon had to take his leave to recover from this emotional night so Mike & Phil took him home before returning themselves for the second half of the evening downstairs.
The usual formalities were observed, culminating in John’s reply to the provincial toast where he took the opportunity to give thanks to Ray for looking after him this year, commending him as a great representative of, and a credit to, Gyrwy Lodge before congratulating Darren Hymers and David Thompson, the two members of the lodge who are to receive their first provincial honours at the Lancastrian Suite in June.
John talked about the pressures of life that can prevent members from attending every meeting open to them, particular in their local lodges, but pointed out that prioritisation should always be given to attending one’s own lodge whenever possible. John was pleased to see this demonstrated by Gordon’s sons, Mike travelling up from near London and Phil arranging for cover from his job, as well as the other members of this lodge who always make the effort to turn out, with at least 50% ‘home’ attendance at every meeting, 25 of the 44 members in attendance tonight, together with a most welcome 22 visitors including a fraternal visit from good friends and Hebburn neighbours Heabrym Lodge.
The evening did not stop there, as a combination of Brian Willis, Junior Warden, and Peter Jones announced the return of Kevin Gill to provide entertainment that has been sorely missed since his move to Cyprus. Kevin was unknown to many in the hall but possesses such a lovely singing voice that nobody there will forget him now. This was a superb way to round off a perfect masonic evening.
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”