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Norman celebrates 50 years at County


April 2017

On the evening of the 19th of April brethren gathered for the regular meeting of County lodge, who meet in Darlington.  The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Stephen Walker, was in attendance with a special duty at hand.  Stephen invited Norman Bainbridge to join him to take a seat in front of the Worshipful Master’s pedestal and addressed the brethren advising this is one of the most enjoyable duties as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, meeting such wonderful people.  Norman had achieved 50 years of continuous membership in Freemasonry and County Lodge which Stephen confirmed was a remarkable achievement.  Stephen informed the brethren, putting into perspective, that the certificate presentation is 1 of only 11 50 year certificates to be presented in the South of the province in 2017 and that it was a privilege to be in attendance to be able to present it to Norman.

Stephen went on to discuss Norman’s achievements and experiences over the last 50 years. Norman was born in June of 1932 in Bishop Auckland; Norman confirmed to Stephen and the brethren that he “escaped” at the age of 3 when he moved to Darlington.   Norman was schooled in Darlington attending Alderman Leach at Faverdale and Gladstone Street before going on to the Technical College.  Norman then went to work as a Chartered Surveyor for Turner and Dean and eventually Gilbert-Ash.  Over the years Norman has been involved with local construction including work at Middlesbrough town centre and Eldon Square.  Stephen praised Norman with appreciation on some of the visually impressive structures that he has been involved with.  Norman responded and advised, in his own opinion that he thought parts always looked like a public toilet with all of the tiles!  Norman advised that Eldon Square was the result of two construction companies where the company he was employed by completed the first half and another company finished the remaining half.  After Eldon Square was built the Queen and Prince Phillip attended Eldon Square to tour it and Norman recalled that Prince Phillip couldn’t understand why 2 contractors were employed to build it.  Prince Phillip had gone on to ask where the join was in the middle.  As well as his work as a Chartered Surveyor, Norman had also served in the Royal Engineers out in Cyprus as part of his National Service.

Norman was brought into Freemasonry by his father in-law who was a member of County Lodge and he persuaded him to consider joining. Norman was initiated into County Lodge 19/04/1967, passed 18/10/1967 and raised 20/12/1967 before becoming Worshipful Master in 1986.  Norman advised the brethren that the lodge had a lot more members back at that time and it took longer to reach the chair.  Norman remembered stewarding and would leave the meeting upstairs earlier so that he and his fellow stewards could eat before everyone else got downstairs.  He enjoyed stewarding although had to remind some people on occasion that he didn’t get paid for it.  Norman was given an acting rank of ProvAGReg in 1995 and was promoted to PPGReg in 2003.  Norman also enjoyed playing rugby, where he played at the front, although remembers being smaller than most players.  Stephen clarified the terms hookers and swingers for the benefit of the brethren not familiar with rugby references.

Stephen thanked Norman for sharing his experiences with everyone and for supporting Freemasonry, particularly in Darlington. Stephen congratulated Norman on achievement of such a magnificent milestone and wished him many more happy years as a member of County Lodge.  Norman responded and advised Stephen and the brethren that it was a pleasure to be at the meeting and furthermore it was pleasing to see so many visitors and commented that he hoped he didn’t owe all of them any money.

At the festive board the brethren enjoyed each other’s company and a delicious meal. Stephen responded to his toast and gave an update on the 2021 festival and thanked the brethren for their continued support.  Stephen also gave a reminder to Party in the Park on the 12th of August where the tickets will be available online from the 30th April.  Stephen informed that there are only 600 places which is only 300 couples so impressed on the brethren to book tickets as soon as they can to save disappointment.  Stephen also mentioned the dates for the Provincial Meetings and informed they are all to be held at Dunston.  Stephen concluded by mentioning significant points of interest in 1967 when Norman was initiated into County Lodge, this included; Ronald Reagan being made the Governor of California, Elvis Presley married Priscilla, Captain Scarlett was aired on TV and most notably Sooty defected from the BBC to ITV.

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