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Promotions and Festive Joy
The Annual Provincial Promotions meeting or the Provincial Christmas Party as it is often referred to, took place this year at the Lancastrian Suite, Dunston and hosted a record crowd.
Once again this was a fabulous opportunity for faces from across the Province to meet with old friends, make new acquaintances and witness something we do rather well in the Province of Durham, excellent ceremonial and even better hospitality.
With everyone in their respective places, John David Watts, Chairman of Durham Benevolence escorted Grahame Pickering, the Chief Executive of (GNAAS) Great North Air Ambulance, Mandy Drake, Deputy Director of Public Liaison and Hannah Powell Public Liaison Officer, into Provincial Grand Lodge prior to the formal opening.
After introducing Grahame to the Provincial Grand Master at the dais, he then delivered a short presentation on the charitable contributions made to (GNAAS) by Durham Freemasons over many years, before inviting John Arthur to formally hand over the keys of a gleaming new fully equipped 4×4 Volvo XC90 Rapid Response Vehicle, to be used by the Critical Care Team, emblazoned with the Square and compasses on both side panels and rear of the vehicle.
John then, to everyone’s surprise, handed over a further donation to GNAAS of £1,000 to purchase a crew flight suite with £200 of the donation being set aside to fuel the vehicle.
It was now Grahame Pickering’s turn to address Provincial Grand Lodge, in his address he enthused at the level of support that GNAAS had received from Durham Freemasons and went on to talk about had how privileged they were to be the beneficiaries of our continued generosity. He went onto explain that the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) will increase the workload of its all-night road vehicle service from two to four nights a week in response to high demand.
The service was originally commissioned by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to work on Friday and Saturday nights, from 8pm to 8am, and on an on-call basis the other five nights of the week. “Having this resource available for a longer period will enable us to work together as a multi-disciplinary team to benefit more patients.” but after attending 459 incidents in the last twelve months alone, GNAAS has decided to fund another two nights, Thursday and Sunday.
On accepting the keys for the vehicle which had been on show at the entrance to the Lancastrian Suite throughout the afternoon, along side another which is to operate within the Cumbria, he did so to rapturous applause.
With the presentation over John Watts escorted the representatives of GNAAS from the room to allow Provincial Grand Lodge to be opened in due form. Provincial Grand Lodge was opened by the Provincial Grand Master, John Arthur, after the several processions had everyone where they needed to be and the usual items of business were taken care of.
The main item of business then took place seeing the Provincial Grand Master, assisted by the Director of Ceremonies Team, proceed to Promote Brethren in the Provincial Grand Lodge being honoured for their continued dedication within their respective Lodges, Masonic Halls and communities.
The Provincial Grand Master then delivered his address in which he congratulated all those that he had earlier promoted, before introducing those brethren present from the Durham Light Blues Club informing us that the membership had now increased to some 60 in number.
John Arthur went on to update the brethren on the many changes taking place within our Provincial Structure including the formation of a new Provincial Team to supersede that of the former Executive, combining both Craft and the Royal Arch working together across the Province. Other changes highlighted in his address were, the restructuring of the Communications Team, website development, branding and changes within Provincial secretariat seeing our systems becoming fit for purpose in this digital age.
With the business completed the collection raised the magnificent sum of £2,456, Provincial Grand Lodge then reverberated to the brethren singing the first verse of the National Anthem. The Provincial Grand Master closed the meeting and the retiring processions were applauded in the usual manner.On leaving the auditorium the focus was then upon the drawing of the 2021 Festival Grand Raffle, organiser Andrew Foster invited John Arthur and John Thompson to draw the winning numbers from the most successful Grand Raffle conducted to date within the Province of Durham raising some £16,186.50 for the Festival and Masonic Charitable Foundation. Andrew will be contacting our winners over the coming days. Congratulations to all along with Westoe Lodge for selling the most tickets, for which they will be credited £100.
Whilst the Brethren chatted over a social drink, the staff at the Lancastrian Suite, assisted by the ever-hard-working Provincial Grand Stewards, transformed the arena into a banquet hall allowing the returning Brethren to take their seats for the Festive Board.
The banquet that followed was enjoyed by all, with the brethren enjoying the Christmas spirit with friends.
The Evening was rounded off with an impressive toast to the Provincial Grand Master delivered passionately with humour and sincerity by the Deputy Grand Superintendent, E Comp Michael Stuart Shaw.
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”