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Royal stick maker celebrates 50 years


January 2018

Once again Whitworth Lodge opened its doors to welcome members and visitors at  its first meeting of the New Year. This meeting was a special evening in the Lodge as the main item on the agenda was to celebrate  50 years of continued membership of Freemasonry for:Arnold William Sanderson.

The meeting was attended by John Thompson , Assistant Provincial Grand Master,  along with his Director of Ceremonies David Atkinson  and presentation was made of the Commemorative Certificate along with an interesting summary of Arnold’s life and Masonic history

A Brief Life Story ( Curtesy of Peter Bellis, Lodge Secretary)

Arnold left North Road School, Spennymoor in 1945 at 14 years of age. This was followed by a 7 year apprenticeship as a Carpenter/Joiner.

When he was 13 year old, he joined the 14th Cadet Battalion Durham Light Infantry, worked his way through the ranks and was commissioned by the then Lord Lieutenant of Durham, John James Lawson, commonly  referred to as Lord Jack Lawson.  Baron  Lawson of Beamish, was  a and Clement Atlee. famous Trade Unionist and politician who served in the government of Ramsey McDonald

Arnold was called up for his National Service by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, ( REME), and saw active service at Tel-el-Kabir, in the Suez Canal, Egypt. It was here that Arnold became one of the few National Service Conscripted soldiers to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

He returned to civilian life after doing his National Service, and started his own business as a building contractor in 1961 and continued this for over thirty successful years. It was during this time that he met Joe Elliot, a past Master of the Whitworth Lodge, who proposed him for membership. At the time there was a very long list awaiting membership, and five years later on 10 January, 1968, Arnold was initiated. He was Passed on 08/05/’68 and Raised on 12/02/’69. Times were obviously very different then as the year Arnold was Initiated in 1968 there were another  7 Initiations, 6 Passings and 6 Raisings. He was Initiated by Frank Jamieson, and  Jack Pickering carried out his 2nd and 3rd Degree. He immediately took on the role of Steward after his Raising and has never been without an Office in the Whitworth Lodge since. He became Worshipful Master in 1979 and in 1988 was promoted to the acting Rank of Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works. and in 1999 was promoted to  Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden and is currently a member of Tristram Chapter.

He became Chaplain of the Whitworth Lodge, a job he holds to this day.

It was in 1997 that Arnold was asked by the Spennymoor Town Council to take on the duties of Parade Marshal, overseeing all military parades held in Spennymoor. This year was his 21 year “ in charge “, and during the last 7 years Spennymoor has held a “ Drummed Service “, which is a military Church Service with the Alter being formed with Military Drums and Standards. This service is unique in the area.

During the 1990’s, Arnold took up making walking sticks in his shed. This is something he has become very successful at and his sticks are to be found around the world. In 2010 he was asked by the Colonel of the REME at Catterick to manufacture a few sticks with the Corps badge inlaid into the handle for them to use in presentations. One was presented to Prince Philip, Colonel in Chief, REME, and in 2015 Colonel Robinson of the Brigade of Gurkhas asked Arnold to manufacture a stick inlaid with the badge of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which was presented by them to Prince Charles  as their Colonel in Chief, on his birthday.

In 2005, Arnold was asked by his good friend, Sergeant Major Jai Gurung, to help collect funds to help replace a school in the Lamjung district of Nepal, and with Arnolds help the school was completed in 3 years. The earthquakes in the district in 2015 damaged every house in the village, but

the school survived and was used as a shelter. Arnold has continued fund raising for the Gurkha Welfare Trust, which helps look after 5500 old Gurkha Soldiers and their Widows.  To date he has raised just under £50,000, with the help of his walking sticks which he still manufactures  and distributes at local fairs and shows. Because of his fundraising work, he was invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May, 2015. He was accompanied on the day with his daughter Judith, and described the event as one of his most memorable days.

There being no other business the Lodge was closed and the brethren retired to the Festive Board and in total 53 brethren sat down to dine.

On conclusion of the formalities Arnold presented John Thomson with one of his hand crafted walking sticks as a memento of the evening which John was delighted to receive.

This was followed by a presentation of a commemorative cake in the form of a masonic apron and a glass Kukri containing spirit. Both were very much appreciated by Arnold who finished his evening by saying, “That never in his wildest dreams did he expect a night like this”.


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