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Service Above Self Honour Geoffrey Bittlestone


September 2018

On the evening of Monday 3rd September 2018, the brethren of Service Above Self lodge (9537) met at the Masonic Hall Old Elvet, Durham. This was a regular meeting with special importance to celebrate 50 years in Freemasonry for William Geoffrey Bittlestone


Once the meeting had started, a number of officers of the Province of Durham briefly vacated the lodge in order to provide escort to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Paul Thompson, accompanied by Assistant Prov Director of Ceremonies Jeff Austin. John was warmly welcomed into the lodge by the Worshipful Master, Frank John Willis.


John Thompson then invited Geoffrey Bittlestone to join him in the east to talk about his life and masonic experiences.


Geoffrey comes from a family of Masons, both his father and Great uncle were masons and members of St Johns lodge in Sunderland. Geoffrey had to wait one year to join Amity (3193) – due to the Amity Lodge membership in those days – Initiated 19/9/1968 (Geoffrey’s Great uncle was in the chair at the Initiation), Passed 19/12/1968 and Raised 20/03/1969.


Geoffrey once on the ladder worked his way through the lodge officers to become its Master in 17/01/1980. Appointed to the rank of PPJGD in Provincial Grand Lodge in 2010.


In 02/09/1996, Geoffrey was asked to join Service Above Self lodge (9537) by Tony Elliott, undertaking many roles in the lodge and currently Treasurer.


After completing National Service working at Edinburgh Airport (Turn House) in the Control Tower, worked for Barclays Bank for 40 years, starting at Seaham Harbour and later based in Amble. It was while at Amble that Geoffrey joined Rotary club in 1982.


Jeff Austin then read out the 50 years Certificate before handing it to John Thompson to present to Geoffrey, thanking him for his continuous commitment to Freemasonry. Geoffrey then replied with a small speech – saying it was sprung upon him and an honour to receive this certificate and thanking everyone who attended and how much he had enjoyed his time in Freemasonry thanking John Thompson for attending.


Dr Ian George Booth, Director of Ceremonies of the lodge, while remaining seated, gave short detailed talk on the history of Service Above Self lodge, how the lodge was setup for Rotarians and members of Round Tables receiving its Warrant in November 1993 and it was Consecrated on 16th April 1994.


This talk was given because of a Notice of Motion had been given to pass a resolution that the lodge in December 2018 to cease to exist and to return the Warrant to Provincial Grand lodge as it ceases to be viable.


The evening was finished off at the festive board. John Thompson responded to his toast and told the brethren the special evening to celebrate Geoffrey’s 50th years in Freemasonry and with a heavy heart, john talked about the lodges notice of motion to hand in the lodge warrant at their next meeting and how it was the changing times in modern freemasonry and how the organisation is changing, with some lodges and buildings closing or joining with other lodges and buildings.


John spoke about the up and coming events, the installation of the new Provincial Grand Master of Durham – John Arthur in October 2018 and how the 2021 festival was going with an update on the current total having past £2,000,000 in 140 weeks. John thanked Jeff Austin for being his Provincial ADC for the evening and said he would be attending the Service Above Self lodge December 2018 meeting.


W Bro Willis responded by thanking everyone for attended and then passed on a gift for Geoffrey before proposing a toast to him, Geoffrey replies to his toast, saying the 50 years had crept up on him, remembering all the Good times.

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