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Visitor of the Year Award at Civic Lodge


February 2017

It is often said that visiting is the life blood of Masonry. Indeed many Lodges simply couldn’t carry on without visiting brethren. The perennial question has, and will always be, why don’t we get the numbers of visitors that we used to?

Civic Lodge, that meet on the second Friday of the month, in the Wearside Masonic Temple, Burdon Road in Sunderland, were no different to many Lodges in this respect.

Ken Stobart, a Civic Lodge stalwart, realised that with falling attendances and a lack of visitors at the Civic Lodge meetings, something had to be done. So 32 years ago, he set the wheels in motion for a special celebratory evening that acknowledged and celebrates the role of visitors and all they bring to Masonic evenings.

The ‘Civic Lodge Visitor of the Year Award’ is presented annually in a celebration to someone that the brethren of Civic Lodge believe, has contributed and exemplified the best qualities of a masonic visitor.

The evening also marked the starting point in the Masonic career of Christopher Wall, with him being balloted for and Initiated, taking his first regular steps in masonry on this special evening.

This year’s award was presented to Ian Wardle one of the hardest working and unassuming Masons you are ever likely to meet. He was genuinely staggered by the award and by the warmth of the applause and congratulations he received by everyone present.

Dave Hansen, last year’s winner couldn’t have been happier handing over the baton to Ian, as Dave is the East Area 2021 Festival Director and also the visiting Grand Lodge Officer of Ian’s Lodge Nautilus Lodge, in Queen Street, Sunderland.

Ian sets the benchmark in his charity work and Ritual in the Lodge, with his can-do attitude. He has signed up 82% of the Nautilus brethren to the continuous giving scheme, which incidentally is the best sign up rate in the Province of Durham.

Ian is one of life’s good guys and a much respected mason who, by the cheers and applause of everyone present, was a very popular winner. Ian humbly accepted the award and was quite simply lost for words.

Terry Richardson, the Master of the Lodge, which recently celebrated its 75th Anniversary, is enjoying his 4th time in the Master chair and, with his welcoming and friendly manner, mirrored with a razor sharp sense of humour, warmly welcomes friends old and new at Civic meetings.

With Amity Lodge and Sportsman’s Lodge as the fraternal visitors for the evening, he challenged Sarah the caterer at Burdon Road, to come up with a trifle dessert which would challenge the legendary Sportsman’s Lodge trifle. As a first attempt it was a worthy effort, but as Sportsman’s Lodge has over 25 years’ experience in this field, it’s a hard crown to win.

This brought a very successful and enjoyable night to a close: one that could perhaps show that when numbers are falling in a Lodge, with a positive approach and some good old hard work, things can be turned around.



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