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Nice One Cyril


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On Wednesday 22nd March the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson, accompanied by his Director of Ceremonies Martin Rankin attended Surtees Lodge in Shildon to acknowledge Cyril Kell who at 92 years young celebrated 65 years continuous membership in the craft. John was welcomed into the lodge by the Master, Robert Taylor Watson.



John then addressed the lodge and gave an insight into the life of Cyril:-



Cyril was born in Eldon Lane; his father and grandfather were both prominent freemasons in Shildon and founder members of Byerley Lodge.  It transpired that Cyril at one point in his life lived in the Masonic Hall in Middleton Road as his mother and father occupied part of the building as the lodge caterer and caretaker, respectively.  It necessarily followed that Cyril would join the craft and he was proposed into Surtees Lodge in 1958 by his father.



Cyril began his working life at 14 years old and started his apprenticeship in the Blacksmith’s and Joiner’s shop before commencing his lifelong career as a Teacher of Mathematics and Engineering in Toft Hill, Witton Park and Barnard Castle.   Cyril served his country as part of his National Service in 1952/53 in Korea and Egypt, seeking active duty in both conflict zones.



Cyril found it difficult to attend his lodge regularly due to the selfless care he devoted to his late wife and daughter.  John reminded the brethren that by Cyril’s example we should always be mindful that “family comes first”.



The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then read the citation on the certificate, and this was then presented to Cyril to the delight of himself and the brethren assembled.



At the festive board Cyril responded to his toast by thanking the brethren for a wonderful night and finished by saying that he has always been proud to be a Freemason and he told John that he would save a space on his wall for a further certificate in five years’ time.



To add further to the night’s festivities in the lodge room, the lodge Senior Warden James Fredrick Forster rose to his feet to announce to the lodge that a Charity Event that had been supported by Surtees Lodge had come to a successful conclusion.  This was the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, where Jim’s grandson Olly Collins along with 3 of his friends had rowed across the Atlantic Ocean from La Gomera in Tenerife to Antigua.    Jim gave a wonderful presentation to the brethren regarding the challenge and read a diary entry which explained the monumental moment “the lads” completed their row into Antigua harbour.     The Provincial Grand Master along with Dennis Robinson presented a cheque to Jim for £2000 from Durham Benevolence. Jim had raised £1,000 from Surtees Lodge which had been match funded by Durham Benevolence to support the Atlantic Endeavour team take part in their epic crossing. In doing so they raised tens of thousands of pounds in memory of their friend Oli Hilsdon.  Oli was a friend to all of the team and a dearly loved member of the community they grew up in. He lost his fight to Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive type of brain tumour, just days before his 27th birthday. Oli cared deeply for others, was wickedly funny and was brilliantly smart – he was an inspiration to all who knew him and set a true example of how to live life fully.


A rightly proud grandfather Jim, then thanked the brethren for their fundraising efforts and the Provincial Grand Master and Dennis for the cheque.  He has promised that his Grandson would be coming to the lodge at a future meeting to give a more detailed account of his voyage.   The “lads” set away on their “crazy idea” to row the Atlantic in 40 days…. they exceeded their own expectations and finished alongside professional teams IN 33 DAYS 23 HOURS AND 24 MINUTES.  What an amazing achievement.


To find out more about the challenge and their charitable exploits please visit the website below



Click Here for more information



All in all, a fabulous night at Surtees Lodge.


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