The Durham Provincial Grand Master, Norman Eric Heaviside, having accepted a kind invitation from Ken Thomas, Secretary of St George’s Lodge, to attend their regular June meeting, held at Birtley Masonic Hall. On this occasion Eric was accompanied Deputy Provincial Grand Master, John Arthur, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Craig Steele, and a strong Deputation of Provincial Officers, to receive a significant donation towards the 2021 Festival.
An early start of 6.30pm was arranged to accommodate some 90 attendees and enjoy a full evening of events. The lodge was then opened in due form by Worshipful Master, Peter Clark. The Provincial Director of Ceremonies, Andrew Peter Fall Foster, ably assisted by his team, then processed the Deputation into the lodge room.
The assembled brethren were then treated to an exemplary Third Degree ceremony which on this occasion was performed by a mixture of St George’s and Westoe Lodge brethren. A Special mention must go to the candidate, Jonathan Dingwall, who was excellent on answering his questions, more so the fact that he was being raised in a different lodge to that of his mother Lodge, Westoe in South Shields.
At the second rising, Peter rose to present Eric with a donation for £10,000 for the 2021 Festival, Peter went on to explain that it had been a unanimous decision by the Lodge to hand over this amount from the proceeds of the sale of Washington Masonic Hall. A stunned Eric stood to receive the donation, quickly, before John Thompson, The Festival Director, was able to make a move! He then thanked the brethren of lodge for the very generous donation and went on to say that he believed it to be the largest, individual donation, that he had received, so far, for the Festival.
Downstairs the festive board began with a fabulous meal, enjoyed by all and it was clear to see by the chatter and laughter echoing throughout the banquet hall that everyone present was enjoying a fantastic masonic evening. On response to the toast to the Provincial Grand Master, Eric thanked the members for the warmth of their welcome, whilst also the Provincial Officers who accompanied him on the Deputation, some for the last time, as this was their penultimate Deputation before the Annual General Meeting later in the month. Eric then announced that the current Festival total was a tremendous £930,000 with some 1,400 members now having signed up to his ‘dripping tap’ continuous giving scheme.
He also mentioned the forthcoming Raby Gala and the wonderful opportunity to showcase our Province. He then thanked the brethren again for such a superb evening before asking Kevin Bainbridge the Charity Steward of St George’s, to receive his new ‘Gold’ lapel badge and then whilst on his feet, turned his attention to the Peter and present him with a Gold Certificate to proudly display in the Lodge, having smashed their target within the first year of the festival, explaining to those present, that St George’s were only the third lodge, to date, to achieve this, so ‘’well done’’.
On the response to the toast to the Provincial Officers Ross Brown thanked the lodge for the wonderful warm welcome and quality of the ceremony. Ross then entertained the brethren with his rather ‘dry’ humour.
Overall this had been a fantastic evening, especially, to see a Lodge go from Bronze to Gold achievement in such a short time, well done to everyone at St George’s!