John Arthur Provincial Grand Master

John Arthur Provincial Grand Master


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Dear Sir and Brother

We hope this message finds you well and safe at this difficult time. The past few weeks have been a major concern for us all and we have not seen the worst of it yet if you follow the news. The encouraging thing is that once again the nation seems to be acting as one in support of our National Health service and emergency organisations. Hopefully this “unified response of appreciation” for these key workers will last for long after this pandemic is dealt with.

This year was to be our final push in support of the 2021 Festival and so many of you were excited to be a part of it. The next few months will continue to be challenging for the country and many may need to call on The Masonic Charitable Foundation for support. The funds we have raised to date over the last 4 years I’m sure will be put to good use if called upon.

As the safety and wellbeing of our families, friends and fellow Freemasons is our main priority, we have reluctantly taken the decision to postpone or cancel some of our events which are detailed below. If the event is cancelled, all those who have made sponsorships should have their donations returned, if they wish. There is no reason why you cannot ask your donors if they would like to leave their donation standing and in support of the charity, but the option to return it must be offered.

If you have paid an entrance fee or a deposit please get in touch if you wish for it to be donated in your name to the MCF or, if you require a refund please contact Paul Quinn by email at: paul.quinn@durham2021.org

For all postponed events we will keep the sponsorship going until the event is concluded.

  • 15th April - Archery Event – Cancelled.
  • 18th April - Eanred Lodge Ladies’ night for the 2021 Festival – Postponed to a future date
  • 26th April - Lanchester Railway Walk (Alden Grange to Blackhill, @ 12miles Postponed (until late Sept / Oct).
  • 23rd May - Plant Sale at Shildon hosted by Corinthian Lodge Sale conditions to be altered - details to be provided asap.
  • 27th-31st - May London UGLE – Paris Eiffel Tower cycle ride Postponed until late September.
  • 12th June - Ladies that Leap, Tandem Sky Dive - Postponed (date to confirm asap).
  • 14th June - 24 Peaks Climbing Challenge – Cancelled.
  • 2nd-5th July - Chester Le Street Beer & Cider Festival – Postponed (date to confirm asap).
  • 13th September - Great North Run – The Organisers currently plan to go ahead with this event.
  • 13th September - Dragon Boat Race – The Organisers currently plan to go ahead with this event.

2020 Grand Raffle

All lodges should now have tickets; we recommend that ticket sales are suspended until further notice. It is our intention to postpone the draw date until early 2021. This will give sufficient time to sell our allocation of tickets. For any tickets sold to date we have been given the advice by the Sunderland Council to “Make all reasonable efforts to inform those to whom we have, or intend to sell tickets to, that the date of the draw will be postponed (by a reasonable time) due to the Covid19 virus". A new draw date will be determined when we return from this enforced recess.

During this period, we are sure that our members will generate other methods and ideas to raise monies for charities and good causes and some we can do indoors. Maybe grow a beard, or run 10k on the running machine indoor sport or disco marathons, Etc. Etc. or even

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Whatever you do please at all times stay safe and follow the Government guidelines. The festival team are here to advise and support you in whatever you do, please get in touch with your ideas so we can share them with the all of our members.

As “we have been taught to be cautious” and at the moment caution is imperative. It is important for you to know that the Masonic Charitable Foundation is there to support you.

The MCF remains committed to providing the same levels of support to our members and to the wider society as they always have done.  Of course if there is an increase in the support that they need to give they will react in the appropriate way to meet that need. There has never been a greater need for us to pull together and the support the MCF.

Thank you all for your understanding and the constant support that you give to our Charity, and hopefully this will just be a temporary pause in our fundraising activities.

We both sincerely hope that you and your families get through the next few months and are not too badly affected by this crisis and we look forward to meeting again in the not too distant future.

Sincerely and Fraternally

John Arthur ProvGM / GSupt

John Thompson 2021 Festival Director


Great North Run 2019



Tyneside was bathed in sunshine on Sunday the 8th September to welcome some 57,000 runners from across the globe eager to take part in the world’s greatest half marathon.


Once again amongst the throng of participants were Durham Freemasons proudly pounding the tarmac to raise over £7,500 in donations and pledges for 2021 Festival, all wearing their distinctive MCF Festival shirts.


Along with the Durham contingent were many more of our brethren, friends and family who were raising funds for individual charities and we of course equally applaud their efforts, and congratulate all on having  successfully completed the gruelling 13.1-mile transition from Newcastle to the South Shields coast, where thousands of spectators applauded their triumphant efforts.


We now look forward to September 2020 when the GNR celebrates its 40th Anniversary, to mark this milestone in the history of the iconic event we as a Province are hoping to encourage 40 Durham Masons to enter.


Feeling inspired to take on #GreatNorthRun 2020?


Sign up to the reminder service to be the first to get our updates for 2020.  http://grtrun.org/JqKCJF    And tell Paul Quinn you’ve done it at paulquinn@durham2021.org.


For more images from the day visit the FlickR album.


Dragon Boat Race

Durham’s Masonic Dragons Roar


4 Teams from the Province of Durham competed in the 3rd Tees Dragon Boat Festival which took place on Sunday 1st September 2019, raising money for the Durham 2021 Festival.


Each Dragon Boat can carries a maximum of 16 rowers plus one drummer and is steered by a helmsman provided by the event operators. The format of the event involves each team competing in 3 races, with the 4 fastest teams then competing in the final. This year 20 teams took part.


Our Teams were The Chester le Street Masonic Dragons 1 & 2, The Billingham & Castle Eden Freemasons Dragon Boat Squad and the Paddling Pedalers’, a team drawn largely from those who completed this year’s 3 Province Charity Cycle Ride.


After registration and the safety briefing the first of our boats to compete was Chester-le-Street Masonic Dragons 2 and they soon showed that they were a force to be reckoned with, posting what was then the quickest time of the first round, an amazing 1 min 4.45 seconds, to cover the 200m course in blustery conditions. In that first round their time was only beaten by a semi-professional dragon boat, The Purple Warriors, a team of HM Forces Veterans who compete regularly and use the sport as a means of inspiration, rehabilitation and recovery. They clocked an amazing 58 seconds in that first round.

We had had a few late withdrawals from the squads and there were some who were unable to stay for the full day but in true Masonic Spirit our teams supported each other, providing rowers and drummers where required.

The weather conditions continued to be squally but our rowers were undeterred. By the start of the final round, CLS 2 remained in 3rd place. Whilst they had improved their best to 1.03.14, Dave’s Dragons, had posted an incredible 55.9 seconds. Our Peddalers’ were lying in 4th with 1.05.91 and our remaining 2 teams were not far behind.

With the news that the semi-professional team would not compete in the final, our teams redoubled their efforts. Incredibly, 3 of our Teams, CLS 2, the Peddalers’ and Billingham & Castle Eden managed to hold off the competition and reach the Final. In fact we also had the 5th fastest time from CLS 1, who only missed out on a place in the final by 4 hundredths of a second.

As the 4 boats lined up on the start line the Masonic Teams knew that Dave’s Dragons were the team to beat. There was also however some healthy rivalry between our squads as they all competed for the top spot. In what proved an amazingly close race (apart from Dave’s Dragons who, as expected, left the other 3 teams in their wake) it was the Peddalers’ who managed to steal second place with their fastest time of the day, 1 min 2 seconds, beating Billingham & Castle Eden by a very short nose and with CLS 2 very close behind.

After cheering their competitors and receiving their trophies from the Mayor of Stockton there was just time for our teams to cheer all of the supporters who had turned up, particularly those from Billingham who had manned a TLC Teddies stall throughout the day.

Freemasonry in the community at its most enjoyable – well done to all involved.

For more images visit the FlickR album

Parachute Challenge

Parachute Challenge 2019

Friday 6th June 2019 has been an honour and pleasure for to be  the organiser of this Tandem Skydive event with each Skydiver raising money for the Durham 2021 Festival. After an informal presentation held in Hartlepool Masonic Hall 10 names were put forward to take part,  and so began the steady process of getting sponsors to donate towards the Festival target and a magnificent total of over £5,000 was in place as we all met nice and early at Peterlee Parachute Centre.


Our thoughts are with Angela who sustained a shoulder injury in the cycle ride just a few days previous and was unable to attend. The remaining 9 were then put through the checking in process and training, being ready to kit up at about 11am. Their jump would be from the maximum altitude, 15,000 feet giving them over a minute in free fall and then 5 minutes under the parachute before landing.  Lee Harrison was selected to go early to fill a lift of Tandem Students from a previous course and I jumped with him complete with camera to record it. The jump went well and on landing Lee was keen to tell the others how brilliant it was.


In the next 2 lifts of the aircraft the remaining Durham brethren made their jumps and all were on a high after their return to terra firma , exchanging the thrills which can only be experienced by jumping yourself. John Arthur our PGM and his good lady and the Festival Director John Thompson were both in attendance to give their support to this superb effort by all involved.


On a personal and sad note I made my second jump of the day and very last skydive with 4 of our Tandem jumpers before retiring from a sport that I have been involved with since 1980. This event will be repeated next year and should you wish to take part please send your details to Michael Graham Senior. There will be a free skydive to one of the names put forward kindly donated by Peterlee Parachute Centre.


Pictures from the day have been uploaded to Flickr, click here to open the album.


A Brilliant day for all involved and the sun gods and blue skies were all in our favour.


Ski Silksworth

2021 Festival Masonic Skiing Challenge



As the festival appeal has gone on the ways to raise money have become harder and harder to come by. It occurred to me that it might be possible to use a sport I am passionate about to raise funds for the festival. The idea was discussed with the Festival director and a plan formed to try and encourage as many people as possible to get involved, it was hopped that by setting several smaller targets building to the main target of skiing the height of Mount Everest that people who perhaps had only done a small amount of skiing might want to participate and after a meeting between W.Bro Thompson, myself and the Head of the Ski School at Sunderland we also decided to provide lessons for anyone that might want to learn how to ski in order to take up the challenge. The event was then put to the membership. Unfortunately, we had no takers for the lessons, but on Sunday 7th July 2019 just under 10 skiers descended on Silksworth Sports complex ranging in age and ability with our oldest Participant Malcolm at the age of 85. Many were supported by family and friends. We where joined by W.Bro Thompson and the obligatory Photo shoot took place and shortly after 12:00pm we were off the descents started to mount and as the afternoon wore on. At around 2pm we where joined by the PGM RW. Bro John Arthur and his support spurred us all on with Steve one of our younger skiers completing his 56 descents Shortly there after Steve then took a short break before returning to the slope to complete a total of over 100 descents which total more than the height of all 3 mountains combined. All told we hope to have raised more than £2500 and are already looking at options for next year.

David Lonsdale


Flickr Account Photo’s