A member of a Lodge at Tow Law Masonic Hall explains why he became a freemason
So, what interested me to become a freemason?
Some of you may recall a fearsome storm in July 1984 during which York Minster was struck by lightning. The lightning strike caused a fire that destroyed the south transept roof. The freemasons with very little fuss quietly raised the monies required to repair that roof. It happened; the Minster was restored to its former glory. If you know where to look in the Minster there is a plaque, but you need to know where to look and that plaque is tiny.
Personally, I like this take on charity, something done quietly without a lot of trumpet blowing, the recipients are not required to feel beholden.
So, anything else?
I was keen to meet people of integrity, people who really understand respect, friendly people who were able to give a little of what they could spare through charity to people less fortunate than themselves. I found myself meeting people from all walks of life, people who I would not normally get an opportunity to meet socially. 25 years on and I can still meet with many of these now old friends.
During a festive board that followed a recent meeting I found myself sat with and chatting with a retired para, a retired policeman and a couple of fireman. As a working electrical engineer these are people I would not meet socially. These people have some amazing stories, their stories are different to mine, many have lived life to the full. I understand the slowest a Hercules aircraft can fly at is 140mph, the fastest speed at which you would want to jump out if you were a para! Every day is a school day!
What about more recent ‘quiet’ charitable donations?
Over the last 5 years The Province of Durham of which Tow Law is a member raised £3.4 million pounds for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys a fund that aims to relieve poverty and advance education for children and young people. The fund also supports young people with exceptional talents and those who need financial assistance in order to embrace life changing opportunities.
What about other donations, the smaller more local ones?
As Covid really took a hold people realised an IPad could go a little way to helping loved ones keep in touch. Nearly 20 IPads were distributed around several Care Homes around the Durham Province.
A donation was made to ‘Walking with the Wounded’, a leading military charity that recognises those who served and are mentally wounded, socially wounded or physically wounded.
In all I looked at a list of 30 different bodies from hospices, cancer trusts to brass bands that all received some help.
Can the freemasons help me?
Like many other organisations you don’t join for what you can get but there is often an overspill whether it be the quiet satisfaction of knowing you have contributed something to help others or the gain in personal confidence if you chose to work up through the ranks of a lodge.
What about religion?
The freemasons are not a religious group and discussion about religion or politics is dissuaded. To be a freemason you need to believe in a supreme being and that’s it. C of E, Catholic, Muslim (other religions are available) all agree on one thing, a belief in a supreme being.
So I need lots of money, right?
No. You can’t buy your way in and we certainly don’t check your bank balance! After each meeting we have a festive board where a 2 to 3 course meal is served. Its your chance to socialise with other like-minded people. Just over £10 will buy you a meal and a pint! There are some joining fees and annual subs but you will find these are well less than your TV license!
Could they help me in difficult times?
Many a freemason has gone to the lodge almoner to say he is in difficulty and could the lodge help. Very often something can be done, a little something to help someone who has found themselves on the back foot. A fact of life is that some people do not make the 3 score years and 10. Often in these tragic circumstances a young widow will not have the resources available to help children who might have moved to further education. Sometimes in these tragic circumstances the masons can offer some support so the children can complete their further education.
The Province of Durham does a lot to support the Northumbria ‘Blood Bikes’
The Northumbria blood bikes provide an amazing service getting urgently needed blood, plasma and medical supplies out of hours between hospitals, literally a life saving service. The blood bikes are ridden by volunteers, many of the volunteers are also freemasons and many of those are also members of the Durham Chapter of the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association.
The picture above shows a Yamaha FJR1300 gifted by the Freemasons to the Northumbia Blood Bikes.
Where is this Durham Province?
So in the north east of the province we have towns including South Shields and Jarrow, to the south east we have Hartlepool and Stockton, to the south west towns include Tow Law, Crook, Stanhope and Barnard Castle and finally to the north west towns include Gateshead, Ryton, Dunston and Consett.
A full map of the Province of Durham can be found at: