A 'Big' Night at Mowbray
Martin Lawson
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A 'Big' Night at Mowbray

Ian Telfer celebrating 50 years in the Craft!

After the lodge was opened by the master Robert Summerson, the first business of the evening was swiftly attended too, Eric positioned himself at the front of the dace with Ian sat next to him so they were facing the majority of some one hundred attendees that evening.

Eric began by informing the brethren that Ian had been initiated on the 7th December 1966, passed in October 1967 and raised in February 1968, becoming master in 1977 and by Eric’s calculation now the longest serving past master in Mowbray lodge. Ian became the Province’s Senior Grand Warden in 1986 before receiving Grand Rank in 2001. Concentrating on his craft career, Ian didn’t  join the Royal Arch until 1986, becoming Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals in 2003 and honoured by Supreme Grand Chapter in 2012. The formalities of Ian’s Masonic career being out of the way Eric then spoke more of their journey together through freemasonry clear that they had been friends for years. Both avid Sunderland supporters, they recalled a chance meeting at Hillsborough football ground in 1973 for the memorable semi final between Sunderland and Arsenal…..a good year for Sunderland.

The Provincial Grand Secretary, Tom Gittins was then asked to read out the 50-year long service certificate, before Eric then presenting it to Ian, this was followed by a huge applause. Ian then stood to present Eric with a cheque for £5,373, equivalent of their lodge number,  towards their 2021 festival target.

Following on, the next business was a presentation of Richard Robson’s Grand Lodge Certificate, which is a rarely seen piece of work, impeccably done by Mowbray’s Visiting Grand Lodge Officer Roy Neville.

The floor was once again opened up to the Provincial Grand Master who then gave Eric a presentation on the Durham Cathedral Project. He started by explaining that the idea of the cathedral project had here started in Burdon Road, many years ago, on a visit to Londonderry lodge, of where he had a chance meeting with a visitor, George Laverick, who was a Provincial Steward from the province of Hertfordshire and also the Clark of Works at St Albans Cathedral. After chatting for a while, on his connection with the church, George then invited Eric and John Arthur along with their wives for a weekend to visit St Albans’ cathedral. On that visit they learned of the strong links between the church and Freemasons in Hertfordshire. On their return Eric swiftly approached Stan Fitches on who best to speak too at Durham Cathedral. This then followed a meeting with Gaye Kirby from the Open Treasures project and talks started on how the Province of Durham could assist. Hence the start of a very successful venture for which over 450 stones were sponsored for the floor in the newly refurbished Monks Kitchen. Ironically, many of the team responsible for the scheme were present that evening in the lodge. Eric’s passion for this project showed throughout his presentation, explaining that he is continuing, by developing relations with the new Dean of Durham.

After the proceedings were concluded in the lodge over ninety people sat down to a superb turkey diner as part of a five course meal in fine dining table-settings complete with candelabras and festive crackers. Replying to his own toast Eric rose to thank the members of Mowbray for the tremendous ‘big’ cheque which Ian had presented him earlier in the night and to date we now have had over 1.2 million pounds towards our festival total, which is tremendous being the fact we have been in festival for less than a year. Eric then requested Paul Clark, Mowbray’s Charity steward to come forward, where he presented him with the lodges newly attained silver status pin.

Paul Paterson was then given the floor to raise a toast to the main man of the night, Ian Telfer. Paul with his usual dry ‘wit’ and impeccable delivery entertained the diners with some memorable stories of Ian’s past whilst commending him on his achievements in Mowbray and the Province. Paul concluded by presenting Ian with a golf voucher whilst simultaneously informing him that a case of wine had also been delivered to his wife Judith that evening as a thank you for her help and support in allowing Ian to spend so much time on his Freemasonry.

Ian now responded to the toast by firstly thanking Paul for his many ‘witty’ comments, going on to say “at first I was a reluctant mason!” explaining that just a couple of years after he was married, his wife, Judith, came home one day from visiting her parents and said ” there will be trouble if you don’t ask about joining the lodge”. Soon after asking, his father in law proposed him into Mowbray. So Ian went on to say that he was initiated on 7th December 1966 for an initiation fee of £21 and his apron cost of £5 and the dining fee for the evening was 37p. Being installed as Master 2nd November 1977 in that year he recalled “raising” a certain Paul Paterson. In 1986 he was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden of which he remembers phoning his father in law to tell him the news, his reply was “are you sure, it must be a mistake!” Never the less he had a great year representing the Province.

Ian closed by thanking the Deputation for enriching the evening and also a note of thanks to Eric for his personal contribution to the evening, going on to say ‘we are to admire Eric’s capacity, the hard work, the visits and his phenomenal memory for people and their names, although Ian’s wife Judith, did have another message to pass on, ‘if he calls her Pauline once more- there will be trouble!
Next Article Another successful summer garden party
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