Thursday the 8th of June saw well over 100 Masons attend Palatine Lodge, No. 97, at Wearside Masonic Temple to celebrate 50 years in the Craft for V.W. Bro. Prof. Denovan Keith Wilson, PGSwdB, PDepProvGM.
A man as well respected as ‘Denny’ was always sure to draw a crowd. The Durham Provincial Grand Master in the Craft, R.W. Bro. John Paul Thompson, attended with a Deputation of Provincial Officers, which included the Deputy and two Assistants. The Past Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Norman Eric Heaviside, was also there.
As you would expect, the Mark was well represented, with the Deputy Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Francis Spencer, travelling up for the occasion. Province was represented by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. David Nigel Hanson, the Deputy, the Assistant, and a litany of other current and past Provincial Officers.
Despite seating for 103, extra seats were required in the Lodge room. Once the Lodge was opened and the Provincial Grand Master had processed in, the first business of the evening was to receive a lecture, written by members of the Lodge but delivered by Denny, highlighting Warrants in General and Palatine’s in particular. Palatine’s warrant, dated 14th January 1757, was the first ever issued by the Premier Grand Lodge, and by extension, the United Grand Lodge of England, and it is still proudly displayed, as it rightly should be, at every Lodge meeting. (Letters of authority were issued prior to this date).
Then the main item of business, celebrating Denny’s 50 years. Two chairs were placed on the Square in front of the pedestal and R.W. Bro. John Thompson invited Denny to join him. They discussed his initiation on the 14th of June 1973, and the many wonderful years he has spent in Freemasonry, at the conclusion of which he was presented with his 50 years certificate, it being read out by W. Bro. Mike Davis, Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary, who also happens to be the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies in the Mark!
As you can imagine, a full Lodge room also meant a full festive board. A fine four-course meal was provided, and all were delightfully entertained throughout by a fabulous four-string quartet playing on the balcony.
In response to his toast, Denny gave an eloquent reply, as is his style, thanking everyone for attending and the work that had gone in to making the night so special for him, referencing the Mark by saying “among Mark Master Masons you will ever find friends”. Fitting words for a man that has friends wherever he goes and was surrounded by friends on the night paying tribute to his service to Freemasonry.
The raffle raised more than £500 and the choice of charity was left to Denny. He chose to split it equally between the Craft Durham Benevolent Fund and the Durham 2029 Mark Benevolent Fund Festival.
A truly wonderful occasion that will be well remembered for years to come.