On Saturday 21st January 2023, the Durham 2029 Festival launch event marked the official beginning of 6 years of fundraising on behalf of the Mark Benevolent Fund. This will be the fourth time Durham has played host since the Province was formed just over 100 years ago.
The event was held at ‘The FED’ in Dunston. The evening was a mix of gala dinner, short speeches and excellent entertainment. Guest of honour was David Ashbolt, the Deputy President of the Mark Benevolent Fund. Also in attendance was the Assistant Grand Master, our own Prof. Denovan Keith Wilson.
Our members, their partners and friends from across the Province assembled for the special occasion. On arrival, they were greeted by members of St. John Ambulance Service with the ambulance donated by the Mark Benevolent Fund for the Durham Province. They were also able to view one of the many Blood Bikes which was also funded by the MBF. Some guests even getting a ‘feel’ for the bike and sitting atop it. After the meal, Enter CIC introduced themselves and provided the first segment of the evening’s entertainment. These young adults performed a number of songs and routines from ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll to West-End musicals.
It was then time for the Provincial Grand Master, David Hanson to welcome everyone and officially launch the Durham 2029 Festival.
“Our Festival is in support of the Mark Benevolent Fund. For over 150 years, the MBF has been helping those in need and it itself has been ably supported by Mark Master Masons across the country. It is now our turn …the Province of Durham…to lead the charge in raising funds for the MBF.
But let us not forget that it isn’t just about handing over a sum of money; it is about the joy that will be brought to the downtrodden and the relief that will be given to the needy. Hence, our festival slogan: ‘Giving is not just about making a donation, it’s about making a difference’.
The Durham 2029 Festival is for everyone and will be a success with your help and enthusiasm. We hope that you as Mark Masons, your friends and families can participate, enjoy, and organise many events that will occur over the next six years. Let’s make that difference.”
David introduced the Festival Team and welcomed them to take the stage. After the introductions, he made reference to Winston Churchill who said, “ we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. It was now time to introduce the Festival Chairman, John Watts to make his address who gave a heartfelt talk on why we do what we do, and how the MBF helps many across the country, including people in our own Province. A full transcript of John’s address can be found HERE.
After his build up, John then introduced the Deputy President of the MBF, David Ashbolt. David thanked everyone for their enthusiasm and further explained how the MBF provides assistance. He spoke with great passion about the MBF and also the Festival Jewels and MBF Honorifics. In closing, he wished the Province of Durham and its members, families and friends every success with the Durham 2029 Festival. The evening was then handed over to performer Chris Tame who got the dancing started before a disco rounded out the successful evening.
The Mark Benevolent Fund is a registered charity (no. 207610) and came into existence in 1868. It was founded on the suggestion of the Reverend George Raymond Portal, Grand Master of the Mark. He felt that for charity to be effective, it had to be disbursed swiftly and without the bureaucratic formalities of other Masonic charities. To him it was wrong for there to be any delay in providing assistance to those in need. It was his own Latin tag “Bis dat qui cito dat” – he gives twice who gives promptly – became, and still is, the principal guideline of the M.B.F.