Ferryhill Masonic Hall was the venue for the Dinner for Denny to celebrate his 8 years as Provincial Grand Master and subsequent appointment as Assistant Grand Master. This was an opportunity to say thank you for his leadership and friendship from the Province of Durham.
The Dinner for Denny saw well over 100 brethren from around the Province come together for the celebration. Everyone assembled in the lounge to meet up and have a chat before moving to the hall for the splendid meal.
The tables in the hall were beautifully set out ready for guests. Each setting was adorned with a Dinner for Denny place card for the occasion. Inside was the story of the meeting of Mark Grand Lodge at which Denny was installed as AGM. (follow the link at the bottom of the page for the story)
After the meal, Norman Eric Heaviside stood at the front and presented the toast to Denny in his own inimitable style. He was pleased that a recent health issue and surgical procedure hadn’t prevented him from attending.
He started by saying how delighted he was to be proposing this toast to Denny as their association goes back a long way. When he formed a team in 2005 to progress ‘The Big Conversation’ within Lodges, he chose Denny as one of the six members. Denny soon became an important and influential member of the team.
It would be fair to say that Denny has been in Freemasonry for quite some time, having been initiated into Palatine Lodge in 1973, the week after Sunderland triumphed at Wembley. Progressing through the Lodge offices and then the Provincial ladder, becoming Senior Warden in 2005. That year he was invited to become the Assistant PGM to Eric, when he took over after the passing of Derek Richmond. He would later become Deputy PGM in 2008 until 2012.
Denny joined the Royal Arch and numerous Orders during his distinguished Masonic career. Notably, he joined Bede Mark in 1975 and becoming their Master in 1989. He was appointed in the Mark to Provincial Grand Junior Warden in 1994 and a succession of acting offices followed, and then to Deputy PGM between 1998 and 2005. This was a post he would be appointed to again in 2011 before becoming PGM in 2014.
It was during his time as Deputy PGM in the Craft, that there was pressure to allow him to be released to the Mark. Being of similar ages, Eric realised that this was a perfect opportunity for Denny as he may not get the chance in the Craft.
Eric then went on to describe Prof. D. K. Wilson, the man. He is someone we all know as a friend, a leader and one who doesn’t criticise others. A very humble gentleman, highly educated and a good confidant. Someone who is a real team player, one who listens and delivers without dictating.
Eric did allude to Denny’s foibles, he struggles to say NO, but if he had, perhaps he wouldn’t be where he is now! He also was never one for gardening, often removing flowers instead of weeds, much to the dismay of his wife. But behind all this is Denny’s beloved wife Dorothy who has supported him throughout.
The toast was followed by a rousing, ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’. David Hanson, Deputy PGM in Charge then spoke about Denny and presented him with various gifts and flowers for Dorothy. He thanked everyone for helping make the Dinner for Denny such a success and a memorable evening, and also to wish him well as Assistant Grand Master.
In his response to the toast, Denny first of all thanked Eric and then David. Addressing David as Deputy PGM in Charge before saying, “no, no, no, … PGM Designate”, in anticipation of the 28th of November 2022.
Denny advised that at every position he has been appointed to, at some point he’s been ‘wet behind the ears’, and so it continues now! He then revealed three pivotal points in his career. First, the wonderful moment that the whole light of Freemasonry was revealed to him at his Initiation.
Next came when Bill Gillhespy appointed him as acting Junior Warden in the Mark. At the end of the year, he thought that would be it, but Peter Croft invited him to be Deputy DC. The final pivotal moment was in the Craft, representing the PGM, then a Grand collar, then being invited to be an acting Warden.
Whilst Denny thought he would be doing a retirement speech after standing down as PGM, it is not to be as another chapter opens. He concluded by saying his “good journey is because of you, wonderful Brethren; you’ve been an inspiration”. But he had to get one last chance to say his favourite line of ritual, “among Mark Master Masons, you will ever find friends” – how true.
Following his reply, Denny took the opportunity to present the Provincial Grand Master chain and collarettes to David Hanson in readiness for his investiture. He advised that the chain is not a Provincial one, it is a Mark Grand Lodge chain, which will be presented by the rulers of Mark Grand Lodge, but couldn’t resist passing it on personally. In presenting it, he noted, ‘the past is past, present is now, and the future is in David’s hands’.
The raffle from the evening raised £640 which will be going to the 2029 Festival in honour of Denny.
The final toast was made by Trevor Lynn in which he thanked John Dodds, John Nye and the staff of Ferryhill Masonic Hall for putting on the Dinner for Denny. It has been a huge success and a fitting tribute to an amazing Provincial Grand Master.
The story for the Grand Mark Lodge Investiture meeting can be found HERE