ESLINGTON GOLD ACHIEVE GOLD AWARD STATUS
John Watts attended Eslington Lodge No. 4623, on Wednesday 10th May 2017, to present a certificate commemorating 50 years of membership in the Craft to John ‘Jack’ Spoor. Unfortunately Jack was unable to travel up from his home in Stafford so the lodge will make arrangements to deliver the framed certificate to him in due course.
John did enjoy a long conversation with Jack though, learning of his interesting life, outside the lodge, as an Engineer. Jack served his time and became a Senior Engineer responsible for the inspection of bridges and other structures, including proud tales of being called on to attend Hammersmith Bridge – setting right a serious issue with bearings – and significantly, his research and specification of the particular steel used for the Thames Barrier, thus leaving a very visible legacy, just a shame it is not carrying any masonic marks to complete that link.
John had barely sat down when he was invited back to his feet by the stand-in master Danny McDermott, the present incumbent of the Chair, Peter Wigham, being absent following a successful operation on his feet. John then proceeded to give an interesting talk on the Northumbria Blood Bikes (NBB), an organisation of which John gives his time to ride one of the motorcycles.
Although there were no motorcyclists in the lodge, John described how, as a novice on two wheels, he took up a course in Dunston and was taught to transfer many of the skills he had learnt in his police training from four wheels to two, qualifying as an advanced rider. Not content with satisfying this advancement, John researched how he could use this qualification and so signed up with the NBB who provide a free of charge service to deliver out of hour’s blood, samples and other urgent and emergency medical supplies to hospitals and health centres in the North East. Volunteers do 12 hour shifts with an average of 8-12 calls on those shifts.
Roughly five vehicles start work each evening, with one daily duty being to meet on the border with Cumbria to swap and transfer blood & platelets with the Cumbria base of the Great North Air Ambulance, thus maintaining the material within due temperature and conditions, with unused blood being taken to Newcastle hospitals for proper storage before being unfit for use.
The NBB is a charitable organisation that relies on donations from the public, the lottery and also from masonic charitable giving too. Equipment is thus provided that allows their fine work to continue and to reduce the burden on the NHS budgets. As an example, a bike that has been adapted with the panniers, blue lights, etc. costs in the region of £15k and then requires some £4k towards annual running costs so the support from charitable giving is essential to equip and maintain the fleet, which now includes two 4-wheel drive vehicles to cover certain eventualities and conditions.
This is a fine illustration of how even the smallest of donations towards the general masonic charities can end up in masonic hands as they give practical assistance to the process of saving lives in our community.
The lodge noted their enjoyment and were moved to prepare a cheque, signed over to the Northumbria Blood Bikes, which was presented to John later in the evening, supplementing another cheque, presented in the lodge, for £1,130 given to the grand charity. This qualified Eslington Lodge for their Gold Award, signifying that they have reached 100% of their target. John had the pleasure of presenting Frank Rankin, the charity steward, with his gold pin which Frank was proud and happy to accept and to wear to commemorate the generosity of the members of his lodge.