The new chairmen of the group, David and Gareth

At the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Blackpool there were many changes including changes in presiding and acting officers, first appointments and many promotions. Amongst the business of the meeting it was announced that Mike Adams was to retire from his long-standing position as the South Eastern Group Chairman. For the past eight years, Mike had dedicated much of his time and outstanding service and support towards successfully steering the group in a very positive fashion.

Group chairman David Durling.

Group chairman David Durling.

At the meeting, the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison announced that Mike’s past group vice chairman David Durling was now to be appointed Group Chairman of the South Eastern Group, Tony also announced the appointment of Gareth Jones as group vice chairman. It is without doubt that the South Eastern Group will continue to prosper with the drive and enthusiasm of two such well qualified individuals leading and working together with cumulative positivity along with a good team of group officers.

David was initiated into Foundation Lodge No 5394 in 1997 and became WM in 2004. In 2008 David received his first appointment in Provincial Grand Lodge as an acting Provincial Grand Steward and became a joining member of Quingenti Lodge No 8516. This was followed in 2009 when he was promoted to acting Provincial Junior Grand Warden. David received an appointment of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in the Investitures at the United Grand Lodge England in 2013.

In Royal Arch, David was exalted into Jubilate Chapter No 8561 (Province of East Lancashire) in 1999 and installed as first principal of that chapter in 2008. He became a joining member of Architect Chapter No 1375 in 2008 and has since served the office of first principal in that chapter too.

He has had a busy career in the South Eastern Group in his role as communications officer from 2006 to 2009. He moved on to group charity steward from 2010 to 2012, group webmaster from 2011, Chairman of the South Manchester Freemasons’ Hall steering committee which was responsible for the provision of funding for the redevelopment of the Urmston Masonic Hall, he was then promoted to group vice chairman from 2015 until his recent promotion to group chairman.

David was educated at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School in Lancashire and after working initially in fast moving consumer goods with Procter and Gamble, including involvement in the launches of famous household products relating to detergents and personal hygiene products, he changed his career and joined the house building profession in 1983.

He remained in house building for the rest of his career, rising through the ranks to Managing Director of Bovis Homes Northern Region before he retired in 2005. He served for five years as Chairman of the Home Builders’ federation in the North West of England.

After retirement David set up his own company to provide consultancy services to the development industry. He is a director of the Cheshire Union of Golf Clubs and a past president of Shrigley Hall Golf Club, as well as being a qualified England golf referee.

The new group vice chairman, Gareth Jones was initiated into Barlow Moor Lodge No 4525 in 1991 and became master of the lodge in 1998. He is also a joining member of Quingenti Lodge and Latham Lodge No 2229, (a past master’s lodge).

Gareth similarly has had a long history of service to Masonic halls, in particular serving as director of the previous South Manchester Freemasons’ Hall Company Ltd in Chorlton, Manchester, Gareth was instrumental and prominent in assisting with and securing the sale of the said property in 2006.

In 2003 Gareth received his first appointment in Provincial Grand Lodge as an acting Provincial Grand Steward and was promoted to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works in 2007 followed by promotion to acting Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2009. Gareth received an appointment to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies at the April 2012 meeting of Grand Lodge in London.

Group vice chairman Gareth Jones.

Group vice chairman Gareth Jones.

Gareth was exalted into Architect Chapter in 1994 and installed as first principal in 2000 and 2001. He was appointed acting Provincial Grand Steward in 2004 and is a member of Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter of West Lancashire No 8516 and is a joining member of Good Companions of Commemoration Chapter No 6005, East Lancashire. He was promoted to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer in 2008.

Gareth was educated at Caerphilly Grammar School in South Wales. In 1972 he arrived in the North West of England to study biochemistry at the University of Salford. After receiving his Doctorate from Salford he worked for a large pharmaceutical company developing blood clot-busting drugs.

Gareth then spent a brief spell developing anaesthetics that would enable medical operations to take place in the high pressure environment of the deep seas during oil explorations. After that he joined the Government Physics Establishment at Daresbury to set up a medico-biology facility, eventually becoming head of biology and medicine there.

After retirement, Gareth set up his own company to develop his own patents and to provide consultancy services to start-up scientific companies who require his help to take their inventions and ideas to market in the area of point of care medical diagnostic testing.

Other changes within the group also entailed Nigel Paton being promoted to group secretary, Eddie Wilkinson to assistant group secretary, with Ezra McGowan as group membership officer, Darren Gregory as charity steward, and newly appointed Sylvester During as group mentor.

Article and photographs by Eddie Wilkinson.