Northumberland Freemasons Re-write History In Riding Mill

25th August 2023

The War Memorial opposite St James’ Church in Riding Mill harboured an undetected error  for many years until unearthed last year by W.Bro Sandy Gardner, of Epicure Lodge No.9618, which meets at Hexham Masonic Hall, during his extensive researches into the men of the village who had fallen during the Second World War.

One of that number, F.D.K. (Frederick) Best, had died at the age of 29 years in 1942, whilst a prisoner of war. The inscription on the plaque listed him as having served with the Royal Air Force, whilst he had, in fact, served with the British Army in North Africa as a sapper with the Royal Engineers.

Eager to correct this oversight, the parishioners of St James’ Church sought funds to allow the recasting of the iron plaque, and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Northumberland was delighted to make a contribution of £575, via the Freemasons of Northumberland Benevolent Trust which allowed the work to be completed earlier this year.

Fast forward to 20th August and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Kevin Stannard, was privileged to attend the service of re-dedication of the War Memorial plaque. With several members of the Royal Engineers Association in attendance – a number of whom are also masons – a poignant ceremony of re-dedication was conducted by the vicar of St James’, Revd Diana Johnson in the presence of many members of the congregation.

Kevin explained “The Freemasons of Northumberland are delighted to have been able to make a contribution towards the work to correct this age-old error, and are very pleased that Sapper Best should at last have his correct unit identified”.

The Freemasons of Northumberland Benevolent Fund supports both Masonic and non-Masonic Charities to the tune of about £160,000 a year and assists somewhere in the region of eighty non Masonic charities each year.

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