2014 was another year which gave the Freemen of Durham an opportunity to offer financial support to local causes. In the context of our aim to have substance, relevance and purpose this is a key area for the Freemen and one to which a lot of thought is given as evidenced by the plan to establish a Charitable Trust.
There has been a link between the Freemen and the Durham Mayoral Bodyguard for a number of centuries. As long ago as the 13th Century the Bodyguard gave protection to Wardens as they collected taxes and tithes around the City. When the first Mayor of the City was created in 1602, the Bodyguard became associated exclusively with that office. It is interesting to note that at that time only Freemen had any say in the election of the Mayor, a situation which continued until the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835. The Mayor of Durham City has the oldest Bodyguard outside the City of London.Residents and visitors to the City never fail to be impressed by the pomp that the Bodyguard provide to civic events. We were therefore delighted to be able to offer support to the Bodyguard in refurbishing and enhancing their regalia. Principal in this was the procurement and presentation of a processional banner which will be carried whenever the Bodyguard are involved in ceremonial events throughout the City. The Banner was presented to the Worshipful Mayor and the Bodyguard at a ceremony on 2 November. This was followed by a dedication by the Deputy Dean of Durham.
Peter Bennett Apprentice Joiner
Our support for Peter Bennett’s joinery apprenticeship at the Dean and Chapter is now entering its final year. We wish Peter well as he concludes his training and hope that he will exercise his eligibility to the Freedom by becoming a Freeman of the Joiners’ Company in due course.
We provided funding to support the erection of a monument in tribute to the soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry which has been installed directly outside of the Guild Hall in the Market Place. The Freemen were also represented in the service of dedication.
Mayor's Charity Appeal
Each year we make a contribution to the Mayor’s Charity Appeal. A cheque was presented to the Mayor at the Annual Dinner. The beneficiary of this year’s Appeal is Finchale Training College which is increasingly involved in the vocational rehabilitation of former service personnel.
The Mayor was especially appreciative of our donation and invited us to a press publicity event where the work of the College was brought into focus through the retraining of former Commando David Evans who served in Kosovo, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq before leaving the Army in February.
West Rainton Banner
Last year through the good offices of Eric Bulmer (Warden of the Plumbers’ Company) we helped to fund a Community Banner for West Rainton, a project that was led by Alison McDonough, Headteacher of the local primary school and a member of the Plumbers’ Company. The school was the centre of the project which had the aim of processing the banner in the 2014 annual Miners’ Gala. The Freemen were delighted to assist once more and contributed to the banner being accompanied by Esh and Bearpark Brass Band when it was proudly marched to the Cathedral and blessed as part of the Gala celebration.