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Double Family Celebration

6th Feb 2017
Double Family Celebration
Three sisters from Durham and two brothers from West Yorkshire have reinforced the strong family ties enjoyed by the city’s growing band of freemen when they were sworn in at the Candlemas Guild Day.

The sisters, Fiona, Rebakah and Holly Wilmshurst, were welcomed into the Curriers’ Company by their 59-year-old father Iain who is warden.

Brothers Jack and Davey McElwee, from Boston Spa, joined their Langley Park-born father John (54), who now heads a Wetherby engineering consultancy. He has been a member of the Cordwainers’ Company for more than 20 years.

The sisters are all former pupils of the Durham Johnston School and Fiona, the eldest, has spent more than 11 years as a nurse at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. The 30-year-old, who cares for critically ill new-born babies in the hospital’s neonatal ward, is to marry at Durham Cathedral in May.

Twenty-six-year-old Rebakah, a mother-of-three children, is at present a care worker in a home for the elderly, while Holly, who is 24 and has two children, is working at the cathedral where dad Iain started his working life as an apprentice stonemason in 1974. He is now works manager at the iconic World Heritage Site building.

“My father, John, was accountant at the cathedral from the 1960s until his retirement in 1985 but it was the apprenticeship I served in the city that qualified me for membership of the freemen. My daughters are now eligible to follow me into the guild and their membership provides the opportunity for my grandson and four granddaughters to establish a family tradition,” said Iain.

The McElwee brothers completed a unique family circle at the ceremony when they were formally welcomed into the company by their paternal grandfather Joe, who is warden, and where their grandmother Doris is also a member. Completing the brothers’ family attendance at the ceremony were their mum, Dianne and her parents David and Jean Hill from Woodall Spa in Lincolnshire.

Twenty-one-year-old Jack, who worked as an apprentice power boat technician and has spent the past two summers teaching sailing at a summer camp in America, is now in his first year at Plymouth University studying for a degree in marine science.

Brother Davey, aged 19 and a climbing enthusiast, recently completed his A- levels at Boston Spa High School and is now reading economics in his first year at Newcastle University.

The arrival of today’s newcomers take membership of the freemen past the 250 milestone barrier, establishing yet another new modern-day record. The number of women members, been sworn-in over the past six years following the introduction of new equality laws, now stands at 66.