Provincial Grand Master’s address to Provincial Grand Lodge 11th September 2014

 

Brethren,

Firstly, I thank you all for attending today; it is very gratifying to see you all here.

Secondly, I have already introduced our guests to you individually and I now thank them once more for affording us the courtesy of attending today and allowing us to return, in some small measure, the hospitality that they show to us when visiting their Provincial meetings.

Well my first year has gone by very quickly indeed; it has, as I expected, been a very busy and enjoyable one. My Deputy, Graham, and I have visited every Lodge at least once this year and have been magnificently supported by the Provincial Officers of the year. My grateful thanks go to you all; you have been a wonderful group of officers and I couldn’t have asked for greater support in my first year as your Provincial Grand Master. I must also thank the members of the individual Lodges, the reception received when visiting has been overwhelming. Thank you all, I could not have asked for a better first year.

No sooner had I been installed as PGM, when on 27th September I and the Provincial Officers were invited on a joint visit, with our neighbouring Province of Oxfordshire, to Thames Mark Lodge which meets in Henley-on-Thames. This was, indeed, our first joint visit in the Province which we are reciprocating on 10th April next year at Wallingford; long may this continue. It was indeed a special occasion for me as Henley is where I was initiated into Freemasonry.

This was followed by official visits to Conrad Costin Lodge on 5th November and Linden Acre Lodge on 2nd April.

On January 10th Margaret and I were supported by many Mark Master Masons, their wives, partners and friends at the Annual Reception & Dinner. We were, on that evening, able to recognise and thank our Past Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Peter Sands, for his leadership over the previous 6 years and also his dedication to the Province. It is also wonderful to see him here today following his year of ‘purdah’.

On 23rd January I was invited by RW Bro John Prizeman to the Cancer Care unit in Reading to see a mobile chemotherapy unit presented to the NHS Trust by Hope for Tomorrow. It was launched by Ross Brawn of Formula One fame and named after his mother. But more of Hope for Tomorrow later.

On 10th February I was invited, along with W Bro Martin Peters (Craft PGM) to be present to see our sister Province of London present a mini-bus to Lord Harris Court. It was truly a magnificent occasion; the residents couldn’t wait to get in it and we had trouble getting them out! Many thanks go to RW Bro David Ashbolt, PGM of London, for doing this. He has now donated 3 mini-buses to Masonic Homes around London and a fourth is due soon.

I said at my Installation there would be two main focuses during my tenure as your PGM: the Mark Benevolent Festival 2017 and Recruitment.

The Festival
Donations, from you as individual members and from your Lodges, have been coming in at a steady rate and I am happy with where we are at this present time. However I would urge you to support the functions that are being organised in aid of the Festival, they are all displayed on the website and also circulated to you all. A lot of hard work goes into putting these functions together it is only fair that we do our bit by supporting them.

Whilst talking about the Mark Benevolent Fund I would remind you that it was announced last March at Grand Lodge that the MBF would be marking their 150th year in 2018 by supporting the charity Hope for Tomorrow. I have asked RW Bro John Prizeman, President of the Mark Benevolent Fund, to talk to us about the MBF which he will be doing a little later.

The Lottery Bonus Ball Game continues to be very successful, you appear to like a gamble. Wherever I go I am given £10 pound notes for the purchase of a bonus ball. When I launched it I had no idea as to how successful it would be. In two years we have launched 37 games and I must thank you all for your enthusiasm and generosity.

Our PPGM, RW Bro Peter Sands, completed the last leg of “The Long Walk” on Sunday 24th August. He and his dog, Milo, have walked from Windsor to Wokingham and on to Sindlesham. From Sindlesham to Newbury, from Newbury to Wantage, from Wantage to Wallingford, from Wallingford to Pangbourne and from Pangbourne to Caversham, a total of 90 miles. Updates have been posted on our website with the last showing a link to a sponsorship page. Peter & Milo have raised in excess of £1000 to date and I do thank you Peter for embarking on this magnificent project. I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to be with you during the walk but I’m sure you understand that I had more pressing things to do!

Recruitment
Last year I mentioned that we, your executive, were looking at ways in which we can help with recruitment. I am pleased to say that we now have a presentation called “An Introduction to Mark Masonry” which can be presented to your Craft Lodges. My Executive and I have already made this presentation to the Light Blues Club, Tylehurst Lodge No. 6526, Victory Lodge No. 3954, an evening in Windsor where we invited non-Mark Master Masons living in the SL postcode and Hundred of Bray Lodge No. 6326. Here I must thank the Provincial Grand Master of the Craft (Martin Peters) for allowing us to present at his Craft Lodge meetings. On every occasion it has been received very well and I know has provoked lots of thought amongst non-Mark Masons as to whether they should join. So should your Craft Lodge be in a situation where they don’t have a ceremony and you believe “An Introduction to Mark Masonry” would enhance and assist your work in encouraging your members to join the Mark Degree, please get in touch and we will do our best to support you. Brethren, we must all be vigilant in encouraging members of the Craft and Chapter to join, we must approach them. Too often I hear when asking a prospective member why they haven’t joined our wonderful degree it’s because they have never been asked. Please don’t keep our degree a secret, please approach your Craft and Chapter members and see if they would like to join the Mark Degree because you know they will enjoy it.

Of course, Brethren, we must remember that the Craft is the source of our membership so please don’t take the focus off encouraging your friends and family to join our wonderful order.

Many congratulations go to those members of the Province who were honoured at Grand Lodge in June.
RW Bro Dr John Wright re-appointed as Deputy President of the General Board
VW Bro Digby Woods promoted to PGJO.
VW Bro Abe Obadiah also promoted to PGJO.
W Bro Martin Peters appointed to PGSD.
W Bro Peter Rushton promoted to PGJD.
W Bro Roy Stone appointed to PAGDC.
W Bro David Everett appointed to PAsstGSwdB and
W Bro Les Langley appointed to PGStdB.

My congratulations also go to all those I have re-appointed, promoted or invested with first appointments today. These honours are awarded for your past services to your Lodges and the Province, they are not automatic. I expect you all to continue supporting both your Lodges and the Province and would charge you actively to identify new members and bring them into our superb order. I and my executive can only do so much, it is the responsibility of us all to encourage Craft and Chapter members to join. This degree contains many messages for the discerning man. It provides enrichment and clarity to the knowledge we have gained in the three degrees of Craft masonry. I believe every Mason should be given the opportunity to join this wonderful degree, “The Degree with a Lightness of Touch”, the Friendly Degree.

It has also been my pleasure to welcome those Brethren who have been advanced during the year. I have managed to be present at quite a lot of your Advancement Ceremonies and able to welcome you into the Province of Berkshire. The enamelled token I have given you today is something you can only receive if you attend the Provincial meeting following your Advancement so please look after it. It really is a pleasure to see you here and I trust this will not be your last visit to the Provincial meeting.

In past years I would have also invested those members receiving ProvRAMGR but this year, and hopefully in the future, we will be holding a Provincial RAM Assembly. It will take place on Thursday 9th October following the Installation meeting at Old Rectory Lodge of RAM. If successful the intention is to move it around the Lodges in the Province each year and so the following year will be held after the normal meeting of Leopold Lodge of RAM on Monday 12th October 2015.

I must thank W Bro’s John Nixon and Alan Spearman for standing in as Senior and Junior Wardens today and also W Bro Hugh Ranscombe for standing in as Senior Overseer.

Brethren, these meetings don’t just happen; a lot of hard work goes into their organisation so I extend my personal thanks to the Provincial Secretary, Mike Sanders, for organising today ably supported by his new Deputy, Huw Hopkin. Also my thanks to our Director of Ceremonies, Steve Berkshire and his team and the two Lodges, Hungerford and Old Rectory under whose banners we have met today.

Finally, I thank all of you for your enthusiastic support for both myself and W Bro Graham. Let us all enjoy our Mark Masonry for as we say, “Among Mark Master Masons you will ever find friends”.

Brethren, may the Great Overseer of the Universe bless and keep you well and I look forward to seeing you during the year.

 

 


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