Provincial Grand Master's Address - Thursday 8th September 2016


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

This year I have decided to continue with the same theme as last year and concentrate on the main focuses we currently have in the Province.

2017 Festival
We are now less than 1 year away from the Festival Event to be held on Saturday 8th July 2017 at Trunkwell House, Beech Hill, Reading and I trust I will have the pleasure of seeing many of you in attendance.
Donations from individual members and Lodges have continued to accumulate and I have had the enormous privilege and pleasure in presenting over 200 Mark Benevolent Fund jewels and collarets to members of our Province and 50 to the Master’s and Commanders of our Lodges.
As in previous years, 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 so it is only fair that we do our bit by supporting them.
The Lottery Bonus Ball Game continues to go from strength to strength with over 90 games having been launched in 4 years with a gross income in excess of £47,000 and a net income of over £22,500. This is an incredible achievement and my sincere thanks goes to all of you who have taken part, for your continued commitment and generosity. I thought with the numbers increasing from 49 to 59 per game the enthusiasm might wane but in fact the complete opposite has happened.
I also wish to thank the heads of all the Masonic Orders in the Province of Berkshire for the encouragement they are giving to their own units in supporting the Festival.
You have just heard from Catherine and Janet what a difference our help has, and is making to the charity Hope for Tomorrow and so I would ask you all to re-focus your efforts, for the final push, from both yourselves and your Lodges, to achieve a total our Province can be proud of. I have every confidence that you will all respond in your normal positive way and I thank you all in anticipation for a magnificent total.

For the second year our numbers are showing a growth in both the Mark and the Royal Ark Mariner Degrees. Our Advancements and Elevations have now reached the same levels as they did a number of years ago and your Executive continues to present “An Introduction to Mark Masonry” at “Dine a Master Mason” events which are proving to be received extremely well. However, should you wish us to come to your Craft or Chapter to deliver the presentation please get in contact.
As you know 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. So please don’t keep our degree a secret, approach your Craft and Chapter members and see if they would like to join the Mark Degree because you know they will enjoy it. So I would ask you all actively to identify new members and bring them into our superb degree. I and my executive can only do so much, it is the responsibility of us all to encourage Craft and Chapter members to join.
As I have said before I believe every Mason should be given the opportunity to join our wonderful degree, “The Degree with a Lightness of Touch”, the Friendly Degree.
But don’t forget Brethren that we are Craft Masons first and without a healthy Craft we will struggle and so I urge you to continue encouraging your friends and family to join Craft Masonry.

As you know, it is my fervent belief that Masonry is to be enjoyed and in particular the Mark Degree. At festive boards the atmosphere has been one where everybody seems to be enjoying their Mark Masonry and long may this continue.
Once again the Active Officers of the year have been outstanding in their attendance and support of both me and more importantly the Lodges. The support received in being present at the Installation meetings and Official Visits has been truly magnificent and I now publicly thank all my Officers for their fantastic support; it truly means a lot and makes things very enjoyable and special for me and, I trust, for you also.
On all my visits I have been received extremely well and the atmosphere has been one of concord and fraternal affection. The attendance at both Grand Lodge and other Provincial meetings has also been truly wonderful.

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 and I expect you all to continue to support both your Lodges and the Province.
I am truly looking forward to working with you all and, as I said at the incoming dinner, please enjoy your year.

Many congratulations also go to those members of the Province who were honoured at Grand Lodge in June.
VW Bro Alan Smee promoted to PGJO
W Bro’s Ian Johnson, Peter Lloyd and Peter Hughes promoted to PGJD
And through the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, W Bro Tim Double appointed to GStwd.

It has also been my pleasure to welcome to the Provincial meeting some of those Brethren who have been Advanced during the year. I have managed to be present at quite a lot of your Advancement Ceremonies and have been able to welcome you personally into the Province of Berkshire. It really is a pleasure to see you here today and I trust this will not be your last visit to the Provincial meeting.

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 Deputy, Huw Hopkin. Also my thanks to our Director of Ceremonies, Steve Berkshire and his team and the two Lodges, Erlegh and Linden Acre, under whose banners we have met today.

And finally as I move into my 4th year as your Provincial Grand Master, I thank you all for your continued support for both myself and VW Bro Graham; it has been a truly fantastic year. It is without doubt a privilege to be your Provincial Grand Master and may you all continue to enjoy your Mark Masonry.

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

Richard J Olliver
Provincial Grand Master

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