Provincial Grand Master’s address to Provincial Grand Lodge - Thursday 14th September 2017


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, once again, I have decided to continue with the same theme as that of the last 4 years.

2017 Festival
After five years of being heavily focussed on promoting the Berkshire Mark Festival 2017 in aid of the Mark Benevolent Fund, the culmination of all the hard work came to fruition on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th July.

Friday 7th
This was dedicated to a dinner and dance with entertainment from a Beatles tribute band. Over 200 attended and, following the meal, after one toast and a few words from me the band started playing. The dance floor was full from start to finish and a good time was had by all.
A magnificent start to the weekend.

Saturday 8th
Over 150 were picked up from their hotels by coach and taken to Windsor to visit Windsor Castle. All arrived and, to much relief, all returned.
At 6pm they were transported to Trunkwell House for the main event of the weekend: the Festival Dinner. 600 attended and many were greeted by myself and Margaret. We were helped by the weather, a glorious sunny evening which showed off the venue at its best. A truly festive and relaxed atmosphere was enjoyed by all culminating in the announcement of the amount raised by our Province: £666,666. A truly magnificent figure; many, many thanks for your support. I am truly humbled by your efforts.

The 2018 MBF Festival is to be held at the The Epic Centre, Lincolnshire Showground, Grange-de-Lings, Lincoln on Saturday 7th July 2018 and I trust a number of us will be attending. Brethren, if you are looking to attend all the information is on our website. For now however, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies will you please escort W Bro Ronald Harrison, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire to me.

Present promissory note.

Now Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies please present RW Bro Martin Wilson, Provincial Grand Master for Sussex to me.

Present cheque for £1000 for the 2019 Festival.

Our numbers in the Mark Degree showed a slight decline of 3 last year but the Royal Ark Mariner degree is continuing to grow with an increase of 7 members.
We have Advanced 28 and Elevated 8 in the past year and your Executive continues to promote the order.
Over the past four years we have been very active in the area of recruitment and we must continue to build on that work.
As you know I believe every Master Mason should be given the opportunity to join our wonderful degree, “The Degree with a Lightness of Touch”, “The Friendly Degree.” If you agree with this statement then I would ask you to think about these headings
WHAT can you do to offer the opportunity to join the Mark Degree to your fellow Master Masons?
WHERE can you do this?
WHEN can you do it and

WHAT your executive will do is to continue presenting “An Introduction to Mark Masonry”
WHERE will we be doing it? At your Craft and Chapter meetings and we have also committed to organise a ‘Dine a Master Mason’ presentation evening at all the centres in the Province, where a Mark Lodge meets and these meetings will be subsidised.
WHEN – At your Craft Lodges and Chapters when we are invited. We are currently working on a timetable for the ‘Dine a Master Mason’ evenings which will be published as soon as possible.
HOW – We will come to you but you must encourage your friends to attend.

Please bear this thought in mind.
We can assume that all is well but we must never forget that such good fortune can be reversed in a few short years. We must be ever vigilant to respond and help a struggling Lodge and experienced Masons should never forget that the strength of our Order depends on the health and well-being of the Craft from which our candidates come.

The atmosphere at Lodge meetings and the festive board gives the impression that you are all enjoying your Mark and RAM masonry: long may it continue. I firmly believe our Masonry is there to be enjoyed.
The active officers of the year have been outstanding in their support for me and, more importantly, the Lodges in their attendance at Installation meetings. I extend my sincere thanks to them all for a brilliant year.
More and more members are attending other Provincial meetings and Grand Lodge which is wonderful to see.
A group of members are attending the Provincial meeting of the Channel Islands and we are also venturing farther afield with seven members and their wives/partners attending the District meeting in Cyprus. If you would like to attend these or any other meetings please contact the Provincial Secretary to register your interest.
In this Province we have tremendous Goodwill, Fellowship and Friendship towards each other so your executive is also looking at how we can enhance these wonderful attributes so we can all enjoy our Mark Masonry even more than we do now.

I’m sure you have noticed that two of our senior Provincial Officers have retired this year.
Firstly, W Bro Tony Hardiman who has retired from the position of Provincial Almoner. Tony was appointed as Provincial Almoner in 2012 by RW Bro Peter Sands and has been very dedicated in that office ensuring that, wherever possible, those who need assistance have received it from either BeMBA or the Craft Provincial Almoner. Tony also runs and organises the Mark Master Masons Lodge of Instruction which is held here at Sindlesham on a regular basis. All the dates, of course, are on the website so Brethren please take advantage. My sincere thanks to you Tony for everything you have done but, of course, you are not disappearing as you have kindly accepted the office of Provincial Assistant Almoner, to assist your successor, W Bro Hugh Ranscombe, in his new office and you are also continuing to organise the Lodge of Instruction. I have a small gift for you here Tony in appreciation for all you have done, so if the Provincial DC can please present you to me.

Present gift.

Secondly our Provincial Grand Charity Steward, W Bro John Stocker, retires today. John took up the position in 2009 and has done a stirling job in looking after our Charitable interests since that time. Of course, for the last five years John has had the additional little job of being responsible for the money donated to the 2017 Festival. I think it’s fair to say that neither John or I realised just how much that work would be. John, my sincere thanks for everything you have done over the last 8 years but, in particular, the enormous work you did for our Festival. We all wish you well in your new home in Cornwall and trust you have a long and happy retirement. I also have a small gift for you John in appreciation for all you have done so if the Provincial DC can please present you to me.

Present gift.

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 always say, please enjoy your year.

Many congratulations also go to those members of the Province who were honoured at Grand Lodge in June.
W Bro Pat Leonard appointed to PAGDC
W Bro Paul Digby appointed to PGStdB and
W Bro Tim Dummer promoted to PGJD

Once again 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, Caduceus and Charles Wilkinson, under whose banners we have met today.

Brethren, as I move into my 5th year may I say it is truly a privilege to serve you as your Provincial Grand Master and I thank you for your continued support for both me and VW Bro Graham.

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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