PGM's Address to Provincial Grand Lodge
Brethren it is a great pleasure for me to rise and address you at this 2010 Annual Provincial Grand Lodge meeting and I do take this opportunity to thank all of our guests and visitors from the other Provinces for the support they have given to our Province this afternoon. Many of our visitors have travelled considerable distances to join us here today and we appreciate the precious time they have devoted to the province of Somerset.
Whilst I appreciate that we now have a superb web-site that keeps us all up to date with the news from all Lodges around the Province due entirely to the hard work by our Deputy Provincial Grand Master VWB Ray Guthrie and I take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of all the Brethren for providing this wonderful facility. Additionally our Triangle Magazine also provides a wonderful channel for communicating with Brethren who may not be able to visit around the Province, or who are not able to attend their individual Lodges due to infirmity, and I would like to thank WB Pat Morrissey who is the Editor of the magazine for the time and hard work he devotes to ensuring the content and photographs are of the highest quality. However I would still wish to review and draw attention to some of the highlights of the year and some of the un-reported activities which take place during the 12 months between Provincial meetings.
This year has been a particularly busy for the Provincial Officers of the year who have carried out 3 Advancement ceremonies at Somerdale, Langdale and Carnarvon, also presenting the lecture on the Mark Tracing Board to the Brethren of Hallam Lodge. Both Somerdale and Langdale celebrated their 25 year anniversaries and it was a great pleasure and privilege for the Province to take part in their celebrations. Additionally we paid a fraternal visit to 2 Royal Ark Mariners Lodges where at Fidelity & Unanimity Lodge in October 2009 our new Royal Ark Mariners Provincial Banner was dedicated to the service of the Province of Somerset and it was a great pleasure for me to ask WB Terry Woods who is the Scribe for 348 to present and escort the Banner on that occasion. It would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity at this meeting to thank the outgoing Provincial Team for the hard work and superb assistance that they afforded me and also the support they gave freely to all the Lodges in the Province during the year. They have been a most happy team and have enjoyed travelling around the Province and supporting me together with Lodges at the various meetings throughout the year. I would particularly wish to thank the outgoing Senior Warden WB Richard Stranger and outgoing Junior Warden WB Ian Walker for their unstinting support and also for representing me at Lodge Installations where I know they were well received. The Provincial Director of Ceremonies, together with the Deputy DC, and the 2 Assistant DC’s are the unsung heroes as they escort me and the Deputy PGM as well as the Representatives in a most professional manner and I do thank them for the time and effort they put into these Offices. The Provincial Grand Secretary WB John Morgan and his Deputy WB John Winston do an enormous mount of work attending to the Administration of the Province and providing a service to all the Lodge Secretaries and Scribes and I thank them both for making all the arrangements for this meeting today. During a Masonic year the Province organises a Secretaries and DC’s meeting which this year was chaired by me, this is a meeting which is well attended and has a lively exchange of information and views concerning the administration, operational issues and ceremonial in Lodges with Lodge Secretaries and Directors of Ceremonies. We also hold an Almoners and Charity Stewards meeting which is also very well attended by representatives of each Lodge in the Province. This meeting is a particularly important gathering because charitable giving and the distribution of money to the Brethren and their families together with the support that Lodge Almoners can give to our Members at the time of need is at the heart of our Fraternity. Equally important are the donations that individual Lodges give to local charities supporting our communities, as we should not forget that we are part of the community and should be proud of what we do for our friends and neighbours and in turn it is hoped that they will look kindly at Freemasonry. My sincere thanks to the Provincial Secretary John Morgan and Provincial Charity Steward WB Eric Kellett for arranging and organising these 2 events.
Since 2004 I have encouraged the General Purposes Committee to meet at least once a year to discuss specific issues and provide an interface to the Provincial Executive on a range of subjects that may affect the well being of Individual Lodges and Brethren in the Province. The current Chairman of that committee is WB Peter Atkins from the Exmoor Lodge who would be more than happy to receive comments, Masonic topics or constructive ideas for raising charity funds. However Brethren he will not wish to hear about cold potatoes at the last Lodge meeting or warm beer at the bar. In 2009 I with the support of all the Charity Stewards in the Province launched the Provincial Grand Master’s charity project to raise £20000 in 2 years which was to be split equally between Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and the purchase of an ECG monitor for our Ambulance that we provided for St John Ambulance by the Mark Benevolent Fund some years ago.
On the 16th April it was my privilege on behalf of the Province to present £10000 to Mrs Marilyn Syndersham the co-ordinator for “Hearing Dogs for the Deaf” to train 2 dogs to help 2 Somerset people. The first dog to be trained would be for a recipient in Yeovil, a framed photograph of the sponsored Dog called “Fynn” is on show at the hearing dogs table outside in the foyer.
I would at this Provincial Grand Lodge meeting like to express my personal appreciation to all the Lodges and their Brethren for responding to my appeal and raising over £13000 in just 10 months and I am very proud of what you have achieved in such a short period of time. It was very pleasing for me to read some excellent reports in the local press, which gave details of the presentation.
Next year will also be a very busy year for the Province as we shall be consecrating a new Mark Lodge at Wedmore M.H which is to be called the “Isle of Wedmore” Lodge No.1912. This is the first Mark Lodge to be consecrated in the Province since 1988 and I am sure you will all join me in wishing them every success in the future. We shall also carry out a Banner Dedication at Frome for the Portal Mark Lodge who are the host Lodge for this Provincial meeting today. The Provincial Officers of the year will carry out 2 Advancement ceremonies at Royal Sussex in September and Nailsea Mark Lodge in January 2011, these team visits have become very popular and I over heard one younger Mark Mason this year exclaim “isn’t it nice to see the old Past Masters taken down from the top shelf dusted down and allowed to do a ceremony, and it wasn’t too bad either”. We shall also visit Eldon Mark Lodge at Clevedon where the Provincial Team will present the Lecture on the Tracing Board with a number of the Officers explaining each of the symbols depicted on the board. As the Fidelity and Unanimity Lodge No.348 at Taunton will be celebrating 125 year anniversary this year I have agreed that the Province will attend and share with them this wonderful milestone in the history of a Mark Lodge within the Province of Somerset. It is also planned to invite the Somerset Ancient Mark Masters team who are colloquially known as SAMM’s to demonstrate the Ancient Mark ceremony in their unique costumes, wigs and tights. I do thank VWB Geoffrey Nash and his group for entertaining many Brethren of Lodges inside & outside the Province and raising considerable amounts of money for charity, they devote a considerable amount of time planning and preparing visits and are extremely professional in their presentation of this unique ceremony of Advancement.
As it also has become very popular in recent years for the Provincial Team to pay a fraternal visit to Royal Ark Mariners Lodges, I have planned for 3 visits within the next Masonic season and they will be to Irwin, Thackeray and Portal Royal Ark Mariner Lodges. The Provincial Royal Ark Mariners Assembly which we hold at the beginning of the year has gown in popularity over the last 6 years and I have planned to hold the next assembly on the 12th February 2011 at the Nailsea Masonic Hall.
One of the great joys of our Masonic year is the Provincial weekend away when we descend on the Redcliffe Hotel in Paignton usually at the end of March, for our annual social get-together with our wives and friends with a formal dinner on the Saturday evening. Each year the event is over subscribed and this year the weather was superb, the hotel and food was exceptional, and the dancing I left to the young ones. This wonderful weekend is expertly organised and arranged by WB Tony Snook who works tirelessly to ensure that everyone enjoys the weekend festivities, and the dancing professionals of the Province can show off their skill and expertise.
I am very pleased to report to Provincial Grand Lodge that at the Investiture meeting to be held on 8th June the following Brethren will appointed and promoted in Grand Lodge:-
WB Ian Cox the Provincial Almoner is promoted and will be invested as PGSD.
WB Garry McKenzie Secretary for George Norman Lodge is promoted to PGJD.
WB Ray Johnstone-Smith the Provincial DC is appointed to the active rank of Asst.GDC.
WB Peter Elmont the Provincial Treasurer is appointed and will be invested as to PAGDC.
WB John Nicholson the Provincial Charity representative for the North is appointed to PAsst.GSwd B
WB Stuart Hadler our Deputy PGM in the Craft is appointed and will be invested as PGStd Br.
WB Gerry Chilcott Treasurer for Portal Lodge is appointed and will be invested as a Grand Steward.
I do congratulate these Brethren on their preferment and wish them a very enjoyable day at Great Queens Street when they will be invested in the Grand Temple.
It is at this Annual meeting that I have the pleasure to invest Brethren in Provincial Grand Lodge and it has been a privilege to invest them this afternoon and to be able to share a private word with each of the Brethren so honoured. I sincerely hope that the other Brethren who have supported this Provincial Grand Lodge meeting will also share the joy and enjoyment that the Brethren who have been invested will be experiencing here at the Webbington Hotel this afternoon. However I must also remind the Brethren who have been invested that they now will need to reflect on the honour that has been conferred and the greater responsibility that now rests with them. We have this afternoon many Brethren who have not yet reached the chair of their Lodge and we also have many newly Advanced Brethren whom I have specifically invited to this meeting so that they may feel part of this great Mark family within the Province of Somerset. I would therefore charge all the Provincial Officers in Somerset to make a firm commitment to mentor, help and assist all of our new Brethren so that they may in due time aspire to the Office of Worshipful Master and enjoy that busy 12 months of providing leadership for their Lodge. I would however wish to remind the principal Officers of the Lodge that it may be necessary, at times, to make a sacrifice by vacating senior positions and allowing junior Brethren the opportunity to carry out important roles in the operation of the Individual Lodges. Remember that we will retain Past Masters attendance at meeting if we give them responsible tasks to carry out. And I would like to leave you with this thought Brethren and I hope you will reflect on its sentiments:-
It was William Feather who said, “Next to doing a good job yourself, the greatest joy is having someone else do a First Class job under your direction”. Think about that Brethren and remember there are many talented Mark Master Masons who given the opportunity and guidance would make a good Secretary, Treasurer, Lodge Director of Ceremonies, Almoner, or Charity Steward.
Brethren I do thank you for your close attention to my address, may the Great Overseer of the Universe guide our steps, and provide joy in our hearts that we may be always at peace with our selves and our Brethren, and may happiness always be the order of the day.
God bless you all.