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RAM Assembly at Nailsea

The Sixth Provincial Grand Assembly of Royal Ark Mariners was held on Saturday 30th January 2010 at Nailsea Masonic Centre. The Lodge Room was filled to capacity, but with careful planning all were seated by 10.30am. At the direction of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Ray Johnstone-Smith, all rose to welcome the Provincial Guests from other Provinces. All in turn then stood to applaud the entrance of David Brian Nelson the Provincial Grand Master, escorted by his Sword Bearer, Banners and Officers of Provincial Grand Lodge, headed by V.W. Brother Raymond Guthrie, Deputy PGM. The Lodge Room was now filled to capacity with over 90 brethren being present.


Provincial Grand Master David Nelson enjoys a discussion with David Jenkins, PGM of the Craft who attended the Assembly.
The opening hymn was sung, the Provincial Grand Master opened the Assembly in due form and warmly welcomed the visiting dignitaries, many being old friends of the Province having supported this very special event since its inception.
The roll of Royal Ark Mariners Lodges was called and it was gratifying to see how many members rose in answer to their Lodge name. The business of the day then commenced.
One of the highlights of the morning was a demonstration by members of the Lodge of Improvement under the direction of Derek Wilton their Preceptor. The team presented the
Charge after Installation, this charge can be presented to a newly Installed W. Commander and is ceremonially used at the Grand Masters Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners; it was received with much acclamation.
The PGM next welcomed the newly elevated Royal Ark Mariners present and personally welcomed each to the order. Afterwards he was delighted to invest Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank to W. Brothers Alan Holton, Richard Baber, Ian Waterhouse and Walter Wood. Norman Ackland and Terry Wadman being unavoidable detained, will receive their honour from the Provincial Grand Master at a future date.

The PGM next addressed the Assembly, the full address is reproduced below.


Deputy PGM Ray Guthrie, the Commander of Thackeray Lodge RAM, Neil Hurcum and the PGM David Nelson.

Neil Hurcum, W. Commander of Thackeray Lodge No. 730 then rose and supported by fifteen members of his Lodge, proudly presented the Travelling Ark to the Provincial Grand Master.
The PGM in turn will present it to the Commander and brethren of the Somerset Commanders Lodge, No. 1652, thus continuing its travel around the Province, bringing Lodges together in friendship and fellowship.
The Assembly was closed in due form, the closing hymn was sung, and the Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by his Deputy and escorted by the members of Provincial Grand Lodge retired followed by visiting guests and other dignitaries. The day ended with a splendid Festive Board in great spirits and camaraderie; a fitting end to a very successful meeting.



No less than 15 members of Thackeray Lodge assisted in the presentation of the travelling ark.
Report and photos Pat Morrisey.

Provincial Grand Masters address to the Provincial Assembly,

Brother Royal Ark Mariners this is the sixth Provincial Grand Assembly of Royal Ark Mariners to be held in Somerset and may I again welcome the many visitors and guest from the adjacent Provinces especially the Provincial Grand Masters who have supported me today, together with all Royal Ark Mariners who have taken the time to join us in this Provincial Grand Assembly.
This year I have decided to hold the Provincial Assembly under the control and organisation of the Provincial Scribes Office and at a different date to last year. This Provincial Grand Assembly of Royal Ark Mariners has gained a certain momentum over the last few years due entirely to the support of all the Royal Ark Mariners in the Province and of course our Visitors from other adjacent Provinces, some of whom travel many miles to attend this meeting. I am therefore extremely grateful to you all for the support and encouragement that has allowed me to hold an Annual General Meeting in the Degree of the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners. I am sure that you will all appreciate that the linkage to the Mark Degree is somewhat historical and that dedicated Royal Ark Mariners such as Bristol born Dr Ebenezer Sibley who renamed himself Noah Sibley could not create a functioning sovereign Grand Lodge and it was Cannon Portal Deputy Grand Master who accepted the responsibility of the Order and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in 1871 with governance by the Grand Masters Royal Ark Council. The very fact that we now hold our Royal Ark Mariners Assembly apart from the Mark Provincial meeting shows that this ancient degree can prevail and succeed in its own right which is clearly demonstrated by the numbers who have attended this meeting today.
Once again I have personally invited the newly Elevated Brethren in the Province to this Assembly as I consider that it is important that they all feel part of our ancient fraternity and part of the Province, they of course are our future and I sincerely hope that they will take an active part in our deliberations. I also charge them with the responsibility of ensuring that they in turn promote this wonderful degree within the Mark Lodges of Somerset and maintain the high standards expected of members of this Order.
At this meeting it is my privilege to appoint and invest Past Commanders with Provincial rank to thank them for their hard work in their individual Lodges as well as work they do for the Province.
I do congratulate the 6 recipients of Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank that I have invested today, and I urge them to use their new status in the Order to encourage and promote the degree both in their Mark Lodges and within the Mark Province. I also charge them that they act as mentors within their individual R.A.M Lodges by encouraging the new Members to partake in the ceremonial and ritual of the Lodge. It is especially important to ensure that new members are introduced to the Tracing Board and encouraged learn portions of this lecture, which I stipulate must be presented in each Lodge at least once during a masonic year. As has been aptly demonstrated by the Lodge of Improvement that the Lecture can be broken down into many portions and this allows several Brethren to take part in its presentation.
At the Grand Assembly held in the Grand Temple, Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street in London on the 8
th December 2009, the M.W Bother H.R.H Prince Michael Kent invested WB Keith Fisher of the William Long Lodge and WB Brian Jones of Thackeray Lodge as holders of Royal Ark Marine Grand Rank this is a singularly high honour that is conferred by the Grand Master and I am certain that you will join me in congratulating these two Brethren on their preferment, it was a super afternoon and an extremely good meeting.
Once again the preceptor of the Lodge of Improvement has presented an interesting paper and I do congratulate WB Derek Wilton the for his hard work and diligence in arranging this presentation. Additionally an ancient charge presented by Brethren from various Lodges, which may be delivered after the Address given to the newly Installed Commander on the evening of his Installation. It is a charge given in the Grand Masters Royal Ark Mariner Lodge held in Mark Masons Hall London and I consider it to be a very fascinating portion of additional ritual. Can I remind members attending this Assembly that the Lodge of Improvement has been set up for the benefit of all Brethren and Lodges and I sincerely hope that members of Somerset take advantage of the services that are provided particularly if additional help and assistance with ritual and floor work is required in individual Lodges.

The West Country has always played a significant and important role in the development and progress of the Order. Historical papers indicate that this Degree had been worked in Bath and in Cornwall from 1780 to 1790 it is also indicated that the Degree was being worked in Portsmouth under the auspices of Thomas Dunckerley that remarkable sailor and Freemason. We therefore should all be very proud of our history and our achievements and I ask you all to be particularly proud of the standard of ritual that is delivered within the Lodges in our Province, these high standards do create a very special atmosphere which Brethren enjoy and this also makes for a happy Lodge, and in turn assist with recruitment of like-minded Brethren who may wish to join this very inspiring Degree. I have been amazed Brethren, at the superb fellowship that is engendered at Royal Ark Mariners meetings that I attend officially as your Provincial Grand Master during the last 12 months, with high attendance numbers that reflect the enthusiasm of the Commanders and Officers in the work that they do within their respective Lodges.

May I also take this opportunity to highlight the fact that our Province has a Commander Lodge which was consecrated in 1995 to provide a Lodge for Commanders and Past commanders to join to provide a vehicle for Masonic research in the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners. I therefore urge all Commanders and Past Commanders to consider joining this Lodge so they may contribute to what I consider should be a centre of excellence. The Somerset Commanders Lodge does however need additional Members and I ask that Commanders and Past Commanders to consider supporting this Lodge in the future. The next meeting is to held on 27
th February at Burnham on Sea Masonic Hall where I shall be attending and representing the Province at their Installation ceremony.

As I have already stressed Brethren the success of this Royal Ark Mariner Assembly is due in no small part to the enthusiasm, dedication and support of the Somerset Brethren together with our visitors from the adjacent Provinces who have supported this annual meeting for the last 6 years. I would however wish to thank the Provincial Grand Scribe WB John Morgan and Brother John Winston the Deputy Grand Scribe for all the hard work in organising the administration for this meeting today and also to thank Brother Ray Johnstone Smith the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and the Assistant Directors of Ceremonies for planning and arranging the ceremonial of the meeting. These meeting do not just happen Brethren, but require many hours of preparation especially during the last few days before the actual date of the meeting.
I would also wish to thank within this Assembly our Deputy Provincial Grand Master for his hard work in setting up our Web-Site which has proved to be an invaluable tool in promoting the Degree, keeping Brethren informed of new around the Province and also providing a very efficient method of providing information and administration forms for the Lodge Scribes to access which is saving time and postage.

Finally Brethren I would like to quote from our Tracing Board Lecture which states “that as the Mark Degree should inspire you to use your talents worthily and strive for their perfection, so the Royal Ark Mariners Degree assures you that to those who strive with diligence and faith, the Supreme Commander of the Universe will grant safe passage over the turbulent waters of this life. However dark the clouds or fierce the tempest, never forget those very gracious words from our ritual, ” For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed; saith the lord that hath mercy on thee”. So you may in trust and confidence answer the summons of him, who alone can guide and receive you into the last haven of refuge – that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Thank you Brethren for your close attention to my address, and also for the courtesy that you have shown to me and my Provincial Officers this morning. May the Supreme Commander of the Universe always guide our steps, our thoughts and our deeds in our daily lives and within our Lodges.

Thank you Brethren.
David Nelson PGM

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