Provincial Grand Master’s Address
27th June 2016
Brethren, the main purpose of our meeting today is to celebrate the end of our masonic year by honouring those whose contributions now – and in the future – have merited appointments or promotions in Provincial Grand Lodge. To all of you so honoured today, my warm congratulations; and as we always say on these occasions, your new rank is meant not only to recognise past achievements, but also to act as an earnest to efforts to come in leading your lodges to a successful future. Brethren, we have much work to do to ensure the future of our Craft and I hope that your preferments today will encourage you to take leading roles in driving forward Grand Lodge’s and this Province’s plans.
I also congratulate all those who received new or higher Grand ranks this year, both in the Craft and in the Holy Royal Arch. You all have an especial role to play in the leadership of this Province and I trust I can continue to look to you to provide that enthusiasm and commitment which are so crucial to success. It matters not how inspirational a strategy is, if those charged with delivering it do not have the positive attitude and behaviour necessary to see it through.
Let me start by saying what an enjoyable and successful year we have had since we last met. My hard working executive team and I have very much appreciated the welcome and hospitality we have received throughout the Province and, on a personal note, I was extremely grateful to the 150 or so brethren who made the trip to London this year for the annual investiture ceremonies.
We have had the pleasure of consecrating 2 new lodges, both of which have set off on a flying start to their futures within South Wales. And we have taken the unusual step of dedicating a brand new masonic hall in Builth Wells at a time when most of our premises across England and Wales are facing uncertain and challenging futures. These expressions of newness are, I believe, a clear signal that the brethren of South Wales are not willing to sit back and watch the years of declining membership carry on without strong action. And, when coupled with the significant reduction in declining memberships we have seen this year, show that the Craft is in good spirits and ready to face the continuing challenges it faces.
Let me be absolutely clear brethren, this is not a numbers game. I have said consistently that our task is to address quality issues: quality of ceremonial and understanding of our beautiful ritual; quality of behaviour; quality of premises and facilities; quality of processes for bringing in – and looking after – new members; and quality of our engagement with friends, families and communities. If we get these quality issues right, membership numbers will look after themselves. Which is why I urge you all to engage positively with the Provincial Membership Officer and Provincial Grand Mentor to see how you can address these quality issues in the years ahead.
Today I have reappointed W Bro Phillip Edwards as Provincial Grand Orator. Ably assisted by his brother, W Bro Richard Edwards, he has continued to deliver excellent talks to lodges when invited; and I am quite sure those presentations will continue next year. I have long thought that lodges should plan – at least once a year – to have a meeting where the brethren are exposed to masonic learning, rather than simply going through a constant process of bringing in and bringing on candidates. In fact, I would go one step further in the coming year – a step which might help those lodges with already packed calendars. I want to encourage every lodge to hold one Lodge of Instruction every year. By that, I don’t mean a practice or rehearsal for an upcoming ceremony, but an organised opportunity for brethren to learn something of the history and meaning of our ceremonies. The recent MFG surveys have shown that brethren believe that learning more adds to their enjoyment and so helps retention, so I shall be asking Grand Officers to take this forward in all our lodges. I hope to be able to report good progress next year.
Turning to our 2021 Festival, I was delighted to be able to present 3 gold awards today. So far, over 50 lodges have achieved at least a bronze award, equivalent to at least £500 per subscribing member. And our total pledged is now in excess of £2 million. But brethren there is much work to do. While I have been pleased to see many Festival jewels worn during my visits around the Province, there are still 60% of our brethren who do not qualify. I encourage all our hard working Charity Stewards to ensure their lodges and members contribute their fair share to the Festival. It is after all in favour of the Royal Masonic benevolent Institution, a charity so close to our hearts in South Wales and we surely want to make 2021 a year to celebrate and remember. For those who need extra encouragement, please tell them this: the Province of South Wales receives just under £1 million every year from our central masonic charities. That means that if you are giving less than around £175 per annum to the central charities, usually by way of a regular covenant, it means you are relying on brethren from elsewhere in England and Wales to provide help for our needy brethren and their dependants. With 5 years of the Festival remaining, a regular covenant of half of that figure would qualify you for a Festival jewel, so there can really be no excuse for the vast majority of brethren to qualify to wear their jewel with pride.Looking ahead to next year, we will have our tercentenary to celebrate. We already have 2 big events planned in South Wales and I have asked W Bro Kevin Hearn to co-ordinate all activities across the Province and to take the lead in ensuring we contribute to national activities too. 2017 is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to our communities with pride, show what we as Freemasons do for the good of society, dispel some more of the myths about our Craft and attract more good men into our ranks. I hope all lodges – or all masonic centres – will plan to hold at least one event to celebrate our 300 years, perhaps linked to a showing of the Royal Albert Hall celebrations.
It would be remiss of me if I were not to say a word or two about the Royal Arch brethren. Only around 38% of our members have completed their knowledge of pure and ancient masonry by joining a Royal Arch Chapter, a step that has been shown to improve members’ knowledge of masonry, enhance their enjoyment and contribute positively to retaining good quality members in the Craft. We only have to look over our border to Monmouthshire to see that a 50% membership rate is perfectly achievable and I want to challenge every lodge’s Royal Arch liaison officer to approach those who have not yet joined and see whether we can improve quickly on our 38% membership rate. Perhaps one of the presentations or the Lodge of Instruction I mentioned earlier could be used to give brethren a flavour of what the Royal Arch has to offer ? I have also been delighted this year to help lay the foundations for a new Royal Arch Chapter for the excellent Colonnade Club, South Wales’ club for new and young masons, which continues to go from strength to strength. I hope next year to be able to report its consecration.
Brethren, as always, my grateful thanks go to all those distinguished guests who have travelled long distances to support us. To the Provincial Grand Secretary, his team and the Barry boys who have – as usual – ensured the smooth set up and preparation for today. To the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the first class ceremonial we have all been able to witness. To the Provincial Grand Stewards who have rejuvenated the Stewards’ Lodge this year and, for the first time, undertaken the carousel duties in such an exemplary manner.
And, finally, to you all brethren, for your attendance here today. Have a safe journey home and enjoy the Summer break. God bless you all.
Provincial Grand Lodge
Address of Provincial Grand Master
R W Bro Gareth Jones OBE
29th June 2015
Brethren, I have always believed that the main purpose of our meeting today is one of celebration. And we mark the end of our masonic year by honouring those whose contributions now – and in the future – have merited appointments or promotions in Provincial Grand Lodge. To all of you so honoured today, my warm congratulations; and as we always say on these occasions, your new rank is meant not only to recognise past achievements, but also to act as an earnest to efforts to come in leading your lodges to a successful future. Brethren, we have much work to do to ensure the future of our Craft and I hope that your preferments today will encourage you to take leading roles in driving forward Grand Lodge’s and this Province’s plans.
I also congratulate all those who received new Grand ranks this year, both in the Craft and in the Holy Royal Arch. You all have an especial role to play in the leadership of this Province and I trust I can continue to look to you to provide that enthusiasm and commitment which are so crucial to success. It matters not how inspirational a strategy is, if those charged with delivering it do not have the positive attitude and behaviour necessary to see it through.
Last year I said that I wanted to press ahead with a number of new initiatives and I am pleased to report on their progress today.
You will have noticed that, as promised, I have today appointed 5 ‘fast track’ Provincial Grand Stewards which, together with my very recent personal appointment as a Provincial Grand Steward (though hardly a fast track in my case), demonstrates the importance I attach to that role and the key part I expect Stewards – and the Provincial Grand Stewards’ lodge – to play from now on. I am delighted to be able to tell you that, following extensive discussions and a little persuasion, the Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge is about to grow from 40 to 70 members. In future, the stewarding of all Provincial celebrations and events will be their responsibility and it will be my intention to undertake the installation ceremony at all Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge meetings from now on.
In the next few weeks, I shall be delighted to consecrate a new lodge of research. This will be the first consecration in this Province for over 13 years and I know the founders and the Provincial team are working hard to ensure that it is a memorable occasion for all. It will be called the Albert Edward Court Lodge of Research number 9908, further underlining this Province’s positive attitude towards the future, demonstrating our keenness to continue to make daily advancements in masonic knowledge, and cementing that strong bond we have with our RMBI home in Porthcawl, where the lodge will meet 3 times a year. And it will be closely followed by the consecration of Music Lodge next year, for which preparations are steadily progressing. I am sure you will agree with me brethren that, as in life, while we have to accept that some lodges will die as they reach the point of no return, it is inspiring and exciting to know that we are also experiencing new births, so galvanising the enthusiasm of brethren to take the Province forward.
Talking of newness and youth, the establishment this year of the Colonnade Club of young masons in South Wales has been a great step forward. As the Club’s president, I have been so pleased to see it join the growing numbers of young masons’ associations across England and Wales; and even more delighted to see the excellent response it has received from right across the Province – and indeed beyond, as I know that a number of Monmouthshire brethren have joined too. The Club has already organised a number of social and masonic events and I am looking forward to their visit to Freemasons’ Hall in September for the quarterly communication, where I hope we can meet for lunch after the meeting. If you are interested in joining the Colonnade Club – or you have young masons in your lodge whom you think would be interested, W Bro Ben Gait and W Bro Andrew Grey (2 new Provincial Stewards today) would be happy to help.
I have already said a good deal about the wonderful start we have made towards our targets and goals for the 2021 Festival on behalf of the RMBI. W Bro Sir Paul Williams’ excellent Festival committee has been working flat out to ensure the Province has made a flying start to our efforts. Charity Stewards have a crucial part to play and will wish to do a great deal to encourage brethren to contribute to that cause and I am grateful to them for all their work in lodges right across the Province. You will all know by now that the 4 main masonic charities are combining next year to form a single united masonic charity and I am pleased to tell you that the Province of South Wales is working to pilot a new approach to the process for applying for financial, healthcare and family support. We are among the first to recruit and train masonic volunteers as Provincial Applications Officers to take on the work of helping applicants complete the necessary forms and documentation required. This should make it easier for people to apply for help, while reducing the burden on lodge almoners. It should also make more efficient the use of funds that we as masons have worked so hard to raise.
Brethren, how many times have we heard the phrase ‘something must be done’ when referring to declining numbers in Freemasonry. Or worse – ‘they must do something about it’. Well, we are the ‘they’ brethren. Unless we do that something, it simply won’t happen. And we are taking action as we said we would. 2014 saw an increase in the number of initiations over the previous year of nearly 5%; and that trend has continued in the first 5 months of 2015. Total numbers of members for January to May this year are up by 55 and I have been pleased to see a number of re-joiners coming back to the Craft. We have also established our own Provincial Membership Group which is taking on responsibility for retrieving brethren who have expressed an intention to resign. More of that in the future, but I am hopeful we can emulate the successes achieved in Metropolitan Grand Lodge and other Provinces by contacting brethren who have said they intend to leave and seeing whether there is anything we can do to retrieve them, perhaps to a different lodge, before they finally leave the Craft for good.
Brethren, today has been a very happy occasion. Events like this do not just happen without considerable hard work. I am grateful to the Barry Boys for their usual preparations and post-event efforts; the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team have treated us to first class ritual and organisation; and the Provincial Grand Secretary and his team of administrators have worked tirelessly to ensure we have all been able to enjoy a splendid day, as always. Difficult to believe brethren, but this has been W Bro Gerald’s first year and annual meeting as our Provincial Grand Secretary and what an impact he has made on the Province of South Wales! I am most grateful to him for the way he has gone about supporting me and the executive; it is a delight to contact or visit the Provincial Office and I know very well how much lodge masters, secretaries and treasurers feel they can approach the office to secure the help and advice they need.
Finally, on a personal note, some of you may have noticed that the Western mail has been good enough to announce my retirement from the Civil Service as of September this year. Despite how it may be portrayed politically brethren, this is good news. Not only will my wife and I be able to enjoy more holidays together and my much neglected garden will receive better attention, I will have considerably more time – for as long as I am spared by the Great Architect and retained by the Grand Master – to give to my Freemasonry, to representing and working for you my brethren; and to getting around the Province to visit as many of my lodges as possible. I look forward to many more years leading this wonderful Province of South Wales.
Brethren, I thank you all for your attendance here today. Have a safe journey home and enjoy the Summer break. God bless you all.
Copied with permission from the Provincial Web Site
GRAND LODGE COMMITTEE
Friday 8th May 2015
Grand Master’s Address
Brethren, it is good to see so many of you here this evening for our annual business meeting, during which we have the opportunity to discuss domestic South Wales issues. It is the one meeting every year when I can set out various issues, issue instructions regarding our Province and lodges and where you can have the opportunity of raising matters of interest and concern to be aired in a safe and friendly environment. I hope that, following a good start last year, once I have finished my address, you will feel moved to raise any issues you wish.
Let me start by saying how grateful the Executive members are for the very warm welcomes we have enjoyed during our visits to lodges this year. This is the inaugural year when Grand Officers have provided reports on their lodges and it has been extremely useful to use those as a basis for our assessments of lodges and to have excellent background information on how lodges are doing in advance of our visits. I am pleased to see that over 80% of Grand Officers believe their lodges are in good spirits, with high quality standards of ritual, proper attention to standards and a real enthusiasm to tackle the challenges set out in our 7 Point Plan. They will receive this year’s report form in July and I look forward to seeing even more progress in lodges right across the Province. The reports I receive from every installation meeting confirm that good performance and I am particularly pleased to hear that, in the main, masters are learning the ritual, not relying overly on notes and providing that wonderful experience for our candidates by looking them in the eye at all times.
Of course, there is always room to improve and to continue improving by making changes which benefit our members and prospective members. I have been disappointed with levels of attendance of younger brethren at installations I and my Executive – have attended. In many cases, I am told that early start times have been to blame for their absences or sometimes their ability only to arrive in time for the festive board. Brethren, please give serious consideration to starting meetings, including installations, later in the evening. I see no reason why any installation needs to start before 5.30 and if a Past Master is being installed, 6 o’clock.
Before I hear anyone ask how they are supposed to finish by 10 o’clock with such a late start, please consider this: good quality ritual reduces the time taken for any ceremony; there is no need for officers to be re-appointed to be presented individually to the Master – I would much prefer all such officers to be asked to stand collectively and to be re-appointed en bloc, much as we now do in Provincial Grand Lodge. And please consider limiting the gap between the end of the ceremony and starting the festive board to NO MORE THAN 10 MINUTES. That will take some preparation and discussion with caterers, but it is surely worth it brethren if we can allow a later start time to accommodate young brethren who have to arrive after a hard day’s work.
While mentioning installations, I still occasionally see the practice of lodge Stewards leaving the temple before the risings. I see no reason why that needs to happen. Please consider that we are depriving Stewards of seeing the pomp and ceremony of the departing Provincial procession and, crucially, hearing the risings, which they entitled as lodge members to experience. Yes, risings are often circulated electronically before each meeting, but the Executive attending may well have additional issues he wishes to bring up on the day, which all members should have the chance to hear.
This year, we have seen wonderful progress on a number of important initiatives, many of which I will set out at our annual meeting on 29 June in Barry. I have been particularly pleased to see the installation of Automatic Electronic Defibrillators in every Masonic centre across South Wales. My grateful thanks are particularly due to W Bros Bob Barron and David Davies for their enthusiasm, hard work and determination to ensure we can all feel safer and equipped to handle emergencies should they arise. And I must also thank the History book committee and the Y Dalaith team for their strong and financial support for this excellent initiative.
Our communications continue to go from strength to strength. As well as the best regular magazine in England and Wales, for which W Bro Don Jones and his team continue to deserve our admiration for their tireless efforts, we now have a website which gets better every day, together with Facebook and Twitter accounts which can keep anyone up to speed with developments in real time. I look forward to even greater things from our communications efforts, making life easier for lodge secretaries and members to do business electronically, which is easier, quicker and cheaper and saves time in our busy schedules. I must mention the yearbook: I am sure you will all join me in thanking W Bro Charles McBride who is stepping down as Chairman of the yearbook. The yearbook continues to be an indispensable source of information and I am most grateful to the editor, W Bro Allan Miles and his team for their continued efforts on our behalf.
Isn’t it wonderful to see so many brethren sporting our new Provincial ties at our meetings? Standards of dress are important at all times and I always think it a shame when I see brethren attend rehearsals, LOI meetings and committee meetings in such casual clothing these days. I have been concerned to hear of instances when new candidates have arrived for interview dressed as you would expect in a jacket and tie, only to find seated around the table lodge members who have not thought it worth dressing similarly. I wonder what sort of organisation such candidates think they are joining. I should be grateful if you would all discuss this issue in your lodge committees and come to decisions about how you think we should portray ourselves in these circumstances. Why not make it a lodge policy to wear the provincial tie, even when not in a formal lodge setting?
I have recently been approached by a brother who asked me whether his lodge could return to the practice of having the alms collection during the charity charge in the first degree. My answer was a resounding YES, brethren. I have always thought that the moment when a new brother is challenged to give to charity in his state of helpless indigence is far more impactful if it follows a general alms collection, giving him time to wonder how he is going to contribute. It is, in any case, quickly followed by a clear message that the trial was not made to sport with his feelings, so if your lodge wishes to return to that practice, you have my blessing to do so. If you want to continue your current practice, that is fine by me too.
I will say a great deal more about charity and our 2021 Festival here in this hall at our annual Provincial Grand Lodge meeting, but it would be remiss of me not to thank W Bro Sir Paul Williams and his excellent committee for the wonderful launch and early start we have seen to the Festival in aid of the RMBI. There is much work to do brethren, but we have a firm and exciting foundation on which to build and I know I can look to all lodges in the Province to step up to the mark and contribute considerably to such a wonderful cause.
We had a most agreeable few days in London at Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter last week. My congratulations to all brethren honoured, supported by 114 brethren at our Provincial luncheon on the Wednesday and 75 Provincial Grand Chapter members at the Grand Superintendent’s lunch on the Thursday. These are unprecedented numbers brethren showing the enthusiasm and commitment of our lodges, chapters and brethren way above and beyond anything experienced in other Provinces. Long may that practice continue. And there have been many more positive developments this year. The Colonnade Club has been launched; we have established a new Provincial team to follow up resignations with a view to retrieving brethren if at all possible; and of course we look forward to our annual church service next week; and – something this Province has not seen for 13 years – the consecration of a new lodge, The Albert Edward Court Lodge of Research Number 9908 on 25 July, together with the prospect of another new Music lodge next masonic year. The Province is truly in good heart brethren.
Finally brethren, as we look forward to 29 June and our annual meeting, it had not been my intention to make any changes to the Provincial Executive this year. They are a great team and I continue to be amazed and thankful for their unstinting support, and first rate leadership across South Wales. However, W Bro Paul Marshall has indicated that, as a result of his continuing poor health, he wishes to retire as Assistant Provincial Grand Master in June. Paul has been a wonderful servant of this Province including 11 years as Provincial Grand Treasurer, over 3 as Assistant Provincial Grand Master and many more besides in other roles and duties. We shall miss him as an Assistant PGM, but he assures me he is not going far and will continue to support the Province in any way he can. I am sure you will join me in wishing him a speedy recovery from his current ills and hope to see him back firing on all cylinders very soon.
As a result, I am delighted to inform you that at our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in June I will appoint and invest a successor to W Bro Paul as an Assistant PGM. That successor will be W Bro Alan Gardener PAGSuptWks. Please join me in welcoming Alan to this very senior role, proper recognition of all that he has done over the years and all that he will do, bringing his vast experience and obvious leadership qualities to the executive for many years.
Brethren, I thank you once again for being here. As I said at the outset, I want this meeting to be your opportunity not just to hear from me and others, but to air any matters you wish to raise. So I will close now with an invitation for you to do just that. Brethren God bless you all.
Request for Voluntary assistance with Provincial Administration
read the message from
W Bro Gerald Rowbottom PSGD,
Provincial Grand Secretary
COURT OF GOVERNORS
~ FRIDAY JULY 11th 2014
At the special meeting of the Masonic Benevolent
Fund Court of Governors in Bridgend Temple on July 11th, our
Provincial Grand Master was pleased to present a cheque for £2500 to
Melanie and Mike Davies, toward their commendable work in seeking to
establish a world class centre for recovery and rehabilitation for all
that need it, based at the Morriston Hospital site outside Swansea.
The cheque brings the total donated by Freemasonry thus far to £7,000,
from Provincial and Lodge fund raising. Melanie gave those present a
well delivered and passionate insight into how she became injured
herself, and then inspired to dedicate herself to the establishing of
the TREAT Trust centre, in the positive and amusing way she makes her
own. The fund raising goes on, Lodges perhaps wishing to help in
further ways. That can be done by contacting W.Bro Paran James on 01792-702217
who can co-ordinate matters, including possible Lodge visits - Melanie
can attend wheelchair accessible Lodges to make a presentation in
a quite remarkable fashion, present her equally remarkable book, all
proceeds from sales used to benefit the TREAT cause, and give you a
real insight into her hopes and plans. Her aim of the centre dedicated
to recovery and rehabiitation is steadily gaining ground, supported
not only by us, but leading figures such as Baroness Tanni
Grey-Thompson, Michael Sheen, Paul Potts, and Max Boyce to name but a
few, and your writer is seeking to help with major fund raising via
Lottery application. It is also possible that other Freemasons
with talents that can be utilised to help the cause in a particular
way may be prepared to become involved, so please - if you feel you
fit that description - let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, but certainly by no means least
congratulations to W.Bro. Martyn Daley, elected to succeed the
outgoing Chairman W.Bro James R. Bevan on his retirement, Martyn
speaking warmly of the dedication that Jim brought - often unseen and
unsung - to his role in the MBF South Wales, and pledged to do his
best to continue that excellent effort.
I'm pleased to announce a fund raising "Coffee
Afternoon" for MacMillan Cancer Care to be held at the RMBI Albert
Edward Prince of Wales Court on Friday September 26th at 2.00 pm. The
full address - for those that may not be familiar with the location, or
journey by sat-nav - is Penylan Avenue, Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan CF36
3LY. Rebecca Timms, our Business Administrator there welcomes you
and assures you that any support will be greatly appreciated, a
sentiment echoed by W.Bro. Alan Gardner, Chairman of the Friends of RMBI
Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court. The Court can also be contacted on
01656-785311 if you have any other queries.
MONDAY 30TH JUNE 2014
Grand Master’s Address
Brethren, what a
wonderful day we have enjoyed.
I must repeat my
grateful thanks to our distinguished visitors whose advice and support I
very much appreciate and for their helping to make today so special for
the most important of you here, the brethren I have had the great
pleasure of appointing and promoting in Provincial Grand Lodge. It goes
without saying that we all congratulate you on your preferment; and I
remind you that with these new ranks come new responsibilities. You will
all know of the importance I attach to leadership – it is one of the
key themes of our 7 point plan – and in your new roles I know I can
look to you to provide that leadership in your lodges, driving forward
the crucial changes we need to embrace if we are to be successful in our
goal of making our Craft and the Province of South Wales even more of a
force for good in our society and our communities. It will be
particularly important for you to lead and encourage your Worshipful
Masters to make progress on establishing arrangements to improve
recruitment, retention and retrieval in every lodge throughout the
It is now just
nearly 10 months since I was installed as your Provincial Grand Master.
In that time my Executive team and I have been overwhelmed by the warmth
of your welcome at lodges we have visited. It has always been a pleasure
to join your celebrations and may that long continue. I have been
pleased with the standard of ritual in most lodges I have visited. Like
me, I’m sure that many of you were delighted to hear the MW Pro Grand
Master say in his recent address how important it is to make the
experience for the candidate so much more meaningful by learning and
reciting the ritual rather than reading it, when it is impossible to
look the brother concerned in the eye. That is one of the key aspects of
the theme of Standards set out in our plan.
At the outset I
said I wanted to make some early changes to various themes, now set out
in 7 themes of our single 7 point plan. Rome wasn’t built in a day as
they say, but I felt it was important to secure some quick wins and we
have made a great start.
one of the cornerstones of any good organisation. We are all indebted to
W Bro Don Jones and his team for their continuing production of Y
Dalaith; our yearbook editorial team provides a valuable source of
information for all brethren; and the Provincial diary – and
associated app – goes from strength to strength.
Our exciting new
website and associated social media accounts are now up and running and
looking modern and fresh. For those of you who are twitter users, you
will know that I have my own account and that I regularly tweet messages
about the Province and the things I am doing in masonry more generally.
Today’s proceedings – and I guess my address right now – is being
tweeted live so that any of our followers can see what is going on in
real time. I urge you all – and your lodges – to come with us on
this journey. It is how young men who may be interested in us will find
out what we do; and it is how our younger members expect to be able to
communicate. Quite a few lodge websites are starting to spring up, but
my vision of every lodge having a website is some way off. I can
announce today that Province will shortly be inviting Worshipful Masters
and those responsible for communications to a workshop on establishing
websites. We will offer real help; and substantial discounts should be
available if enough lodges want to join in and set up websites as part
of a single commercial deal.
And we have had
other successes too:
The annual church
service was attended by 400 brethren and their families and we enjoyed
an inspiring sermon from the Most Reverend Archbishop of Wales, a first
for this Province and – I suggest – almost unique across the
Our Gala dinner was
a sell-out and, as well as first rate entertainment, I can now tell you
that we raised a total of £19,000 for SSAFA, most of which is being
distributed to local branches on top of the sum we contributed to the
Military Wives Choir SSAFA Foundation. All of our thanks go to W Bro
Jeff Coles and his excellent organising committee for that wonderful
And what a
spectacular success we had only a month ago when I had the pleasure of
visiting the RMBI home in Porthcawl to witness Kenfig Lodge undertaking
a full 2nd degree ceremony. 16 residents who are not able to get out to
visit their lodges were able to attend in their own comfort and I assure
you brethren it was a moving and emotional experience for the 100
brethren who attended.
I said that I
wanted us to get back to basics with more visiting being the norm so
that our ceremonies are enriched with large numbers attending. I am
delighted that W Bro Rev Alistair Swinford has now developed a ‘travelling
gavel’ initiative right across the Province. A letter explaining the
scheme will be sent to all Worshipful Masters in the next few weeks and
the initiative will start in earnest in September. This time next year,
I expect to be able to present the Provincial gavel to the Worshipful
Master of the lodge which has visited most during the year.
So it has been a
good start, but what of the future brethren? Well the year ahead looks
exciting and positive. In January next year we will launch our 2021
Festival in favour of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution. This is
a charity close to our hearts and I know that the Festival Committee
under the chairmanship of W Bro Sir Paul Williams, which has already met
for the first time, is preparing the ground for an exciting launch and a
Festival which will give us ample opportunity to have fun while we
secure a significant sum for that wonderful charity.
Brethren, we talk a
lot about falling numbers and lodges struggling to stay afloat. We have
a crucial responsibility to address the 3Rs so that our Craft endures
for another 300 years and more. While I accept that we have to face
reality that some lodges will not survive, our key task is to ensure
that that results in fewer but stronger lodges, capable of attracting
members and providing a positive experience for its members and guests
on all occasions. And I want to encourage the establishment of new,
special interest lodges too. It is some 12 years since we last
consecrated a lodge in this Province and that can’t be good for
sustainability and refreshing brethren’s interest. That is why I am so
pleased to be able to tell you that a great deal of work and discussion
is currently going on about the prospect of a new lodge which it is
hoped will meet regularly at the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court
RMBI home. It will be a lodge of research with guest speakers from all
over the country giving lectures on masonic history, different rituals
and other interesting subjects, but it will also seek to initiate new
members too. I look forward to seeing that work come to fruition and
hope to have more news for you before long about when we might
consecrate it within the next 12 months. What a fitting occasion that
will be in the year we launch our Festival for the RMBI. And a fitting
testament to the outstanding work done by W Bro Alan Gardener and his
committee of Friends.
It will not have
escaped your notice that we now have a pretty new team at the top of the
Province. I have been delighted to appoint W Bro Roger Richmond to our
team today, together with W Bro Gerald Rowbottom who is taking on the
reins of our administration. I am confident that this new team will take
the province from strength to strength, implementing our 7 point plan
– and much more – for the benefit of all lodges and brethren in
Today we have said
goodbye to a number of Provincial Officers who have contributed
enormously over the years and who now deserve a well-earned rest from
their arduous tasks. I am of course enormously grateful to my Provincial
team of the last year for their friendship and support; they really have
been a joy to be with and I know that their association will endure for
many years to come. But a much more long-standing contribution has come
to an end today. W Bro Jim Bevan has been Secretary of this Province for
a quarter of a century and I was pleased on Friday of last week to
present to Jim on your behalf a cheque for £3000. I know you will join
with me in wishing him a long and happy retirement.
At the same time we
bid welcome to new Provincial officers who are the future of our
Province. It has been a long-held view in South Wales that it takes
brethren 5 or 6 years to demonstrate their worth for Provincial
appointment. And that has stood us in good stead for many years, but by
adhering to that policy too strongly we may fail to use young talent at
an early stage and it results in an aging population of Provincial –
and eventually – Grand officers. So, from next year I will be asking
my Executive team and Grand Officers to identify young talent with
potential for high office in future years. You can expect to see a new
category of provincial appointments, normally to the rank of acting
Steward; brethren who are perhaps only a year or two out of the chair.
Depending on how they perform in that role, I would expect it to lead to
further appointment and promotion in short order.
This does not in
any way diminish the worth or potential of brethren who have served
their time, as all of us sitting on the stage here have done. But we
have never appointed anything like the number of Provincial Stewards to
which we are entitled. I want to use those available ranks to bring on
young brethren with potential for greater things.
And now brethren it
is time for me to close. In doing so, I wish Services Lodge and their
supporters God speed on their walk around Wales in aid of the
NoahsArkAppeal which comes to an end on 26 July. I thank the Provincial
Grand Secretary and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and
their teams for the first rate arrangements we have enjoyed. And I thank
you all for your attendance here today. Let us all keep enjoying our
Craft while we do what we do best, that is to help those less fortunate
than ourselves. Brethren, I wish every one of you a safe journey home,
until we meet again – God bless you all.
The transcript is
presented with the kind permission of R W Provincial Grand Master