The day we had all been waiting for. Well it was here, I had a phone call the night before and have been asked to fill the post of Grand Inner Guard I immediately said yes and so the scene was set, I arrived at 0830 am to find the place buzzing I made myself known to the GDC and then we had full rehearsal of the ceremony, after many attempts the job was done and we could relax.
Provincial Grand Lodge was opened by R.W. Bro Keith Emerson PDGM. With the help of R.W.Bro John Oakley- Smith JP.
Grand Lodge Officers were then admitted in procession and a rousing round of applause greeted R.W. John Prizeman Deputy Grand Master who was greeted by the acting Master and accepted the gavel, Grand Officers were shown to their places and the scene was set. The Provincial Grand Master Designate R.W.Bro Richard Walker entered accompanied by The Masters of the Lodges closest to him was invested and was formerly put into the Chair by the DGM R.W. Bro John Prizeman.
Next it was the Deputy; W. Bro Maurice Smith who entered was entrusted by R.W. Bro Richard Walker and took his place.
Then came the Assistant W.Bro Jordan Giddings who entered was entrusted and took his place in the Lodge.
The Provincial Grand Master then went on to thank all the Brethren of Hertfordshire for attending and all the R.W. Brethren who had come from all points of the compass to be here today. The Provincial Grand Lodge was then called off for lunch.
We all had a good lunch at which we had a couple of Speeches one to our new PGM Richard Walker by John Prizeman Deputy Grand Master and in reply Richard presented John with a book and bottle. Then it was back to the temple. At 3.30 precisely proceedings were called on and after reports from the Treasurer, Secretary, Almoner and Charity Steward. It was back to the Investiture of Officers of the year, It was a tense time and the team were well rehearsed. Below are the Brethren who received honours on the day and congratulations to all of them. Proceeding on the P.G.M then went on to announce that the Silver Token would be, he then a long list of Lodges and achievements and finished by announcing the name of Dennis Brown of James Parsons Lodge no 974, he was escorted to the pedestal and received the Token and received a hearty round of applause. The P.G.M. then went on to say that he had one more to present and after a long list of Lodges and achievements announced the name of Derek Watson of Hertford Lodge no366, he was escorted to the pedestal and received his token and received a hearty round of applause.
The PGM then addressed the assembly, thanking the Right Worshipful brethren and a present for attending what had been a great day (full speech printed below) in all some 316 attended, this had been a great day everything was planned and practiced over and over and our thanks go Roy Moth DC, Trevor Clarke PGSec for their hard work. We must not forget the Team from Grand Lodge for their work it was perfect and added to the day the Grand DC R.W Bro Frank Spencer and his assistant DC’s Mathew Hampson and Mark Golding and the rest of the team from Grand Lodge were absolutely spot on. The team who cleared up started at 5.05 pm and finished at 6.00 pm they deserve our thanks. Thank you to them for working so hard.
We now come to that part of the afternoon where it is traditional for the PGM to address the assembled brethren. Over the last ten years I have been privileged to attend many Provincial Grand Lodge meetings around the country and have heard many such addresses, lasting from under 5 minutes to well in excess of 25 minutes. It used to be the practice for the Distinguished Visitors to run a sweepstake with the winner being he who guessed nearest to the time taken for any such address. In case there is a sweepstake being run this afternoon I will give no indication as to how long I shall take, but if you are wearing an old-fashioned mechanical timepiece now might be the appropriate time to wind it – just in case.
Earlier today I had the opportunity to thank our Distinguished Visitors for their attendance and whilst it is always rewarding to see so many brethren from other Provinces at our meetings, as it gives us the chance to repay the hospitality extended to us by their respective Provinces, it is important to remember that for the brethren of Hertfordshire this is your meeting and I welcome you all to it – especially those of you who have not attended a Provincial Meeting before.
I offer my sincere congratulations to all those whom I have had the pleasure this afternoon of investing with Provincial Grand Rank, whether that be to an active officer of the year, a promotion or a first appointment. For each of you, your past services have been considered and approved by the Honours Committee on the understanding that you will continue with your good work and that you will return to your respective Lodges eager to impress on the members the wise choice made in each of your appointments.
For those of you appointed to an active role, there will be ample opportunity for you to join the Provincial team on visits to our Lodges, both Mark and Royal Ark Mariner, throughout the Province where you will always find a warm welcome. It will also give you a chance to get to know some of those Masonic centres where you may never before have set foot. I would also strongly encourage you, if you are not already, to become regular members of one of our PGM’s Lodges of Instruction as, not only by your attendance may you influence others to join, but you will no doubt find the experience enjoyable and beneficial – as you are likely to be called upon to participate in our annual demonstrations of the ceremonies of advancement and elevation which are always conducted by the active officers of the year.
The Book of Constitutions specifies quite clearly the number of active officers that a Province of our size may appoint, so it is only by some of our current officers standing down that it is possible to appoint others. To all of you that find yourselves in the former category this year may I thank you whole-heartedly for the contributions you have made during your various terms of office. I have no doubt that our immediate Past PGM would wish me to record his thanks to you as well.
Moving now to matters of Charity. Brethren I am sure that you will be pleased to hear that with the sesquicentenary anniversary of the Mark Benevolent Fund, founded in 1868 by the Reverend George Raymond Portal, Deputy Grand Master at the time, the Festival earlier this month and held in the city of Lincoln raised in excess of £ 850,000 – a magnificent sum for the Province of Lincolnshire. 31 of our brethren and ladies attended and a great weekend was had by all.
The former appeal by the MBF on behalf of ‘Hope for Tomorrow’, for the provision of mobile oncology units, has now ended and a new one started with the aim of supplying every Province with a new St. John Ambulance or mobile Treatment Centre (some of which have already been delivered). At the end of May I had the pleasure of attending the Essex Mark Provincial Grand Lodge meeting at Felsted and witnessing the dedication of its ambulance for use in that county. I understand that a mobile treatment centre has been provided for St. John Ambulance, Hertfordshire and that it is already in service in the Watford area, hopefully there will a formal hand-over and dedication, possibly at the Abbey, however to date I have received no details – so watch this space.
Two of our Lodges, Harpenden and Hemel Hempstead, recently qualified for the MBF Grand Patron Diamond award and a representative of each Lodge was invested with the appropriate collarette by R.W.Bro Chris Radmore at last month’s meeting of our Installed Mark Masters Lodge.
Brethren, in this time of economic uncertainty, I thank each and every one of you for your charitable giving whether it was as an individual or through your Lodge and whether it was to the MBF, the ProvMBF or just to your Lodge benevolent fund to enable it to make a donation to a local charity or good cause. I hope that the Province can count on your continuing support throughout the coming year.
Talking of charitable giving, Bro ProvGDC will you please escort R.W.Bro Martin Wilson, PGM for the Province of Sussex, to the pedestal.
R.W.Bro Martin, you will be hosting next year’s MBF Festival in Brighton and I am pleased to be able to present you with a contribution from the Mark brethren of Hertfordshire. We trust that your festival will be at least as successful as that just held and a party from this Province will be there to support you on the day.
Of course brethren it is not only the Mark which holds an annual festival and there can be no Hertfordshire Craft brother present who is not aware that 2019 will see a major festival held in this county.
Fortunately all the Orders in this Province have an excellent relationship with each other and long may that continue. One of the strongest is that between the Mark and the Craft.
Bro ProvGDC will you please escort W.Bro Paul Gower, or to give him his Craft title – R.W.Bro Paul Gower PGM, to the pedestal.
Paul, before he put his cheque book away I’m pleased to say that our ProvGTreas did approve a second payment which I now have pleasure in presenting to you as a further donation to your coming festival.
Brethren at last month’s meeting of Grand Lodge the following of our brethren were invested by the Grand Master with Grand Rank: W.Bros Graham Pattenden as active GStwd, Mark Walton (through Germany) as PGJO, Geoff Cheshire and Maurice Smith as PAGDsC and Colin Dixon and Chris Scott as PGStBs. At the September meeting of Grand Lodge the following are due to receive promotion: W.Bros Mo Freeman and Ted Long to PGJOs making them V.W. brethren and W.Bro Mark Saunders to PGJD and I think it appropriate that we now congratulate them all with respect to their respective preferments.
So what of the future? Well brethren I am a great believer in ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Here in Happy Hertfordshire we have a Mark Province built on a solid foundation with good communication pathways and, I trust, an approachable and responsive Executive. As such I see no immediate need to make any drastic change to the way in which my predecessor ran the Province. I would however like to make greater use of, at one end of the spectrum, our younger brethren and at the other end, our Grand Officers. I will be asking the Provincial Development Committee to come up with recommendations as to how this may best be achieved.
Many of you will know that one of the hobbies of my pieve it or not, I too have something for which to thank Nelson, well perhaps not directly Nelson but half-Nelson
(for any non-wrestling fan that’s where one arm is forced up the back to get a submission) as that’s all it took to persuade the ProvGSec, who had intended to step down from office at this meeting, to continue for a further year. Trevor I am indebted to you and your Secretariat for all the work that you have put in to ensure that this extra-special meeting has gone so smoothly. Likewise my sincere thanks go to our ProvGDC, W.Bro Roy Moth, and his team for the careful planning and execution of the ceremonial aspects of the meeting.
Indeed my thanks go to all who have contributed in any way to today’s activity, please do not be offended if I haven’t mentioned you in person. I will finish by thanking one further group who may not even be in this Order and that is the members of the Craft Stewards Lodge who have given of their time freely and who have assisted with the parking and helped in the bars.
I now look forward to a great year. Do have a relaxing break during the summer and return refreshed and enthusiastic for whatever lies ahead in 2018/19.
May the Great Overseer of the Universe bless and preserve you all and remember, ‘among Mark Master Masons you will ever find friends’.
o – o – o – o