PGM’s Address to the Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Assembly
It is a great pleasure to see you all here to today supporting the Province, but most importantly supporting those brethren who have been honoured with Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank.
To those brethren I offer my congratulations. You have worked hard to support the Order and your honour is well earned. I can assure you that these appointments are not just handed out but are awarded on merit.
There is no automatic right to receive honours in any Order in Masonry. An award is a recognition for work done to support and progress the Order. Some of the brethren receiving awards have worked diligently in their Lodges in a quiet and unassuming way, some have worked hard in active Provincial office and yet others are noted for their skill in delivering the ritual, but let me assure you that the Provincial Executive and I look very closely at all the brethren who are time qualified and the appointments are made for many and varied reasons. All those so honoured have fully justified the honour.
I remarked last year that the Royal Ark Mariner degree is regarded in some quarters as something of a Cinderella. Lodge meetings are tacked on to Mark meetings. Lodges open too early with tea between meetings and not enough thought is given to the content of meetings.
Although we have a good record in Hertfordshire of converting our Mark Masons into Royal Ark Mariners, as the report of the Provincial Grand Registrar has indicated, attendance at our meetings is not particularly good, sometimes barely more than 50% of the nominal membership of the Lodge. I have also taken note that some Lodge scribes are getting round my requirement that there should be no blank agendas by including an item such as “To receive a talk of Masonic interest.” To me this indicates a lack of planning and is unacceptable.
In these modern times, expecting a working man to leave his place of employment to attend a meeting that starts before 5.30pm, in some cases as early as 3pm is quite clearly unacceptable. If the Commander and his officers have prepared properly and the agenda is planned well in advance, a meeting should not last any longer than 1 hour. Commanders, Scribes and Directors of Ceremonies should be giving much more thought to the planning of meetings, especially at the beginning of the new season.
Our Mark Lodges have taken up the challenge of supporting the Mark Benevolent Fund’s major donation to Hope for Tomorrow with enthusiasm and many have already qualified for the Grand Patron Gold Award collarettes and jewel.
My challenge to the Royal Ark Mariner Lodges of Hertfordshire this year is to emulate our Mark Lodges and achieve Grand Patron Gold Award status. A chat with the Provincial Grand Charity Steward will help you ascertain where your Lodge honorific stands at the present time, but I hope to have the pleasure of presenting many of your Lodges with these highly prized collarettes and jewels during the next Masonic season.
I have already welcomed our distinguished visitors by name but I now take this opportunity to welcome all of our visitors to Bushey today. I hope you are enjoying your time with us and we look forward to the pleasure of your company in the bar and at dinner afterwards.
As you know, these meetings do not just happen. A considerable amount of time and planning goes into ensuring the smooth running of this meeting, both in the Temple and at the Festive Board. I am most grateful to both the Provincial Grand Secretary and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and their respective teams for all their hard and unrelenting work in putting together another successful meeting.
They have been arranging the Annual Provincial meeting, which takes place in just over a months’ time, in parallel with this meeting. Both you and I expect a lot of them and they deliver; for that I am most grateful and appreciative.
I look forward to seeing you all at Rickmansworth next month, but in the meantime enjoy what remains of the current Masonic season
GOD bless you all.