Berkshire 2023 Festival Launched

The Berkshire 2023 Festival has been launched

Find the festival website and the link to donate at berkshire2023festival.org.uk

Ladies, Gentleman and Brethren, welcome to the Berkshire Masonic Centre for the launch of the Berkshire 2023 Festival in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. A particularly warm welcome to RW Bro His Honour Richard Hone, President of the Foundation, Brigadier David Innes the Chief Executive, W Bro Howard Wilson Trustee and Chairman of the Fund-Raising Committee and Mark Lloyd the Managing Director of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Company together with their partners. It is a pleasure to see you all here to support the launch.

The Festival is a very special occasion for our Province for two reasons. The first is because we are committing ourselves to give substantial financial support to the MCF so that they can continue to distribute funds both internally and externally to those in need; charity is not our raison d’être but an important by-product of the sort of people that we are.
The second reason is that it will enable us to continue to bond as Freemasons and to work together as one masonic team. In the process, I anticipate that we will have great fun and many mind-boggling fund-raising activities are already being put in place. It seems to me that most are designed to cause me maximum embarrassment, but if that’s what’s needed, then so be it.

We have put together a first-class team to deliver for the Province under the chairmanship of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master VW Bro Peter Sands, ably assisted by the Provincial Grand Charity Steward W Bro Paul Watson. Brethren you all know who you are, so thank you for the commitment you have displayed so far and for what you are planning to achieve.

Now for the bit that you have been waiting for. Very careful consideration has been given to setting the target and honorifics for our festival. I am minded that whilst ensuring that it is stretching, it must be achievable. The target for the last Festival was set at £1.75M and we achieved £2.27M. This translated into a figure of £737 per member. A truly outstanding figure as I am advised that the average is £670.

Our target this time is £1.9M which I anticipate we will also exceed. This figure translates into £740 per head based on a minimum membership of 2,500 brethren. Currently, we are well above that figure and the Province is growing. Equally, I am confident that we are well supported by the other Orders in the Province whose Heads are with us this evening and to whom I am most grateful for their commitment.

It cannot be denied that we have many members of rank and opulence; neither can it be denied that there are some who through unavoidable calamity and misfortune are reduced to the lowest ebb of poverty and distress. So, I do not support anything other than the wearing of one charity jewel. A minimum regular giving contribution of £10 per month will qualify members for the Festival Jewel. This equates to one cup of coffee per week and if Gift Aided will secure £750 for the MCF.

The same is not true for individual lodges, as by brethren working together as a coherent whole with lively imagination so much more can be achieved. Thus, there are several lodge honorifics from Bronze through to Platinum. The Bronze level equates to £350 per member, Silver £500, Gold £750 and Platinum £1000. These will be based throughout the Festival on an official recorded membership as at the end of May 2018. This allows just a few days for lodge secretaries to make any adjustments to their recorded numbers. Clearly, lodges which grow during the festival will be advantaged.

Our record of charitable giving within the Province is legend and defines the sort of people that we are. Supporting this Festival should be the main aim of Lodge fundraising and giving during this five-year period. The Berkshire Masonic Charity will continue to support any local community needs. Every lodge has a Charity Steward through whom the Festival can be supported, and I hope and anticipate that every lodge will work towards achieving the Platinum award; the highest level of recognition.

The festival will end on 10th June 2023 when we will be holding a magnificent banquet at the De Vere Beaumont Estate Hotel in Old Windsor. I look forward to seeing you then and celebrating success.

Anthony C Howlett-Bolton OBE, Provincial Grand Master

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