Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master, Distinguished Guests and Brethren.
I must start by extending my appreciation to the MW Pro Grand Master and his team from Grand Lodge for coming to Berkshire today to conduct such an important milestone event for the Province and indeed for me personally. Sir, with your permission, I will say more at luncheon.
Let there be no doubt that the success this Province has achieved over the last six and a half years is entirely down to the leadership shown by my predecessor RW Bro Martin Peters who has worked tirelessly for our benefit and who has achieved a lasting legacy that is the envy of many.
I have had the singular and inspirational privilege of working alongside him as he has drawn together and implemented his Five Year Strategic Plan that has made such a difference to the vibrancy of this Province. As we continue to move forward over the coming years, I will always be indebted to him for laying down the foundations upon which we can continue to build and thereby ensuring that we continue to thrive.
Over the last few weeks, I have revisited our strategic vision, mission and objectives and, as anticipated, they remain as relevant today as they were six and a half years ago. It is fundamentally important that we ensure that ‘Freemasonry is understood and valued by the Berkshire Community’ and that ‘our brethren enjoy their Freemasonry so that our organisation thrives and increases its contribution to the community’.
With this in mind, there is a need to ensure a consistent and healthy flow of new initiates into our Province so that we can continue to sustain and reinvigorate our lodges. These new brethren arrive from a variety of sources and each has unique qualities and attributes. It is essential that they are fully embraced within the lodge and feel comfortable from day one.
They arrive fresh faced, eagle eyed, enthusiastic and curious. We must ensure that we satisfy their needs and foster their curiosity so that they engage in all aspects of the Craft as they start their unique masonic journeys.
This year we are fortunate that the UGLE Improvement Development Group, is rolling out two programmes that will assist us with this work. The Masonic Pathway, which was launched within our region only two weeks ago, will help us to professionalise our dealings with our candidates from the point of first contact and ensure that we do not initiate on a false prospectus. Equally, in the autumn we will see the roll out of a new extensive national programme of learning & development. I am determined that we will embrace both of these opportunities so that the needs of our brethren are fully met.
I have no doubt that the power houses for success lie with individual members and within the heart of lodges. How we treat and respect each other is of fundamental importance. If members and lodges engage and thrive then so will the Province. This is a broad organisation and I will ensure that there is room for everyone to feel comfortable as they progress along their own masonic journey. Thus, I propose to work closely with the Heads of other Orders within the Province to ensure complementarity and that we all pull together in the same direction. It is important that we recognise each other’s needs.
Without fraternity we are nothing, it is that common understanding of brotherly love that binds us together. That cannot be imposed, but should be nurtured and developed by our behaviour, tolerance and understanding. At worst, we need to rub along together and at best to celebrate each other’s successes.
This will be another exciting year for the Province. We have two new lodges on the horizon and in May, we launch the Berkshire 2023 Festival. In June, our new Berkshire Lodge of Enlightenment will receive a visit from the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton and in December, we will host the Prestonian Lecture.
Those of you who were able to attend our Tercentenary Gala Banquet last November, or the December Quarterly Communications at Grand Lodge will have heard the MW Pro Grand Master say that ‘There has never been a better time to be a Freemason’ and he is right. We have only just scratched the surface of the art of the possible.
Brethren, Berkshire is a very special Province with very special relationships. It is a privilege to be appointed as your Provincial Grand Master and I will do my utmost to serve you in every way that I can. Without reservation, I know that I can rely on your unqualified support and assistance. Thus, I am excited for the future and together we will ensure that this Province continues to thrive.
Brethren may the Great Architect of the Universe be with you now and always, but, above all, I pray that brotherly love and affection will ever distinguish us as men and as masons.