Provincial Grand Master’s AddressTo Provincial Grand Lodge 2018
Brethren, I am delighted to welcome you all today to our Annual Meeting; especially our honoured guests from other Provinces whose generous hospitality we have enjoyed so much over the past year. I also welcome and thank the Heads of other Orders for their attendance and continued support.
It is seven months since I was installed as your Provincial Grand Master. In some respects, it seems like only yesterday and in others – a lifetime ago. On that occasion, I was overwhelmed by the support of so many Berkshire brethren and it is wonderful to see you all here again today.
Brethren, Berkshire is a very special Province with very special relationships. It is a privilege to be your Provincial Grand Master and to serve the Province.
Whether it be your First Appointment or a Promotion today, the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge is the main occasion when I can recognise your contribution to the success of this Province over so many years. This is your day of reward & celebration and you should enjoy it without reservation.
I thank each one of you, not just for what you have done in the past, but also for what you will do for your Lodges and the Province in the future. I expect you to be positive, to engage, to be diplomatic, to exercise wisdom and to act with tact & discretion.
To the new team of Acting Provincial Officers, you should anticipate a busy, but rewarding and enjoyable year ahead. I have no doubt that there will be challenges to overcome, but together we will build memorable and enjoyable experiences.
I am sure that my predecessor RW Bro Martin Peters will endorse my thanks to the outgoing team for their support, loyalty and friendship over the last twelve months. I also thank the outgoing Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies WBro Paul Ackland-Snow for his commitment and contribution to the Province during his tenure of office. During that time, he has overseen not only the usual array of Provincial events, but also two lodge consecrations. We are most grateful to you for all that you have done.
Through the hard work and dedication of many brethren and because of the efforts made in our lodges over the past year, we continue to see sustained growth and a reduction in avoidable resignations. This is most encouraging and I thank you all for what you have done.
In May 2018, I launched the Berkshire 2023 Festival. It was an outstandingly successful event that raised a staggering £142k on the opening night. There is no doubt that the Province has thrown itself behind this Festival and I am excited about what we will achieve together. I thank my Deputy VW Bro Peter Sands and his Festival Committee for all that they are doing to ensure success.
Looking ahead, we have another exciting year in the offing and a full programme of events, not least of which is a drumhead service on the 18th November to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War, the delivery in December of the 2018 Prestonian Lecture at the Berkshire Lodge of Enlightenment, as well as the Consecration in February 2019 of the new Swallowfield Pitt Bridge Lodge. However, there is still much to do to ensure that Freemasonry continues to thrive in Berkshire as a vibrant and relevant organisation which is understood and valued by all.
Previously, I have referred to the need to ensure that we maintain a consistent and healthy flow of new initiates into our Province so that we continue to sustain and reinvigorate our lodges. There are three golden-threads that must run throughout our lodges and to which we must pay significant attention.
The first is the Membership Pathway which was rolled out by UGLE earlier this year and which I officially launch in this Province today. This step-by-step guide will help us to professionalise our dealings with our prospective candidates from the point of first contact and ensure that we do not initiate on a false prospectus.
The second is effective mentoring. The appointment of a personal mentor who guides and steers his charge in the early stages of his masonic journey is not something that can be left to chance, but requires experience, commitment and active engagement with the new Mason to ensure that his experiences are positive, balanced and constructive.
The third is the need to foster curiosity and to ensure a brother’s development. Masonry is a broad organisation and we seek to make room for everyone as they progress along their own individual masonic journey. It will be different for each of us and some will only want the lightest of touches. We will continue to provide support and guidance to both individual brethren and to lodges alike to ensure that Lodges are in a strong position to be able to fulfil their obligations to their own brethren. It is for this reason that I have uniquely appointed a Provincial Grand Preceptor W Bro Simon Oliver to oversee this important work.
In closing, I thank my Executive for the enthusiasm, commitment and contribution they have made on your behalf to this Province over the past year. Also, to W Bros David Keys, Paul Ackland-Snow and Jim Sampins and their teams for ensuring the success of today’s annual meeting. Brethren, I wish you all a most happy and successful year ahead and thank you again for your unstinting support and for your attendance here today.
RW Anthony Howlett-Bolton OBE PGM