Brethren, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to Kings Heath this morning, I have already formally introduced our visitors and guests, many of whom have travelled long distances to be with us today, and as always I thank you all for your continued support at our annual meeting.
This last year has been very busy with many important events taking place.
It started last September when we were delighted to welcome the Assistant Grand Master R W Bro Keith Emmerson to join with us in celebrating the Centenary of the Athlumney Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No 590 at Stourbridge. The evening was a resounding success with great support from my Provincial Officers and a guest appearance from the Grand Senior Warden R W Bro Mike Masters who had flown in from Spain especially to support the Brethren in his Mother Royal Ark Mariner Lodge.
Also in September we introduced an additional lecture to be given at the Installation meetings of Royal Ark Mariners by the Provincial Wardens. The feedback received from across the Province has been one of approval and enjoyment, so can I thank both W Bro John Stevens and W Bro John Fleming for being the first Provincial Wardens to “road test “ this new ritual. They have both set a very high standard which I’m sure will be continued by my newly appointed Wardens.
Whilst talking about the Royal Ark Mariner Degree I was delighted to see 4 Brethren from the Province receive RAM Grand Rank at the Grand Assembly in December, they were,
- W Bro Tony Maudsley Eaton Lodge No 977
- W Bro Philip Hannah Perseverance Lodge No 733
- W Bro John Stevens All Saints Kings Heath No 1462
- W Bro John Fleming Athlumney Lodge No 590.
In February we consecrated the long awaited Fairways Lodge of Mark master Masons. The founders were from the three Midland Provinces of Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffs and Shropshire. It was a wonderful occasion with great support from all Provinces including R W Bro David Ashbolt from London. This Golfing Lodge has already had its first regular meeting at Kings Norton Golf Club where a mixed bag of Golf and Masonry was enjoyed by all, concluding in the evening with the Advancement of its first candidate Bro Gerry Logue.
Last month we had an extremely busy time, on the 21st of May we held our 9th Annual Provincial Grand assembly where the conferral of Provincial RAMGR was given to 9 Brethren, and they were supported by a goodly number of worshipful Commanders and Wardens from their various Lodges.
Two days later at Worcester we were delighted to receive the Pro Grand Master who presided over the Sesqui-centenary celebrations of the Letchmere Lodge of MMM No 59.
This was a wonderful evening organised by W Bro Bob Reid who at the end of the meeting was given a letter from the Pro Grand Master informing him that it was the wish of the Grand Master to promote him at the next Annual Investiture meeting which happens to be next Tuesday to the rank of PGJO. I think it was the first time I’ve ever seen W Bro Bob speechless.
And then on Saturday the 25th May we Consecrated the Provincial Grand Almoners and Charity Stewards Lodge No 1943.
This latest Lodge within the Province of Worcestershire was brought about by W Bro Trevor Hicks from Gloucestershire and Herefordshire and W Bro Martin Katz from Middlesex, who had an idea for a national Lodge of Almoners and Charity Stewards that could bring together Brethren from across the country and pool ideas and give support to Provinces in festival. Because of the similarity between the Provincial Directors of Ceremonies Lodge and the Almoners & Ch Stwds Lodge the DC’s Lodge was invited to be the sponsoring Lodge.
This new Lodge will meet twice a year, once in Worcestershire for the Installation meeting and the other in the Province of the Worshipful Master.
This Consectation took the number of Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodges up to 40 which then, with the approval of Grand Lodge entitled Worcestershire to appoint an Assistant PGM.
And so today we have reached a milestone in the history of the Mark Degree in Worcestershire.
I’m sure our forefathers back in 1884 when this Province was first Constituted would not have foreseen the steady growth and success of the Mark Degree that has taken place over the last 129 years in Worcestershire, which has today culminated in the appointment of our first Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
Very Worshipful Bro John is going to be an important and integral addition to the executive and from the outpourings of congratulations from across the Province and beyond I know it’s been a very popular appointment.
Brethren, it’s just over two years before we host the Mark Benevolent Fund Festive in 2015. And I can now inform you that the venue is going to be the Chateau Impney at Droitwich.
This wonderful setting in the depths of the Worcestershire countryside will be able to dine over 1000 people and there are many quality hotels nearby. So Brethren, when you receive the detailed agenda for the Festival be assured that there will be a place for all.
We are slightly behind target for the festival, but we were recently bequeathed a very generous donation of £30,000 from one of our Brethren who passed away earlier this year, so I’m sure with a little more effort we will end up with an amount we can all be proud of to present to the Mark Benevolent Fund.
You may recall last year that as an added incentive to all lodges we introduced a Festival Gavel which would be presented to all Lodges that achieved their per capita allotted targets,
And today we have three more Lodges that have achieved that distinction,
- Lechmere Lodge of MMM No 59
- Vernon Lodge of MMM No 923
- Millennium Lodge of MMM No 1822
Bro Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, would you please conduct W Bro Bob Reid, VW Bro Mike Homer and W Bro Bill Southgate to me that I may present the Gavels.
Brethren, within Masonry change is inevitable, and next Tuesday at Grand Lodge we will see the retirement of three great leading lights within our Order. R W Bro Michael Herbert our Deputy Grand Master who has given wonderful service to the Mark Degree for well over 30 years. R W Bro John Brackley who as Grand Secretary had the unenviable task of reshaping the whole structure at Mark Masons Hall, and our own R W Bro Stuart Edwards who has served in the office of Grand Treasurer for 9 years.
And as you are all probably aware, R W Bro Richard Wallis who is a great supporter of this Province is going to be the new Deputy Grand Master. W Bro Paul Tarrant is to become the new Grand Secretary and has kindly agreed to address you shortly, and R W Bro John Howitt is to be the new Grand Treasurer. I’m sure you will all join with me in wishing them well in taking Mark Masonry forward in this 21st Century.
At this point I would also like to congratulate the Brethren within this Province who are to be honoured with 1st appointment or promotion at Grand lodge on the 11th June.
- W Bro Bob Reid PGJO
- W Bro Vivien Fogarty PGSD
- W Bro Brian Scoffield PGSD
- W Bro Paul Feetum PGJD
- W Bro Gerald Winfield PGJD
- W Bro Adrian Church PAGDC
- W Bro George Simpson PAGDC
- W Bro Trevor Sleigh PAGDC
Can I also congratulate members of the Directors of Ceremonies Lodge and members of the Almoners and Charity Stewards lodge who are also to receive preferment on Tuesday.
And so to my Provincial Officers, I have had overwhelming support from my team this last year as always, and it is you Brethren that make this Province so happy and vibrant. To the incoming Officers, you will have plenty of opportunities to join me when we go out on team visits, and indeed I hope you take up the invitation to be my representative at your allotted Lodges.
I would like to thank all that have made today a great success, in particular my new Provincial Grand Secretary W Bro Brian and his Deputy W Bro Adrian who stepped into the breach at very short notice.
Thanks must also go to my Provincial GDC and his team for all their work on the Ceremonial front.
And last but by no means least, to all those Brethren that have worked behind the scenes whether it be in the car park , manning the reception area or looking after the bar, without you this day would not be the success it’s been.
Brethren I thank you for your quiet attention and may the Great overseer keep you safe until we meet again.
God bless you all.