Text of Address
Good Afternoon Brethren,
May I begin by welcoming you all to what should have been our Annual Meeting, but as you all aware this is not possible because of the present Covid 19 restrictions. Although it is definitely different and a unique occasion, I do hope that you all will find it useful in keeping in touch during these taxing times and also informative.
It is my sad duty is to report on the passing of a number of our Senior members over the last year; amongst them there are many who have given exceptional service, all of whom will have been in the thoughts and prayers of many of us. The list is unfortunately quite long 55 in all, so I will mention only a few, R.W.Bro’s Arthur Craddock and Peter Glyn Williams, both of whom were P.Dep.G.M’s
R.W.Bro’s David Cordell, Derek Hugh and Keith Roberts, all of whom have been District Grand Prefects.
R.W.Bro’s Ron Champion and Colin Williams, P.G.S.W’s
R.W.Bro’s Stephen Ayers, Robert Nall and Kenneth Thompson, P.G.J.W’s
And V.W.Bro Alan Shearer, Deputy District Grand Prefect, East Midlands.
Our year has been, as you would have expected, ‘different’, with only one new Prefect installed in person. This being at Bury St Edmonds on the 26th Oct when we Installed R.W.Bro Geoff Keer as District Grand Prefect for East Anglia, in succession to R.W.Bro Tom Auber who retired after many years of devoted service to the Order.
The only occasion that I have attended a meeting this year was to Northumberland and Durham, when at the District Meeting a cheque for £1,500 was presented to the Tynemouth Life Boats. This money had been raised by the combined efforts of the Royal and Select Masters and Allied degrees. It was thankfully received and no doubt will be put to good use!
On the 21st March we should have gone to Brighton to Install R.W.Bro Gene Earland as the D.G.P. for Sussex in succession to R.W.Bro Roger Richardson who had retired after many very profitable years and has now been Installed as the new P.G.M for the Mark Province of Sussex, we wish him well in his new appointment.
In consequence of the death on the 30th Jan of R.W.Bro David Cordell, the Installation of the new District Grand Prefect for Yorkshire was postponed until the 2nd May when we should have Installed as his successor R.W.Bro Graham Bailey. The same situation has also happened in Devon and Cornwall where R.W.Bro Tony Vickery retired and we were due to Install as his successor R.W.Bro Barry Slade on the 25th July. All these former District Grand Prefects have given long and rewarding service to our Order, for which we are all most grateful.
At this stage in our proceedings, after the usual business items, I hopefully would have been re-elected as your Grand Master !!, thanked my Deputy and re-appointed him for another year. Brethren the inactive, active officers of the year have not had a great deal to do over the last year, having only one official engagement on the 26th October, I have therefore decided, with advice to re-appoint the majority of the team, for what I hope will be a rather more active year. The minor alterations which I have made are:
A.G.D.C to W.Bro Mark Gannaway, A.G.Chap. to W.Bro Rev Justin Parker
Dep.G.Organist to W.Bro Nicholas Page and W.Bro Alan Beckerton as Junior Deacon
Because our Grand Stewards are nominated in rotation, I have continued with this custom, the new Stewards therefore are;
W.Bro’s John Aslatt, Cheshire and North Wales; Steven Bell, Severn; Leslie Darby, East Midlands; Simon Gillas, Thames Valley; Frank Hatton, Cumberland and Westmorland; William Malcolm, Northumberland and Durham.
I wish to place on record my personal thanks and also that of the Order for all the devoted service which the four retiring officers have rendered to the Order over many years.
Today is a day of celebration for us all, but especially for those of you who have been honoured by promotion in or first appointment to Grand Rank. Either way, Brethren, your new rank will have been well deserved, please enjoy it to the full.
Brethren I do hope that you have all found this exercise profitable and useful. Over the last few difficult months we are lucky in this Order and in fact all the Orders administered from No 86 St James’s that we have always been kept up to date with the necessary information explaining how we are to continue with our Masonry. I appreciate that occasionally, these have had to be modified due to Government directives, but these are out of our hands. Therefore on behalf of us all I wish to thank the Grand Secretary, the Assistant Grand Secretary and all their teams for battling on against very difficult odds, even when they have had to continue work from the comfort of their own homes! I would also like to thank the Grand D.C. for the work which he has had to do in relation to changes to our Ritual to make it Covid compliant.
Under normal circumstances before we depart, I would ask the Grand Secretary if there is anything further to report, he replies ’no’ and so off we go to refreshment. Occasionally there is an extra item and today is no exception, but I am unable to shake the recipient’s hand and thank him for his services over many years, however as from today I have great pleasure in promoting our Grand D.C. to the Rank of Past Grand Junior Warden, along with my personal thanks for looking after me so well, not an easy task Brethren!!
Brethren, we must all look on the bright side, of life; Freemasonry has had its ups and downs in the past, but it has always pulled through and it will, I am sure, do so again. I know that you are all looking forward to being able to meet again and renew our friendships face to face; in the mean time Brethren we must remember to consider the health and personal circumstances of us all.
Brethren, may the Great Disposer All keep you safe and well; God Bless you All.