I am not sure just what I want to say this morning or indeed how I am going to say it. I am assuming that the news of my forthcoming retirement has reached the ears of most of you and having been appointed from 21 July 2007 I very much regret that I shall not be serving the full term of 10 years granted to me by the First Grand principal which would have taken me to 2017.
However I make no apology – having been appointed ProvGM on 13th November 2002 I am conscious that nearly 11 years have passed since that time and I believe it is right that someone else should now lead the Province.
As I have had the privilege of serving this Province in the singular role and then more recently in the dual role I am convinced that for us, for whatever reasons, the dual role works well and is, I believe, more conducive to success. It is this belief that drove my decision to retire from both Craft and Chapter. I have been somewhat selfish in the timing that I chose so that I can attend the 200 year Royal Arch celebrations in London on 16th October and then retire on 31 October. On that special day in London we have taken up all our meal opportunities; indeed, my Deputy has obtained some additional tickets for the value-for-money lunch at £70 and of course the evening Dinner party with HRH is sold out.
Let me now extend a warm welcome to all of you both Excellent Companions and Companions, particularly those here for the first time. All our guests have already been introduced to you as they came in, but allow me to extend a personal welcome to two fellow Grand Superintendents. From Northumberland, Peter Magnay and from Durham, Norman Heaviside. Not quite Little and Large but could be the tall and the thin. You are both most welcome. You may be aware that my good friend and colleague John Clayton retired from both offices on 31 August 2013 and West Riding is today represented by the DepGS-in-charge, Stewart Carley. Stewart, please convey to the PastGS John the best wishes of this Province and our hope that he has a long and healthy retirement
I have been fortunate in the last 11 years to have one very special shoulder to cry on, or at least to provide support when I have been unsure of some action or other that I was planning. He never interferes but will always provide time to share a problem. Please welcome Past GS John Raylor.
I am delighted to welcome the DepProvGM of the Craft, Jeff Gillyon and both AsstPGMs, Bill Fisher and Malcolm Dabbs
We have a number of apologies from Heads of other orders but I am pleased to welcome Grand Superintendent David Scott, the head of Knights Templar Priests and David Fox, the Intendent general of the Red Cross of Constantine. He is also Provincial Grand Preceptor of The Commemorative Order of St Thomas of Acon (I think)
We only qualified for 2 Supreme Grand Chapter appointments this year, which went to EComp Bill Fisher and Jollyon Smith, both of whom were appointed PGStB. Although we did not qualify for a promotion, I am delighted to report and welcome EComp Bruce Harrison, who was promoted, for his contribution to the Development Working Party in London, to the active rank of AGSoj. The number of Grand Rank appointments is always under discussion but I am a devotee of the philosophy that there is no merit in creating more and more such ranks; indeed, in a reducing national membership there is a view that we should doing the opposite. One of the important tasks that has to be done every year is the selection of those whose names we might put forward and it causes much heart- searching as there are always more deserving names than there are nomination forms available.
Perhaps the reason why most of you are here this morning is to receive appointment or promotion in Provincial Grand Rank, or to see friends and fellow members receive theirs. I congratulate all those that I have appointed and invested today and add my congratulations to each of you. Wear your new regalia with pride (it costs enough) but do please remember that you will now be regarded as an expert, so please be kind and helpful to your members and if you do not know the answer, do please seek guidance from our Scribe E Jim Massey. His bark is worse than his bite and he is always willing to find answers
It had been my intention to announce that Chapter reports would no longer be necessary, which I know would be popular, but that good news will have to wait a little while longer.
My Executive have supported the idea of Chapter Representatives being introduced to act as champions for one or more Chapters in one or more Lodges. We had in mind an enthusiastic Royal Arch Mason who would act as a kind of mentor and perhaps contribute 3 or 4 times a year in a number of Lodges in a promotional role. The difference between the current arrangements would be that we at the centre would have some idea of the names of the “Representatives” and would be able to assist them in selling the undoubted merits of being a Royal Arch mason. This idea has recently been picked up by Supreme Grand Chapter so we are minded wait to learn from their deliberations and we are fortunate that James Greaves, our Provincial Communications Officer, is one of the team leaders for this project. It also seemed a likely topic for my successor to consider.
Talking of successors, I cannot help any of you with your betting odds, as the appointment is not in my hands but I hope an announcement from Supreme Grand Chapter will shortly be issued
Companions, on your behalf I thank Jim Massey, Scribe E and his team including Linda and Marie and Gerald Gelder for today’s arrangements along with the Stewards Chapter, supported by the Stewards Lodge. And of course the Provincial Grand Director of ceremonies Andy Hitchen, his Deputies and his team for the planning and conduct of the meeting – well done
Many of you were at the Craft meeting at the University on 11th May when we launched the Festival and we were then able to announce that the contributions received or pledged prior to the launch date amounted £250,000, which was a huge sum towards the target I set that morning of £1.6M We have been collecting since then for 4 months and 1week and with this in mind I am proud – indeed thrilled – to reveal the amount now in the pot from contributions and pledges is
£426,785 – that is an increase in 4 months of over £176,000
Companions, I leave the office of Grand Superintendent in a few weeks’ time with the pleasing thought that someone else will bring new ideas and new enthusiasm to the office that I have been privileged to hold for some 6 years. I hope I have at least started to convince more of you, that like the Craft, the Royal Arch has an exciting and colourful ceremony and that it really can be enjoyable to be a Companion of the Order. The important thing – never to forget – is to smile.
I have now visited each of the 55 Royal Arch Chapters in the Province during my term of office and have been made welcome wherever I have been. I have much appreciated your friendship and your support in everything that we have tried to do.
I have had a lot of fun leading this happy and successful Province and I wish each of you well for the future of your Masonic activities.
Thank you, Companions.