Address by the R.W.Provincial Grand Master at the Grand Officers Luncheon at Elwy Hall, Rhyl on August 14th 2018
Good afternoon Brethren, thank you for attending in such good numbers, I hope that the day proves of benefit to you and, importantly I hope that you enjoy it. A special welcome to our newest Grand Officers, W. Bros Phil Edwards, Roger Calverley, George Alun Jones and Noel Roberts, not forgetting our Senior Warden, W.Bro. Steve Tilston, W. Bro. Paul Sefton our JW has tendered an apology, he is on his holidays.
We have a number of apologies but two of particular note, W. Bro. Adrian Duncan cannot be with us due to illness and R.W.Bro. Gareth Williams is hosting an event for Past Mark PGMs at Portmeirion.
Faris, Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary, would you now just give a special boost to our new Website but before doing so I am sure that I must thank Colin Lemin for looking after our existing Website for so long.
For the past six months or so, we have been working on a new website for the Province, and I’m pleased to say that it is now ready and online for all to see.
We’ve used modern techniques to design the site, so that it works almost as well on a tiny mobile phone screen as it does on an iPad or a desktop computer system with a huge screen. We’ve also added a few bells and whistles to make the site dynamic and interesting.
Just like the old site, all the usual forms are available for you to download, and there are contact details for the Provincial Grand Secretary plus some provincial history and so on.
But we’ve gone several steps further with the new website.
For example we have pictures and short biographies of some of the principal Provincial officers, an idea that came from the PGM and puts a human face to what otherwise would just be a boring list of names.
We also have my favourite part: Just like on the old website, we have a list of Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodges. But now not only do we have their names and when and where they meet, but for each Lodge we have a map with a pin showing their exact location.
But arguably the most important part of the new website is the News section.
As a Province, we need to be able to communicate with our members. I’m not just talking about letting Secretaries and Scribes know about administrative changes, or sending out booking forms for the Provincial Grand Lodge at Connah’s Quay though. I mean telling members about more interesting things that have happened across the Province and beyond:
- Amounts raised for the Mark Benevolent Fund at this year’s festival
- Banner Dedications
- Diamond Awards
- Fund Raising Events
- The Blood bike Donations
- The St John Ambulance Donations
- 50-year certificates
- Team Visits
- Who is on this year’s Team?
- PGM’s Addresses
In other words, all the things that bring the Province to life.
This is where we will publish information on the kind of news and events that I’ve just outlined, and more. Very importantly, we won’t just be publishing boring words. We’ll have pictures. Even videos are possible. Needless to say, images bring events to life, and will help members feel closer to what’s happening within the Province.
This website isn’t just for our own members, of course. Anyone with Internet access can see it. And by publishing information about our charitable activities on the website, members of the public will see that we are helping the community at large.
I encourage all of you to please visit the website – www.northwalesmark.co.uk.
But Brethren, a website such as this is like a tiny seedling. To flourish and grow, it needs nurturing. In the case of the website, it needs to be fed with information on News and Events, complete with pictures and, as I said, even videos.
So far, the news on the website has mainly come from the PGM himself. And this is where you can help, we need items from you to put on the Website.
So spread the word to the Brethren, we need input from our members, encourage them to do so.
So every time you see that an event is taking place, make sure that someone takes some pictures and sends in a report. It only needs to be a few lines of text to explain what the event was about – the pictures can do most of the talking. Please emphasise that anything that isn’t the usual day to day activity of the Lodge is likely to be newsworthy, and that fundraising events are particularly interesting.
I do have one word of caution, however. It is important that anyone who can be clearly identified in a photo or video that is submitted as a news item has given their permission for it to be published, and anyone whose names are to be mentioned are likewise happy for them to appear on the website.
And Brethren, I now invite our Provincial GDC to give some words of wisdom on Ritual.
The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master has asked me to address you today on the standards that the province expects from our members and lodges.
One of the most rewarding parts of being on the Provincial team is that as you travel around the province you see the differing ways in which lodges operate and the standard of the ritual and signs.
It goes without saying that we are indeed very fortunate to have a number of brethren who take great pride in learning and performing our rituals to a very high standard, unfortunately that cannot be said for all.
We all know that some find it much easier to learn and retain information than others and it is only right and proper that the more able support and assist those that struggle, however, there has to be a basic standard that we should all try to adhere to.
If a brother wishes to attain the chair of his lodge, he should be able to open and close his lodge in good fashion, and when working a ritual, should be able to at least go as far as the obligation, without the aid of a book, indeed, the use of books by any officer of the lodge should be discouraged, as, without doubt, it detracts from and devalues proceedings. I think Brethren that I need to emphasis that books should not be allowed, except of course for those who are charged with prompting, for example – the IPM. In the main, prompting of the Master should be done by the IPM with the DC ready to prompt others, prompts should be given as discreetly as possible and care should be taken that prompts do not come from all quarters of the lodge room.
Whilst there is no real objection to a ceremony being split, it should not be seen as a way for brethren to avoid having to learn and carry a ceremony for themselves and it is imperative that the W/M or Commander should perform as much of the ceremony at possible.
At Installation ceremonies, the outgoing Worshipful Master/Commander must be the person who actually places his successor in the chair even if he does not carry out all of the ceremony itself, but as I have already stated, the aim should be for the Master to do as much of the work as possible.
Rehearsals should be carried out regularly they are a very important part of our work.
The Signs of the degrees are also an important part of our rituals, using the correct sign can sometimes present a problem, particularly for those who attend lodges infrequently or are new to the degree, it is important that the DC sets the standard with the signs, we need to ensure that they are done properly and smartly and again this is where our rehearsals can help, we must ensure that when the sign is given, ‘the right hand returns to the sign manual and is then cut in one motion by the left hand’.
Finally, Brethren, a note about the festive board and the standard and length of the toasts, toasts should be precise and to the point, and deal only with the matter in hand, e.g. a toast to the W/M should be just that, say something nice about him if you have to, and about the way he’s conducted his lodge, and toast him. A toast to visiting and musical brethren is just that, by mentioning other things you are not just dragging out proceedings, but you may also be stealing someone else’s thunder.
Brethren, we are not only Officers of Grand Lodge, we are also Grand Officers of our own lodges and the Province, so please take back these few words and suggestions, speak with your DC’s, offer help and guidance and between us we can help matters to improve.
The Provincial Grand Master reported the following.
The new format of Grand Lodge Meetings turned out to be very successful
with the Investiture of Active Ranks last June and we will have the Promotions
The same format will probably be used next year.
2018 Mark Festival
22 Brethren and partners from North Wales attended the Festival in Lincoln, more than ever have attended. The Saturday evening Festival Banquet was far superior to last year, bigger attendance and a better meal. The speeches could have been a little shorter. The Festival total was £835,000 a magnificent amount fitting of the 150th Anniversary. We from North Wales donated £11853, I was so proud to be able to read that figure. Out of the 42 Provinces and Districts that donated to the Festival we were the seventh highest contributor. Next year the Festival is down in Sussex, I have seen the agenda, the distance involved and I have decided that I will not travel down to Brighton next year but will continue to support the Festival.
We Installed a new Deputy, W. Bro. John Evans, it was a great day with a bumper attendance, all the existing Provincial Grand Officers were in attendance, similarly with the incoming Officers. I only missed a couple who were getting promotions, best response we have had in years.
Remember that the Provincial Meeting and RAM Assembly are open to all members of the Order, not just for Provincial Officers.
Next year we will meet on April 6th for the RAM Assembly and 8th June for the Provincial Meeting.
I am still very keen to attract the newer Advancees, maybe as Grand Officers you could ‘push’ this aspect a little more.
Membership is standing up really well, we are up 10 in the Mark and 5 in the RAM as of today brethren. I know that will change by the end of this month with the usual resignations before the start of the new financial year.
Keep on the lookout for new members, they are out there but only bring in those that will enhance the Order, we have a special group here who enjoy themselves, let’s keep it that way.
Rocking Horse Raffle
The draw will take place at the Charity night in September, last year I suggested that we might sell 500 tickets, so far we have sold just over 400 the sales have raised £2192, thank you all for your support and thanks to W. Bro. Mike Worsnip for his work in making the Prize.
Grand Rank Appointments
There is an ongoing review by the General Board and the Grand Masters Royal Ark Council on the subject of Grand Ranks. It is a complicated business Brethren, we are working to a reduction of 18% in the number of Grand Rank Appointments. This will mean that it will be more difficult to obtain a Grand Rank in the future and it may be that some will have to wait a little longer to get their Rank. I say this to you as I know in order that you, our Grand Officers, are aware of the forthcoming changes.
- Bro’s Andy Chape and Kelvin Sharp bought some Badges last year and gave them to us to sell for our Charities, we sold the lot, we are now looking to design a pocket a handkerchief that will be suitable for Mark and RAM, sell them for a tenner and bank the profit for Charity. Can you all try to promote the sale of second hand Regalia that we have and which is currently held by Andy Chape, push it along Brethren, save some money and boost our Charity at the same time.
Over the years I have stressed the need for good Ritual, I also need now to stress that we need good administrative skills.
I will be looking at the quality of the Summons’ sent out by secretaries and also the Minutes and Accounts.
Keep pushing the attendance at Provincial Grand Lodge and RAM Assembly.
Reps and Grand Officers need to be proactive, sort out any problems that you see in Lodges.
Carol Service on December 18th at Bangor Masonic Hall, tickets will be £10 each, children go free and there will be mulled wine on arrival and a buffet after the service, this is a new venture Brethren, try to give it your support, particularly the Brethren from Anglesey, Bangor, Caernarfon and Anglesey.