Brethren all, looking back over the events forecasted in my last ‘PGM Writes’, I am delighted to report that all that was promised for the last quarter of 2021 has actually come to pass. My challenge in writing this piece for this month’s London Mallet is not about finding news items to write about, but more about keeping this article succinct enough to maintain your attention – there is just so much occurring across our Province, I hardly know where to begin!
We seem to have emerged from Covid restrictions with a big bang! There were even meetings in August this year. The Annual Royal Ark Mariner Assembly went ahead on its usual date, when some 30 new Provincial Royal Ark Mariner collarettes were presented. That Assembly was followed by the regular Installation meeting of the Installed Commanders’ Lodge, where not only did I have the honour to be installed as WM but we had the President of the MBF in attendance to present 20 MBF Patron collarettes to individuals and Masters of Lodges. I calculated that Monday 6 September was the largest gathering of Freemasons in England since the lifting of Suspension; over 100 Mark brethren in Grand Temple at MMH. And we dined 90 afterwards. However, that record was held for only a day as Mark Grand Lodge met the following afternoon – and such was the enthusiasm to get back to normal business I think there must have been over 500 in Grand Temple at FMH with over 400 at the banquet afterwards in the Connaught Rooms.
Then we come to our own Annual Meeting on 30 September. Another triumph of brethren being willing to come together again to celebrate our emergence into the light! The photographs in the London Mallet speak louder than any words of mine – a wonderful afternoon and evening topped off (dare I say it myself) by the Pipe Band, which we had called in to replace our usual Brass Ensemble. I wonder whose idea that was?!
Still looking to the future, we have our sell-out functions on 8 November (30th Anniversary Dinner) and 14/16 January (Burns Weekend at Bournemouth). There are no fewer than 4 R.A.M. Lodge Consecrations and a new Mark (RAF Lodge) to take off in the coming months. See the list of forthcoming events published elsewhere in this bulletin. There is an absolute flurry of 100/150 anniversary Lodge celebrations and several 50th anniversary certificate presentations – so it’s a busy time for the Chains and I.
On the charity front I continue to be impressed by the never-ending generosity of you, the Mark brethren of London. The level of sales of these (blessed) MBF lapel badges is as strong as ever; there is a constant trickle of new MBF collarettes for presentation to individuals, whose regular contributions to that Fund take them up through Patron, Grand Patron, Grand Patron Gold and Diamond status. Well done to you all.
The PGM of Hertfordshire, R.W. Bro. Richard Walker, and I arranged for a donation of £500 each from our Provinces to MACE – which is the (Craft) Masonic Bowls organisation – and we spent a lovely day at Watford with brethren from all over the South of England. Richard and I were honoured, on behalf of MACE, to present substantial cheques to Marie Curie and McMillan Nurses representatives.
You will have seen too the several photographs of the Chains visiting various hospices in and around London, presenting cheques in respect of the MBF initiative to donate to hospices across the country. The magnificent sum of £1.3m in total has been distributed in memory of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Brethren, that money needs to be replaced – and the Executive and I have carried out a calculation to kick start an exercise to encourage those Lodges who wish to and are able to reach the next level of Lodge MBF patronage. Stand by to receive notification of the sums involved from your Visiting Officer.
At my recent Official Visit to Thistle Lodge, the draw was made for the Province’s 50/50 club. The charity recipient this year is to be the London Search & Rescue association which supports the Met. Police in seeking out and repatriating missing, vulnerable individuals. There will be £1,250 winging its way to them soon. And the other half of the club proceeds has been split into 10 prizes ranging from £250 to £50. The lucky winners will be notified in due course.
Brethren all, there is more on the horizon I could be telling you about – the forthcoming Consecration of Freemasons Without Borders Lodge of MMM (30 October), next year’s Spring Mess Dinner (date still to be decided), a trip to the Tower of London plus the usual round of Official Visits and the opportunity for Provincial Officers to support the Province and individual Lodges. As I said during my Address at the Annual Meeting – get involved if you want to derive maximum satisfaction from your membership of this wonderful Province of London. Have a look regularly at the website and read through the articles in this bumper edition of your London Mallet, to see where and how you could be more involved.
As usual, I will end with a huge thank you to Chris James and his Communications Team and to Robert Anderson and his Secretariat colleagues, who carry out an enormous amount of work on a regular and ongoing basis to ensure that our Province remains an important, effective and viable part of Mark Masonry.
I look forward to seeing you all on the circuit. Stay safe and Mark Well, Brethren.