PGM’s Address to Provincial Grand Lodge, May 2016
Once again, a very good afternoon to you all, my beloved brethren, on such a glorious occasion of celebration here in Harrogate.
Today is the fourth time that I rise to address you as Provincial Grand Master and I do indeed greet you all well in this magnificent setting of the Royal Hall and I shall look forward to meeting as many of my brethren as I can when we dine at the Majestic Hotel.
So what am I going to say today to enthuse, to educate and to motivate my brethren today?
Let’s start with a working plan. When I was a very young training officer, I was instructed in the “rule of three” – the three essential elements to include at the start of any presentation to first seize and then to hold attention:
Firstly, “stimulate the audience!” – so they stay awake throughout. Be prepared for a very important announcement later in my address.
Secondly, “do something different! As of today, I am dispensing with a detailed report on “news of national and local interest”.
All news about what is happening in freemasonry and about this Province is widely available through our celebrated White Rose News, websites, monthly mailing, facebook, education workshops, training sessions, etc., etc., etc. Which is testament to the progressive communications strategy in place in our wonderful province that is designed to bond tradition with progress.
Thirdly – “have a motivational theme!”. Today’s theme is one of celebration and being ever conscious of your personal comforts, I do intend to be brief so alas, once again, the lack of time prevents me from singing to you – I know that this will be a crushing blow to many brethren. Perhaps next year? Who knows?
So brethren, on the most solid foundation of celebration, you now know what is coming and I will start with but two “news items” of especial and immediate interest:
The strategy document regarding the future of freemasonry was circulated with
“Freemasonry Today” and I urge every lodge and every brother to consider and to discuss the content carefully in open lodge focusing on the question: “what action do we need to take both survive and to thrive in the exciting future of freemasonry”.
Then: “plan it-do-it-check it and if necessary – correct it.
We approach the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of our Grand Lodge – I can say with some confidence that we certainly do not what was done in 1717 so we cannot always have done it this way!
Within our province there is such an abundant wealth of experience and support immediately available to assist lodges to be “fit for the future”. Please discuss any requests for ideas and support initially with your lodge liaison officer who is pivotal in supporting the implementation of the strategy by facilitating access to the support and resources that our lodges need.
I am delighted that we have such a strategy as I am reminded of that classic management adage: “if you don’t know where you are going you will probably end up somewhere that you don’t want to be!”
The other matter of local interest that I wish to bring to your attention today concerns our own our very own, 2017 Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) 2017 festival.
Brethren we are now in the final year of our festival to support the RMBI and I know you are itching to know what we have raised to date.
The total brethren now stands at £2,233,899.00. It’s a fabulous achievement for which I praise you and thank you all.
Continuing with today’s theme of celebration – in just 12 months, as you know, we will celebrate the culmination of our five years in RMBI Festival with our banquet at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
Brethren, tickets are selling very quickly and over 50% of the seats have already been reserved. I do suggest strongly that you do not delay any longer and use the booking form in today’s papers to reserve your places for this special event. Tempus fugit brethren.
Today is a veritable feast of fraternal celebration and I wish to congratulate many brethren for many various reasons.
Let me start with our new assistant provincial grand master, W Bro. Roger D Newhouse, whom I had the pleasure to install in January. The transfer fee from W Bro. Newhouse’s previous role as chairman of West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd was incredible.
Do not worry brethren I paid the fee myself.
To all those whom I have appointed or promoted in Provincial Grand Lodge today – I congratulate you. We all congratulate you.
Your honour is richly deserved and reflects your service, your hard work and your dedication. Do enjoy both the privileges and also the responsibilities of your new rank. You have been awarded your rank following meticulous investigation and analysis – that’s the way we do things in our province.
Regarding rank – as one of my illustrious predecessors was heard to say on many, many, many occasions – “you don’t get ‘owt for nowt in yorkshire, west riding”.
Do celebrate your new ranks brethren and think of it in this way: having proved your continuing competence and future potential as masters of the arts and sciences, you are now entrusted with more powerful working tools to apply on greater and more elaborate parts of the masonic edifice.
To my acting officers of the last year – my sincere thanks to you all.
You have travelled with me so very willingly to all parts of the inhabitable province and it has been a delight to visit our lodges far afield to reinforce that every lodge in every city, town and village is a valued, respected and essential part of this province. Having now been promoted to higher past rank in Provincial Grand Lodge may I remind you that you are not past masons! There is still plenty to do.
There are five brethren whom I wish to particularly thank personally and also on behalf of the province on their retirement – namely those acting officers who have chosen to stand down after meritorious service to this province over many years.
W Bro. Stuart Cummins, is now wearing the distinctive collarette of a Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
No! W Bro. Stuart, I did not “sack” you! Thank-you indeed for your 5 years of exemplary service under patent and also for introducing that delicacy of “nouvelle Yorkshire cuisine” – bacon sandwiches washed down with rioja to stimulate the creative juices of the committee that produced the incredibly successful “northern masonic variety show” at Bradford Grammar School.
W Bro. Robert Bowhill, now Past Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. Thank-you W Bro. Robert for your tremendous support and service since you were first appointed in 2010. You have provided superb support to me and to my predecessor with your impressive style of quiet distinction and we all thank-you.
W Bro. Alan Jackson, now Past Provincial Grand Almoner, who has served this Province for the past 8 years. A time of great change in the masonic charities and also during very difficult times in society at large. The quiet, discreet and sympathetic manner in which you have cared for our brethren is an example to us all.
Be it known that I hereby promote W Bro. Jackson in this Provincial Grand Lodge to the rank of PPSGW for services so rendered.
W Bro. Bowhill, please would you present W Bro. Jackson to me to be invested.
W Bro. Stuart Grantham, now Past Provincial Grand Charity Steward. Thank-you W Bro. Stuart for your outstanding and inspirational efforts and results in raising charitable funds in such quantity and with such style in that office since 2012.
W Bro. David Pickover, now Past Provincial Grand Tyler who alas cannot be with us today due to serious illness has guarded the portals of this Provincial Grand Lodge since 2008 and wherever the Provincial Grand Master has travelled far and wide with the team.
My thanks to W Bro. Pickover – remember brethren – they also serve who stand and wait outside the door of a lodge!
Be it known that I hereby promote W Bro. Pickover within this Provincial Grand Lodge to the rank of PPSGW for services so rendered.
To these brethren, still significant members of our Province, I offer my thanks, they have all made a significant contribution to the life and history of our province and I wish them all well in their retirements. I am so pleased that all have offered to assist their successors and to remain as a valuable resource to this province.
Having extended my thanks to key brethren, let me move to the important matter of the Royal Arch:
W Bro. Bowhill, please would you present W Bro. Stewart Glasgow Carley, our Most Excellent Grand Superintendent in and over the Royal Arch Province of Yorkshire, West Riding to me as I wish to exchange the customary token of the “indissoluble link”.
Now what about that terrible flooding that hit us at Christmas?
Now W Bro. Bowhill, would you please present to me W Bro, James Steggles who is here on the platform.
I now promote W Bro. Steggles to the rank of PPSGW for his services to this craft Province and most recently the manner in which W Bro. Steggles, as Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Master Masons worked with us to alleviate the sufferings of brethren and our fellow creatures caused by flooding in our Province.
Now for some special welcomes:
We have already greeted our distinguished guests, I now would invite the Masters of Lodges to stand so we may all greet them. Thank-you Worshipful Brethren, you all occupy a most significant office in freemasonry and the highest rank that any private lodge can bestow on any of its members. Please resume your seats.
Would the Master Masons please stand? Brethren there are nearly 100 master masons with us today – you represent the future and we are all delighted that you are here. Please do resume your seats.
Now brethren, I also wish to place on record my thanks to the following “movers & shakers” in our wonderful province and without whose assistance we would not be as effective or renowned throughout the English constitution:
• My colleague rulers and senior officers of our province for their dedication, hard work, support, counsel and encouragement
• The Grand Officers of our Province whose experience, service and advice is greatly valued
• The incoming Acting Provincial Officers – I wish you well for our year ahead
• My liaison officers for all that they do in our lodges
• My panel of installation representatives
• To each and every lodge for the fraternal welcome and generous hospitality when we attend installations and other special events
• W Bro. Keith Tolan, the Provincial Grand Secretary, W Bro. Mick Dyson and the staff at Provincial Headquarters now at our new home of Castle Grove, Leeds, for ensuring that this Province is administered so efficiently
• The management of Castle Grove Masonic Hall who have been so accommodating by providing outstanding support to the Province during the move
• The Provincial Grand Treasurer, W Bro. Brian Priestley, for his prudent financial stewardship and guidance that ensures that this province operates so economically
• W Bro. Robert Bowhill and his team for their hard work throughout the year and today at Provincial Grand Lodge
• The Harrogate Masonic Hall and lodges for once again, allowing us to use their furniture
• West Riding Masonic Charities Limited for “being there” and being so supportive – and especially for introducing the new C.H.O.I.C.E.S Scheme that has already proved to be so successful
• To everyone who has assisted in making today a success
• Your families and loved ones for their support. Please especially thank them from me when you get home tonight
• And last but not least, to you all my beloved brethren for your continuing hard work and for your support here today
If I have omitted to thank any brother that should have been thanked.
I do so now with the sure and certain knowledge that those generous brethren will drop another tear of sympathy over the failings of this brother!
Finally brethren a thought:
We are certainly not an organisation in decline – overall in 2015 we saw an increase of 890 initiates with resignations down by almost 1,800 on previous years. We have a fine and distinguished history with an appeal to men of all ages – young and old (and the not so old!). We provide a moral compass in a world of chaos. We are a fraternal organisation and concerned about each other and also our loved ones. We care for those in need in our communities. We care about standards of integrity, morality and decency. We are about to celebrate the 300th anniversary of our Grand Lodge. We are privileged to be members of an honourable society of men of which we can all be justifiably proud.
We look to the future with confidence on the foundations laid by our predecessors and held in trust for the time being by every freemason.
I do thank-you all – my beloved brethren.
My beloved brethren – did you think that I had forgotten that important announcement? I have not!
I would like to celebrate my Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro, John Rushworth, who was elected earlier as one of our Provincial representatives on the new Masonic Charitable Foundation and who is also a member of one of the Grand Lodge’s committees to forward the vision and strategy that being: Masonic Halls and Masonic Meeting Places. This illustrates the high regard in which this distinguished brother is held throughout our Province and also at Grand Lodge.
VW Bro. Rushworth today celebrates 20 years of continuous service as an active officer in this province and is to be roundly congratulated for that achievement .
When I was appointed as Provincial Grand Master my first thoughts were focused on the selection of my senior team. VW Bro, Jack Pigott who was an absolute stalwart in holding the fort until my installation expressed a wish to retire. I invited VW Bro. Rushworth with his vast experience from his days as Provincial Grand Secretary to be my Deputy. The rest they say is history. I am so very grateful for the wise counsel of my Deputy who has wisely on a number of occasions gently tempered my innate enthusiasm to get things done quickly. On such occasions, his wise counsel has resulted in a more appropriate and even better outcome for all concerned.
VW Bro. Rushworth feels the time is right for him stand down and has asked to retire. Brethren I can assure you that it was with mixed feelings that I reluctantly agreed to his request – certainly with a heavy heart to lose such an effective Deputy but also with the delight that we will still have such a valuable representative, together with other notable brethren from our province, shaping policy and looking after our interests.
Brethren, I salute VW Bro. Rushworth, now here is a brother to emulate.
So how do I replace such a class act? – with great difficulty I can assure you brethren. There is such a galaxy of masonic stars that shine so brightly in this this province.
After an extensive and thorough selection process I therefore announce that in September I will be installing:
W Bro. Stuart Grantham, as the next Deputy Provincial Grand Master of our Province and I invite W Bro. Grantham to stand.
To allow for certain preparations, it was necessary for me to complete the process of selecting a new Deputy Provincial Grand Master some months ago. To the very, very few who knew that W Bro. Grantham was the man of my choice; I extend my thanks for maintaining the confidence.
My sincere thanks to VW Bro. Rushworth for his on-going outstanding service to freemasonry in general and to our province in particular.
Well done! Though good and faithful servant.
VW Bro. Rushworth will retire at mid-night on the day before I install W Bro. Grantham as Deputy Provincial Grand Master.
The installation will be held at Doncaster in September and full details will be circulated. Now for the real parting motivational message:
As Shakespeare, the bard of Avon wrote:
“there is a tide in the affairs of man, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”.
Let us all take the flood of enthusiasm that abounds here today and throughout our wonderful province.
Let us seize the fortune of the future – starting today!
Join me brethren in the wonderful adventures that lie ahead for us all in our wonderful order. Be justly proud to be a freemason and practice outside the lodge those duties we have been taught within.
Once again we have met upon the level and, until the next time,
We will part upon the square. Thank-you brethren – may the GAOTU bless and preserve you and your loved ones.