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Craft 2018 Appointments and Promotions

Dear Brethren,

I greet you well and attach a Tri-Fold listing the Appointments to and Promotions in Provincial Grand Rank; to be conferred at the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, to be holden on Monday 25th June 2018, at Barry Memorial Hall, Gladstone Road, BARRY, Vale of Glamorgan, CF62 8NA. Download here.

Fraternal regards,

W.Bro. Phillip A. Aubrey, PAGDC
Provincial Grand Secretary

Provincial Grand Lodge of South Wales Accounts 2018

Dear Brethren,

I greet you well and attach the Income & Expenditure, Balance Sheet, Fixed Assets and Y Dalaith Accounts for the Year Ending 31st March 2018. Download here.

Fraternal regards,

W.Bro. John Child, DL, PAGDC
Provincial Grand Treasurer

Address by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent in and over South Wales, Friday 15th June 2018

Companions, on Monday, it will be 100 days since we met in this beautiful Temple; for my Installation at the hands of the Most Excellent The Third Grand Principal. It has been a very busy and hugely enjoyable 14 weeks since that memorable day, including the Consecration of Cwm Rhondda Chapter here on 19th April and our Gala Dinner in Bridgend on 26th May and I must thank everyone who has made me and the Provincial representation so very welcome, throughout our wonderful Province and indeed when visiting our Kindred Provinces; when I have enjoyed the honour of representing South Wales and it is very pleasing to see so many friends here today; who have all made the journey to support us here today, in Cardiff.

The Craft Tercentenary provided us with a wonderful platform to show to the popular and uninstructed World what we are all about and the 426 Initiates we welcomed into our Lodges, in South Wales, provides us with interested and worthy Brethren, whom I sincerely hope will wish to extend their researches into the Holy Royal Arch. Indeed, in 2017, our total number of memberships increased by 24, which was the first increase in real terms since 2007. You will be pleased to know that the figures for 2018 are also encouraging, with both memberships and actual companions showing increases over 2017. You, everyone here today, are the best advertisement for the Royal Arch so please keep asking our friends to consider joining or indeed rejoining our ranks.

To maintain this momentum, it is essential that the Craft Royal Arch Representatives have an opportunity to speak at our Lodge meetings, and I am grateful to the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for his full support and leadership in this aim.

Royal Arch membership is a very special addition to our Masonic journey, Companions. It is something to be hugely proud of and is the gateway to many other Orders & Degrees. We, as one of the larger Provinces in the Constitution enjoy a particular sense of history. Companions, the original Provincial Grand Lodge of South Wales was Consecrated in 1727 and subsequently divided into 2 Provinces (Eastern and Western Division) in 1848. This year we celebrate 10 years since we were renamed as South Wales and as our first Joint Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent, Theodore Mansel Talbot, would no doubt have said in 1848 – “look forward with pride and purpose”.

Your generosity as Companions of the Holy Royal Arch is truly staggering. As well as so generously donating to the 2021 Festival individually (through your membership of the Craft), all our Chapters have also donated to the Festival. To which end, Companion Deputy President (E.Comp Roy) and Chairman (E.Comp Sir Paul), I am delighted to announce that earlier this month, the Provincial Grand Treasurer transferred from Provincial Grand Chapter to the 2021 Festival a sum of £15,000. This brings our Royal Arch total contribution to date to “in excess” of £51,000. A total of which all of you Companions ought to be justly proud.”

As I said in my inaugural address, the current provision of Mandated Grand Officers has been reviewed and the Deputy Grand Superintendent will be in touch with the Officers of Supreme Grand Chapter, after the recess. Your input and invaluable experience will be essential in ensuring that we reward and inspire Companions to fully participate in our future.

I have a simple message; I want no Chapters to close. If you are in difficulty, for whatever reason, please contact the Deputy Grand Superintendent via the Provincial Office and we will do everything in our power to support you. Please do not wait until it may be too late. My colleague, E.Comp David Suter, the Past Provincial 2nd Grand Principal will head up a Team to attend and support Chapters who require support with their ritual. Full contact details will be populated on the Provincial Website.

Quite a few Companions have intimated to me that they would like new Chapters to be consecrated. Again, we will discuss the merits and any pitfalls with you to engender an open and honest conversation. I am certainly not averse to listening to your views. I would also recommend to all of you Installed First Principals to consider joining Hendre and Lord Swansea Chapters, where you will be most welcome.

To improve greater understanding of our joint Masonic direction of travel, we will hold a Joint Executive with the Craft Executive on Monday 02nd July. We have already met as the Executive Appointed today, agreed areas of responsibility and assigned leadership roles to named Officers.

We have today Invested a new Provincial Grand Almoner and Provincial Grand Charity Steward. Both these Officers will shortly also be Invested in the same office in Provincial Grand Lodge, together with the Provincial Grand Scribe E, Director of Ceremonies and Janitor.

The Almoner role has not been used as it was designed in our Chapters. Indeed, the Masonic Charitable Foundation would like queries and petitions to be made by whatever means at our disposal. The Chapter Almoner can help our Companions and families with that contact and also to care and enquire after Companions, if not attending; as they do in some of our Chapters, but not all.

Likewise, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward will liaise with you all to ensure that we are maximising our charitable efforts and being “smarter” with what we collect and give to so many charitable causes, all of which we appreciate and who contribute to the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. Today, once again, you will no doubt generously contribute to charity via Gift Aid envelopes and I would once again urge you to please go back to your Chapters and consider using Gift Aid envelopes at all of your Convocations and I emphasise the benefit of gift aid and the need to tick the gift aid box on the envelope, if you are a Tax payer.

You will no doubt note from the report of the General Purposes Committee, printed in the “Red Book” that should Elected Principals be unable to attend their Regular Installations, the Executive will not automatically expect to return a delegation to the subsequent convocation. However, should the Chapter concerned wish an Active Officer of Province to attend, please do contact the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra.

The quality of the design of the Red Book is in readiness to be populated on line, in the future – so that all of our membership can keep informed and up to date. That said, I am mindful that some of our membership, who are not fully engaged in electronic media, can sometimes feel left behind or disenfranchised. It is vital that we ensure that we communicate with all of our membership in the most appropriate form.

Finally Companions, I offer my personal congratulations to all Companions appointed and promoted today and congratulate all the retiring acting Officers who have been such wonderful Ambassadors for the Royal Arch. I cannot tell you what a great honour I deem it to be the one investing you today, on behalf of the Province.

I offer my personal thanks and gratitude to all those who have made today such a huge and enjoyable success and in particular, the Provincial Grand Scribe E, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremony, Provincial Officers on duty, the Office Team, Cardiff Masonic Hall Management & Staff and the “Set up Team” and for those who will so kindly pack away after we close this Convocation and for the “often unseen guiding hands” of those helping deliver their particular support. You know who you are!

Feel proud Companions, for I am very proud of you!

Access to online yearbook

Due to recent data protection legislation, the online yearbook is now password protected. Please contact your Lodge secretary for the password.

Summons for the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, Monday 25th June 2018

Dear Brother Secretaries,

I greet you well and attach the summons for the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, to be holden on Monday 25th June 2018, at Barry Memorial Hall, Gladstone Road, BARRY, Vale of Glamorgan, CF62 8NA, together with a booking form for Luncheon.

Fraternal regards,

W.Bro. Phillip A. Aubrey, PAGDC
Provincial Grand Secretary

Download the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, Monday 25th June 2018 summons here

Download the Provincial Grand Lodge 2017 Luncheon booking form here

People Facing Homelessness helped to cut through red tape by grant from South Wales Freemasons

People facing homelessness in the Western Bay area will have greater support fighting through legal and administrative bureaucracy, thanks to a grant from South Wales Freemasons.

Shelter Cymru, the Welsh people and homes charity, has been awarded £20,000 to help deliver a unique project entitled “Housing Support Plus” working across the Western Bay area of South Wales (Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot).

This grant will support a vital personal service for people facing homelessness, supporting them at a very difficult time and giving them reassurance. It will see a new Housing Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator recruiting and training volunteers who will themselves directly support more than 200 people or families every year.

The service is aimed at people who are not sufficiently aware of their rights around housing and benefit issues and who need additional support to engage with caseworkers.

There is a special focus on practical issues such as arranging pre-meetings to ensure paperwork is completed, taking notes and providing individuals with a meeting record and information on next steps and actions.

The grant from South Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, the families and friends from across England and Wales.

Michelle Wales, Campaigns Manager at Shelter Cymru, said:
“We greatly welcome this grant from South Wales Freemasons. It will help us to provide essential support to people who often do not have a roof over their heads and who are struggling with bureaucracy.”

Speaking at a presentation in Cardiff, Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Freemasons Gareth Jones OBE said:
“We are very pleased to be able to support Shelter Cymru, who carry out excellent work with some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Provincial Grand Masters Address to Provincial Grand Committee, May 2018

Brethren, thank you for your attendance here this afternoon. As usual, this meeting is an excellent opportunity for us to consider and discuss administrative and procedural issues which would not be appropriate and for which we would not have time at our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in June.

May I start by thanking my Deputy and Assistants, the Provincial team and all South Wales lodges for another successful and enjoyable year. We have celebrated our tercentenary in fine style; made excellent progress on our membership drive; launched our Provincial learning and development tool, PROGRESS; and of course successfully managed significant changes to both the Royal Arch and Craft Provinces.

The 2021 Committee continues to work hard on what I know will be a successful Festival and I am grateful to them, lodge Charity Stewards and all brethren for the first class progress we are making towards our testing target of £5 million. More on that at Provincial Grand Lodge in a few weeks time.

Can I remind all lodges that we have 2 events coming up in the near future. The annual church service will be held at Margam Abbey on Saturday, 19 May and I would like to see as many Grand and Provincial officers as possible there, together with a representative from every lodge in the Province. This is a lovely opportunity for us to worship together as a Province with our wives, partners, families and friends and I have to say that I am disappointed that, so far, over 100 lodges have not even had the courtesy to respond to the very clear letter they have received asking who their representative will be. We have 2 weeks left brethren, so I hope that we will hear from them before then and that W Bro Rev Edward’s church will be full on this once in a year occasion.

Secondly, our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting will be in Barry Memorial Hall on Monday, 25 June. Let’s make a real effort this year to fill the hall and celebrate together all those being honoured with appointments or promotions. I have been concerned for some years that there are some lodges which seem reluctant to support it.

On to a few procedural issues brethren, which I should be grateful if you would take back to your lodges for consideration and implementation as appropriate.
For several years now I have been asking lodges to start their installation meetings later so that working men can attend and so that I can continue to appoint younger Provincial officers without their feeling they have to take time off work or, worse, refuse appointments because of the unreasonable time commitment involved. I see no reason why installation meetings need to start before 5.30 pm, provided lodges adhere to the guidance they have received on efficient ceremonies, undertake good quality ritual and cut down on unnecessary intervals between the ceremony and festive board. Unfortunately my exhortations seem to have fallen on some stony ground so, in order to ensure that Provincial teams attending installations do not feel unduly pressured into early starts, I am instructing them to plan to arrive at Installation meetings no earlier than 5.30. If lodges insist on starting earlier than that, they should be aware that those invited to represent me at the meeting will not be arriving until then.

This is not an excuse to allow proceedings drag on at the end of the evening. Provided things are pushed along at a reasonable pace without unnecessary periods of inactivity, a 9.30 or 10 pm conclusion should be easily achievable.

I have long thought it rather odd that we ask new brethren, Fellow Crafts and Entered Apprentices, to re-enter the lodge after an installed board at the front of the relevant procession. These inexperienced brethren are then expected to perambulate in the proper way, giving the appropriate sign, with no-one to follow or emulate. I should be grateful if lodges would, in future, place Entered Apprentices or Fellow Crafts in second or third place in incoming processions. That should make for a more comfortable experience for them and add to the dignity of the processions.

Thirdly brethren, I have been encouraged by the increases in membership we have seen in the Holy Royal Arch. It is very noticeable that Provinces across England and Wales are more successful where a good quality Royal Arch representative system is in place. We introduced a more robust Royal Arch reps system in South Wales last year, with lapel pins presented to the representatives at installations. I have to say that there are still too many lodges where that does not happen; neither is the Royal Arch rep being given the opportunity to speak for a few minutes at a couple of lodge meetings every year. Brethren, if the Royal Arch rep is not well known to the brethren, is not given the chance to speak and doesn’t have his details outlined on every summons, our brethren will not be properly encouraged to take the fourth important step in Pure and Ancient Freemasonry. This system is an absolutely crucial follow-up to our introducing a candidate to the Royal Arch before he joins the Craft and, most certainly, as he progresses through his interview before joining.

As I have made clear before, I see the Royal Arch as a necessary step for all brethren. I will continue to take committed membership of the Royal Arch into account when considering Provincial appointments and promotions in the Craft.

You will all know I hope of the great strides we are making towards the digitisation of our Yearbook. Like us, many Provinces are making progress towards producing online (and therefore more accurate and up to date) versions of Yearbooks and we are fully committed to doing so here in South Wales. An online version of the yearbook, currently trialled on our website to a limited number of Brethren, is perhaps resulting in fewer brethren wishing to receive the traditional booklet; most certainly we are seeing too many piles of unwanted Yearbooks in some of our Masonic centres. Indeed, many Brethren question why we still produce the hard copy in this digital age.

As a result, and to help in a small way to saving the environment, W Bro Roger Richmond will be contacting all Lodge secretaries this year to ascertain how many physical books are required for 2018-19. We still have to produce both online and physical versions so the cost will remain at the equivalent of £2.50 per member for the time being. Full access to the online book will be made available to all before publication of the hard copy this year. Please take the time to view or download it. I hope that nearly six thousand proof readers will result in as near perfect a hard copy as is possible!

In light of experience this year, I hope we will be able to make still further reductions in numbers of physical books next year. If we find that take up is relatively small, I also hope to be able to announce cost reductions from next year on. And if it makes sense for us to do so, we will also consider integrating the Yearbook cost into annual Provincial dues from 2019 onwards.

I hope you can see brethren that this will result in many benefits: fewer wasted paper booklets; a better and more accessible online version which is bang up to date; and eventually overall reduced cost for all members.

Finally brethren, 2 very important issues coming your way where failure to keep up with legal requirements could result in substantial, occasionally unlimited, fines, as well as significant reputational damage for the lodge, Province and the Craft. These relate to Transgender and Data Protection issues. You will be receiving guidance soon, but my clear message to you is that, if you face either of these issues in your lodge, take immediate advice from the Provincial office and our Provincial Grand Registrar. There is great scope here for us to get things badly wrong brethren so support will be provided to any lodge which finds itself grappling with these difficult subjects.

Brethren, that’s all from me today. I look forward to seeing you all at our Provincial events and lodge meetings over the next few months. Continue to enjoy your Masonry and together let us continue to take our wonderful fraternity forward for many years to come.