The 2021 Festival for the RMBI held its latest celebration of success in Merthyr, on the 4th February hosted by the historic Loyal Cambrian Lodge No. 110.
The Temple in Merthyr was filled to capacity to receive the Rt. W.Bro Gareth Jones OBE, PGM accompanied by V.W.Bro Roy Woodward DPGM, four of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Provincial Secretary and the Chair of the Festival Committee Sir Paul Williams.
The PGM thanked the Loyal Cambrian Lodge for hosting the event and outlined the importance of the Festival.
Sir Paul Williams was then invited to address the Brethren. He began by thanking the PGM and DPGM for their support and advice as President and Deputy President of the Festival. He then went on to acknowledged the outstanding support he and his committee had received from the Brethren. The feedback he had received from his presentations and visits to Lodges throughout the Province was that the target of £5million was achievable providing as many brethren as possible throughout the Province commit to make a donation of £500 or more.
The easiest way this can be done is through a regular payment promise (RPP) into the Festival Relief Chest (E0043) of £2 per week or more. Such a request is reasonable and affordable for most, but it is possible to extend the period from 5 to 6 or even 7 years. The important message was that the earlier a brother starts his commitment, the longer he has to spread the payments and his contribution will immediately earn an attractive rate of interest in the Festival Relief Chest which will be credited to the lodge total at the end of the Festival.
The RMBI is a very worthy and relevant charity to support in the festival system with over 50% of the Craft projected to be 70 years or over by 2021. The RMBI is a leading provider of dementia care. We are fortunate in having the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court within the Province as a wonderful example of the work of the RMBI.
Sir Paul referred in his address to a number of the most frequently asked questions about the Festival and to some of the misconceptions which still abound about why local good causes should take precedence even when a Province is in Festival.
The most popular myth is ‘If I give to the Festival, all the money goes to London and that’s the last we see of it’- This is simply not the case.
Beneficiaries in this Province receive on average around £900,000 each year from the four central Masonic Charities (GC, RMTGB, RMBI & MSF). This is equivalent to every member in the Province receiving approximately for £140 – £150 each. We receive more than we give. The Festival is an opportunity to top those funds which are given year in year out to beneficiaries. A Festival is wonderful opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the Three Grand Principles of the Order.
The RMBI 2021 Festival will be the last in the current cycle. However, Sir Paul was keen to emphasise it is by no means the end of neither the RMBI nor the Festival system. From April this year the four central masonic charities will be amalgamated under the new Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). The MCF will provide a comprehensive service for Freemasons, their dependents and support for the wider community. The RMBI will continue as before, run as an incorporated company, under the MCF. The RMBI’s care homes; 15 in England and 2 in Wales provide 1,100 beds for elderly Freemasons, their dependants and the wider community. Increasingly the emphasis is on providing specialist dementia care along with residential and nursing beds. Sheltered accommodation is also provided and day services are set to expand including at the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court. Sir Paul has been appointed the Chair of the RMBI Care Company and a Trustee of the MCF. From 2021 all Festival income will be channelled into the MCF which will provide a comprehensive service for beneficiaries.
Sir Paul paid tribute to the Association of Friends of the RMBI for their work in befriending residents and raising funds for extra amenities for residents. The Friends of the AEPOWC are doing an outstanding job under the Chairmanship of W. Bro Alan Gardener, APGM and have recently completed a matched funded scheme with the RMBI for a new hairdressing and beauty salon which will be formally handed over by Mrs Sue Jones and the PGM on the 27th February.
Sir Paul thanked the brethren for their outstanding generosity raising over £2m in the first year of the Festival with some 2200 Festival Stewards Jewels issued. However, he emphasised it would be a mistake to think that raising the rest of the money would be as swift.
To remain on track a further 1800 Brethren will need to be encouraged this year, to make a commitment for a donation of £500 or more and qualify for their Festival Stewards Jewel. That is equivalent to signing up five of the Brethren every day during 2016. We must all support our Charity Stewards and help spread the positive messages and benefits of having a successful Festival.
From here on in the Festival Committee will not be announcing how much money has been raised. We have generated the enthusiasm and ‘a can do mentality’ in the first year, but traditionally Festivals like to have an element of surprise around the final figure. Progress will, however, be monitored through the number of Jewels issued.
Sir Paul thanked his committee for the tremendous support they provide day in day out. At the last Event he had sadly announced the sudden illness W.Bro. Peter Richards, Area Chair West. The Brethren will be delighted to know that Peter is recovering well and everyone sent him their best wishes. W.Bro. Phil Osbourne has been appointed to take over Area Chair West.
The Committee continues to explore every avenue for raising funds including a varied programme of high quality events, merchandising and the new lottery.
Communications is a key part of the Festival campaign and he thanked W.Bro Paul Haley for keeping the Web Page and Social Media streams up to date. He also paid tribute to the Y Dalaith Team for the coverage they provide.
Sir Paul was pleased to see so many Lodges pursuing a number of their own fund raising opportunities which was contributing to them obtaining Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. So far there have been 39 Bronze, 2 Silver and 3 Gold awards.
Following Sir Paul’s address the PGM presented Festival Stewards Jewels to brethren from the following lodges; Loyal Cambrian 110, Henry Pendrill Charles 3769 and Ancient Britons 9672.
Six Bronze Awards (£500 average per member)
- Loyal Cambrian Lodge 110
- Glanogwr Lodge 8508
- Luminary Lodge 8530
- Sure and Stedfast Lodge 8991
- Proscenium Lodge 9059
- Celtic Eagle Lodge 9132
One Gold Award (£1000 average per member)
- Duke of York Lodge 2353