I start my inaugural address as the Twelfth Grand Superintendent in and over South Wales by paying tribute to my illustrious predecessor, Excellent Companion David Anthony Westall: to the man, the Mason and as our much loved Leader, for the last 8 years. I will miss his wise counsel, integrity and courtesy and I sincerely hope that I repay the honour he conferred upon me, by his generous recommendation which led to my Appointment by the Most Excellent First Grand Principal, last December.
For the last 7 Years, David’s loyal Deputy has been Excellent Companion Colin Weatherall and I place on record my gratitude to him, on behalf of us all and to all the Past Executive for their dedication, sense of duty and for ensuring that today, I inherit such a well respected Province.
The expressions of good-will here today is palpable and I am most grateful for the hundreds of letters, emails, texts, tweets and messages of support that I and my Executive Officers have received, from within and without South Wales. I realise and appreciate that I am only here as your servant, because of the extraordinary support that I have received throughout my life and in particular, over the 30 years that I have been a Freemason, support and guidance from good men and Masons. Companions whom I respect greatly – many of which are here today.
Companions, alongside our Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, I was honoured to be present in this building on Monday, when we held a Luncheon in support of 7 Hospices, together with Shelter Cymru; all who received substantial grants from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, in celebration of the Craft Tercentenary Year. I wish to place on record my profound gratitude to all of you, who so readily contribute to the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves.
Today, as at previous Convocations of Provincial Grand Chapter, you have generously contributed to charity via Gift Aid envelopes. I would urge you all to please go back to your Chapters and consider using Gift Aid envelopes at all of your Convocations. We can gather much more funds by collecting for charitable causes, this way.
The World in which we live has altered in so many ways, perhaps no more remarkably than in the communications sphere. The communications tools our Companions use daily have changed irrevocably and we must keep up with the platforms they access and use. Provincial Grand Chapter went live on the Twittershpere, last Saturday. Within 12 hours, we had 72 followers on this social media platform, over 100 within 24 Hours and today, in less than one week, we have reached 180.
We will further develop how we can best inform, advise and keep in touch with our Companions using all communications tools at our disposal and I am delighted that Excellent Companion John Purchase has accepted my invitation to be our Royal Arch Provincial Communications Officer, working closely with the Craft Provincial Communications Officer, Excellent Companion Paul Haley; building and sustaining the work he has so ably led on in the Craft.
That said Companions, please do not take devices into our Chapter Rooms or use them at our Festive Boards. Surely we can enjoy each other’s company for a few hours, free of electronic gadgets.
I am supported today by a highly experienced and well qualified Executive Team, who have assumed the mantle to help deliver the very best leadership and support to our membership that we can possibly provide. The baton has been passed from our worthy predecessors; Companions who have so readily given to our Province; Companions with tremendous experience and dedication. We have been strengthened by 2 x Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals, who are well known to you all, respected and admired.
I offer my personal congratulations to those worthy Brethren and Companions who last weekend, received letters of appointment and promotion in Supreme Grand Chapter and in Grand Lodge. Companions, I send out an alert today, that I will be expecting so very much more from our Grand Officers and I will be revamping the current provision of Mandated Grand Officers. I am sure that we all want to see our Grand Officer reporting system as a respected and valuable resource to those individual Chapters for which they will be charged to hold my Mandate; ensuring transparency, fairness and advocating opportunities to reward merit and ability.
This weekend, Craft Provincial Appointments and Promotions letters will arrive, followed very closely by Royal Arch Appointments and Promotions. You will undoubtedly all note a move towards assimilation. We must combine our strengths for the benefit of both the Craft and the Royal Arch and indeed for all our Orders and Degrees and I am so very grateful for the full support of our RWPGM in this development.
In 2010, when my predecessor was Installed, there was only one Officer who was an active officer in both Craft and Royal Arch: the Provincial Grand Janitor/Tyler. Today, Excellent Companion Malcolm Kidd has been joined by our Provincial Grand Scribe E. and Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. I can also announce today that there will be further assimilation with other dual appointments to be made in June, which will include the Provincial Grand Almoner and Provincial Grand Charity Steward.
As a Province, we will continue to develop and integrate Royal Arch Representatives in our Craft Lodges by increasing their visibility and activity. Earlier today, I took my Obligation on that beautiful kneeling stool in the West; designed and crafted by Excellent Companion Des Rees. Companion Des was our Royal Arch Representative Co-ordinator in 2009 and we build on his work and dedication.
South Wales has 70 Chapters, 2 not currently meeting, comprising of 2,180 individual members with a combined membership of 2,695. The UGLE “Future of Freemasonry Strategy” Members’ 11 Step Pathway Guide introduces the Royal Arch, in Step 9, discusses Retention in Step 10 and Retrieval in Step 11.
As a Province, we will roll out the “Talking Heads” Initiative at our Craft meetings, to assist in recruiting Brethren to the Royal Arch. And we will develop the Metropolitan Grand Chapter’s “In Camera Presentation” in our Chapter convocations. I have noted several budding Thespians amongst our membership and I am delighted to enjoy the fulsome support and offer of assistance from Excellent Companion Dr Paul Calderwood in how we implement these initiatives and insert a distinct “Welsh perspective” to our presentations.
As well as active recruitment of candidates for Exaltation, I would like every one of us to ask those Brethren who have (for whatever reason) disengaged from membership of the Royal Arch; to consider rejoining. There are a surprising number out there, Companions; just waiting to be asked to come back. I have asked our Chapter of Progress, who meet Twice per year and whose members deliver outstanding ritual, to assist Province as a vehicle for Step 11. We will actively seek to have these Companions re-join our wonderful Order. There will be no Joining Fee for Unattached Joiners, and the Fees and annual subscriptions will remain at a very reasonable £20.
I am particularly grateful for the full support of Excellent Companion Paul Clement and the other members of the Chapter for assisting me with this initiative and I very much hope that membership of Chapter of Progress, increases 100% within the next 12 months. Once readmitted, I am sure that they will reengage and once again commit to Royal Arch.
I thank the Most Excellent, the Third Grand Principal, Grand Scribe E, Acting Grand Director of Ceremonies, Visiting Grand Superintendents from our Kindred Provinces and Officers of SGC and Provincial Grand Chapter for their expert guidance, support and for ensuring that the highest standards of ceremonial have been witnessed here today.
I offer my personal thanks and gratitude to all those who have made today such a huge success and in particular, the outgoing and incoming Scribes E, the outgoing and incoming Grand Directors of Ceremony, Provincial Officers, the “Set up Team” and for those who will pack away after we close this Convocation and for the ever faithful Officers of Supreme Grand Chapter; Malcolm Bignell, Vivian Telling and Martyn Daley for their particular support.
Companions, we have lots to look forward to: the Consecration of Cwm Rhondda Chapter on 19th April, our trip to London for the Annual Investiture one week later, our Gala Dinner on 26th May and I thank you for the support you have already shown to make this Biennial event another success, in particular for our Past Deputy who is organising and planning the whole event – we are not letting his huge experience and drive go to waste and of course, reconvening here in Cardiff, for our Annual Convocation of Provincial Grand Chapter on 15th June 2018.
Finally Companions, I very much look forward to getting around the Province to support you all, over the next 10 years.
Diolch yn fawr!