Good afternoon Brethren and Companions. I am delighted to have this opportunity to address you today. It is heart-warming to see you all here at our Annual meeting and I thank you all for taking the time and putting in the effort to attend today, before we all take a well-earned Summer break.
Following a very enjoyable Provincial Grand Chapter, held here this morning, I now take the opportunity of combining all the salient points in this Address.
Brethren, since our meeting last year, we have a new Monarch and in Freemasonry, we have a new MW Pro Grand Master plus 2 RW Assistant Grand Masters. The MW Pro Grand Master has successfully rolled out his Seven-year strategic road map, printed, published and distributed to all via Freemasonry Today.
The message is clear; Each Province is to find the best way to deliver it, combining the indissoluble link between Craft and Royal Arch Freemasonry. In this Province, you will all be aware that for several years, we have merged our former separate Craft and Royal Arch Executives into one “Joint Executive” which will, I have no doubt contribute considerably to the delivery of the Strategy.
The Membership challenge for Craft and Royal Arch Freemasonry must be key areas of focus for all of us. Many Lodges and Chapters have been holding multiple ceremonies, additional ceremonies by dispensation, and have been asking other Lodges and Chapters without a candidate, to work ceremonies on their behalf. This has shown tremendous effort and I congratulate all of those concerned for their commitment, hard work and dedication in respect of maintaining and enhancing our membership. Please keep these actions going, when we start back, in September.
We are in the very positive position of having a significant number of gentlemen waiting to be initiated into the Craft, together with a high number of Craft Masons waiting to be Exalted into the Royal Arch.
I also ask that you speak to any unattached Royal Arch Freemasons in your Lodges about them returning to a Chapter. I’m sure that you will agree that we all need to be ambassadors for Craft and Royal Arch membership.
Brethren, membership is down to us all not just the Membership Team or Membership Officer and we only want the best candidates to become members of the Institution, so please do not solely rely on the successful National Digital Marketing Campaigns and our industrious Membership Officers to bring in new members to your Lodges. Please consider your work colleagues, friends, neighbours, fellow worshipers, sporting colleagues and family for their suitability as Masonic prospects.
We clearly need to invest for the future. There are also many men in our local communities who are of all ages who are looking for what we uniquely offer; friendship, stability and meaning. They could be studying, working hard or be retired or semi-retired. We can meaningfully fill a potential gap for them, and in return they can bring a wealth of skills and abilities to our fine organisation. That future membership of Freemasonry lies in all our hands.
Our great Institution is going through a period of change. Many of our hard working, senior Brethren (who we need more than ever) are reaching the point where they require some support and that is why our future relies upon recruiting, welcoming and mentoring those worthy and suitable gentlemen who wish to join us as well as making those who have resigned from our Lodges and Chapters feel welcome to come back into the fold. This is a task for us all, not just the Membership Team. I would like you all to appoint a Membership Officer at your Installations, over the next 12 months. If you do not think you are able to cover this Office, then please make it an appointment so at least we can communicate with you all with the many innovations that will be advertised soon and to assist the Executive in delivering our Provincial strategy, that will be officially launched in the new Season.
The Joint Executive remains both committed and dedicated to ensuring that our wonderful Province remains productive, content and responsive. We thank you for the warmth of the welcome received as we travel around all our 162 Lodges and 69 Chapters and we will continue to prioritise Membership, Charity and improve Communication. We welcome St. John of Jerusalem Lodge into our Fraternity and we wish good fortune to those Lodges looking to the future and re-purposing themselves in the most appropriate manner for them.
As in every year past, you will no doubt generously contribute to charity via use of the pre-prepared Gift Aid envelopes and other enhanced methods. I would once again urge you to please go back to your Lodges and Chapters and consider using Gift Aid envelopes at all of your meetings. I emphasise the benefit of gift aid and the need to tick the gift aid box on the envelope, if you are a Taxpayer. We continue to see an increase in charitable giving by using these envelopes throughout the Province.
Brethren, as I travel around the Province, I have been amazed by your considerable enthusiasm, commitment, and contribution to charity. I thank you all for every penny that you donate for the benefit of others. Particularly the work the Masonic Benevolent Fund of South Wales, for all they do, and you will have all hopefully seen the fabulous new vehicle to be donated to Prostate Cymru. The first class care given to our tenants of the Geoffrey Ashe Court, in Cowbridge as well as one of our shared Crown Jewels; the RMBI Home at Porthcawl and it is a great personal delight to see Sir Paul with us today, wearing his Chain of Office. This Province also raised £6,000 to support those affected by the terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria, earlier this year. I also record my grateful thanks to the outgoing ProvGChStwd, W.Bro. Phil Saunders for his enthusiasm and drive and I do hope you all bought something off him, on your entry to the Memo today. Thank you, Phil.
I thank the communications element of the Province, from our wonderful Website and Webmaster, the Yearbook Editor, Y Dalaith Editor, our Film maker; Richard Beecher all under the careful moderation of the ProvGCO; Karl Frowen.
Project Hermes went live, and I thank all of you who have taken on this innovation, under the guidance of the Provincial Grand Registrar. You have all worked very hard to achieve this enviable level of user expertise.
I will be leading on the Provincial Strategy, with a small, dedicated Team and all I ask is for your enthusiasm and feed-back. I know how much you love Freemasonry and we have our Tercentenary to look forward to and celebrate, in just a few years’ time. I have asked Dr Baig to be our Provincial Tercentenary Lead and I have every confidence that he will deliver something special as well as us all seeing increases in our overall numbers and in our conversion rate from Brethren (re) joining the Royal Arch.
I offer my personal thanks and gratitude to all of you who have been Appointed and Promoted today. You all richly deserve these accolades. Wear you new ranks with pride for you have all earned that right.
Province is most grateful to those who have made today such an enjoyable success. You know who you are. However, I must in particular, thank the Leadership Team, including the Treasurer, Registrar, Secretariat, Director of Ceremonies and all of our Provincial Officers, whilst representing me on duty and indeed I know that you would join with me in thanking our Stewards and First Aid Team and Caterer together with the Management & Staff of Barry MEMO, for hosting us today.
Please enjoy a safe and pleasant journey home and we look forward to being with you again, when time and circumstance permit.