Executive Reports

Provincial Grand Master’s Address to Provincial Grand Lodge – 25th June 2018

It is now my great pleasure to address you for the fifth time as your Provincial Grand Master; incredible how time flies brethren !

First and foremost, my congratulations go to all I have been fortunate enough to appoint or promote in Provincial Grand Lodge today. Your new ranks are not given lightly; rather they are a reward for previous services and, perhaps more importantly, an earnest to future exertions. The Craft continues to face challenges to its reputation and to its future; and I hope you will all feel that your new status will encourage you to play a significant role in meeting those challenges for the good of all our brethren.

We have had a momentous year brethren. The tercentenary celebrations came to an end with a remarkable celebration at the Royal Albert Hall; and, of course, we as a Province also played our part in countless local celebrations to mark that important milestone. The Province has worked hard to do its bit to make the 300th year a special one, while responding to some of the broader issues we face. I am hugely indebted to our Provincial Membership Officer and Provincial Grand Mentor, W Bro Neil Evans, who – together with his hard working team – managed to increase our numbers of initiates to well over 400 in the year. For the first time as far as I know, we organized 2 dinners for new initiates and their wives and partners to welcome them into the Province and the Craft. The first of those occasions was a huge success with the ladies in particular seeming to enjoy learning a bit more about what their partners were getting themselves into; and meeting a broad range of senior and new brethren in convivial and enjoyable surroundings. The second dinner will be held next month and I, for one, am looking forward to it hugely. We will assess how these occasions have gone, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the initiative continued for future years.

While initiations have blossomed and bloomed, I continue to be concerned about the number of resignations and exclusions we experience. Brethren I urge you to: think carefully about the candidates we are bringing in; manage their expectations regarding the Craft and the lodge they are proposing to join; look after them with great attention both before and after they have been initiated; make their experiences in lodge enjoyable by learning and delivering good quality ritual and by sharing that delivery with those who can provide that rich experience for them. By all means, get our new brethren to deliver short sections of the ritual too, but only if they are able to learn and deliver it confidently. Throwing them in the deep end can be off-putting for some and allowing them to read the ritual only teaches them that it’s OK to read it rather than learn and deliver it meaningfully. And, crucially, continue to mentor and care for them throughout their journey through masonry. If they don’t attend, get in touch and ask them why, or whether anyone can help. Too often I visit lodges and when I ask about a brother who has not attended, I’m told that he hasn’t been seen for some time, but that no-one really knows why. We sometimes describe ourselves as a caring organization; but frankly I occasionally wonder whether our practices mirror the rhetoric.

In order to help lodges through this process of bringing in and keeping good quality men, the Membership Pathway has been designed and produced. The Pathway, masterminded by R W Bro Peter Taylor who is with us today, provides an easy to use guide for all stages of that process; from considering what candidates a lodge wants to have, identifying suitable men, right through to how we should look after them before, through and beyond the 4 stages of their journey through Pure Ancient Freemasonry. In South Wales, our area membership officers are now in place and training will take place for that team during the recess. Over the next masonic year, the area team will deliver training and coaching in local work groups so that all lodges in the Province will have the opportunity to learn about, and implement, the Membership Pathway. The aim is to further improve our ability to attract good quality men and keep them in the fraternity by reducing the level of resignations and exclusions, especially the number that resign after only a very short period of their membership.

Turning to our 2021 Festival, V W Bro Sir Paul Williams and his committee continue to work extremely hard on behalf of us all to get us to that very challenging target of £5 million for the RMBI. 2018 marks the mid point since the launch of the Festival in 2015, so it is worth taking a few moments to assess how we are getting on and considering what we need to do in the second half to strive for that goal. As you know, every brother who commits to giving at least £500 qualifies for a Festival jewel and so far nearly 3500 have been presented. Paying contributions into the Festival relief chest attracts a special interest rate of 2.25% which is credited to the lodge and to the final Festival figure. So far, that interest rate has earned us £112,000 so I urge all Charity Stewards to ensure that lodge relief chests are transferred to the Festival Chest as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the lower the interest accrued will be.

I can tell you today brethren that at this mid point, nearly £3 million has been transferred to the RMBI, so while we may be doing well, there is still some way to go. We have the hard yards ahead of us. 71 lodges have achieved a bronze award (£500 per member); 10 have achieved a silver award (£800 per member); and 21 Gold awards have been made including those today (the magnificent sum of £1000 per member). Let these be an encouragement to us all to do more and better in this wonderful cause.

Brethren, I continue to urge all members to take that fourth important step in Freemasonry to the Holy Royal Arch. We know that it aids retention in the Craft, but more importantly, it is a beautiful, colourful, meaningful and enjoyable degree which completes your understanding of our story and provides another forum for meeting new and different friends. After the sad death of our much loved Grand Superintendent last autumn, I had the great pleasure of installing W Bro Gerald Rowbottom as the new Grand Superintendent in and over South Wales in March this year. It will not have escaped the notice of many that Gerald and I have set about integrating the Craft and Royal Arch by creating joint roles in the Executive team. And in 2 weeks time we will be holding our first joint Executive meeting to discuss together the issues facing the Province of South Wales. For future years it will be our intention to hold joint discussions on promotions and appointments. We both see a seamless and invisible divide between the Craft and Royal Arch and I encourage all of you to do the same. I would like to see South Wales performing at the level of the best, with well in excess of 50% of Craft members joining the Royal Arch as a matter of course.

I want to express my grateful thanks once again to my Deputy, Assistants and all Provincial officers for the magnificent way they have supported and advised me this year. I assure all new appointees that you have a lot to live up to, though I’m confident you will do so. After 12 years in the role, W Bro George Royle is standing down as our Provincial Almoner. George has served 3 Provincial Grand Masters in the most efficient and effective way; he has overseen enormous changes in the way that the Province deals with petitioners and those in need. We all owe George an enormous debt of gratitude and I know you will wish to join me in thanking him for all his work over many years. Likewise, please also thank W Bro John Theophilus Jenkins Davies who is standing down as our excellent Charity Steward. John leaves a legacy of a Province in good shape to contribute for many years to come to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Finally brethren, I want on your behalf to offer particular thanks to our new Provincial Grand Secretary and his team. W Bro Phil Aubrey has had to step into some big shoes and in the last 2 weeks run Provincial Grand Chapter and Lodge meetings. I am most grateful to W Bro Phil for the huge amount of work he has put in to make today such a success. I also thank our Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, whom I have known for some years now, and his team for the excellent ceremonial as always today; and to the Barry boys who have come up trumps as always in providing a venue and set up that we have all enjoyed.

Brethren, once again I thank all our guests and all of you for attending. May you all have speedy and safe journeys home, until we meet again, may the Great Architect bless and keep you all.

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

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.

Provincial Grand Master’s Address to Provincial Grand Lodge – 26th June 2017

Brethren, thank you for your attendance here this afternoon and may I reiterate my grateful thanks to all our distinguished guests for their continued support and friendship and for coming in such large numbers to help us celebrate our annual meeting. Some have travelled long distances and we very much appreciate their presence here today.

May I also take this opportunity of thanking my Deputy, Assistants and all my Provincial Officers of last year for their sterling work in representing me and supporting the Executive members with sound administration, solid finances and attendances at installations and many domestic and special occasions. The lodges’ warm welcome and unstinting hospitality has been constant throughout the year and I have been greatly heartened by what I have seen and the reports I have received. (more…)

Provincial Grand Lodge 2017 Reports

Provincial Grand Treasurer’s Report

Download a pdf of the Provincial Grand Treasurer’s Report

Provincial Grand Registrar’s Report

Download a pdf of the Provincial Grand Registrar’s Report

Provincial Grand Almoner’s Report

Download a pdf of the Provincial Grand Almoner’s Report

(more…)

Provincial Grand Masters Address to Grand Committee, May 2017

Brethren, first of all may I thank all of you for attending here this evening. This is an important meeting in our Provincial calendar as it gives us the opportunity to present the progress we are making as a Province, outline some of the challenges we face, and discuss – and I use that word advisedly brethren – a few issues of concern which we might address in the coming year. Every lodge should be represented here today and I trust you will take back to your brethren all of the matters we talk about today, though I have to say that has not always been the case in the past. I have often raised an issue with a Worshipful Master during the year – getting away from early starts for Installations is a good case in point – only to find that he has had no knowledge of what I have said at a Provincial committee meeting and that it has not been brought to the attention of the lodge or its committee, even though the address appears online and is printed in full in the Provincial yearbook. Please make sure your lodge members have an opportunity to discuss and debate issues that are covered today.

Brethren, a huge thank you must go to my Executive and the Provincial team for all their support and contributions this year. And I want to express my and my Executive’s grateful thanks for the warm welcome and hospitality we have enjoyed on all of our visits to your lodges. As well as Installations, we have attended domestic meetings and a number of special celebratory occasions since we last met and the Provincial teams have always come away from those meetings with happy hearts and a warm feeling about the fraternal bond which makes our Craft so important to us all. (more…)

Provincial Grand Master’s Address – 27th June 2016

Presented at Provincial Grand Lodge on 27th June 2016

Brethren, the main purpose of our meeting today is to celebrate the end of our masonic year by honouring those whose contributions now – and in the future – have merited appointments or promotions in Provincial Grand Lodge. To all of you so honoured today, my warm congratulations; and as we always say on these occasions, your new rank is meant not only to recognise past achievements, but also to act as an earnest to efforts to come in leading your lodges to a successful future. Brethren, we have much work to do to ensure the future of our Craft and I hope that your preferments today will encourage you to take leading roles in driving forward Grand Lodge’s and this Province’s plans. (more…)