Prynhawn da, mae’n bleser bod yma.
Good afternoon, it is a pleasure to be here in Cardiff Bay this afternoon for the launch of the Colonnade Club. Thank you all for making the effort to attend. My name is Ben and I am the Chairman of the Committee. Over the past year or so it has been my great privilege to head a small team of dedicated young Masons in pursuit of something new. We all know that the Colonnade Club is a group of and for young Freemasons in South Wales, but perhaps it would be useful for me to expand upon why it needs to exist and the motivation for its formation.
If you take a look inside the current copy of the Provincial Year Book you will find the Report and Statement of the Provincial Grand Lodge of South Wales, held on 9th May 2014. The Provincial Grand Registrar reports ‘the average age of an Initiate in our Province is 44.8 and that of a Master 59.8 years. At present 78.9% of our members are 51 years or older.’
Even more startling is the prediction that, on current trends, by 2021 some 50% of the Craft will be aged 70 years or older. It is clear then, if we wish for future generations to enjoy Freemasonry as we do, that something needs to be done to arrest the trend of an aging membership.
We are not the first to recognise these statistics. There are approximately 20 ‘light blue’ clubs across the country. Some cater for young Masons, some for those yet to achieve Provincial Grand Rank. Ultimately, they are all trying to achieve the same thing. The shared goal is provide support to those members relatively new to Freemasonry and to encourage interest in the Craft so that it can be enjoyed for many years to come.
We in South Wales have the 7 Point Plan, and the key theme of the 3 Rs (recruitment, retention and retrieval). The Colonnade Club, by its very nature, will organise and host events that tie in with these objectives. For example, young gentlemen with an interest in Freemasonry will be invited to certain social events. Should they like what they see the Club could recommend them to a Lodge within the Province for Initiation. Young Freemasons who may have become a little disillusioned will find that the Club offers them a new interest and a way back into the life of their Lodge. Active members will have the opportunity to advance their Masonic knowledge through a series of Masonic visits and events.
Something that will be new to the vast majority of us in this room is the inner workings of Grand Lodge. You will be aware of the Quarterly Communication meetings that take place at Freemasons’ Hall, and it gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Club is already arranging for its members to attend an event in London this summer. This will be an eye-opener for most of us and I’m sure will prove to be an enjoyable and unforgettable day. Of course, you’ll hear more about arrangements during the next few months.
It will also please you to know that £5 from your membership fee has been allocated as the Colonnade Club’s first contribution towards the 2021 Festival in aid of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution.
Forming an organisation such as this requires a lot of work and I am greatly indebted to my fellow Committee members for their efforts during the last year. Brothers Andrew Grey, Colin Morgan, Sam Williams and Rhys Jenkins have produced a vast body of work which has culminated in today’s event and the Colonnade Club’s optimistic future.
Every member of the Club will have the opportunity to contribute towards its future and shape its outlook. Brethren, the Colonnade Club belongs to you and you will soon be in receipt of a copy of its Constitution. Should you wish to put yourself forward as a potential Committee member in future years you will have the opportunity to do so. We are an experimental and adaptable group. We will discover what works best by trying new things and learning from our experiences.
We would not be here today but for the support, encouragement and advice of our Honorary Members. The Provincial Executive has backed us every step of the way and I was thrilled when they agreed to be associated with the Colonnade Club. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master and Assistant Provincial Grand Masters are exceptionably able and experienced Freemasons who, as I have discovered, are witty and interesting people to spend time with. The Provincial Grand Secretary and I have shared countless emails during the course of forming this Club and I am grateful for his wise words and encouraging presence. I have been fortunate to get to know something of the men behind the chains. The ceremony and dignity of the Executive is important and it only adds to the gentlemen that lead the Province so ably as we attempt to achieve something worthwhile.
Not only do our Honorary Members support the Colonnade Club but they also lend their expertise and time to the man who has agreed to become our inaugural President. We are fortunate in South Wales to be led by a Provincial Grand Master who understands the modern world. Many of you follow him on Twitter and will be aware of the vast amount of work that he undertakes in our Province and beyond. Despite his incredibly busy schedule and long list of commitments he has agreed to be here with us today and has supported us from day one.
Brethren, please join me and show your appreciation for the Colonnade Club’s President, R.W.Bro. Gareth Jones, OBE!