Brethren, so now we enter into 2021 and leave behind a dreadful year in so many ways. We have lost friends, family members and Brethren. Many of our members have seen their livelihoods badly damaged or, in some cases, ruined as a result of the restrictions forced upon us. And the organisation we hold so dear has been adversely affected to an extent not seen before in anyone’s living memory.
And as we enter the New Year, that awful feeling of déjà vu is with us again. We cannot meet or socialise, and we do not yet have a date for the resumption of our usual activities.
Yet even in these dark times, we as Freemasons have a great deal of which we can be proud, and even more to which we can look forward in the year ahead. Our work still goes on, with many of our members helping those in need, and others working tirelessly to ensure that much needed funding goes to charities, which are without their usual sources of income. As just one example, I’m sure you all saw news of the huge contributions which went to homeless charities over the Christmas holiday.
And our own RMBI has continued to provide homes and comfort to Brethren and their dependents, with staff working beyond all expectations to keep residents safe during this dreadful pandemic. That is why our 2021 Festival is even more important than ever, and why we must continue to support it as much as we can in this, it’s final year. I know that the Festival committee has plans to launch some exciting events as soon as it is safe to do so. And I hope to recognize those Lodges that have continued to go the extra mile by achieving the coveted Gold award in June at our Provincial meeting.
So, what of the year ahead, Brethren? Well, I for one refuse to be pessimistic about its prospects. We all know that the vaccination programme will be key to unlocking the restrictions which currently prevent our meetings. What can we aim for in 2021? Well, I aim to have a bumper joint Provincial meeting in June, a celebratory church service in September, and a huge gala event in November at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre, to celebrate the end of what I am sure will be a hugely successful Festival.
In addition, and hopefully well before our annual meeting, we are going to have a lot of catching up to do with over 200 prospective members now waiting to join our Lodges, many degree ceremonies to work, installations to enjoy as normal and, brethren, a lot of enjoyment to relish as we meet again, dine with friends as we always have and raise a glass of fraternal friendship in our festive boards.
Brethren, we don’t yet know exactly when these good times will return. But return they will, hopefully within a few months. Until then, I won’t say Happy New year. Rather – hang in there, Brethren. Stay safe and well, and keep looking forward to getting back to everything we know and love; our wonderful Craft, our Lodge meetings and friends once again.
May the Great Architect bless you all.