Brethren, your response to the Festival has been tremendous and unflagging. I take this opportunity to thank all of the brethren for their personal generosity and wonderful team spirit in raising funds in so many enjoyable and imaginative ways. May I also thank Lodge Charity Stewards, who are the most crucial people in making any festival a success, and to the Liaison Officers, Area Chairs and my Festival Committee, who carry the huge administrative burden. My especial thanks to our Provincial Grand Master, Most Excellent Grand Superintendent and the Executive for their unstinting support and advice.
We have now entered the final twelve months of the Festival, which is the time when Provinces pull out all the stops. Because of the unprecedented times we find ourselves, it is not possible for us to go for the last big push in the normal way. However, the importance of not only meeting, but indeed exceeding our target has never been more important.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has had an enormous impact on both the RMBI and MCF. The RMBI has been, and continues to be, in the front line of the pandemic. Keeping our residents and staff safe from the virus remains paramount, and has come at an extraordinary cost to the Charity. I am grateful to the MCF for providing an emergency grant of £5 million to the RMBI to help meet these unforeseen costs.
At the same time, the MCF has also incurred additional costs in assisting brethren, their families and indeed the wider community, who have been badly affected by the pandemic either through direct grants, supporting partner charites, like Help the Aged and Mind, and providing matched funding to the UGLE for its COVID Appeal.
Brethren, I hope you agree that supporting the Festival is more important than it has ever been. I urge you to continue to do all that you can. Please support your Charity Steward in his efforts to achieve Gold status in the Festival Awards scheme. If you have already achieved that distinction, let him know you wish to go the extra mile. It is important for us all to continue our regular giving.
These are unprecedented times, which require extraordinary efforts, and for us to find new ways of raising funds. I know this is asking a lot, particularly at a time when not able to meet. However, when the going gets tough the tough get going.
There is much we can still do:
- For all of us who have covenants to extend and possibly increase our existing pledges to Dec 2023.
- Appeal all brethren, who have yet to commit to a Festival Jewel, to do so.
- To explain to all recent initiates who have yet to sign up for a jewel why their support is so vital.
- For us to be innovative and explore every opportunity in the 12 months ahead to raise as much as we can, by all means possible.
So that on the night of the Festival Gala, we can raise a glass and be proud in the knowledge, what we in the Province of South Wales have done all we can to support those in need.
RW Bro Sir Paul Williams JGW,
Chair PGLSW, 2021 RMBI Festival