Provincial AGM – A View from the Gallery

W. Bro Frank O’Keeffe, team writer for the Provincial Media Team, gives his view of the recent AGM.

The view from the balcony by W. Bro Frank O’Keeffe

For those of you who are used to the proceedings, this will all have appeared standard and mundane.

But spare a thought for those Brethren attending for the first time, for whom this will have been an afternoon of spectacular pageantry, clockwork precision, and awe-inspiring attention to detail.

All taking place in the magnificent setting of “Head Office” – the Grand Temple at Freemasons Hall.

The grandeur of the occasion cannot be overstated – row upon row of Grand Officers, Provincial Grand Officers, Masters and Wardens of the lodges in the Province, alongside Master Masons attending for the first time, all resplendent in their Full Dress Regalia.

It suddenly brings home to you the sheer numbers of those with whom you are affiliated.

Those who stand shoulder to shoulder with you, who wish to make a positive contribution to the world in which we all live.

Those who are there for you, should you at any time be “reduced to the lowest ebb of poverty or distress”.

They come from far and wide to pay tribute to, and to support, the Provincial Grand Master and his executive team, who work so tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the continued well-being of our Order.

And to raise a cheer for those who are receiving their first provincial appointment, or promotion, during the ceremony.

The afternoon usually started with the mandatory visits to hostelries within reach of Freemasons’ Hall enabling vocal chords were loosened to ensure that the hymns and National Anthem were sung with gusto! From there the brethren made their way to Grand Lodge, in order to be seated in plenty of time for the official proceedings to commence.

TO ORDER BRETHREN

W. Bro Jim Mitchell, the PGDC, addressed the meeting in order to explain the order in which the proceedings would unfold, for those who were attending Grand Lodge for the first time.

The ceremony then commenced with a procession of some of the current Masters of Lodges into Grand Lodge.

There were 45 lodges represented, which was magnificent to behold.

This was immediately followed by the procession into Grand Lodge of the Pro Provincial Grand Master, R W Bro Peter Baker, with a Guard of Honour formed by the Provincial Grand Stewards, the Provincial Executive, and visiting Dignitaries from other provinces.

To hear the voices of around 800 brethren present singing “So Mote it Be” to the strains of the magnificently renovated organ, and to behold 800 pairs of white-gloved hands saluting with the Grand or Royal sign, raises the hairs on the back of the neck.

20 Master Masons paraded into Grand Lodge under their lodge banners.

Imagine how proud they must have felt, carrying the emblem of their brethren into Grand Lodge, representing their lodge in front of the Provincial Grand Master.

The current Masters of Lodges were greeted by all those present, after which the Pro Provincial Grand Master R W Bro Peter Baker expressed his sorrow at the passing to Grand Lodge Above of those brethren who had passed away since the last meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge.

After that, he greeted individually the visiting dignitaries from other Provinces and also the leaders of other Masonic Orders in Middlesex.

WHERE WERE YOU ?

In many ways, the proceedings of Provincial Grand Lodge are similar to the proceedings on the agenda of your own lodge meetings.

However, the splendour of the surroundings, and the brethren attending, make this an occasion which you should attend as often as you can.

Certainly, as current Master and Wardens of a lodge, your attendance is expected, unless there are pressing reasons for your absence.

But a surprising, and somewhat puzzling, low level of attendance was that of the Master Masons of the Province.

Now that might be because you are under the impression that you are not allowed to attend until you have reached the level of Warden in your lodge. Not true.

As soon as you have passed through your third degree, you are entitled to be present at the annual meeting of YOUR province.

You have the opportunity to discover what has been achieved throughout the past year, and what is planned for the future.

In many ways, it will be a preparation for your own future, as there will be amongst you some who will rise through the ranks, and attain a position within the Executive whereby you will become the leaders of the Province.

Who knows – the future Pro Provincial Grand Master may be reading these very words.

A 2020 THANK YOU

Following the standard agenda items of minutes of the previous meeting, accounts, etc, the Pro Provincial Grand Master expressed his thanks and admiration at the efforts of all, but especially the lodge Charity Stewards, in raising funds for The 2020 Festival.

Certificates of Platinum or Grand Patron status were presented in open lodge to the Charity Stewards of 20 lodges, who had achieved this honorific.

The Pro Provincial Grand Master was then pleased to confirm that the Provincial Grand Master, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, had reappointed V W Bro Barry Cramer, PGSwdB, as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, and W. Bros Paul Huggins PSGD, Robert Rough PAGDC, Peter Annett PSGD, and John Taylor PSGD as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters.

He then thanked W Bro Nigel Codron for his 15 years of service to the Province, with special mention of his success in improving the communication within the Province, and the effectiveness of informing and recruiting non-masons.

This followed W. Bro Nigel’s decision to step down as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

The Pro Provincial Grand Master invested him with a Past Provincial Assistant Grand Master’s collarette in recognition of his stalwart service, after which he invested and installed W Bro John Legget, as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

It is something special to hear the words of appointment, written by HRH Prince Michael of Kent and read out in the sonorous tones of the Provincial Grand Secretary.

It’s a reminder that the very Monarchy of our United Kingdom are inextricably entwined with our endeavours to make the world a better place, and that they take a great interest in our activities.

Much the same as in your own lodge Installation meeting, the active officers of the year were then appointed and invested.

This was followed by the Past Provincial appointments and promotions.

And finally, the PPGM addressed the brethren assembled.

He announced that our provincial 150th Anniversary celebrations will take place in Spring 2020.

W.Bro Rev Frank Wyatt Ward with his Grand Master’s Award of Merit

The Grand Master’s Award of Merit, a very rare honour, was bestowed upon W.Bro Rev Frank Wyatt Ward and presented by the Pro Provincial Grand Master.

Fraternal greetings were extended from the Provincial Grand Master, who was disappointed that Royal business had prevented him from attending in person.

The Pro Provincial Grand Master pointed out that appointments and promotions were made with a view to future activity, not just as a reward for past achievements.

The Provincial Grand Officers Club was recommended to all those newly appointed.

The Pro Provincial Grand Master expressed his thanks to those who had organised, directed and participated in the activities of the day, and for the support he had received during the previous eleven months.

He also thanked all the members of the Province and reminded them that Freemasonry should be both fun, and serious endeavour, in equal measure.

AND IT WAS CLOSED ACCORDINGLY.

Dining in The Grand Connaught Rooms

At the end of the proceedings, Grand Lodge was closed in due form.

The outgoing procession was formed, and the Pro Provincial Grand Master retired.

There was an excellent and enjoyable Festive Board afterwards, held in the Connaught Rooms, after which the grand occasion came to an end for another year.

If you are a Master Mason and didn’t make it this year, make sure you get the date in your diary next year.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to meet with the leaders of the Province -the Province of Middlesex, of which we should all be both proud and supportive.

And as stated above – some of you reading these lines will one day be attending Grand Lodge in your own right, speaking to those who, in turn, will take up the torch, leading our Order into the 22nd Century.

Start practicing now.

View photos of the Rehearsals HERE

View photos of the processions in and out of the Temple HERE

View photos of the reception and dinner HERE

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