Provincial Communications Committee Chairman, W. Bro David Allan PSGD PAPGM provides a preamble to this report on the proceedings of the Craft and Royal Arch AGMs.
No sooner had the Masonic season restarted that both our postponed Provincial AGMs were held. Both were unusual meetings in as much that only 21 attendees were present at the Royal Arch meeting and 23 at the Craft meeting. All attendees were masked or suitably visored. Socially distanced seating in the Norman Moore Temple proved very successful, and both meetings were conducted in a slightly less formal way than usual.
The day started with the Royal Arch meeting where the main items on the Agenda were to obligate and install E Comp John Eynon, as Deputy Grand Superintendent, succeeding Martyn Farrell, who, after a successful and busy six years, was stepping down from office. John’s successor as Provincial Second Principal is E Comp Peter de Wolfe, who has acted as an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals for several years. The Province has been blessed, for some years now, with a very capable and hard-working team of APGPs and with Peter’s appointment, Robert King was appointed to fill the vacancy.
The ceremonies were all performed with humour and all appointees to their new positions invested themselves.The break saw Cole Court’s Covid 19 procedures tested.
The weather, however, was glorious and lunch was mainly eaten outside.
There was no formality to the meal with the Brethren and Companions dining informally and socially distanced with a choice of dishes to choose from.
In the afternoon, the Craft meeting proved a relatively simple exercise with no investitures, and little business.
To those who attended both meetings, I expect they will remember being part of what will inevitably go down in the annals of the history of the Province as the smallest Provincial AGMs we have ever had.
But it was good to see old friends after so many months of not being able to meet.
Province of Middlesex Royal Arch Annual Convocation 2020
“Companions, I would like to personally thank you all for attending this most unusual Annual Convocation. It is a great shame that the pandemic which still firmly holds its grip on us, has necessitated this change, not just to the way in which we hold the meeting, but also to the date, venue and by not being able to hold our normal investitures. There are some important items to be completed on the agenda, after which we will break and then open Provincial Grand Lodge for a similar style meeting. I know that this meeting will feel a little strange for us all, but we should also be mindful of those who would normally have attended as they have sadly missed out on their big day.”
Most Excellent Peter Baker then called to mind the 53 Companions of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Middlesex called to higher service. The Convocation then stood with the sign of reverence whilst a prayer was read by the 3rd Grand Principal.
The regular business of the 2020 Annual Convocation was carried out with the Report of Provincial Scribe Ezra being accepted as well as the Accounts. E. Comp Howard Walters was re-elected Treasurer of the Province. Other elections to the positions of Auditor were carried.
Presentation to Martyn Farrell –
The Provincial Grand Superintendent made a presentation to E. Comp Martyn Farrell thanking him for his devoted service to the Province and presented him with the Past Deputy Grand Superintendent’s regalia.
“Martyn has served this Royal Arch Province of Middlesex as an Active Officer with distinction for some two decades. He was appointed as a Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2000 and subsequently joined the Royal Arch Executive Committee on being installed as 2nd Provincial Grand Principal in 2012, in which office he served for two years, before he was promoted and installed as Deputy Grand Superintendent in 2014. He has served the Province in the latter capacity for over 6 years, during which time several new initiatives have been introduced to enhance the Royal Arch under his guidance. Martyn, I thank you most sincerely for your commitment to the Order and now have very great pleasure in presenting you with your Past Deputy Grand Superintendent’s Collarette and Jewel together with this rather stylish, crimson paperweight, engraved with the new Royal Arch provincial logo, as a small memento of our grateful thanks to you for your many years of service to the Royal Arch Province of Middlesex.”
Installation of the 3 Provincial Grand Principals –
The Provincial Grand Superintendent then proceeded to Obligate, Invest and Install the new Deputy Grand Superintendent, Excellent Companion John Eynon together with the new 2nd Provincial Grand Principal E. Comp Peter de Wolfe This was followed by the re-appointment of 3rd Provincial Grand Principal E. Comp Mike Karn.
Then followed the re-appointment of E. Comps Chris Weeks and Andrew Elliott as APGPs and the appointment of E. Comp Robert King as APGP.
Confirmation the Appointments of Provincial Grand Officers –
Most Excellent Provincial Grand Superintendent Peter Baker then proceeded to the appointment of the newly appointed and promoted Companions. Altogether 107 Companions had received letters. He expressed his regret that circumstances had not permitted the investiture to take place but would charge the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies with the task of ensuring that all these Companions would be acknowledged at the Annual Convocation in 2021.
Address of The Provincial Grand Superintendent
“Companions, today is an unusual and unprecedented occasion. In accordance with the Royal Arch Regulations, it is mandatory that a Grand Superintendent shall hold an Annual Convocation in his Province, but to do so here in the Norman Moore Temple at Cole Court with a minimal attendance of just two dozen socially distanced Companions, or about 5% of the more usual 400 attendance by members of the Province and their guests, is I am sure a surreal and most distressing experience for both myself and all of you who are present this morning but, more importantly perhaps, for those Companions who are prevented from attending and participating in this Annual Convocation with us today.
Nevertheless, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, I have had the pleasure of obligating and installing E Comp John Louis Eynon, PGStB as Deputy Grand Superintendent in succession to E Comp Martyn Patrick Farrell PGSwdB, and E Comp Peter Michael De Wolfe PGStB as 2nd Provincial Grand Principal, both of whom have self-invested themselves with their respective Chains of Office because of social distancing – surely another surreal experience.
Likewise, E Comp Robert Gordon King PGStB has self-invested himself as the newest appointee as an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals.
These three Companions have already given sterling service to this Royal Arch Province of Middlesex in their individual ways and I have no doubt, indeed, I have a very strong expectation (please note!), that they will continue to do so in the future.
Regrettably though, I have not had the pleasure and privilege of investing all the other Companions who have been honoured with an appointment to or promotion in Provincial Grand Rank this year, but I am sure you will appreciate that the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic make it impossible for me to perform these investitures this year because of social distancing and the maximum attendance currently permitted at convocations. Nevertheless, I reiterate that the new Provincial Grand Ranks all took effect from the original date for this Annual Convocation of Thursday 9 July 2020 and I do hope that you will wear your new regalia with pride during the ensuing Masonic season. I offer you all my sincere congratulations on your preferment which, as ever, comes with the rider that this is not only a reward for the work you have undertaken on behalf of your own Chapter and the Province, but also an expectation that you will continue that important work for our Order in the future and not just ‘sit back on your laurels’.
In particular I wish to express my thanks to the Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals and their teams of Visiting Officers for their diligence in the role of attending, liaising with and supporting our Chapters and their members, which is a very important communications and mentoring role with our Companions.
Today is the start of another Masonic season, which will be vastly different from those that have preceded it, particularly in terms of how we will be able to meet and conduct our Ceremonies. Indeed, as you will be aware, at present we are prevented from undertaking any Exaltation Ceremony to enable our fellow Brethren to complete their Masonic journey in pure Antient Masonry by becoming members of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch, which is most disappointing. Similarly, our various initiatives to stimulate interest in the Order have had to be put on hold for the time being, particularly the “Dialogue with the Royal Arch” presentation and the “Discovering the Royal Arch” seminar that our 3rd Provincial Grand Principal, Mike Karn, was hoping to run at the start of next month. Hopefully, the restrictions imposed by Grand Chapter and the temporary suspension of the presentation and seminar will not be last for too long and we will then be able to cajole and introduce our Brethren to join and experience the beauty and spiritual content of the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem.
I must also thank the Provincial Grand Scribe E and his team, together with the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team, for their efforts with the planning and arrangements for today’s Annual Convocations. Both of them have had to cope with several changes to the planning for this event, as both the HM Government’s and Supreme Grand Chapter’s guidance and rules have continuously changed and evolved to what has ultimately become a very small convocation, but nonetheless time consuming to arrange, and I thank them for their patience and understanding.
Finally, Companions, please keep your spirits up during this ghastly global pandemic, which has had a significant effect on us all. We will get through it eventually and we will gradually start to resume some sort of normality in our Freemasonry but, until then we must be patient and observe the mantra to: ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’.
I hope that you, your families and loved ones will keep safe and well and may the TALGMH bless you all.”
There being no further business to discuss the Annual Convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Middlesex was closed in due form.
Download a copy of the Royal Arch AGM Booklet HERE
Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex Annual General Meeting 2020
On opening the Provincial Grand Lodge AGM the Pro Provincial Grand Master reported on the Passing of 75 Middlesex Brethren to the Grand Lodge above.
The formal business was then conducted with the acceptance of the Minutes of the previous AGM which was held in May 2019. The Accounts were approved and the Provincial Grand Treasurer W. Bro Howards Walter was re-elected. Other reports followed which included those of the various Provincial Officers and Committees including the Provincial Grand Secretary, the Provincial Grand Almoner and the Provincial Charity Awareness Committee. RW Peter Baker pointed out that these reports would be added to Provincial Web Site where they might be read at leisure.
The reappointment of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Barry Cramer, had been confirmed by the Provincial Grand Master, HRH Prince Michael of Kent. Then the reappointment of the current five APGMs was also confirmed.
The New PGOs –
It should have been an auspicious day for the Middlesex Brethren newly appointed or promoted. However, the Pro Provincial Grand Master acknowledged and confirmed all the appointments and hope that the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, W. Bro Jim Mitchell, would find a way of acknowledging these Brethren at the next Annual General Meeting in 2021.
Other Provincial Roles –
A special mention was made of the appointment of W Bro Daniel Graham ProvGStwd to the role of Provincial Communications Officer. The other roles were as follows;
• Provincial Membership Officer – W. Bro Nigel Harris-Cooksley
• Provincial Education Officer – W. Bro Ron Selby
There were also two representatives for the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the following Brethren were reappointed:
• Provincial Grand Almoner – W. Bro Hugh Saville
• Provincial Grand Charity Steward – W. Bro John Briggs
Address of the Pro Provincial Grand Master –
“Brethren, as I mentioned at this morning’s Royal Arch Annual Convocation, today is an unusual and unprecedented event for Freemasonry in general and especially for the Province of Middlesex in its 150th Anniversary year.
In accordance with the Craft Rules in the Book of Constitutions, a Provincial Grand Master shall hold an annual meeting of his Provincial Grand Lodge at which, amongst other things, the appointment of Provincial Grand Officers shall be made, but to be holding our Craft Annual Meeting here in the Norman Moore Temple at Cole Court with a minimal attendance of just two dozen socially distanced Brethren, or about 3% of the more usual 750 or so attendance by the members of the Province and their guests is, I am sure you will agree, a surreal and most distressing experience for both myself and all of you who are present this afternoon but, more importantly perhaps, for those Brethren who cannot now participate in today’s event. This is all because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a catastrophic and devastating world-wide effect on every country’s population and economy and demonstrates what a truly global society we have become, particularly during the last and current millennia.
The effect on Freemasonry has been profound, and for the past five months or so it has not been possible to hold any Lodge meetings, with many of us in lockdown and either social distancing or in self isolation from our fellow Brethren, meaning that we have not been able to enjoy each other’s company and the camaraderie and ritual of our Craft, which I am sure means so much to all of us.
Yet, this ghastly pandemic has presented us with the opportunity to demonstrate that Freemasonry in general and the Province of Middlesex in particular is a force for good in our local communities, with the tremendous response to the Middlesex Covid Relief Appeal in supporting various initiatives that we have and are still undertaking for the most needy, vulnerable and elderly members of our society. Some examples of this can be seen in: –
• The £50,000 that we have shared equally between 10 small charities in the North, South, East, and West of the Province, who have lost vital income
• Our support with supplies for the Foodbanks
• The Meals Initiatives organised by our Brethren and other volunteers at the Harrow and Uxbridge Centres in cooking and supplying up to 3,000 meals a week to provide a daily hot meal to the needy, in conjunction with The Salvation Army, Harrow Voluntary Community Sector Forum and SUFRA – Northwest London in the Harlesden, Harrow, Hayes, Hillingdon and Willesden areas, which looks like it will continue until the end of the year
• The supply of cooked meals to the Key Workers and Staff at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow
• The Samsung Galaxy A tablets supplied to the Covid recovery wards at Hillingdon Hospital and the West Middlesex Hospital at Isleworth to enable patients to communicate with their families and friends from whom they are isolated.
• The ‘goody bags’ of toiletries etc supplied to the Carers and Key Workers at Prince Michael of Kent Court, the RMBI Care Co’s Home at Watford, and the ‘sweetie bags’ supplied to the residents there.
• Numerous other individual initiatives undertaken by members of our Lodges and Chapters.
Some of these initiatives have received acclaim for the Freemasons of Middlesex, particularly from The Salvation Army and the Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, which demonstrates that they are very much needed and genuinely appreciated.
I cannot let this Annual Meeting pass without making an especial mention of the 2020 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. At the end of March, the Chief Operating Officer (and now Chief Executive Designate) of the RMTGB, Brother Les Hutchinson, announced that we had raised the truly magnificent total of £4,519,500 during our 5- year fund-raising Appeal. This is a staggering amount for a Province of our size to have raised and underlines the generosity of Middlesex Freemasons who, despite fewer members, have achieved a higher total than our last two Festivals (for the Grand Charity in 1998 and the RMBI in 2009), which says a great deal, not only about our members, but also our support for our children and young people – the future and next generations.
We could not have achieved this figure without the support of our Centre Charity Teams and all our Lodge and Chapter Charity Stewards, who have worked so hard with their members in every Lodge and Chapter in the Province without exception to achieve such an impressive result, as well as the Middlesex Masonic Charity, the Middlesex Province Relief Fund, and all the other Orders in Middlesex ‘Beyond the Craft’ who have so generously supported this Appeal. The amount raised of £1,001 per member is the second highest figure raised by a Province for any Festival held to date, and is the highest amount raised per member by a Province for any Festival in aid of the RMTGB, so the Festival slogan of: ‘A man never stands so tall as when he kneels to help a child’, is truly something of which we can and should all be immensely proud.
A huge and very special ‘thank you’ is due to the 2020 Festival Committee, of Bros David Allan, Mike Cumper, Stewart Graham, John Briggs and Paul Sully, for their extraordinary efforts in going ‘above and beyond’ in the effective planning and conduct of this 2020 Festival. I am just so very sorry, both for them and for all of you, that the imposition of the Covid lockdown restrictions just three days before we were due to celebrate the end of the Festival at a combined event to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Craft Province, under the presidency of our Provincial Grand Master, HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, meant that we were unable to do so and the event had to be postponed.
Also due to the COVID-19 restrictions, most regrettably I will not be able to have the pleasure and privilege of investing any the Brethren whom the Provincial Grand Master has been pleased to honour with an appointment to or promotion in Provincial Grand Rank this year, but I would remind you that your new rank took effective from Tuesday 12 May 2020, which was the original date for our Annual Meeting and I hope that you are wearing your new regalia with pride. I am sure you will appreciate that the unprecedented circumstances of the current pandemic make it impossible to perform these investitures this year. Nevertheless, on behalf of our Provincial Grand Master, I offer you sincere congratulations on your preferment which, as ever, comes with the rider that this is not only a reward for the work you have undertaken on behalf of your own Lodge and the Province, but also an expectation that you will not ‘sit back on you laurels’ and will continue that work in the future.
Today is the start of another Masonic season, which will be quite different from those that have preceded it in terms of how we will be able to meet and adapt in order to conduct our Ceremonies. Indeed, whilst we are able to Initiate and Pass Candidates, we are currently prevented from conducting any Raising Ceremony to enable our fellow Brethren to become fully-fledged Master Masons and, in due time, complete their Masonic journey in pure Antient Masonry by becoming members of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch. Hopefully this will be a short and temporary measure that will soon be revoked.
At the request of the Craft and Royal Provincial Executive Committees, our four Centres at Harrow, Southgate, Twickenham and Uxbridge have together developed a common strategy for the re-opening of their Centres for the conduct of Masonic business, and the Directors of the Middlesex Masonic Development Fund Ltd have awarded a grant of £10,000 to each of them from the monies that you the members have annually paid, as a contribution towards the additional cost of the measures they need to implement in order to ensure that they are safe and compliant with HM Government guidance and rules and the directives of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Supreme Grand Chapter of England. They too have suffered a loss of income during the last five-month period of lockdown and suspension of meetings and I ask you please to continue your support for them as they have fixed costs to service with much reduced income.
Once again, I must reiterate my thanks to the Provincial Grand Secretary and his team together with The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team, for their efforts with the planning and arrangements for today’s Annual Meeting. Both of them have had to cope with several changes to the planning for this event as both the UK Government’s and Grand Lodge’s guidance and rules have evolved to what has ultimately become a very small Annual Meeting, but nonetheless time consuming to arrange, and I thank them for their patience and understanding.
Finally, Brethren, please keep your spirits up during this ghastly global pandemic, which has had a significant effect on us all. We will get through it, eventually, and will gradually start to resume some sort of normality in our Freemasonry but, until then, we must be patient and observe the mantra to: ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives. So please do stay safe and stay well and look after yourselves, your families and loved ones and may God bless you all. Thank you.”
The business of the Provincial AGM having concluded the Provincial Grand Lodge was closed in due form.
Download a copy of the Craft AGM Booklet HERE
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