PGO Club – Address by The President

Club President – Peter Baker

Address by The President R.W.Bro. Peter R. A. Baker, ProProvGM at the ‘M.G.O. & P.G.O’ Club on Tuesday 29th October 2019.

This is the part of this evening’s dinner meeting where the programme says that: “The President … … will address the Members of the PGO Club”, so let me turn to some Provincial matters of interest.

Annual Service of Thanksgiving –

First, may I thank all of you who attended the Province’s Annual Service of Thanksgiving at Guildford Cathedral last Sunday together with members of your friends and families.

I hope that you enjoyed the Service, especially the Address given by the Grand Chaplain, VW Bro Revd Dr Simon Thorn, which I thought was exceptional and most thought provoking.

I must also thank Martin Kemble for organising the Service this year, having taking over this responsibility from Mike Karn who has organised the Service for several years, together with all those too numerous to mention now, who made it such an enjoyable and successful occasion for us all.

The 2020 Festival –

Second, may I thank you for voting to make the donation to The 2020 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys from the accrued funds of the PGO Club.

In my opinion, it is responsible and sensible that such accrued funds, which have built up over several years, are to be put a purposeful use now rather than allow them to languish in a bank account earning little or no interest.

So, thank you once again for agreeing to the resolution – you may be assured that the donation is thankfully received and will be faithfully applied.

I assume that you may like to know how The 2020 Festival is progressing ?

Well, I can now tell you that the amount raised to date amounts to a staggering total of £4,068,641, before the addition of the £15,000 donation just made by the members of the PGO Club.

This amount just exceeds the final total for our last Festival in aid of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution ten years ago in 2009, which was raised when we had more Lodges and Chapters and far more members in the Province.

This is a very significant achievement, so Brethren and Companions you may be truly proud of your efforts thus far.

BUT we still have three months to go before the end of the Festival on 22nd January 2020, so please continue with your fund-raising efforts and empty your Relief Chests of those funds that are languishing there and let us together achieve a very significant final total of which are Provincial Grand Master, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, can be proud when the final total is announced at the Festival Dinner on Friday 27th March 2020.

Incidentally, I understand that the Festival Committee will shortly be issuing the details of the combined Festival Dinner and celebration of the Province’s 150th Anniversary, so look out for the details and get you bookings in fast, as space is limited at Plaisterers’ Hall in the City of London.

150th Anniversary –

In mentioning the Province’s 150th Anniversary, you may recall that the Province was consecrated on the afternoon of Saturday 22nd January 1870 at The Clarence Hotel in Park Road, Teddington.

On the morning of that day Burdett Lodge, No. 1293 was consecrated and Colonel Francis Burdett as he was known then – he was knighted a few years later and inherited the baronetcy on the death of his father in 1880 – was installed as its Primus Master.

The reason for this was to allow him to be installed after lunch in the afternoon as our Primus Provincial Grand Master, as he had to be a member of a Middlesex lodge to qualify for appointment to the office.

The Clarence Hotel was built in 1863 in the neo-classical French style of architecture and was listed in 1983 with Grade II status.

It is still extant, but is now known as the Park Hotel, due to its proximity to Bushey Park, and has recently been acquired by Youngs Brewery of Wandsworth and extensively refurbished as a ‘Gastro Pub’.

It is a building of considerable architectural and historical interest and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and I recently visited it to see whether it might be possible to hold a meeting of Burdett Lodge there on Wednesday 22nd January 2020, i.e. the actual day of the 150th Anniversary.

Unfortunately, the interior layout of the building has been extensively altered and internal walls removed and what would have been the room where the both consecrations took place no longer exists.

However, we are looking at another possibility of dining there after the Burdett Lodge meeting, which will be held at Cole Court, Twickenham.

Further information will be made available in due course for those interested in attending this event.

Staines Masonic Hall –

Most of you will know by now that Staines Masonic Hall will be closing before the end of this year, on 19th December 2019, with most of the Masonic units currently meeting there moving to Cole Court, Twickenham.

For those who not already aware, the reason for the closure is that the Centre is no longer financially viable – it lost money in the last financial year and is expected that it will to continue to do so with a shrinking number of units and limited reserves to cover future losses.

Therefore, action needed to be taken now in order to secure the assets sooner rather than later.

Of the five Middlesex Centres, Staines Masonic Hall is unique in that it is owned by a trust, which was created in 1927 when the building was purchased by four Middlesex Masons (known as “the Lodge Trustees”) for and on behalf of Staines Lodge, No. 2536, Spelthorne Lodge, No. 4516 and London Stone Chapter, No. 2536 and ever since then there have always been four “Lodge Trustees” from these three units.

At the end of July these three Lodge and Chapter units each held emergency meetings one after the other and unanimously agreed to the closure and sale of the Hall.

It is anticipated that, once the Hall is sold, the Trust’s assets will be invested in enhancing and extending the facilities at Cole Court, Twickenham to accommodate the additional units moving there and there will inevitably been some inconvenience during the forthcoming transitional period and I would ask for the forbearance of all those who may be affected by the consolidation of the Masonic units at Cole Court.

The closure will involve additional administration for Lodges Secretaries and Chapter Scribe Es as well as the Provincial Executives and Secretariat, with changes in the arrangements for meeting dates and the necessary alterations to By-laws etc, but this has been planned for and the Province will issue any Dispensations that may be needed in the short term free of charge.

I understand that the actual removal of equipment, furniture and regalia etc is well in hand and is being managed by the team at Staines in conjunction with the team at Cole Court.

Most of us do not like change, but change is inevitable, especially today and we must remain positive and embrace it.

I am confident that the decision is the correct one in the long term, both for all the members currently meeting at Staines and for the Province as a whole.

Prince Michael of Kent Court –

At our last meeting in April mentioned the Orangery Project at Prince Michael of Kent Court at Watford, which is one the RMBI Care Company’s 17 Care Homes located in England and Wales.

The Project was completed in July with the Province of Middlesex contributing approximately one third of the cost of the Project, which was largely funded by the Association of Friends of PMK Court, with some initial ‘pump priming’ by the RMBI Care Company.

The Orangery was due to be opened by our Provincial Grand Master in September, which would have coincided with the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Home by him in 1994.

Unfortunately, this has had to be postponed until a date in the New Year yet to be decided, since HRH recently underwent hip replacement surgery.

I am pleased to say that he is recovering well, and I sent him the very best wishes of all the Members of his Province and received a nice response from his Private Secretary asking me to thank you all for our best wishes to him.

HRH has asked to see me at Kensington Palace at the end of November for an update on matters relating to the Province, so it is clear he is recuperating well.

When I made enquiries about the Home and the Association of Friends of PMK Court, I discovered that its catchment area primarily covers the Provinces of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Middlesex, together with the Metropolitan Area of London.

If you go to the Association of Friends website (www.pmkcfriends.co.uk) you will see that their objective is to bring friendship and comfort to the Home’s residents and fund and provide a range of social, leisure and entertainment activities and events, as well as to supply equipment and other items for the benefit of the residents over and above what is provided by the RMBI.

Bearing in mind that this Care Home bears the name of our Provincial Grand Master, I would really like each of our Lodges (and Chapters) to consider becoming a ‘Supporting Lodge’ to help the Association of Friends to fund the numerous events and additional services and equipment that they organise and provide for the benefit of the residents.

At the present time there are 95 ‘Supporting Lodges’ listed on the Association of Friends website, of which only 14 are Middlesex Lodges or Chapters.

The Annual Fee payable for a ‘Supporting Lodge’ is a modest £60 p.a. and would be payable from a Lodge’s, or Chapter’s General Funds, rather than its Charitable Funds.

Please do take this suggestion back to your Lodges and Chapters and ask them to become a ‘Supporting Lodge’ as soon as possible. Thank you.

I should add that the Middlesex Provincial Choir, under the direction of Fred Chandler and the sponsorship of the David Bonner Lodge, No. 9678 (the Musicians’ Lodge of Middlesex), will be entertaining the residents with some festive songs at the Home on Sunday 1st December 2019 at 3.00pm and I invite you to join my wife and myself at this event – details are available on the Association of Friends website (www.pmkcfriends.co.uk), but you will need to let the Home know that you wish to attend, should you wish to get a cup of tea and a mince pie !

Royal Arch Provincial Standard –

At the Royal Arch Province’s Annual Convocation, held at The Twickenham Stoop on Tuesday 9th July 2019, the new Royal Arch Provincial Coat of Arms, the design of which was very promptly approved by Supreme Grand Chapter, was unveiled and it appears to have been well received.

Although the Province does have an old Provincial Standard, which was apparently of an unapproved design, the Royal Arch Executive has commissioned the manufacture of a Provincial Standard bearing this new Coat of Arms and I will be dedicating it on Monday 25th November 2019 on the same day as the regular convocation of Middlesex First Principal’s Chapter, No. 3420.

The Chapter will be called off to allow a Special Convocation of Provincial Grand Chapter to be opened in order to Dedicate the Standard, which will include an Oration by our Third Provincial Grand Principal, Mike Karn, who of course is also the current Prestonian Lecturer.

If you are a member of Middlesex First Principal’s Chapter, I have no doubt that you will wish to make every effort to attend this Convocation, but if you are not a member, as a Royal Arch Mason you will still be very welcome to attend and will need to contact and book in with the Chapter’s Scribe E, Mark Heath ( mark.heath1@icloud.com ), not the Provincial Office, as I anticipate this Convocation will be fully subscribed.

In conclusion, I hope that you have enjoyed our meeting and dinner this evening as well as the companionship of your fellow Freemasons and, of course, the two ‘Beyond the Craft’ presentations given by Chris Weeks (Royal Order of Scotland) and Trevor Dutt (the Order of the Secret Monitor and the Order of the Scarlet).

On your behalf I would again like to express you and my thanks to them for spending the time and effort to put the presentations together for our information and enjoyment.

I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Gary Collins, the PGO Club’s Secretary, for making all the necessary arrangements for this evening’s dinner meeting on your behalf and of course, to Warren Gell, the Club’s Treasurer, for looking after our finances so capably.

Finally, Brethren and Companions, thank you all for attending this meeting of the PGO Club and for listening so attentively to my Address.

Please have a safe journey home and I shall look forward to seeing you around the Province in due course.

May God bless you, your families and loved ones as we are approaching the most important festive season of Christmas in just a few weeks’ time.

Thank you.

Peter Baker
Pro Provincial Grand Master for and
Grand Superintendent in and over Middlesex

29 October 2019

Read a report on the Meeting HERE

2019 October PGO Club Meeting

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