The Most Worshipful Grand Master, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO, gave the following address to 1,600 Brethren assembled at the Grand Lodge Investiture on Tuesday 11 June, 2019.
Brethren, There can be no more gratifying a sight than to see the Grand Temple full of Mark Master Masons from throughout the Constitution and I am delighted that so many of you have travelled great distances to be here today.
During the last year I have enjoyed exceptional support from the Pro Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and Assistant Grand Master all of whom have travelled extensively in England & Wales and overseas. In each case, their reappointment today is an acknowledgement of their commitment to our Order and I thank them for all that they are doing to develop Mark Masonry at home and abroad.
This afternoon I have been pleased to invest over two hundred Brethren with Grand Rank and to each of our worthy recipients, I offer my warmest congratulations.
The award of a Grand Honour is not something that is given without consideration. It is a positive reflection of, and reward for, the work that each of today’s recipients has carried out and I have no doubt that their preferment will stimulate them still further to promote the Order at every opportunity.
Brethren, I have been most encouraged to note the continuing growth of new Lodges as detailed in the reports of the General Board this year. In all, I have approved Warrants for eighteen Mark and six Royal Ark Mariner Lodges with over a third of these being established overseas.
In my address to Grand Lodge last June, I commented on the progress being made in Romania and I am delighted that our Order continues to flourish there with five Mark Lodges now in existence. The Grand Secretary tells me that plans are in place to consecrate further Lodges during the coming year and there is already keen interest from several Craft Constitutions in the Balkans to become part of our worldwide family.
Fostering good relations with other Mark Constitutions around the world is the bedrock upon which our worldwide Mark family is built. I am delighted, therefore, to announce that in September next year we will be hosting the inaugural Mark Keystone Conference here in London.
This will bring together representatives from our daughter and sister Constitutions to discuss how we approach the challenges and leverage the opportunities facing our Order now and in the future. It is hoped that following next year’s launch, the Conference will be hosted by other Constitutions on a 3 or 4 yearly rotation.
Brethren, as Freemasons, charity is at the heart of our craft and I never cease to be impressed by the generosity displayed by Mark Master Masons in support of the Mark Benevolent Fund.
It’s almost two years since I handed over the keys to the first of a fleet of new vehicles purchased for St John Ambulance through a £3.3 million Worthy Causes Grant. This project not only underlined the Mark Benevolent Fund’s commitment to supporting initiatives with a wider community impact but renewed a partnership with St John Ambulance going back almost twenty years. This project is all but complete and I am delighted that all 52 vehicles are now in operation helping to save lives at events throughout England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
The Trustees of the Mark Benevolent Fund are now turning their attention to identifying our next major grant project. This is no easy task Brethren as there are so many projects and initiatives that are worthy of the Fund’s support. However, opportunities to support national programmes in the dementia care, loneliness and prostate cancer sectors are among those being considered with a decision likely by the end of this year.
The activities of the Mark Benevolent Fund are largely funded through the donations made to the Annual Festival which, this year, will be hosted by the Province of Sussex under the Presidency of Right Worshipful Brother Martin Wilson.
The Festival will be held in Brighton on Saturday, 6 July and I am told that the theme of ‘Sussex by the sea’ will conclude several years’ of very active fundraising by the Brethren of the Province. I wish Right Worshipful Brother Wilson, and all involved with the Festival, a very happy and successful occasion.
Brethren, I spoke last June of the increasing occurrence of Provinces, Districts and Lodges, at home and abroad, achieving significant anniversaries – and that continues to be the case.
Later this year, on 28 September, Phoenix Lodge of Mark Masters No.2, Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, will celebrate the first recorded working of the Mark degree under the Warrant of the Chapter of Friendship No. 3. This will be a unique occasion in the history of our Order and I wish all the Brethren involved a very successful meeting.
Brethren, when he was appointed to office in 2017, our Grand Secretary committed to improving communication across all the Orders administered from Mark Masons’ Hall through increased openness and transparency.
I am encouraged to note that through a series of leadership conferences and visits to Provinces, Districts and individual Lodges at home and abroad, more information about our current and future strategy is now reaching the membership.
I very much hope that this more proactive approach is helpful and makes you feel more engaged about the progress of the Order and the strategy we have adopted to meet our chosen objectives.
We have always enjoyed great support from our daughter and sister Constitutions at this meeting and this year is no exception. I should like to welcome them all by name and would ask that you refrain from spontaneous applause until I have come to the end of what is quite an extensive list:
From the United Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Victoria, Australia
Most Worshipful Brother Raymond Peter Julier, Grand Master
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Finland
Most Worshipful Brother Antti Talvitie, Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Ville Alanen, Deputy Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Kaj Holger Lindstrom, Past Deputy Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Timo Antero Majanen, Assistant Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Kimmo Pekka Hellgren, Grand Secretary
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Greece
Most Worshipful Brother Anastasios Albanis, Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Dimitrios Kontesis, Deputy Grand Master
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Switzerland
Worshipful Brother Bernard Wakim, Grand Almoner
From the Grande Loge De Marque De France Réunie
Most Worshipful Brother Gilbert Gasquet, Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Dominique Paquet, Deputy Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Jean-Louis Lesur, Grand Secretary
Right Worshipful Brother Jean-Luc Porquet, Grand Director of Ceremonies
Right Worshipful Brother Thierry Seillier, Grand Master, Province of Flanders
Right Worshipful Brother Christopher Robert Stanley Neill, Grand Tyler
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Estonia
Most Worshipful Brother Toomas Tonise, Grand Master
Most Worshipful Brother Anti Oidsalu, Past Grand Master
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of South East Asia
Right Worshipful Brother Boo Khean Khoo, Past Grand Senior Warden
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Guinee
Most Worshipful Brother Amadou Oury Diallo, Grand Master
From the Grande Loge Des Maîtres Maçons De Marque Du Bénin
Most Worshipful Brother Chakirou Tidjani, Grand Master
Most Worshipful Brother Dominique Doyen, Honorary Grand Master
And from the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Gabon
Most Worshipful Brother Alex Bernard Bongo Ondimba, Grand Master
Now from our own Constitution, and with their various deputations, we welcome:
From South Africa, Eastern Division
Right Worshipful Brother Gordon Edwin Goff, Past District Grand Master
From Jamaica & The Cayman Islands
Worshipful Brother Owen Winston Roxbourgh Francis - recipient
From New Zealand
Right Worshipful Brother Jeremy Eggleton, District Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Ian Dingwall, Past District Grand Master
And Worshipful Brother Anthony Bruce Mansfield - recipient
From The Transvaal
Worshipful Brother Guy Charlesworth - recipient
And Worshipful Brother Timothy John Smith - recipient
From The River Plate
Worshipful Brother Carlos Antonio Thompson – recipient
Right Worshipful Brother Justice Rubin, District Grand Master
Worshipful Brother Ronald Ng, Deputy District Grand Master
And 3 other Brethren
From Hong Kong
Right Worshipful Brother Herbert Tsoi, District Grand Master
Very Worshipful Brother David Fok
And 3 other Brethren
From The Netherlands
Right Worshipful Brother Cornelis Van Putten, District Grand Master
Worshipful Brother Peter Kirpensteijn – Deputy District Grand Master
Worshipful Brother Jan Cornelis Kant - recipient
Worshipful Brother Ekke Plasschaert – recipient
And 11 other Brethren
Right Worshipful Brother Michael Cooper, District Grand Master
Very Worshipful Brother John MacKinnon – recipient
Very Worshipful Brother Mark Walton
Worshipful Brother John McDougall, District Grand Secretary
Worshipful Brother Stephen Barr - recipient
And 18 other Brethren
Right Worshipful Brother Jean Verbist, District Grand Master
Worshipful Brother Daniel Shields, Deputy District Grand Master
Very Worshipful Brother Francis Clarembeaux
And 3 other Brethren
Right Worshipful Brother Barrie Mansell, District Grand Master
Worshipful Brother Terrence Porter, Assistant District Grand Master
W.Bro. Ian Michael Crawford - recipient
W.Bro. Michael Robert Brown - recipient
And 12 other Brethren
Right Worshipful Brother David Marchetti, District Grand Master
Worshipful Brother Edmond Bernard Tondu Elio
And Brother Luis Adolfo Salinas San Martin
From South And East Caribbean
Right Worshipful Brother Stephen Cobham, District Grand Master
Very Worshipful Brother Llewellyn Gill
And 2 other Brethren
Right Worshipful Brother Kofi Adimado, District Grand Master
And 11 other Brethren
Worshipful Brother Marco Badiali
Worshipful Brother Alessandro Brocchi
Worshipful Brother Corrado Pasqui - recipient
Worshipful Brother Michael Cohen - recipient
And Brother Rodolfo De Nardo
Right Worshipful Brother Babatunde Johnson, District Grand Master
Worshipful Brother Laurence Spencer Sams
And Worshipful Brother Emmanuel Bayo Ogunseye-Babajide
Worshipful Brother Jayme Barboza De Freitas Filho - recipient
From New Quarries Lodge No. 1903, Salzsburg
We welcome Worshipful Brother Roberto Ceccon
And Brother Nebojsa Nikoloic
And from our Lodges in Romania
We welcome, Worshipful Brother Cristian Mihutoiu and 19 other Brethren.
Let us now welcome our distinguished visitors in our usual manner.
Brethren, as I approach the 40th anniversary of my Advancement into Mark Masonry, I have reflected on the many changes I have seen in the Order during that time.
I believe we are well placed to develop in the years ahead and in that spirit of optimism I feel sure that our heritage will continue to shape what we become – an enthusiastic Order with a clear purpose and a commitment to supporting our local communities and those in need.
Brethren, today has, once again, been a special day. I am sure that you are all looking forward to the refreshment that follows so I will simply close my remarks by placing on record my thanks to the Grand Secretary and his staff for the behind the scenes work that makes a day like this happen and to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the excellence of the ceremonial we have witnessed.
I wish you all a very happy and successful year in which to further the traditions of our beautiful Order and I hope that you all have a very pleasant evening.