Address to the Brethren at the Annual Investiture meeting of Mark Grand Lodge to be held at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London on Tuesday, 12 June 2018
I am delighted to be with you today and to welcome you to this annual investiture meeting – the first in the new format.
In recent years the success of the June meeting has exceeded all expectations with over 2,000 Brethren regularly in attendance. This level of support is very encouraging but with more Brethren attending than can be accommodated here in the Grand Temple, the General Board has decided that a better experience could be achieved by moving the investiture of Brethren receiving promotions in Grand Rank to the September Communication.
As you know, Brethren, the September Communication has traditionally been a short business meeting but I hope that by giving it a new purpose you will feel able to support it in greater numbers not least as an encouragement to those Brethren receiving preferment on that occasion.
There can be little doubt, that today’s attendance is proof of the esteem in which Mark Masonry is held by all its participants and when I look around I experience a feeling of great pleasure that so many of you have travelled great distances to be present.
Brethren, I am now pleased to congratulate all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank this afternoon. The award of a Grand Honour is not something that is given without consideration and is a positive reflection and reward for the dedicated work that each of today’s recipients has carried out. I have no doubt that their preferment will stimulate them still further to promote the Order at every opportunity.
The reports of the General Board this past year have recorded the steady growth of our Order at home and abroad and the Grand Secretary tells me that this trend looks set to continue. I was particularly pleased to note that our Order has expanded into Romania this year and that in the last three months two new Lodges have been consecrated – both of which will meet in Bucharest. Further consecrations are planned and I must thank Right Worshipful Brother Radu Balanescu, Past Grand Junior Warden, the Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Romania for supporting this initiative with such enthusiasm.
Brethren, one of the themes I have noted during the last year is the increasing occurrence of Provinces, Districts and Lodges, at home and abroad, achieving significant anniversaries. I would like to make particular mention of the District Grand Lodge of Singapore which celebrated its
Centenary last August and the Province of Cornwall which reached its 150th anniversary in October. Among the Roll of Lodges, 5 attained their Centenary anniversary and 3 reached their Sesqui-centenary while the Friendship Lodge No. 16 (Province of Devonshire) celebrated its 200th anniversary in March. I congratulate them all.
Whilst all of these celebrations are important, perhaps the most significant milestone this year is the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Mark Benevolent Fund which will be celebrated at the Lincolnshire Festival dinner on Saturday, 7 July under the presidency of Right Worshipful Brother, Reverend Trevor Walker, the Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire. I understand from the Grand Secretary that over 900 people are expected to attend this event which promises to be a fitting celebration of the Fund which has served our Brethren and their dependants since 1868.
Separate from these celebrations, the Mark Benevolent Fund continues its valuable work. The partnership with Hope for Tomorrow which has seen a total of 7 Mobile Cancer Care Units fully funded at a cost of £1.8 million, shortly comes to an end with the last vehicle being handed over to the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in the Province of West Yorkshire.
Last July, at a ceremony at the Honourable Artillery Company, the M.B.F. renewed its long-standing partnership with St. John Ambulance when I handed over the keys of the first of 52 new vehicles to the Duke of Gloucester. This initiative, totalling £3.3 million, will provide St. John Ambulance with a fleet of state of the art ambulances and mobile treatment centres to be stationed across England and Wales, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man replacing the fleet purchased by the M.B.F. some 18 years ago. And I am delighted to announce that we have so far handed over 8 ambulances and 19 mobile treatment centres all of which are in front line use.
The generosity of Brethren and their families in supporting the Royal Parks Walk last May raised over £430,000. These funds have been allocated by the Mark Benevolent Fund to support the work of local Blood Bike Charities across England and Wales by providing motorcycles and cars for use by volunteers transporting human tissue and other emergency medical items. To date, 16 motorcycles and 10 cars have been fully funded at a total cost of £427,000.
This year, Friday, 17 August is National Blood Bike Awareness Day and the Trustees of the Mark Benevolent Fund have selected this date to host an event at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham when 25 of the new vehicles will be dedicated and formally handed over to the individual charities which make up the National Association of Blood Bikes. Further details will be released soon but this promises to be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the Mark Benevolent Fund’s commitment to non-masonic, community based initiatives.
During the last year, one of the Grand Secretary’s key priorities has been to improve communications within and across the Orders administered from Mark Masons’ Hall. A key factor in the success of this new strategy has been the development of a new website and I am delighted to announce that the new website is scheduled to launch later this month. As well as presenting a more professional image of each Order, users will benefit from enhanced functionality and a seamless link across all aspects of social media.
Brethren, the importance of retaining Mark Masons’ Hall as our headquarters has often been the subject of discussion. For over four years negotiations have been underway to agree terms for an extension of the current lease and at times the likelihood of us achieving this goal has appeared far off. I am delighted, therefore, to be able to tell you that favourable terms have, at last, been agreed with The Crown Estate and that a new 125-year lease has recently been signed.
The terms of the new lease are subject to a confidentiality clause which prevents me from sharing the detail with you but I would like to thank Right Worshipful Brother John Edgcumbe, our new Grand Junior Warden, for his very extensive efforts which enabled an acceptable solution to be found.
Brethren, we are fortunate today to have, once again, such strong support from other Constitutions and I should like to welcome them all by name. I would ask that you refrain from spontaneous applause until I have come to the end of what is quite an extensive list:
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Queensland
Most Worshipful Brother Clifton Trevor Isted, Grand Master
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Finland
Most Worshipful Brother Antti Talvitie, Grand Master accompanied by Right Worshipful Brother Seppo Helpio, Substitute Grand Master; Right Worshipful Brother Ville Alanen, Deputy Grand Master and thirteen other Brethren.
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Switzerland
Most Worshipful Brother Richard Hervé, Grand Master accompanied by Most Worshipful Brother Peter Ribi, Past Grand Master and four other Brethren.
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Brazil
Worshipful Brother Alexander Mazolli Lisboa, Deputy Grand Secretary.
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of South East Asia
Right Worshipful Brother David Stewart Rose, Past Grand Junior Warden.
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Greece
Most Worshipful Brother Anastassios Albanis, Grand Master making his first visit to us since his installation earlier this year.
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Gabon
Most Worshipful Brother Alex Bernard Bongo Ondimba, Grand Master accompanied by Right Worshipful Brother Olivier Origuiowe Soungue, Deputy Grand Secretary.
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of the Ivory Coast
Most Worshipful Brother Alain Richard Donwahi, Grand Master accompanied by Right Worshipful Brother Gerard Leconte, Assistant Grand Master; Worshipful Brother Patrick Saramitto, Assistant Grand Master; together with seven other Brethren.
From the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Togo
Right Worshipful Brother Yiva Badohu, Assistant Grand Master; and Right Worshipful Brother Messan Kouevidjin, Second Grand Superintendent.
Now from our own Constitution and with their various deputations:
Worshipful Brother Capt. Arun Brahma Kaicker - RECIPIENT
From SOUTH AFRICA EASTERN DIVISION
Right Worshipful Brother Gordon Edwin Goff, Past District Grand Master
And Worshipful Brother Colin Hewitt Wiggett, Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies – RECIPIENT
From JAMAICA & THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
Worshipful Brother Billon Delroy Young-Chin, Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies
Worshipful Brother Joseph Louis Azzopardi, Past Grand Senior Deacon
From THE RIVER PLATE
Right Worshipful Brother Ernesto Marcer, District Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Justice Mohideen Pierre Haja Rubin, District Grand Master
From HONG KONG
Right Worshipful Brother Herbert Hak Kong Tsoi, District Grand Master and four Brethren
Worshipful Brother Detlev Fenselau,
Past Assistant Grand Standard Bearer - RECIPIENT
Right Worshipful Brother Michael Andrew Cooper, District Grand Master
From THE NETHERLANDS
Right Worshipful Brother Cornelis Van Putten, District Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Jean Verbist, District Grand Master
Right Worshipful Brother Barrie Mansell, District Grand Master
From SOUTH AND EAST CARIBBEAN
Right Worshipful Brother Stephen Brian Cobham, District Grand Master
W.Bro. Emanuele Pucci, Past Assistant Grand Sword Bearer – RECIPIENT
W.Bro. Domenico Grassinin, Assistant Grand Standard Bearer – RECIPIENT
W.Bro. John Wade, Past Asst. Grand Director of Ceremonies - RECIPIENT
Right Worshipful Brother Babatunde Adeyemi Johnson, District Grand Master
From ALEXANDRU VAIDA VOEVOD LODGE, BUCHAREST
Right Worshipful Brother Radu Balanescu, Past Grand Junior Warden, Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Romania accompanied by nineteen Brethren
Let us now welcome our distinguished visitors in our usual manner. [Pause – applause]
Brethren, one of the joys of holding high office is having the opportunity to recognise and reward Brethren who have given exceptional service to our Order.
I have in mind a Brother who has devoted almost 50 years to Mark Masonry – the last 20 years of which have been at the highest level. During that time, he served as one of my Provincial Grand Masters for 12 years followed by 2 years as President of the Mark Executive Committee and a further 3 years as President of the Mark General Board.
For the last 6 years, he has taken an active role in the work of the Mark Benevolent Fund as a Trustee, member of the Worthy Causes Committee and Chairman of the Petitions Committee.
In the other Orders administered from Mark Masons’ Hall I am aware that he has held similarly significant active offices which has discharged with great aplomb.
Such dedication is undoubtedly worthy of recognition. Brother Grand Secretary, please read the citation.
Brother Grand Director of Ceremonies, please conduct Brother Peter Hamilton Rollin to the pedestal to be invested with the collarette and jewel of a Holder of the Order of Service to Mark Masonry. [Pause – applause}
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. [Applause]