Brethren, welcome to this rather different September Communication of Grand Mark Lodge, different as this is the first time it has formed the second part of the annual investiture, this second part which, as you will be aware has been for those receiving a promotion in Grand Rank. This trial appears to have been successful and well received by you brethren and after further consultation we will decide if it is to be repeated in the years ahead adopted as the regular format for future investitures.
My first and most important duty is to bring the apologies of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent. He is today on an official engagement elsewhere but he will be attending the church service at Lincolns Inn on Saturday, a service to celebrate 150 years since the formation of the Mark Benevolent Fund.
For Fund has had an incredibly busy and very special year. The 150th Festival was held in Lincolnshire under the presidency of its Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Rev. Trevor Walker and what a splendid occasion it was. The Festival Committee has worked so hard but not only was the event a great success, but the total raised was £853,023, a magnificent total in a Province with 22 Mark lodges.
Next year the MBF Festival will be under the presidency of the Provincial Grand Master for Sussex, R.W.Bro. Martin Wilson and will be held at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton on Saturday 6th July. The Festival Committee have, I know, been working extremely hard and are confident it will be a most enjoyable occasion and i know i am looking forward to the weekend in Sussex by the sea.
On a sad note I inform you of the death on 1st September of Christine Mills, MBE, the founder of the Hope for Tomorrow charity which the MBF has for the last few years been working closely with in providing the funds for eight mobile chemotherapy treatment centres. The loss of its founder will be felt by many, but her legacy will live on continuing to provide a great service to cancer sufferers particularly those living in rural locations.
The National Blood Bike Awareness Day took place on 17th August where we held a major handover event at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham. It was attended by over 180 representatives from both the Mark and the various Blood Bike Charities. Our Grand Chaplain, V.W.Bro. Rev. Bruce Harry, dedicated the vehicles before R.W.Bro. Tony Morris, Deputy President of the Mark Benevolent Fund, formally handed over the keys to 19 motor bikes and 7 cars. The final Blood Bike handover took place on 24th August in Cornwall attended by 120 brethren and supporters.
Our current major project is our partnership with St John Ambulance. On 23rd June at the Annual Investiture service of the Priory of Wales, R.W.Bro. Dr John Wright, President of the Mark Benevolent Fund, accompanied by our Grand Secretary and our Charities Manager, W.Bro. Darren Coleman, handed over the keys to 3 Mobile Treatment Centres and 1 Ambulance to Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Gloucester, Commandant-in-Chief. Vehicle handovers have also taken place in Wiltshire and Devonshire with further ones planned for Dorset and the Isle of Man in October.
Brethren, it is a commitment to you who so generously and willingly support the Mark Benevolent Fund, that through your Provinces and wherever and whenever possible you can be involved in your local projects supported by the Mark Benevolent Fund. This objective is working well and reflects the important role you have in the fund.
Our Order has been busy, two new Lodges that will meet in Romania have been consecrated this year and another will be consecrated in October. The success of these owes much to the hard work of R.W.Bro. Derek Thomas, Past Provincial Grand Master for Monmouthshire who has steered this interest in to great benefit.
Two Scout Lodges will shortly be consecrated. The Ralph Reader Lodge in London and the Scouts Cymru Lodge in South Wales. We wish both of these Lodges success, enjoyment and happiness.
On the domestic front it has been a hectic summer break. July and August saw the completion of the current five year building improvement plan at Mark Masons’s Hall with the installation of a new kitchen and upgrading of the toilets in addition to the usual redecoration work. This marks another significant investment in our headquarters making the building fit for purpose.
Brethren, it was at this meeting last year that I first mentioned the intention to develop a new web site. It has taken longer than expected to develop but it is I believe far better than expected. It covers all the Orders administered from 86 St James’s and whilst it was officially available yesterday it will continue to be further developed over the coming months and indeed into the future so that it keeps pace with your requirements. It can now be found under www.markmasonshall.org
Brethren, not now but at an early opportunity log in, use it and I hope you will find it useful. Its development owes much to the dedication and hard work of V.W.Bro. Bill Divall and W.Bro. Julian Trought. My thanks to both of you for the hours of work you have put into this project.
I would it is now my pleasure to welcome our distinguished visitors and members of our Districts overseas, but I would ask that you keep your applause until I have completed what is quite an extensive list. At the end of which I would ask you to give them your usual very special welcome.
R.W.Bro. Paul Clement, Past Provincial Grand Master for South Wales and the Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master of the Great Priory of the United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple;
R.W.Bro. Sir Frederick Crawford, P.G.S.W., Lieutenant Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Rite;
R.W.Bro. David Williamson, P.G.S.W., Grand Chancellor of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Rite and Past Assistant Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England;
R.W.Bro. Graham Flight. P.G.J.W., Grand Sovereign of the Grand Imperial Conclave of the Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine;
R.W.Bro. Kessick Jones, P.G.J.W., Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters;
R.W.Bro. Tom Jackson, P.G.J.W., Grand Master of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees;
R.W.Bro. Andrew Sweeney, P.G.J.W., Grand Supreme Ruler of the Grand Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor;
V.W.Bro. Ian Currans, P.G.J.O., Grand Summus of the Grand Senatus of the Ancient and Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord;
R.W.Bro. Michael Herbert, Past Deputy Grand Master and Grand Master of the Grand Priory of the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City;
W.Bro. Chris Maiden, P.G.S.D., Grand High Priest of the Grand College of Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and Order of Holy Wisdom.
And from our own constitutions I welcome:
From Jamaica and the Cayman Islands:
W.Bro. Dr Basil Robinson, G.S.D.;
W.Bro. David Thomas, P.A.G.D.C.;
From Hong Kong:
W.Bro. Patrick Edwards, P.G.J.O., Deputy District Grand Master and recipient today;
V.W.Bro. Russell Mason, P.G.J.O., a recipient today;
W.Bro. Robert Bull, P.A.G.D.C.;
W.Bro. Andrew Ritchie, P.A.G.D.C., District Grand Secretary;
W.Bro. Vivien Lee, P.A.G.D.C.;
W.Bro. Che Wing Lee, District Grand Master Overseer;
and W.Bro. Sam Sum Hing Cheng, District Grand Inspector of Works.
W.Bro. Luis Ballerin, P.G.S.D., Deputy District Grand Master, a recipient today;
R.W.Bro. Michael Cooper, District Grand Master,
V.W.Bro. Mark Walton, P.G.J.O., a recipient today,
W.Bro. Allan Morecroft, our Grand Inner Guard,
W.Bro. Joseph Maison, P.G.S.D.;
From the Netherlands:
R.W.Bro. Cornelis van Putten, District Grand Master;
W.Bro. Herman Lioe-A-Tjam, G.St.B., a recipient today,
and W.Bro. Alfons van la Parra;
R.W.Bro. Jean Verbist, District Grand Master;
V.W.Bro. Francis Clarembaux, P.G.J.O.;
V.W.Bro. Daniel Shields, Deputy District Grand Master and today the recipient of the Grand Rank of P.G.J.O.;
W.Bro. Gerard Miltenburg, P.G.J.D., a recipient today;
and W.Bro. Gilbert Denys, P.A.G.D.C.;
R.W.Bro. Barrie Mansell, District Grand Master
and W.Bro. Vicente Climente-Vaslero, P.G.J.D.;
From South and East Caribbean:
R.W.Bro. Stephen Cobham, District Grand Master;
R.W.Bro. Derek Hugh, Past District Grand Master;
W.Bro. Stephen Courtney Gill, P.A.G.D.C., District Grand Secretary;
W.Bro. Jesse Greenidge, P.G.St.B.;
Bro. Gary Kallecharen;
and Bro. Jerome Herrera;
V.W.Bro. Dr Zacchaeus Sowunmi, P.G.J.O.;
Then finishing on a high, I would most warmly welcome two of our Past Pro Grand Masters, M.W.Bro. John Hale and M.W.Bro. Richard Wallis, and our Past Deputy Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Keith Emmerson.
Brethren, please show just how much we appreciate their presence with us today. Brethren, it has been a much busier September meeting than usual and I thank you for your attendance and your attention. It has been a great honour and privilege for me to have been able to individually congratulate those who have today received a promotion in Grand Rank. It marks the invaluable work you have been undertaking in your Provinces, in your Lodges and for Grand Lodge and today that commitment has been recognised. Please continue with that hard work and commitment for it is only by you doing that, that this wonderful Order of ours can continue to prosper. It was Dale Carnegie who once said, ‘people rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing’. Brethren, I hope you are having fun, you are most certainly succeeding.
Before closing Grand Lodge, I would like to express my appreciation to the Grand Secretary and all the staff at 86 St James for their hard work and for the support they give me, and also the support they give to the Deputy and Assistant Grand Masters. My thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies, the Deputies and others who lend their support on various official occasions.
Brethren, thank you for your attention and may God bless you all.