Address by The Most Illustrious Grand Master
Kessick John Jones
to the Annual Assembly of Grand Council
Tuesday 18 April 2017
Companions, I am so delighted to see so many of you at Grand Council today, and I bid you all a very warm welcome. It is most heartening that you have been able to travel to London to participate in what I am confident will be a happy and joyous occasion, and that many of you will be able to join us at our celebratory luncheon afterwards.
I know that I speak on behalf of you all when I congratulate all the Companions whom I have today appointed to, or promoted in, Grand Rank.
To those Companions, I will say that our Annual Investiture should be a major milestone in your Cryptic careers and I trust that you will remember today for a long time to come. You should need no reminding that your new status brings new responsibilities and I wish you well as you continue to serve both your Councils and Grand Council and, I hope, to play your part in serving society at large.
It would seem logical to begin my address with a glance at the past year, my first year in office, which has been an eventful one. It hardly seems possible that 12 months has elapsed since that wonderful day last April when I was Installed as your Grand Master.
I wouldn’t say that my first year has been a ‘baptism of fire’, but it has certainly been a busy one. Together with a Team of faithful and diligent Active Grand Officers of the Year, most of whom travel at their own expense; we have Consecrated no less than 6 Councils. These were in Crook, in Durham, Southport and Leyland, in Lancashire, London, St Albans in Hertfordshire and Beverley in the District of North and East Yorkshire.
I am also delighted to say that 4 other Consecrations are already in the planning stages and will take place in Newark, Durham, London and Barcelona, later this year.
During the last year I have also installed 3 new District Grand Masters and will tell you more about that shortly.
The usual custom practiced by Keith Hind Council of putting on a demonstration changed last year and I am very grateful for that, as it allowed a personal friend of mine the opportunity of being chosen as a Select Master. The ceremony took place in that Council, under the Banner of McMahon Council and it was a very impressive occasion. I must thank the Thrice Illustrious Master, Right Illustrious Companion Vincent Driver, together with all the members of both Councils. I was further privileged to be with them again in January when the same Thrice Illustrious Master, skilfully installed his successor, Right Illustrious Companion John Harvey my District Grand Master for Northumberland. So, all in all, Keith Hind Council has had a very good year.
I mentioned earlier the 3 new District Grand Masters. In July last year I was privileged to Install Right Illustrious Companion Ken Downes as District Grand Master for Wyvern, this was in consequence of the retirement of Right Illustrious Companion Eric Bourne.
In early October, I had the pleasure of installing Right Illustrious Companion Trevor Sharpe as District Grand Master for Kent following the retirement of Right Illustrious Companion Roger O’Brien.
And in November I was pleased to Install Right Illustrious Companion Bernard Marchant as District Grand Master for Sussex after the retirement of Right Illustrious Companion Brian Wareham.
Not forgetting that in August, Very Illustrious Companion Paul Knight was installed as District Grand Master for South Africa by his predecessor Right Illustrious Companion Pieter Johannes Wessels.
Companions I offered to nip out there and do it myself, but such generosity of heart, fell upon the deaf ears of 86 St. James’s!
During the initial stages of all those Installation Ceremonies I paid tribute to the outgoing District Grand Masters and I now do so again to thank them for their extremely valuable contribution to the Order and for the legacy of good practice that they have bequeathed to their respective Districts. As for the new boys I wish you every success in your endeavours and will monitor your progress with interest!
I look forward to further Installations during the year as they may occur, which will commence with East Midlands in July. And thus, I extend my personal thanks and the gratitude of the Order to Right Illustrious Companion Michel Jolley who has indicated his intention to retire from office this year. If all goes to plan he will be succeeded by Very Illustrious Companion Martin Wilson.
The Silver Trowel and Excellent Master Degrees both continue to act as a magnet for eager and suitably qualified Candidates. The Silver Trowel, now promulgated out to Districts continues to maintain its momentum. I express my admiration of all the Councils that undertook the task of conferring the Degree during the year. The Office of King David is pivotal to the ceremony and demands an excellent standard of ritual.
Grafton Council of Anointed Kings No. 16 still looks after London, the Home Counties, and of course Overseas, their remit also includes the Excellent Master Degree. I am delighted to inform you that the ceremony in Bristol, to which I alluded to in my address last year, has now actually taken place. Yes, we have now completed our first away fixture! In February a Team from Grafton travelled to Bristol and conferred the Excellent Master Degree on 19 Candidates in the “Veils” Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, Bristol, followed by the Silver Trowel in the Royal Arch Temple. It was an amazing experience.
I am truly indebted to the Grand Superintendent, Excellent Companion Alan Vaughan, through whose auspices it was made possible. But most of all I applaud the members of Grafton, for their devotion to the Order and particularly to these two special Degrees. And as far as the Bristol trip is concerned, I thank Ian Currans as the Right Worshipful and Excellent Master and my Grand Principal Conductor of the Work, John Chambers, as King David for two remarkably fine performances – yet again!
For the time being the Excellent Master Degree will continue to be conferred in London, where we have the required equipment. However, if a suitable venue can be identified in somewhere like York, Sheffield or Leeds, I am prepared to explore the possibility of transporting our kit, to the North, to confer the Degree there, thus avoiding the journey to London. So, I ask the District Grand Masters in that neck of the woods, to give it some thought and come up with venues and dates. I will leave that ball in your court!
I intimated earlier that the Silver Trowel and Excellent Master Degrees were continuing to flourish and progress in leaps and bounds. And I can tell you that since last year’s Meeting of Grand Council 104 Companions have received the Silver Trowel with 68 taking the Excellent Master. Together with another 9 Companions who affiliated. Success indeed, however, I still do not intend to change the qualification for either.