Address of the ME Grand Superintendent
At Provincial Grand Chapter
At King George’s Hall, Blackburn
16th March 2017
Companions, my sincere thanks to you all for coming today.
As always, I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Deputy Grand Superintendent, the Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals and the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra for their support and friendship, which I value so highly.
I am very anxious to pay a warm and sincere tribute to EComp Dave Thompson, the Second Provincial Grand Principal who, as you know, retires today. He has always been a great success in that office and is both respected and popular amongst those who know him. In addition, he has been a great friend to me and I have valued that friendship which will always continue. We send our love to his wife Lesley and thank her for the support she had given Dave over many years.
I also wish to thank all the Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals for their hard work and commitment.
Today we have also seen the retirement of EComp Paul Aspinall, the Assistant Provincial Grand Principal for the Northern Area who today completes 15 years continuous years service to both the Craft and the Royal Arch.
Always cheerful and totally dedicated, he has been a good friend to me and I have always valued his advice. Throughout his Masonic career, he has received the constant support of his wife Beryl who has been a great asset to him. We extend to them both every good wish in the future.
I would also like to thank the front line Officers; the Royal Arch District Officers for their enthusiasm and conscientious work.
I can never forget the excellent work of our Provincial Secretariat at Ashday Lea who are the backbone of this Province.
I also wish to sincerely thank EComp Ian Ronson who is retiring today after being the Provincial Janitor for no less than 15 years. I do not know what we would have done without him and I look forward to seeing him frequently in the future.
My thanks go to all those who are retiring from their acting Ranks in the Province and those who are continuing in Office. Thank you for your dedication and support.
I now wish to congratulate all those who will shortly be appointed as Acting Provincial Officers, Past Provincial Officers and those to be promoted in this Royal Arch Province.
This is a very important day for you and I know that you will continue to carry out the excellent work you do in East Lancashire on behalf of the Order.
In the last twelve months the Holy Royal Arch in this Province has continued to flourish. The Third Grand Principal will be pleased to hear that we are proud that over 40% of Freemasons in East Lancashire are members of the Royal Arch in contrast to the national level of a figure nearer to 30%.
I can never rest from encouraging more Craft Masons to join this Order and it would be a wonderful achievement if we could attain a figure of 50%.
As recruitment and retention are my prime concerns and in order to achieve their target, we have run a series of Workshops for Royal Arch Representatives in our Craft Lodges.
It is important that those Representatives in our Lodges do all they can to encourage the Brethren to become Companions at the appropriate time.
We cannot succeed in this endeavour without the complete support of all the Craft Lodges and it is essential in my view that the appointment of a RA Representative in a Lodge is something which is given considerable thought so that the individual appointed is appropriate for the task in hand.
To assist in this recruitment process our literature on the Craft and the attractions of becoming a Freemason will now emphasise connectivity with the Royal Arch by the display of Craft Aprons and the RA Apron together both on the website and in all our Halls. You may have seen examples of those displayed here in King George’s Hall today. This is a new initiative.
The new “Talking Heads” initiative is now being rolled out across this Province and our version crafted by EComp Len Hayes will start at Burnley on the 3rd May. This is an important initiative to increase recruitment into the Royal Arch. Please encourage Master Masons to attend these presentations.
Another new initiative in that we will be issuing a bi-annual newsletter for the benefit, primarily of Craft Lodge Royal Arch representatives.
These initiatives and the Companions Forum which has been up and running since October all show our commitment to developing the Royal Arch.
Whilst mentioning the Forum, can I urge all those Chapter who have not yet provided their details on the Forum to do so as soon as possible.
Can I also at this stage give a plug for the Ceremony of the Veils, which is being worked on the 30 October at Farnworth Masonic Hall. For those of you who have not seen this presentation it gives an insight into the precursor of the Royal Arch and will add to your Masonic knowledge.
Can I also announce that as a result of the renovation of Freemasons’ Hall now known as the Manchester Hall, you will see that the work being done on the second floor is nearly completed. I will formally open that floor on the 13th May this year.
Many of you will be aware that the Masonic Charitable Foundation have allocated a substantial sum of money to each Province to allow grants to be awarded to deserving causes within our area in celebration of the Tercentenary. I am most grateful to the Brethren and Companions who suggested good causes which were deemed worthy; over 60 of you took the time and trouble to do so and I am most appreciative.
I am delighted to announce that the six charities, which have been shortlisted by the MCF and will in due course be the subject of an online public vote are:
- Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme
- The Nicky Alliance Centre
- Mood Swings
- Rochdale Heartbeat
- Team Rise Project
- Talbot House
All of these charities will receive a grant of between £4000 – £25000. We will keep you apprised of the arrangements for the public vote to allow you and your families the opportunity to take part.
At this Annual Meeting last year, I catalogued some of the initiatives we were taking to celebrate the magnificent achievement of 300 years of Freemasonry in 2017.
Both I and EComp Gareth Jones our 3rd Grand Principal and all the Rulers of Supreme Grand Chapter have encouraged all Royal Arch Masons to support as many events as possible. This is a wonderful Anniversary for us all and I believe that in East Lancashire we have a whole host of events which I believe are not only important but which will be happy and memorable occasions.
First of all we have just launched our new Provincial DVD which you can find on our website. It highlights the importance of our younger Brethren and Companions who share their reasons for joining and their enjoyment of Masonry.
Secondly, we have organised a major Dinner and Dance at the Macron Stadium in Bolton on the 10th June. The tickets are going like wildfire and if you haven’t already applied, I think speed is essential and it would be helpful if Lodges and Chapters would arrange for tables of 10 for your membership and wives.
On the 1st July, we have a Teddy Bears Picnic at Hewlett Court in Bury. I am so impressed by the work which has been done already to organise this. It will be a family fun day, with wives, partners, children and grandchildren linking this into the TLC programme.
On the 17th September we will celebrate our Tercentenary by having a multi faith service in Manchester Cathedral. Again this will be a family occasion and I am expecting the Cathedral to be packed.
On the 28th October we will be having a musical extravaganza in this very Hall, which is being organised by our excellent Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra.
In addition to all this we will see each and every Masonic Hall in the Province having an Open Day to welcome visitors and local dignitaries’ to attend to join our Birthday celebrations and we will see the constant use of the new display Trailer which is proving to be a great success which will be available at appropriate functions.
I know instinctively that many of you in your Lodges and Chapters and Districts will also be organising celebrating the Tercentenary in your own way and I am delighted about that.
For this Province, our themes should focus on family, fun, openness, celebration, pride, community and over riding these – recruitment.
I said at this meeting last year that by the end of 2017 many of us would be run off our feet.
However, as some of us may not be around when we celebrate 400 years of Freemasonry – but you never know – I think its worth celebrating this 300th Birthday in fine style even it is exhausting.
Finally Companions, we all in this Hall, are proud of our Masonic membership and on this day in particular of our pride in the Royal Arch.
One of the many advantages of being a Freemason is that we acquire new friends. We meet people of a like mind who prize honour and virtue as
I hope we all do. This aspect of friendship is something I treasure and has been the most fun and the most rewarding part of my life which will remain with me forever.
The retention of old friends and the widening circle of new friends is essential to me particularly for I have a great flaw in my character because I cannot stand my own company.
Those of you who know me well, will understand why!!
As my wife and family will testify, I can easily get lonely and bored.
I much prefer to be surrounded by family or friends, (preferably both) “preferably with a glass in my hand.
My lasting tribute to the Royal Arch is that it has enabled me to meet a widening circle of Companions, who but for this wonderful Order, I would never have otherwise met.
Thank you all for your support and kindness to me and, of course, for your friendship.
I wish you continued success in the coming twelve months.