So who, you might be asking, is this Richard Hawkins who has just become our Assistant Provincial Grand Master. You might be tempted to make a snap judgement based upon his shirt collar, but that might be a mistake.

Richard was born in what is probably the best year in the twentieth century (based purely on the number of Masons I know who share his birth year with him) in what my wife would call the best city in the Universe. Richard grew up in Formby, Liverpool and was educated locally and then later in Bristol. In 1969 he made the first significant career choice of his life when he joined the army and became a Cadet at the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot. In 1970 he was Commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery and so began what became a career of 23 years of service in the Gunners. He left the army in 1993 having attained the rank of Major. During his time in the Armed Forces he Commanded a Battery of 120 men and was Second in Command of a Regiment. His first tour was in Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine followed by a three year tour with the Commando Brigade. During his service he also served three tours in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s and one tour during the Omani Civil War. So part of what makes Richard the man he is was learned in a very hard school.

In 1993 Richard followed a call that he found impossible to resist. That call led him to leave the Army and attend the Theological College at the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield. He was Ordained in 1995 and so began his second career, first as a Curate in Weymouth, then as Parish Priest in Lees. He was for some time the Area Dean of Saddleworth and then was made an Honorary Canon of Manchester Cathedral. It seems appropriate, somehow, to start with Guns and end up as a Canon. In 2016 he retired from full time ministry but continues to work hard. As he says, his workday is usually Sunday. He conducts services almost every weekend covering for colleagues who are unwell or absent, and of course these days there are always opportunities to help out during a vacancy. He is still involved in Diocesan Committee work and remains an Honorary Canon Emeritus of Manchester Cathedral.

Masonically, in 1990 Richard was initiated into Ubique Lodge 1789 which is the Regimental Lodge of the Royal Artillery. He joined Jubilate Lodge No 8561 in 2003 which was when he became a member of our Province. He was first Appointed to Provincial Grand Rank in 2008 when he became ProvAGChap. He was promoted four years later to PProvSGD and then became Provincial Grand Chaplain in 2017, the year when he preached such a moving sermon at the Tercentenary Service held in Manchester Cathedral. One of those services that, if you were there, you will not forget. Then, in 2019……… Richard is a subscribing member of three Lodges, two Royal Arch Chapters and is also a member of the Rose Croix. He gained Grand Rank in 2018 when he was appointed to the Acting Rank of Assistant Grand Chaplain.

Richard is, I think, a very modest man, describing himself as a Bachelor with a widowed sister in Bury. He enjoys walking every day, (and I suspect that he does not mean walking down to the paper shop,) and taking interesting holidays. But read back through this list of the things that he has done and I suspect that, like me, you will realise that this is a man with a lot of determination and a core of iron. I think that he will be very good for us, our Lodges, our Districts and our Southern Area. Welcome to Southern Area, Richard, I hope you have fun with us.