Companions it is the normal practise for the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent to send me his address on the Friday night before Provincial Grand Chapter. Just in case he falls under a bus on the way to the meeting. This year, he had his accident before he wrote his address, so today this is my offering, although I have to admit that he did have some input from his sick bed.
Firstly, I would reiterate my thanks to all our visitors today. Many have travelled a long way to be with us and we appreciate your company.
May I congratulate the Provincial Officers who have been appointed or promoted and whom I have Invested today. It does, of course, recognise the work that you have all done both in your Chapters and for the Province and we hope that you enjoy this special year in Office. Some of you will have specific duties to undertake but all are invited to join the Provincial Team at Installation meetings to support both the Province and the Chapters. We do appreciate those of you who attend and we do hope that all of you will attend some of the Installation meetings during your year. Regrettably, the invitation does not extend as far as payment for your meal. This year a small number of the Provincial Officers attended quite a few Installations and I particularly thank them for their support.
Whilst giving congratulations, may I congratulate those Companions who are to receive appointment or promotion in Supreme Grand Chapter.
Tim Jones our DC appointed as Grand Standard Bearer.
John Crowther our new Third Principal as Past Grand Standard Bearer.
And John Phenix our Second Principal promoted to Past Assistant Grand Sojourner.
We look forward to seeing them invested on 27th April when a full coach will be taking members of the Province to the meeting.
Companions, it is still the case, in this province, that only about a third of Craft masons make their way into Royal Arch despite the pronouncements that it is the fourth step in Masonry and it is up to all of us to encourage more of them to join. Of course, in the remaining two thirds there are clearly a number who will never join, some rarely attend their Lodge and their involvement in Masonry is limited.
Likewise, I would never encourage anyone to join until they are ready, I myself was 11 years before I joined, but amongst the remainder, there must be a good number who would benefit from joining the Order.
At the end of the day it is up to the members of each Chapter to recruit but we do attempt to assist wherever possible.
In November last at Worcestershire Installed First Principals Chapter we were honoured by the presence of the Most Excellent Third Grand Principal, Gareth Jones. At the meeting there was a presentation of Talking Heads a presentation intended to be given in Lodges to Craft Masons who are not in Royal Arch. The Grand Superintendent has asked Excellent Companion Geoff Weston, Past Deputy Grand Superintendent, to organise teams to present Talking Heads in Lodges.
It is anticipated that the teams will be ready to start making presentations by September and, if Lodges wish to take advantage of this, they should start contacting Geoff now. There are only 3 teams each consisting of 3 members so it would take a while to get round to every Lodge. If you want to contact Geoff his email address will appear on the website under the news item Talking Heads in the next few days. I do hope that Companions will, where appropriate, encourage their Lodges to host this presentation.
Whilst talking about recruitment may I refer to Lodge Royal Arch Reps. Some while ago we appointed Reps for a two year period. Most have acted for somewhat longer without reappointment but we are now in the process of reappointing or, where appropriate, making new appointments.
There are about 120 Lodges and 40 Chapters so each Chapter should on average have 3 Lodge Reps. It seems to me that there must be some mileage in Reps in each Chapter working together to improve recruitment. I am not sure that this happens and I urge them to get together to see if they can turn that third into a half.
Last year we introduced changes to the Chapter Provincial Reps scheme increasing their responsibility and, I hope, enhancing their status. Reps are now appointed for 2 years with 50% being changed each year. The change appears to have been a success with Reps providing us with additional and valuable information about what is happening at those Chapter meetings which we do not attend.
I thank the Lodge Reps and the Chapter Reps for their efforts and look forward to the continued support I am sure we will receive from those in Office in the coming year.
During the year the Provincial DC organised a very successful demonstration of the Exaltation Ceremony using the Worcestershire workings which was witnessed by nearly 100 companions. We plan to hold a similar demonstration of the Ceremony of Installation in the next year.
Our Provincial Grand Charity Steward, Excellent Companion John Wright, has worked hard this year to encourage giving to and via the Provincial Grand Chapter Charity Fund using Gift Aid envelopes.
Chapters wishing to give to Charities of their choice can still use the Gift Aid envelopes sending the funds to John who will pass on their donation adding any Gift Aid due. Of course, Chapters can also give to our Charity Fund and to the Craft Festival 2022 using our Gift Aid envelopes. Our envelopes are the ones with the writing in red and John has left a supply at the signing in desk for each Chapter to take away.
I would like to thank all of you for attending today and for the members of the Province for their support throughout the last year and, as they say, thank them in anticipation for their support in the next.
I would like to thank our Scribe E Cec Cariss and his team for all their hard work during the year and especially for organising the meeting. Tim Jones and his team of DCs and the Provincial Officers who were all involved in the meeting today. To the Stewards who have moved all the furniture here today and, I hope, will take it away and for all the other work they have and are doing today including, I hope, serving the wine at the festive board. I thank all the members of the 6 host Chapters who have supported us. I thank the sound system personnel for their input (or is that output) and Jeff Whiteley who as well as his sound system also provided the staging.
Excellent Companion Irving Horne has, for a number of years been our Provincial Organist and I thank him for today and for his music at the many Chapter meetings which he supports during the year. Once again, I thank Excellent Companion John Yeates for be being such an enthusiastic, helpful and capable Third Principal during the year and congratulate Excellent Companion John Crowther on being Installed today. I wish him a very happy year in Office.
I particularly want to thank our Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Michael Cole, who will be retiring from that Office in June. Not only is he a tremendous ruler in the Craft but as Provincial Grand Scribe E he was an invaluable guide and advisor in Colins early years as Grand Superintendent and I thank him for his support and wish him good health and happiness in his retirement.
I thank Excellent Companion John Phenix for being such a good Second Principal during the year and for all his hard work.
I am commanded by the Grand Superintendent to thank the Deputy Grand Superintendent.
Whilst he is not here, I thank the Grand Superintendent for allowing me to preside today, even though it was not his intention that I should. Also for the way he has led the Province over the last year. When it comes to his Executive team, he is a really good leader, listening, advising, supporting, directing and delegating.
Finally, thank you for listening to me. When at an Installation I am standing in front of a First Principal, some of whom are a little nervous, I often say to him Remember we do this for fun. Companions do not forget those words!