With Christmas and New Year celebrations now nothing but a dim and distant memory, it’s time to let you all know what has happened since the start of 2017 and, more importantly, what is planned for the first few months of this new year. Brethren, I hardly know where to start – there is so much going on in this wonderful Mark Province of London and of course much of it is there for you all to read and view on the Provincial website.
The new year had hardly begun when we held the Province’s Annual Burns Weekend in Bournemouth. A roaring success, with all the usual favourite Scottish ingredients of Haggis, Kilts, a Piper, entertaining speeches and of course Tom Quinn in rhyme and music, lampooning everything and everyone from foreign and national politicians to his colleagues on the Executive, including yours truly, sporting the kilt for the first time – East End Tartan of course! Next year’s event has been set for 19th to 21st January – we had record numbers this year of 140 – book early for 2018 to avoid disappointment. Information will be issued nearer in the summer.
Immediately after Burns Weekend, the Executive were hard at work, drawing up the Provincial Appointments for 2017/18. A difficult task as usual, as we are blessed with so many hard working and deserving candidates for Provincial Appointment but have such limited scope for awarding these. Offer letters will be issued very soon and the date for your diaries to support your colleagues’ Investitures is Thursday 13th July. 2pm at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street. The highlight of our masonic year and an event not to be missed.
The Executive continue to be extremely busy with their programme of Official Visits. January and February alone will see 22 Delegations and the pictures published on the Website will show what a happy and enjoyable time is had by all who attend. If you are a Provincial Officer and have not yet signed up for a Delegation (or would like to attend even more than you booked for originally) the information and how to contact the Delegations Organiser, Robert Anderson, is on the website. The “Chains” look forward to meeting you throughout the year at these events.
As the photographs which abound on FaceBook and our website testify, the Province donated three motor bikes as “Blood Bikes” in January. These bikes are run on a voluntary and charitable basis and move blood and plasma around various hospitals – the area to be served by our “Mark” bikes will be London and Surrey. It gave me immense pride and pleasure to be able to formally hand over 3 of these wonderfully equipped machines on your behalf – even though after the photo shoot, we had to prise Alan White reluctantly off the bike he was astride!!
Earlier this month, the Provincial Junior Warden’s Official Visit coincided with the Installation of a new WM and his subsequent attempt to achieve the Silver Pin for an “Excellent” Advancement Ceremony. This was W.Bro. Lui Hui of Carnarvon Lodge No. 616. I was delighted to learn that Lui was indeed successful and it will give me the greatest of pleasure to present him with his Silver Pin at our Annual Meeting in July. I am hopeful that there might even be two Silver Pins to present, as the WM of MacDonald Lodge No 104 is also seeking to achieve this distinction on 29th March. Keep a look out for more information on this meeting.
On a sadder note, I must mention the passing to the Grand Lodge Above, of W. Bro. Leo Zanelli, who was very active in his day and instrumental in starting the paper based Newsletter – the forerunner of our Website. He will be greatly missed but has left a tremendous legacy in establishing the tradition of regular communication of news to our Members.
The ease of communication which the electronic age affords us, enables me to make various appeals to the whole of our London Mark Membership – quickly and effectively. So here is something I would be really pleased if a number of you could take some time to consider. There is no doubt that there is a large number of our Lodges who are successful on virtually every front – including recruitment and retention of Members. Sadly there are also a number of Units, where for a whole variety of reasons, membership is dwindling and the Brethren in those Lodges are less able to generate Candidates and fresh blood, which we all recognise as being vital for the future of Lodges. In a few cases, this latter category of Lodge has been designated as a “Lodge of Special Opportunity”, where younger, or even seasoned Mark Master Masons, who wish to become involved in an additional Unit to expand their expertise beyond their current Mark Lodge, will be welcome. For those with a liking and capacity for demonstrating Ritual and Ceremony, they will find the route to the WM’s Chair (and in due time Provincial Office) slightly more accelerated than in a larger Unit where the competition to get off the Stewards’ bench is intense. Full details (as usual!) are on the website. If any Brother would like to know more, please call me or my Deputy, Tom Quinn, for a confidential and no-commitment discussion.
On a much brighter note, I have been pleased to approve the formation of a “Specialist Lodge” – for Brethren with Scouting interests and where the ethos will be for a new unit to adopt Scouting themes and integrate such traditions into the Mark Degree. This will be called the Ralph Reader Lodge and full details are contained in this link. http://www.markprovinceoflondon.com/article/proposed-mark-scouting-lodge-london#overlay-context=article/pgm-writes-february-2017
The date for the Consecration has been provisionally set for Saturday 4th November and anyone interested should email Martin Payne, Organising Secretary on email@example.com.
Looking not quite so far into the future brings me to April. On 25th the Grand Master’s Lodge of Instruction Festival for 2017 will be held in Northampton. You will all recall the wonderful spectacle of the Elevation and Advancement Ceremonies we experienced last April, when London hosted the Festival in Great Queen Street. The support which London received from our sister Provinces was excellent on that occasion and I am anxious that the host Province this year (Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire) should receive a reciprocal level of support from London. An Application Form is available (yes – it’s on the website) and to make the journey a little easier for those of us from ‘South of the River’ this Province will lay on a complimentary coach between Central London and Northampton – returning to Waterloo in time for, say, 11pm departures to your homes.
Brethren do give this your earnest consideration and remember it’s first come first served for a seat on the bus!
And lastly Brethren, I would like to turn your attention again to Charity – that great aspect of our London Mark Masonry, for which our Members are renowned throughout the English Constitution.
Most of you by now will be aware of the 2017 Festival Jewels (lapel badges) being sported by large numbers of Brethren from all Provinces. These are £10 each (about the price of 2 pints at the MMH bar!) and the monies raised are for the Mark Benevolent Fund. If only 50% of our membership purchased one, then from their sale alone the MBF would have enough to buy one Mobile Chemotherapy Unit.
However, the main thrust of our efforts between now and 6th May is towards the Mark Benevolent Fund (MBF) Walk in London on that date. Many of you, individuals and Lodges, have been donating already and as at the middle of this month, London’s total donations stand at over £17,500 and rising faster than we can adjust this text. Do please consider opening up the Donations Link
and giving what you can afford. The Members of the Executive are extolling the virtues of the targeted charity, Hope For Tomorrow, as we go around the Province and it may be that you as an individual could also have a word with your Lodge Treasurer/Charity Steward to engender some collective interest in this particular Appeal. Lodge cheques should be made payable to “Mark Benevolent Fund” and given to your Official Visitor or sent direct to me. Your Lodge name will appear on the list published on the web page. It is also permissible to nominate a Province to be accredited as the donor. As London is not in Festival and with so many of our Members living in Provinces which are now (or might soon be) in Festival, it would be entirely acceptable for a non-London Province to be so nominated. Remember too that donations to the MBF count towards, not only the London Axe award but to the Lodge’s honorifics within the Mark Charity. This leads to the presentation of a Collaret to be worn by the WM or the individual. To those who have already been awarded a collaret, I say, wear your collaret with pride Brethren – both at a Lodge Meeting and at the Festive Board. You will be an ambassador for our Charities and as a conversation piece, the collaret may prove an inspiration for another Brother who has yet to learn what it is for.
Having said all of the above, I will repeat what I have stated on many occasions in the past. Donations to our Mark Charities remain entirely voluntary and must always be within the constraints of each individual’s personal financial circumstances. Likewise the wearing of any lapel badge or collaret is a matter for each individual to decide upon. The Mark prides itself as being the Friendly Degree and I would not like to see that distinction unsettled through any undue pressure being put on a Brother.
Thank you for reading to the end of this New Year message Brethren. We have a vibrant and busy Province, which I am proud to lead and with your continued support I am confident that we are embarking on yet another year of great achievements in all aspects of our Mark Masonry.
Looking forward to seeing you again in the coming months.