Monday 22 February saw the Virtual Business Meetings of London Installed Commanders and London Installed Mark Masters Lodges.
With attendance figures approaching 70, this was always going to be a brace of good-natured and highly enjoyable meetings. The RAM was under the safe stewardship of its Commander, W Bro Henry Hobson, who steered the meeting through the work and – despite everything – still managed to get retained as Commander for this year! Congratulations again, Henry. Here’s hoping to be seeing you all in person in September!!
The Lodge of London Installed Mark Masters was opened and governed very well by VW Bro Jerry Gangadeen (he of the delicious and calorie-free cakes) who was, as he always is, supremely confident and relaxed. The major items on the paper of business were to elect a Master, a Treasurer and a Tyler. The election of the Treasurer (V W Bro Allan Atkinson, and the Tyler, V W Bro Mark Corcoran) went pretty much as expected. After several re-counts, it was decided to award the prize of election as Master Elect to a Brother who we think may be going places in the Province. R W Bro Thomas Quinn, ProvGM, was therefore unanimously voted in as Master Elect and, as you may well imagine, there were some (expected) slightly ribald observations. We congratulate both Tom and the Lodge on what we know will be a memorable year to come and take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to Allan and Mark for all their continued support.
The Provincial Grand Master then gave a short address, the text of which is below.
V W Bro Jerry then – with a certain amount of relief in his voice – declared the meeting closed. Thank you everyone for making it such a happy time.
“Brethren, you are a very special and important audience, as many of you represent the senior levels within our Lodges and whilst I will be arranging for this Address to be published across the Province, I am confident that you will accept an element of responsibility to ensure that the messages I am about to give, will be cascaded and acted upon as necessary, within your individual Lodges.
Firstly, can I reiterate that the work of the Provincial Executive has continued, unabated, during these past 12 months of Suspension and lockdown. For the Chains, the Executive, the Secretariat and myself this has been no period of respite from Mark Masonry, as I am sure you will have observed from the hundreds of communications delivered through Facebook, email messages to all members, Zoom meetings and dozens and dozens of phone calls. The Virtual Meetings – both formal and social – which have been organised have taken up a considerable amount of what would have been face-to-face or physical meeting time – in fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that we are all looking forward to the eventual end of Suspension, as this virtual Masonic world we have been living in since last March has turned out to be a far bigger elephant to eat than our previous roles in those halcyon days of pre-Covid restrictions.
This is not the time or place to remind you all again of the fantastic things which our wonderful London members have achieved this past year, although I would single out the amounts which, despite an absence of Lodge meetings and Festive Boards, London Brethren have still managed to contribute to charity. But on the eve of the start of the beginning of a new tentative dawn of coming out of Suspension, it’s right that we should start looking now, seriously, at what to expect – probably by this Autumn.
The rescheduled date of our Annual Meeting is Thursday 30 September. Usual time 2pm – usual venue FMH; usual Banquet arrangements at the Connaught Rooms – usual good time to be had by all! At that meeting I will be re-appointing the Active Officers and conferring the usual First Past Appointments and Provincial Promotions. The Provincial Secretariat will issue the usual Appointment letters towards the end of May at which time we will also be in a position to start taking the usual dinner orders and charging the usual small amount for the Connaught Rooms’ dinner!!!
There will be at least 2 RAM Lodges to consecrate at the end of this year and I have a number of MBF Patron Collarettes to present to several generous contributors to our charity. Your Lodges also have dozens of ceremonies to catch up on – Installations of WMs & WCs, Proclamations and Investitures of Officers. And even more importantly – there are around 100 candidates for Advancement. So whilst it is not possible just yet to be certain about actual meeting dates, what is certain is that the future is bright and Lodge Secretaries and DCs need to be working together soon – very soon – to ensure that your candidates are being kept in the loop about potential dates, obtaining regalia etc – and, from a ceremonial perspective, are your Officers, who have been ‘resting’ this past year, going to be up to speed with their Ritual and familiarity with our Advancement, Elevation and Installation ceremonies? Do you think you need to hold your own Lodge LofI? Even just putting a date in the diary might be a most useful step in the right direction. Let’s be prepared for the bright future which we know lies ahead.
The Chains and I are currently working on the next Virtual Awareness Session we will hold by Zoom on 19 May at 7.30pm. The last event was very well attended and received, so please think about supporting this next one – find a Brother or Companion to invite along to listen to what the Mark Degree has to offer. Even if it’s someone who has already expressed an interest, this could be an opportunity to reinforce the message that he has not been forgotten about and that his patience will soon be rewarded by a great ceremony before too long.
We are looking at our list of Lodges of Special Opportunity and determining ways in which this concept can be developed even further, for the benefit of these Lodges, their members (joiners and current) and the Province – all in good time for the commencement of business as usual.
The Government’s cautious approach to easing restrictions will undoubtedly be reflected in the decisions of our own Grand Lodge – but we have come thus far by being careful – so let’s continue to act wisely, stay safe and well and we will meet again.“