At the meeting the Deputy PGM V W Bro Thomas Quinn made a presentation to our retiring PGM, of vouchers to take him and Vanda off on a special holiday aboard the Orient Express – this being paid from the proceeds of the very generous donations made by all the Lodges in the Province to mark the end of David’s reign. The words accompanying Tom’s presentation below. At the end of the speech the Brethren responded with a standing and sustained ovation. Our PGM gave a suitable reply and in thanking everyone for their generous gift, he in turn expressed his enormous thanks for the way in which the Members of the Province have supported him during his 8 years as PGM.
Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master
To me falls the great honour of addressing a few words to you, on the occasion of your final Official Visit within this your Province of London. The town whence you derived your birth and infant nurture for you were born in Limehouse, within the sound of Bow Bells, so can be truly said to be a Cockney – as anyone who has ever heard you speak, can testify!!
Those who know me, will be aware of my interest in researching family names – you can imagine my delight to discover aspects of your character are indeed reflected in the ancient surname ASHBOLT which derives from the medieval English surname Ercanbald – the Ercan, morphed into “Archi” after the Norman conquest and meansgenuine or true. Over time the name became Archie Bald (the Bald part meaning Bold) and over the centuries the whole lot contracted to Ashbolt.
In you Right Worshipful Brother David Ashbolt, we have most certainly had a Provincial Grand Master who is “genuine and true”and most definitely “Bold”. Never afraid to venture forth into those deepest recesses of our wallets where normally our own hands are the only explorers. But always genuinein your appeals on behalf of charity and good causes; and unfailingly true in the application and disbursement of the substantial donations from the generous Brethren of the Mark Province of London.
Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master your boldness, genuineness and sincerity have all been amply illustrated during the 8 years of your leadership. And as we come to the end of your Term of Office, London Mark can most certainly be said to have flourished through your drive, enthusiasm, generosity, kindness and your knowledge of this huge Province of London and the thousands of men ranged under its Banner – a fair cross section of whom sit before you today. A testament to the regard for you Sir – one of the most recognised Provincial Grand Masters inside and outside of his own Province. And it’s not just in Mark that you are a well known and highly regarded figure. Many here tonight are well aware of the excellent support you give to the other Orders managed by Mark Grand Lodge, through your many and varied memberships and your capacity for attracting candidates to them. You have also been a driving force in the organisation of Awareness Events for the Holy Royal Arch, held in this very Temple and when the Royal & Select consecrated a new London Council, you were the obvious choice as the Primus Thrice Illustrious Master.
You are a Trustee of the MBF and you also find time to sit on the Management Board of 86 St James, which directs the catering and administration activities within this building.
But it is within the Mark Degree itself that you have put such an indelible stamp on London. Let me start with the charities you have championed so faithfully. The Minibus Appeal comes immediately to mind. “Driving to help those in need” as penned by Very Worshipful Bro. Peter Cornish. From my visits to our Lodges it is obvious from the number of tie slides still in evidence that the Bre. remain anxious to demonstrate their past support of that worthy cause. 6 Minibuses purchased out of total donations of some quarter of a million Pounds. And there is hardly a Lodge in the Province without its own Junior Warden’s Axe – testimony to those Lodges who raised funds and gave on a corporate level to supplement money donated by individual Brethren.
In addition to the Minibus Appeal you have concentrated your Members’ minds on major donations to the Metropolitan Cyber Knife Appeal, Blood Bikes, Dogs For Good, and Hope For Tomorrow plus a whole host of smaller Charities, too numerous to mention.
You have also promoted support for other Provinces’ MBF Festivals, by ‘encouraging’ the purchase of those wonderful lapel badges. London Brethren support these Annual MBF Appeals to the tune of 1000 Badges each year. That’s £10,000 to kick start each of your fellow PGMs’ Festivals. It is hoped that in 2047, when it’s London’s turn again to host a Festival, the sons and grandsons of our brethren across the Home Counties will have been handed down the legend of the generosity shown by their London predecessors.
Your own championing of worthy causes inspires others to get involved too and generate their own fund raising ideas. Jerry Gangadeen’s cakes and the Heads & Tails competitions at other Provinces’ Annual Meetings have raised thousands, Chris James (sadly missing from our gathering today) and his CD to promote Hope For Tomorrow, Attilio and Edoardo’s public shavings. Marios hard work in building up the 500 Club, whose distributions to Charities and Individual Prize Winners this year has mushroomed to £7,500. Activities all inspired by your example and leadership.
Away from the Charity aspect of our Order, the Masonic side of Mark Masonry hasn’t done too badly either.
When you took over 8 years ago there were 95 Mark Lodges in London. By the end of October this year there will be 105; an increase of 10 Lodges and that despite losing Sydenham and Gibraltar Lodges from our London Roll. The number of Members has also increased as a result – which leads me to mention your promotion and attendance at our highly successful Awareness Events, whose format is now being copied by other Provinces. It is not an accident that London is a significant force within the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England & Wales and its Districts and Lodges Overseas.
Attendance on Delegations has been one of your pet initiatives too. Each year around 80 of our Lodges all receive an Official Visit from one of your Chains or Wardens and you have encouraged attendance by as many Provincial Officers as each Temple may permit. On occasion we have had to turn away applicants to attend Delegations, as there were more bums than the seats could accommodate. As can be seen by the turnout today, attendance on Delegations has become an integral and enjoyable aspect of Provincial Rank in our Province and all the Chains are hopeful that this will remain so for a long time to come.
You have promoted Ritual & Ceremony in our Advancement and Elevation Ceremonies through your acceptance in 2017 of the Presidency of the Grand Master’s Lodge of Instruction Festival. And to take that Festival to Freemasons Hall at Great Queen Street was a marketing coup of unparalleled proportions. Unique in the 100 years plus history of that Institution and showcasing the talents of so many London Brethren, who make up the backbone of the Grand Masters Lodge of Instruction.
Little wonder that in recent years we have had a steady stream of Masters striving to win the coveted Silver Pin for an Excellent Advancement Ceremony.
Under your reign David, communication has improved significantly. From its small beginnings and the hard work put in by such dedicated brethren as Bill Divall, Alan White, Henry ‘Snappy Snaps’ Hobson and many others, we have a terrific Website which teems with photographs, interesting articles and information about our wonderful Province of London.
Our Social Activities have benefitted too from our Provincial Grand Master’s patronage. David and Vanda are renowned for dressing up to support our End of Year Parties; the Annual Burns Weekend at Bournemouth has become an absolute runaway, sell-out success. Not so much to do with the quality of the Entertainment I believe but more because our Members want to see our Provincial Grand Master in the kilt. The only Provincial Grand Master in the English Mark Constitution to do so – until next year of course! We have a thriving Provincial Officers’ Mess and Directors of Ceremony Club Dinner at the HAC. All of these functions enjoy the patronage of our Provincial Grand Master – something which puts the seal of success on each event – and ensures popularity and great attendance levels.
Brethren we are indeed fortunate, beyond measure, to have had such a Right Worshipful Brother to lead us in this special and important Provincial Grand Lodge. Someone who has and I am sure will continue, even in retirement, to generate in the hearts and minds of others the highest levels of interest, enthusiasm and passion for our wonderful Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Orders.
Sir, for the past 2 years, it has been my great pleasure and honour to have been your Deputy. To have had the opportunity to work with you at close quarters; to learn from your vast experience; to see at first hand your generosity of spirit and your caring nature and to witness your desire to spread happiness and goodwill across your patch. It has been an absolute joy and an experience I will never forget and for which I will be forever in your debt. Yours are indeed big boots to fill.
Your many friends across every Lodge in the Province have had a whip round and we’ve come up with a shilling or two, to buy you something which we know that you and Vanda will be able to put to good use in your retirement. We know this because Vanda was involved in the decision to buy vouchers to send you both off on a holiday aboard the Orient Express. On behalf of the Province it is my great honour and pleasure to present this to you now with two particular requests. One, that you grab the opportunity for a relaxing and enjoyable break away from your many important activities and secondly, that you come back safely to take up the position of a much loved and highly regarded Past Provincial Grand Master of this Province.
Thomas Quinn 2019