They say that time flies when you are having fun and this year has again flown by.
So much has happened over the last 12 months and so much will be happening in the next year that it is impossible to mention everything but one thing is clear – the brethren of this province – you – are enjoying your masonry,
are having fun at the same time and are proud of your association with this tremendous fraternal organisation.
Some of the highlights –
August brought the unveiling of the Provincial Marquee at the prestigious Bakewell Show. This was not a recruiting exercise and had never intended to be but it did prove to be a tremendous success in terms raising public awareness; it encouraged several members of the public to make an application to join as well as reinvigorating a number of lapsed masons.
Twenty of us went to Pwllheli in North Wales in November to support the Peter Pan of Derbyshire Freemasonry – WBro Ernest Tryner – when, at Madryn Lodge and in the presence of RWBro Ieuan Redvers Jones and his team, he presented a rare and refurbished Williams Welsh language Bible for use by the lodges meeting there.
Reminding you of the gardening analogy from last year, December saw the first new sapling planted in Derbyshire for twenty years with the consecration of the Cornucopia Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards of Derbyshire. This Temple was packed not only with our own Brethren but visitors from numerous other Provincial Stewards Lodges.
February found ninety three brethren and guests resplendent in garish blazers and ties descending on Chesterfield Masonic Hall for an evening with Bill Beaumont which raised £3,400 for our Children with Special Needs events.
But the crowning glory of a splendid year and an event that epitomises what we see beginning to happen in Derbyshire must be the March meeting of Cantelupe Lodge at Long Eaton.
A temple bursting to the seams saw the Master, WBro Gotheridge, initiate his three young sons – a unique and very emotional event in the annuls of Derbyshire freemasonry and a fitting occasion in our 300th year.
Looking down the Temple at those three young men you could see them smiling and, together with their escorting Deacons, thoroughly enjoying the moment. At that same meeting the lodge balloted for four new members and
proposed three more but this is a trend we are now experiencing across the Province.
The number of Initiations and joining members is up, resignations are down – deaths we have no control over – but overall our memberships are up and this is something we must continue to build on in the next 12 months.
Everything gained and achieved so far Brethren is down to you.
So what of the future?
The Provinces of Derbyshire and Yorkshire West Riding have established a joint task force to look at Freemasonry in general in the city of Sheffield – the third largest city in England and one where both provinces have a presence - at Dore and Tapton. Under the Chairmanship of my Deputy and WBro John Boyington, the YWR APGM responsible for that area, considerable work has already been undertaken to see how freemasonry can be reenergised in that great metropolis for the benefit of both Provinces.
All those who meet at the two Masonic Halls – only some three miles apart – have been written to as have the Heads of the other Orders.
There is a quiet determination both on my part and on that of RWBro Pratt to ensure that Freemasonry in that city flourishes and for the benefit of the Craft as a whole.
Royal Sussex celebrates its bicentenary on September 18th when one of the Rulers from London will be attending.
Rutland celebrates its sesquicentenary in October and Beauchief Abbey its centenary in July. Brethren in the years 2018 to 2021 no less than seven lodges will celebrate 100 years and two celebrate 150.
In addition we have all the Tercentenary events. WBro Bowler, my Special Events Coordinator,
advises me that there is an event of some kind every eleven days including the three celebratory Dinners in Chesterfield, Derby and Buxton plus the Civic Awards Dinner at Pride Park on 26th July. On this occasion the leaders and representatives of the nine local authorities in Derbyshire, the High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant plus representatives of the nominated Charites receiving awards and, of course, our own brethren and wives will enjoy a typical Derbyshire convivial and relaxing evening in the presence of our guest of honour RWBrother Jonathan Spence, the Deputy Grand Master.
And Brethren at its April meeting, Rutland Lodge will propose sponsoring another new specialist lodge – the Derbyshire Motorcycle Lodge – which, subject to all things being equal, will be consecrated in December.
Please also remember Monday 17th April at 8pm on Sky One – the first of the TV programmes about us. It is an interesting, well informed and balanced programme and if you don’t subscribe to Sky then see if you can organise an evening with family and friends to watch it - even better if one or some are not masons.
Here is an opportunity for Freemasonry to come out of the shadows and alter the uninitiated world’s perception of us.
This will continue to happen if we all ensure that Freemasonry thrives and expands in Derbyshire – we must all do our best and make sure that everyone comes away happy and content and looking forward to the next meeting. Freemasonry should be enjoyed – not endured!
However simple a strategy for the future may be there is still a lot of work involved. To that end I cannot thank enough the Secretaries,
Directors of Ceremony, Charity Stewards and all those who have attended the seminars organised by my hard working Provincial Officers – that is where the strategy starts brethren. If you think you don’t need to attend one of the seminars
because you know what you are doing, then still come along – impart your knowledge and experience to the rest of us and you might even be surprised and find you do learn something!
We have revamped the Lodge Liaison Officers Scheme to give it more purpose and will continue to expand the role.
My appreciation goes to all those brethren who have served in this post over the years.
Similarly on the recommendation and with the help of our ever supportive Grand Superintendent, WBro Charles Cunnington, the Craft has taken over the appointment of Royal Arch Liaison Officers but in the spirit of the two orders working together
these brethren will be reporting directly to the Deputy Provincial Grand Superintendent.
The talent that I now have in the provincial team is formidable – from my Deputy to the non-collared officers all are working as one and pulling in the same direction. To that end we are blessed with having a hard working and efficient secretariat
who spend long hours getting everything just right so that meetings like this and consecrations run smoothly and they all deserve our appreciation and respect as does the long suffering office manager Julie Foster.
Similarly we have to thank the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for their dedication and effort but above all Brethren I have to thank those Provincial Officers – acting and non-collared who have supported me,
my Deputy and Assistants over this last year – it has been a great pleasure to be in your company and work with you.
To those leaving office today I wish you well in the future. I am sure that your successors will strive to emulate you or even, dare I say it, better your achievements.
To those receiving first appointments or promotions congratulations – they are deserved and reflect the work you have put in to your year as Master or subsequently and also the expectations that are placed on you for the future.
Derbyshire does not give appointments or promotions “as of right” – they are earned.
Two brethren standing down this year deserve special mention – WBro Paul Chaffe is retiring as Chaplain after eleven years in that office – the first Chaplain in this Province who wasn’t an ordained priest. Paul – your contribution has been immense and your friendship and wise counsel greatly appreciated.
I know that you will still be active with your duties in the Library so you won’t be disappearing.
WBro Mike Lake is a non-collared officer who is retiring today after many years as our Education Officer and Foundation Stone Coordinator.
His contribution to the future of Freemasonry in this Province has been substantial and I and this Province thank him for the valuable work he has undertaken.
I am again delighted that the MW Grand Master has honoured several brethren with appointment to or promotion in Grand Rank.
I would ask them to stand when their names are read out and remain standing until I have finished when I am sure they will receive that well deserved applause and appreciation which is their due.
Receiving his first appointment in past rank to JGD is my APGM WBro Ian Copestake.
Promoted to Past Deputy Grand Sword Bearer is our aforementioned Grand Superintendent WBro Charles Cunnington.
Receiving promotion to PJGD are two of our very hard working and supportive elder statesmen WBro Mike Heely and WBro Bob Poxon.
Congratulations to you all.
Brethren, technology never stands still and after two years our website is being updated and refreshed and is going online as of now.
All the forms and information required by the regular lodge officers will be available online and, courtesy of our Provincial organist and WBro Melvin White,
so will downloadable masonic music for those lodges not blessed with an organist. Once the Year Book is finished that will also go on line and will be updated after every Installation.
Our thanks should go to WBro Stuart Riley and his team for their hard work.
And so I return to those words “fun and enjoyment” Brethren – not words you readily hear linked to Freemasonry.
However they are what you will have experienced when first Initiated and what has kept you involved in Freemasonry (among other things).
Fun and enjoyment – it’s what keeps us feeling young, energetic and interested whatever rank we are. Let’s keep those words central to what we hold dear about Freemasonry.
To those heading towards the Chair of a Lodge who are daunted by the amount of ritual they feel obliged to learn – don’t be.
Learn what you feel you are capable of and learn that well – even if it is simply the opening and closing - and then seek the support of your Past Masters and brethren to cover the rest.
Try not to read the ritual and encourage at every step the younger, newer brethren to take some part. Attend your Lodge of Instruction and rehearsals,
practice the perambulations, and learn about the protocols and masonic etiquette. A good, well organised lodge is usually a lodge with a strong LOI, very progressive and supportive Past Masters and one where everyone enjoys their freemasonry.
Remember brethren that whilst some might have higher rank than others, we are all equal as men and brothers and the views of the newest member about the future of the lodge and freemasonry are just as important as those of the senior brethren.
Brethren I am proud to be a Derbyshire Freemason and I am so very proud of you all.