Grand Master's Address to Grand Court, 28 October 2017

gm 2017

Brethren once again I have the pleasure of addressing Grand Court.

Firstly I extend a most sincere welcome to all our Distinguished Guests many of whom have travelled from afar to be with us here today in Leicester. It is most gratifying for me to know that you are supporting our Order.

Brethren as I introduce our Guests will you please save your Athelstan welcome until after I have introduced them all to you.

Brethren I am pleased to welcome:

  • The Past Pro Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons for England, Wales and its Districts and Lodges Overseas, Most Worshipful Brother Benjamin Addy; who is our President of the Grand Witan
  • The Grand High Priest of The Grand College of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and Order of Holy Wisdom, Most Illustrious Knight Priest Christopher Gavin Maiden. Bro Christopher is, of course, our Senior Grand Warden.

He is accompanied by the Assistant Grand High Priest, W Bro Ian Trevor Dudley Smith.

  • The Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Iowa, Most Worshipful Brother Bryce Brent Hildreth; he is also Grand Master General of the Convent General of the Knights of the York Cross of Honour; and our Provincial Grand Master for the United States of America.
  • The Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Greece, Most Worshipful Brother George Vassilogeorgis.
  • The Past First Grand Principal of the Grand Chapter of Bolivia, Excellent Companion Dr Jose Guillermo Mendoza. He is currently Grand Senior Warden in the Craft Grand Lodge of Bolivia and is our Assistant Grand Master for Latin America.
  • The Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons for Switzerland, Most Worshipful Brother Peter Ernst Ribi; who is our Junior Grand Warden and will shortly be installed as our Provincial Grand Master for Essex.
  • The Most Excellent Great Chief of The Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America, R W Bro D Allan Surratt. R W Bro Allan is a Past Sovereign Grand Master of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA; and our Assistant Grand Master for the Americas.

He is accompanied by W Bro Russell Bridges who is the Grand Sentinel of The Grand Council of Knight Masons of USA. Bro Russell is our Provincial Grand Treasurer of the United States of America.

  • The Past Most Illustrious Grand Sovereign of the Grand Imperial Conclave of the United States of America, Mexico and the Philippines, R W Bro David L Hargett, Jnr. R W Bro David is also a Past Sovereign Grand Master of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA and our the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the USA,
  • Brethren from the Order of the Secret Monitor, or Brotherhood of David and Jonathan, we have the Past Deputy Grand Supreme Ruler, W Bro Brian Clifford Wareham; Brian is also a Past Deputy Grand Summus in the Ancient and Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord; and is our Deputy Grand Marshal
  • We acknowledge the presence of the Rulers of the Hermetic Order of Martinists.
  • Brethren I am so very pleased to welcome R W Bro Bharat Epur, Provincial Grand Master for Southern India.
  • From Spain we are honoured by the presence of our Deputy Provincial Grand Master V W Bro Barrie Mansell; who is also the Assistant Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Spain and the District Grand Master for the Mark in Spain; he is accompanied by the Provincial Grand Secretary W Bro Roy Mitchell.

From our own Order a very special welcome to:

  • R W Bro David Buxton, CofM, PGHCh, GCSM, Past Deputy Grand Master
  • R W Br Dr Christopher W G Ansell, GHCh, GCSM, Past Assistant Grand Master
  • R W Bro Ghanshyam M Patel, PGCh, GCSM, Past Assistant Grand Master (India)

We also acknowledge those who were made Knights of the Scarlet Mantle last evening and I ask them to rise and make themselves known.

Brethren let us all now join together in welcoming our Honoured Guests in the traditional Athelstan fashion.

Brethren I also thank all you who are present here today so making this a very special day in the history of our Order.

To those Grand Officers who today have stood down from Office I commend each and every one of you for the manner in which you discharged your duties whilst in Office. The support of all has been excellent and in some cases exceptional. I thank R W Bro Roy Leavers for the manner in which he discharged his duties as Grand Secretary and look forward to working with him in his new role as an Assistant Grand Master; to R W Bro John Watts who was outstanding as Grand Marshal, John I know that you will bring much to the newly re-designated role of Grand Registrar. I will refer later to some of the new duties that they both will undertake.

To the Grand Officers that I have appointed today I offer you all my sincere congratulations. I particularly welcome V W Bro Barry Chalkley, as Grand Secretary, and V W Bro John Evans, as Grand Marshal.

To all those who have received active Office make sure you grasp the opportunity that has been offered to you. Active Grand Officers will be invited to accompany me on visits to Provinces and Courts. There is no compulsion or requirement to do so but I hope that you will, as far is possible, join me on these visits.

I promise you that you will make new friendships and also re-affirm old friendships; and you will be able to join me and experience the wonderful enthusiasm that abounds in our Order. As a Grand Officer you now have added responsibilities one of which is that you will be expected to help and nurture our Brethren and lead by example. Remember whatever Order in Freemasonry that you attend people will know that you are a Grand Officer in the Masonic Order of Athelstan and Brethren will judge you accordingly. I know that you will not let our Order down. Please enjoy your term of Office.

I acknowledge the unstinting dedication and commitment of the following Provincial Grand Masters who, since the meeting of Grand Court last year, have retired:

  • R W Bro Brian A Vickers, KSM, Past Provincial Grand Master of Essex
  • R W Bro T W David Railson, Past Provincial Grand Master of Northumbria
  • R W Bro Anthony (Tony) D Parkinson, Past Provincial Grand Master of Mercia

The wisdom, understanding and leadership of these Brethren has been exemplary. Each has worked so well and worthily since they were installed into the high Office of a Provincial Grand Master. Their dedicated service has set standards that we all aspire to. They will be missed but in wishing each of them a very happy retirement I know that they will always be available to help in our Courts, our Provinces and at Grand Court.

Brethren Bro Brian and Bro David are not able to be with us today for very good reasons, but Bro Tony is. Bro Tony please stand whilst we all rightly acknowledge all your efforts.

I am pleased to report that our Provinces overseas continue to establish themselves. Excellent relationships with both the Craft and Royal Arch in these jurisdictions have been forged; this bodes well for the future.

I thank the Assistant Grand Masters in charge, who travel thousands of miles each year, as they administer our overseas Provinces; I thank them for their wise counsel and assistance; and for the wise choices of Brethren they have made to assist them.

I also acknowledge the considerable efforts of the Provincial Grand Masters, Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and Assistant Provincial Grand Masters who equally travel many thousands of miles.

A brief update on our Cyningstun 1090 initiate:

The work at All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames continues. Planning permission for a building to be erected in the grounds of the Church has been granted. The building will contain a local museum and will be used by local communities; as well as having an area dedicated to King Athelstan. The cost of this building is considerable, and it is hoped that funding will be finalised by March of next year. The Coronation Stone will be moved to a prominent place in the front of the extension, upon its construction. It is currently safer in its present position. As an Order we are in regular contact with Father Jonathan, who hopes that at some future time we, as an Order, can again attend his Church to celebrate our unique shared connection.

I now wish to inform you of the changes that I am bringing about which will be effective as of today.

These changes will help to ensure the long term growth and prosperity of the Order in England and Wales; and they will also provide a more focused administration. The changes have been brought about by the success of the Order and for no other reason and they are as follows:

Regarding Administration:

As the Order continues to grow in terms of Courts, Memberships and Provinces it has been necessary to re-structure the Grand Secretariat to keep pace with this growth. In practical terms the changes are as follows:

The ‘Grand Secretariat will consist of the Grand Secretary and two Deputy Grand Secretaries. The work previously undertaken by the Grand Registrar will now be undertaken by the Grand Secretariat. This will bring virtually all printing and publishing in house; all artwork will be undertaken in house; as will the construction of a new Website.

I take this opportunity of thanking RW Bro. Chris Ansell who has been our webmaster since inception for his hard work and dedication to that role.

The Order’s ‘database’ is currently under review and if required it will be brought up to date and will be more efficient and supply more information. It will be interactive with our other computer systems.

This has been a long labour of love for VW Bro. Tony Burke and I also thank him for his sterling efforts on behalf of us all.

With effect from today all the current Administrative Forms are being replaced. The new Forms will not only reflect our corporate image but will be easier to complete. As the content of Forms has changed so the number of different Forms required has been reduced and will thus make local administration simpler. Details of the new Forms will be submitted to all Provincial Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Secretaries for dissemination so ensuring our new Forms can be in use as of Monday.

Brethren I refer back to the Website which is currently being constructed. We, as an Order, acknowledge the changing world of communication and it is essential that we keep in step with these changes. The appointment of R W Bro John Watts as Grand Registrar will ensure that we do not lag behind. The duties of the Grand Registrar are now focused on Press Liaison, Website and Social Media and, over the coming years, this office will prove pivotal in the growth of the Order. I know that we will all give R W Bro John every assistance in his highly important role.

Provincial Boundary Changes:

Brethren it is essential that as our Order continues to grow and flourish we have in place the necessary administrative structure to support its development. The changes that were made to the Statutes last year, with the formation of the Grand Witan and the Provincial Grand Masters Forum, together with the re-structuring of the Grand Secretariat gives us the basis for a future sustained development of the Order. Yet it was evident to me, indeed all of us, that what we were asking of our Provincial Grand Masters in England and Wales was not sustainable.

 Lending an ear to the Provincial Grand Masters I formed a Committee (consisting of R W Bro Roy W Leavers, GCSM, P Senior Grand Warden, Grand Secretary as Chairman; R W Bro Roger W Freeman, Provincial Grand Master for Wessex; and R W Bro Michael V Eckley, KCSM, Junior Grand Warden) to review the current boundaries of Provinces in England and Wales charging them to take into consideration:

That the basis of all Freemasonry is an excellent working relationship with the Craft and Royal Arch Chapter. It was therefore essential that any administrative structure gave our Provincial Grand Masters every opportunity to forge long term meaningful relationships with their counterparts in the Craft and Chapter.

Provincial Grand Masters should also forge similar working relationships with Heads of other Orders within their boundaries.

That no Province should have within its geographical boundaries more than 4 - 5 Craft Provinces.

When formulating boundaries consideration must be given to the main Cities of England and Wales (e.g. London, Birmingham, Manchester, etc) which have a high density of both Craft Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters.

That no Province should be so large as to cause excessive travel both to and from Courts for the Provincial Grand Master and his Deputy.

The overriding principle in the recommendations; is the future growth and prosperity of the Order.

 Brethren the Committee duly reported back to me and the Grand Witan with Boundary change recommendations which facilitate the development and growth of our Order. The recommendations were approved by both myself and the Grand Witan; and fully endorsed by all my Provincial Grand Masters who gave their unanimous agreement and approval on 4th July 2017.

The changes are compliant with the Statutes of our Order. The recommendations are already the catalyst for growth which will be referred to later on in my address.

There has been much speculation as to Boundary changes, much of which is totally unfounded and spread by the wonderfully inaccurate Masonic grapevine. It was always my most ardent wish to present these changes to you at Grand Court today but for various reasons these changes have had to be implemented earlier than I intended.

Please accept my apologies for having to do this but I assure you Brethren it has been done for the good of the Order.

Brethren time restrictions limit me to giving you a very brief outline of the Boundary changes but fuller details can be obtained from your Provincial Grand Masters.

The Boundary Changes are as follows:

Province of Mercia

The Province has been re-Constituted with two Courts being moved to another Province and a Court being moved into the Province. The geographical boundaries have been changed.

As I have previously mentioned R W Bro Tony Parkinson has retired as Provincial Grand Master and on Saturday 14th October I installed R W Bro Eddie Allcock as Provincial Grand Master for Mercia. Bro Eddie welcome to Grand Court in your new capacity as a Provincial Grand Master

Province of Northumbria

The Province will be Re-Constituted with Courts being moved into and out of the Province. The geographical boundaries will be changed.

R W Bro T W David Railson has retired as Provincial Grand Master; and I have appointed R W Bro William Carlyon to replace him. His installation will take place at a later date.

Province of Magonsaetan

The Province has been re-Constituted with Courts being moved out of the Province. The geographical boundaries have been changed.

The Provincial Grand Master, R W Bro Shaun Crutchley has already informed me that he is in advanced planning for three new Courts and a fourth is also in the pipeline.

Province of Lindsey

The Province will be Re-Constituted with Courts being moved into and out of the Province. The geographical boundaries will be changed.

 The Provincial Grand Master, R W Bro William Carlyon, will shortly be standing down as Provincial Grand Master and become Provincial Grand Master for Northumbria. I have appointed V W Bro Anthony Burke to replace him. His installation will take place at a later date. V W Bro Tony has informed me that he also has new Courts at an advanced planning stage.

Province of Sussex

The geographical boundaries have been changed.

The Provincial Grand Master, R W Bro Lionel B Mee, has submitted two petitions for new Courts, with another at an early stage of development with a consecration on the Isle of Wight next month.

Province of Wessex

The Province will be Re-Constituted with Courts being moved to another Province.

The geographical boundaries will be changed, however, we will ensure that the unique history of Wessex is preserved.

The following three Provinces remain unchanged:

 Province of East Anglia

Following the retirement of R W Bro Brian W Coshall I have appointed R W Bro Peter H Rollin, KSM, President of the Disciplinary, Appeals and Clemency Committee, to be Provincial Grand Master. His installation will be in December.

Province of Essex

Following the retirement of R W Bro Brian A Vickers, KSM, I have appointed R W Bro Peter E Ribi, KSK, P Junior Grand Warden to be Provincial Grand Master. His installation will be in November.

Province of Kent

It is great to see RW Brother Ralph Apperley in attendance today after his recent ill health.

There will, in addition, be two new Provinces which are:

Province of South Rheged

The Provincial boundaries will compose of Cheshire, Lancashire, and Isle of Man. I have invited W Bro Bryan Ogden, KSM, PJGD, to become the first Provincial Grand Master and his installation will be in January of next year.

 Province of Dumnonia

The Provincial boundaries will compose of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. I have invited R W Bro Roger W Freeman, KSM, Provincial Grand Master for Wessex to be the first Provincial Grand Master and his installation will be next year.

Major changes such as these will always bring optimism to the majority and pessimism to the minority.

Brethren, in the 3 months since the Provincial Grand Masters agreed the boundary changes we have already seen the optimism flourish into potentially 9 new Courts for England and Wales.

When I was installed as your Grand Master back in 2013 I made certain ‘manifesto’ promises for the good of the Order and the majority of these have been delivered.

One which is close to my heart is that of research and study. This was an original tenet of the Founders. We now witness the fruits of this at our Court Installation meetings and I am pleased to announce that RW Brother Chris Ansell will be exploring the establishment of an online study circle within the Order in 2018.

The intention is that members can sign up to it online if they are interested and that in the first instance there will be circulating some of the short installation papers presented within the Order for online discussion and comments.

 Having recently spent some considerable time in the incredible libraries of the Grand Lodge of Iowa and the Grand Lodge of Missouri, plus some private Masonic collections handling amazing historical documents. It is evident that one of the dangers of the electronic world that we inhabit today is the real potential loss of our history.

To this end I have charged VW Brother Raymond Hudson to begin the compilation and ultimate publishing of the history of our Order to-date. I thank him for taking on this mammoth task and I ask that we all assist him in this important endeavour.

In conclusion

Brethren since the Inauguration of the Order we have achieved so much together and I thank you for all that you have done, and will continue to do for the Order. Working together we can achieve so much.

Brethren it is an honour to be Grand Master; I promise that I will continue to do my utmost for the Order and for you. To each and every one of you ‘THANK YOU’

You will be relieved to know that it is now nearly time to cease our labours and go to refreshment.