Well Brethren I hope that you have enjoyed our meeting today and I thank you for taking the opportunity of welcoming our guests that I introduced to you earlier and supporting your Brethren that have received honours. For those standing down from active office, it does not end there you have entered a new era of supporting your Lodges, your Province and most importantly those Brethren who have just joined us.
You have been an excellent year of active officers with two very dedicated Provincial Wardens in W.Bro.Adam Jeffrey and W.Bro.Nick Ruston. A big thank you to all of you from me and the Executive.
I am sure we all wish our new Wardens and active officers a very enjoyable year ahead. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Deputy and Assistants for the hard work that they contribute to the Province. It means a great deal to us for the support we receive from our past Executive, and I particularly thank W.Bro.Derek Webber for presenting most of our Fifty year certificates.
Today’s meeting takes a great deal of organizing and most of that rests on the shoulders of our Provincial Secretary W.Bro Dr.Richard Ebrey ably assisted by the Assistant Secretary W.Bro.Tony Jordan. I am sure the Brethren of this Province are also deeply grateful for the superb guidance that is so courteously given throughout the year. Our thanks go to our hard working Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies who along with his Deputies have calmly and courteously whipped everyone into line.We are also very grateful for the support and guidance that you have given throughout the year. Very special thanks to W.Bro. Howard Pope who is standing down after five years service, making 200 visits!
We are all indebted to our Treasurer,W.Bro.Craig Cox. He not only keeps us on target with our budgets, by using one simple word NO, but has an uncanny means of projecting our expenditure to keep us solvent - thank you Craig.
To Andy Dewis our Provincial Grand Tyler and his team for their muscle power for setting all the equipment up today and taking it all down, a big thank you.
Please join with me in congratulating those Brethren that have been appointed to Grand Rank and will attend the annual Investiture in April.
- W.Bro Dr.Reuben Ayres PAGDC
- W.Bro.Dr.John Dean PAGDC
- W.Bro.Clive Eden PAGDC
- W.Bro. Howard Pope PAGDC
- W.Bro.Bob Woods PAGDC
- W.Bro.John Chandler PGStB
- W.Bro.Richard Baker PJGD
- W.Bro.Bill Clemens PAGDC
We wish you a very happy day in London when both Craft and HRA Executives will be there to support you. I now realize that it is the holy intervention of our Most Excellent Grand Superintendent that keeps us all in order.
The dissemination of information is one of the most important essentials of our Masonic well-being, we should all be very grateful to W.Bro.Peter Keaty APGM Information Officer for overseeing this particular area. He has a great team in W.Bro.Clive Eden Press Secretary, Paul O’Connell, David Goode, John Smerdon and Jack Parnell - thank you all.
I would like to give a very special mention to what is known as the 300Club, this is made up of those Brethren that were active Provincial Officers during our Tercentenary year.This band of Brothers are always up to something, usually with great enthusiasm and a lot of noise! They have continued since their year to organize all sorts of events to raise money, for charity, I thank them. That does not mean that all other past active officers have been forgotten, if you have not formed a club from your year, I am sure the 300club boys will welcome you to their events. If you can stand the Pace!
Whilst on the subject of events I am really grateful to those who responded to my request to organize functions to raise money for the Festival. A very successful dinner coupled with entertainment by our Deputy Provincial Grand Master singing to us was held at the Mount Edgcumbe Centre and well organized by W.Bro John Pritchard.John is also organizing our Carol service on the 15 December at Plympton and like me welcomes your support.
The dinner dance at HMS Drake, organized by Sean Crannis and Colin McKenna was a great success thank you.
Another most successful event was the Train trip on the Quantoc Railway organized by Craig Cox and to be repeated again this year. Although these trips have dress themes I am sure he would not mind if you and your partner wear the Provincial fleeces that he is selling, also in aid of the Festival.
We are all indebted to our Charity Festival Chairman W.Bro.Chris Yard the Festival core committee Secretary W.Bro.Adrian Rogers, Provincial Charity Steward W.Bro Reuben Ayres Peter Bartlett,Keith Williams and all of the Festival Managers and Festival Friends, for their drive and enthusiasm that they have for your Festival. I strongly recommend that you go onto” you tube” and watch the videos produced by Reuben and Adrian, which help explain our reasons for supporting the Festival.
Brethren I want to mention at this stage a pastime that many of us do not enjoy, drinking beer. I have got to compliment W.Bro.Alan Gill in his hard work at promoting our Festival Beer and coming to an arrangement with Bro.Richard Smith at Dartmoor Brewery enabling us to raise a considerable amount of money, although not many of us drink beer!
Brethren, thank you for supporting us with the 2023 Festival. Many Brethren and Lodges have worked hard to launch the festival and we have generated pledges approaching our first £1M. I am so proud of our Province and you Brethren.
I would reiterate that this is your festival and we are paying back some of the £1000.00 a day we receive to support Devonshire Brethren and their dependents in time of need. I appeal to you all to support this Festival by subscribing to wear a Festival Jewel; this can be done for a very reasonable amount of £5.00 per month. Be proud to wear your jewel and remember none of us knows what the future may bring or when we may need help.
Another area that is covered by W.Bro Chris Yard is the Masonic Widows Associations, sadly two are about to close, Manadon Plymouth and Tiverton. The memberships have decreased and they struggle to find officers to run them.We urge Lodges in those areas to maintain a close link with the unrepresented widows.
We must give a very special vote of thanks to W.Bro.Keith Bower who coordinates Teddies for loving care. Keith, his team and your Lodges have done us proud in supporting this scheme. We have now donated over 50000 teddies to many deserving cases and I thank you all for yet another display of Masonic kindness and public awareness.
I once again pay tribute to our Provincial Almoner W.Bro. Bob Munro his two assistances W.Bro.Peter Durrant and W.Bro.Les Pym who do a tremendous amount of work, along with the Visiting Volunteers to uphold a very high standard of support for those in need.
Another very important scheme in our Province is that of the Visiting Grand Officer, there are currently 59 assigned to our Lodges in the Province. I am of the firm belief that this scheme is a very important and integral part of the wellbeing of all of our Lodges. I cannot thank our VGOs enough for their loyal and devoted support of all of our initiatives and especially promoting the 2023 Festival.
There are two Brethren who have accumulated a great deal of information to add to their own expertise on the welfare and management of our Buildings, they are W.Bros Eric Collings and Walker Lapthorne.They have been working for some time now in conjunction with the guidance being given by our Grand Superintendent of Works at Grand Lodge. Brethren I am sure they will be more than pleased to give any assistance should it be needed.
There cannot be a more important initiative prepared for our guidance, by Grand Lodge, than the Pathway. You have all heard this term mentioned and I urge you to familiarize yourself with its content. W.Bro. Colin Gale, amongst all his other tasks, is overseeing this project with W.Bro Mark Lewis our newly Appointed Provincial Membership Officer along with the recruitment team. Colin has already circulated all Lodges with more detailed information. He is delighted with the response he has received from many of you. Along with his team two workshops will be held in November this year. It is essential that your Lodges are represented.
The Pathway is not just about gaining prospective members it also gives good advice on how to secure the future of your Lodge.
Following on from the launch of the member’s pathway from Grand Lodge a new exciting learning initiative appropriately named Solomon was also launched by the Improvement Delivery Group. Solomon is a comprehensive and varied collection of Masonic material comprised of short nuggets as well as lectures/papers and demonstrations which are all suitable for presentations and discussion. It has been designed to be accessed easily online by Lodge Mentors or by the individual Brother. The information that is available has a variety of uses whether it is for personal learning, curiosity or to further your knowledge on any aspect of Freemasonry. There is an enormous database which is being continuously refreshed with contributions from sources countrywide. Responsible for this initiative, W.Bro Charles Yelland APGM W.Bro. Chris Thomas the Provincial Mentor and the EDMENCOM Team are very keen to introduce this to all Lodges.
Presentations that have been done have been very well received. Later in the year joint workshops will take place with the Membership and Recruitment team where Brethren will be invited to take advantage of this exciting new resource.
Our Freemasonry is for our enjoyment, yes it does have a serious message to us all, it has deep and meaningful teachings. It is not for us to scorn and criticize when a brother struggles with the work. We must be positive and offer encouragement.
Brethren you are very special people, very precious to me and our Province and I thank you for all that you do in and out of Lodge.
Have a safe journey home.
Rt. W. Bro. Ian Kingsbury - Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Devonshire