Note - These are just some of the images taken on the day by W. Bro John Smerdon . Full album can be seen here - https://photos.app.goo.gl/ucpDhgVRZRozGgso9
Brethren I thank you all for attending and supporting our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting here at Sandy Park. Especially our distinguished guests who have travelled some distance to be with us today.
The sudden switch of venue today made it necessary to change the procedure of our meeting, which I hope you enjoyed. Much thanks must go to our Provincial Secretary W.Bro. Tony Jordan and our Assistant Secretary W.Bro. Richard Ebrey for the panic stricken work that has taken place to make it possible for us to meet today. Much appreciation must also go to W.Bro. Keith Williams our Director of Ceremonies and his team who have calmly overcome the change of format of the meeting, at this venue.
I once again thank Andy Dewis, our Provincial Tyler, and his merry band of Brothers for organising all the equipment today, not forgetting W.Bro. Charles Wray for organising the Luncheon. We are also very grateful to the Management Bev Gratton and staff of Sandy Park for accommodating us at the last minute.
It was extremely difficult to find a venue to cope with our numbers. I felt very honoured on behalf of the province when the Dean of Exeter Cathedral, Very Reverend Jonathan Greener offered us the Cathedral for our meeting. We have also been invited to the Cathedral for this years carol service, when Lodge banners maybe paraded in and displayed around the Cathedral.
I cannot praise enough my executive for their staunch support for me and the province through these difficult times. The great support, encouragement and loyalty of my Deputy Very W.Bro. Nicky Ball is much appreciated, thank you Nicky.
Likewise the support we have received from W.Bros. Reuben Ayres, Chris Thomas, Andy Vodden and Derek Webber. Who have presided at Installations and presented certificates.
All of us I am sure cannot praise enough W.Bro. Colin Gale PPAPGM who deserves a well earned rest and many happy cruises with his wife Elaine. You have not only given exceptional service to this Province but have been instrumental in representing Group 9 PGMs in the re-structuring of the Pathway for Grand Lodge. You are held in the highest of esteem by the Brethren of this province the
proof of which has been reflected in the number of bottles of Plymouth Gin that have ended up in your drinks cabinet, please leave them unopened until I visit.
W.Bro. Colin also relinquishes his duties overseeing the Provincial Membership Team, which will be in the capable hands of W.Bro. Charles Yelland. I am sure he agrees with me that he cannot have a finer team that is run by our Provincial Membership Officer W.Bro. Mark Lewis. A very special thanks to you Mark for the manner in which you and the team vet our candidates before they are allocated to a lodge, well done.
I think UGLE has been very supportive in keeping us informed of all the issues that we face and given us guidance through these difficult times.
I would also like to thank W.Bro. Craig Cox for keeping us informed, provincially, through the production of Parallel Lines. Craig has also managed to secure W.Bro. Rick Wakeman to entertain us at the final Festival celebration.
Brethren the green shoots of recovery are pushing through as we look to a brighter future and a return to lodge meetings. I must just reflect on this awful period of time we have all been through. I want to thank all the key Provincial Grand Officers for supporting and steering us through these difficult times. I particularly thank those leaving office,W.Bro. Chris Thomas has done a fantastic job in progressing the standard of mentoring throughout the province. We wish W.Bro. Chris Bird every success in this role for the future.
Our thanks to W.Bro. Charles Yelland who has overseen this project and now hands over to W.Bro. Andy Vodden our newly appointed APGM.
W.Bro.Graham Lea has been a most supportive Chaplain.The Executive and I much appreciate the support you have given us, as do many lodges throughout the province who have been grateful for your visits when that was possible. We wish W.Bro. Dr. Adrian Rogers well in this very important office.
What was heartening for me and the executive was to observe all of our brethren doing their utmost to comply with all the regulations ,on how we should meet, and all the restrictions and frustrations that came with that to keep us all safe. Brethren all you have done that and kept Freemasonry safe and on a sound footing in Devonshire, I cant thank you enough.
Many of you have and still are carrying out good deeds of volunteering your free time in assisting the vulnerable people in our community, making equipment for the NHS and marshalling at the vaccine centres. I thank you all along with your wives and partners.
Please continue to exercise great caution in the manner in which we meet and conduct our ceremonies, you are very special and very precious to Freemasonry.
Another group that are very dear to our hearts are our masonic widows. They to have been unable to meet for a very long time and if it wasn’t for the great efforts of W.Bro.Chris Oliver and his wife Jane could have easily been forgotten. They have organised a luncheon at Buckfastleigh in the summer for all the Devon branches to bring them together again. I will be there to help you entertain the widows,well done Chris.
We are all familiar with the initiatives introduced by Grand Lodge; The Pathway,The Mentoring Schemes and Hermes. If you are not familiar with these just go onto ours or Grand Lodge websites and all will be explained. All of this guidance is designed to help lodges survive and not slip into decline. We have got to look after our new members and make sure they have a good future in our wonderful order. Whether a prospective member has been recommended by a brother or has made his own introduction they still require
the careful scrutiny of the lodge they wish to join.
The Deputy Grand Master, soon to be the Pro.Grand Master, is asking us to look closely at what is known as the Membership Challenge. Which basically means the difference between normal through put of initiates and the shortfall we have all suffered over the past two years and how long will it take to catch up. It is up to all of us to look out for good men that we think will be suitable to join us.
Brethren it has never been more important for us to unite in is a special effort to raise as much as we can in the last year of our MCF Festival. I cannot praise enough the hard work that has been put in by our festival team headed up by W.Bro.Peter Keaty Festival Chairman, Walker Lapthorne Festival Secretary and W.Bro. Reuben Ayres our Provincial Grand Charity Steward, all of
the committee, Managers and Team workers. A big thank you to all the brethren that have donated and continue to donate
especially via the Stewards scheme and to all lodges that have contributed so generously. Once again a big thank you to the 300 Club Boys who are working tirelessly at organising functions and raising funds for the festival, they are a great bunch of
brethren who have stuck together since the Tercentenary, well done.
In this last year of Festival I appeal to those brethren that are still thinking about giving. Please donate only what you can afford and make a last push to show what Devonshire can do to pay back some of generosity that we have received from the MCF, especially during this covid period.
I hope all the newly appointed active Provincial Officers will be able to travel the province and experience the wonderful variety of Lodge buildings and ceremonies that this province offers. Many congratulations to all those that I have appointed to past rank and those brethren promoted in rank, all well deserved for your service to our order.
All of you would also be most welcome to visit the Lodges throughout our province. Attendance at meetings has understandably fallen over the past two years and a small party of visitors would always be most welcome.
Let’s take this opportunity to congratulate our Brethren that have been appointed to Grand Rank at the annual Investiture on the 27 April this year.
- W.Bro.Alan Gill PAGDC
- W.Bro. Tim Golder PAGDC
- W.Bro.Colin Spillsbury PAGDC
- W.Bro. Chris Roach Past Dept.G Swd.Br.
- W.Bro. Andy Vodden PSGD
Join with me in wishing them all a very happy day in London and an enjoyable future as Grand officers.
Brethren I have said many times what a pleasure and privilege it is to serve you as your Provincial Grand Master, it has all gone too quickly my term of office will be complete in 2023. I want to express my appreciation to my executive, the secretariat, my long
serving Provincial Officers and to all of you Brethren in the Province for all the support, kindness and loyalty that you have given me and my wife Toni over the years I have held office.
God bless you all , enjoy your lunch and have a safe journey home.
R.W. Bro Ian Kingsbury PGM