History of the Province of Wiltshire 2000 - 2100

The Investiture of local solicitor, soon to be District Judge Byron Richard Carron of Wanborough, Nr. Swindon, in 1993 heralded a new era for Wiltshire Freemasonry.  The new Provincial Grand Master instituted sweeping changes particularly in the relationship with new Freemasons, in a break with 'tradition' the new PrGM took to greeting every Brother both in the Lodge and at the supper table. Having been offered a judicial office, Byron Carron resigned from office in 1999 and the Province was entrusted to Brian Edwick who was the Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

 

Brian Harris Edwick was Appointed Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire. by HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master and Installed into the Office in October 1999 by his good friend the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, Pro Grand Master.  At his  Installation he reported on words of encouragement he had received from Reverend Gordon Mitchell, Provincial Grand Chaplain - “ensure that you eat well; sleep well; and do your best” -Brian’s response was that he was confident he could do at least one of them.

 

His contribution to Freemasonry was outstanding, giving so much of himself to the Province and the Metropolitan Grand Lodge, London being Initiated in Anglo-Overseas Lodge which meets at Great Queen Street, London on 24 April 1952.  He later became a Joining Member of Lodges within Wiltshire.  Without doubt his lasting legacy was the formation of the  three branches of theWiltshire  Masonic Widows’ Association. 

 

Brian was a good friend to us all; a modest man; a man with a deep sense of duty towards his family; a man with a strong commitment for everything he took on.  More than this,  Brian was a gentleman of the ‘old school’; there is no other way of describing him - he commanded respect from all those around him, in turn he gave respect to those around him and when he spoke, people listened. 

 

On reaching the then compulsory retirement age of 75 years, Brian stood down as Provincial Grand Master on 24 March 2004.  Recognised as a risk taker, at his Installation as PrGM he appointed one Francis Wakem as Provincial Grand Secretary who was to succeed him as the fourteenth Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire.

 

Brian was very supportive of Francis Wakem’s early plans ‘to throw open the doors on Wiltshire Freemasonry and for it to be open and transparent to the Society in which we are all members; so that people could see that Freemasons are normal folk who enjoy life with their family and friends; and who work to make our local communities a good place in which to live and work.  

 

Francis Wakem QPM  a retired Chief Superintendent and Assistant Provincial Grand Master was appointed and Invested as the fourteenth Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire in 2004 and served the office until October 2014; a period he often referred to as ten years or a decade.  Francis is a man for whom tradition is important but who also recognised the need for innovation and change, especially as the Province entered the 21st century and faced the challenges presented by the new digital age and open communication.  This was exemplified in his decision to open a section at Provincial Grand Lodge when members of the Masonic Widows Association and partners of Brethren receiving Provincial honours were welcomed into the auditorium to witness the ceremony and hear the PrGM's address.  If Byron Carron presented a more relaxed form to Freemasonry, Francis Wakem elevated it to an art form and in this he was ably assisted at every turn by the quick wit of Byron; their 'double act' was admired and loved by Brethren from across the Province.  In 2014 over 300 members of the Wiltshire Masonic Family packed the Civic Centre at Trowbridge an paid tribute to Francis Wakem as he was 'dined out' in style.

 

The legacy of Francis Wakem's decade in office is reflected in his oft quoted words - "that Wiltshire may be a small Province, but we have a big heart, we Live Well; Laugh Often; and Love Much; or perhaps, to be more coherent, having respect for everyone; looking after others; and being honest".  Francis Wakem’s fundamental objective was that Freemasonry should always be full of Friendship; Fun; and Fulfilment'.

 

To follow in the footsteps of Francis Wakem was a tall order but in Philip Stuart Arthur Bullock the Grand Master chose an able and astute successor who had proved his worth and ability as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.  A business man by profession, Philip has embarked on a programme designed to promote Freemasonry in the community and to build on the theme of the Wiltshire Masonic Family an ethos in line with Philip's own very strong family ties.  Approaching the Tercentenary of United Grand Lodge, Philip and his team have engaged with a number of organisations in the certain belief that by working together the Province can demonstrate the value Freemasonry  brings to society. 

 

In 2012 the Province embarked upon its Festival, an event spanning five years and established to raise much needed funds for one of the four Masonic Charities; in the case of Wiltshire, it was asked to support the Masonic Samaritan Fund. The target set was £750,000, no mean amount, and members from across the Province organised local and regional events to raise the money.  At the time of writing and wiith just two years to go, the amount raised is slightly in excess of £600,000.

 

The 'Tercentenary' of 300 year anniversary of the establishing of United Grand Lodge will be celebrated in 2017, lots of local events are planned, but the 'big event' showcasing the very best of English (and Welsh) Freemasonry will take place in the iconic Royal Albert Hall.  Newly appointed as the APrGM, W Bro Stephen Bridge was invited by the PrGM to lead the initiative on behalf of the Province.