Grand Superintendent's address at 2017 Convocation
John Reid addresses Companions at Melksham
Companions, I welcome you all here this morning and thank you for giving up your precious time to support this very special occasion in Wiltshire’s Masonic Calendar, I have already welcomed our distinguished guests who once again have travelled long distances to be with us, showing the respect and support we have for one another in the Holy Royal Arch.
On behalf on the Wiltshire Executive I thank them for the warmth of their welcome and generous hospitality when we visit their Provinces.
Companions, today is a special day of celebration and of thanks. We are here to celebrate with those Companions receiving their first appointments and those receiving well deserved promotions in recognition of their continued contribution and commitment demonstrated in their own Chapters as well as their support to the Province.
To those Companions that have been honoured today; I am looking to you for your continued involvement within your Chapters and where ever possible promoting Royal Arch Masonry in your Craft Lodges, encouraging both Master Masons and Past Masters to consider completing their journey in Pure Antient Freemasonry.
I would particularly encourage the Active Officers of the year to accompany me and the Executive when we attend Chapter Installations, fraternal visits and when you can to visit and support other Chapters within our Province. I can assure you your attendance will be much appreciated and you will be extremely well received.
Included in today’s celebration I congratulate Excellent Companion Paul Vogwell on his appointment in Grand Chapter to Past Grand Standard Bearer and I couple this with Excellent Companion John Badger who in Grand Lodge was appointed Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies and Companion Stephen Bridge promoted to Senior Grand Deacon all richly deserved honours.
I did say that today was also one of thanks. At this point I express my grateful thanks to the Executive and outgoing Provincial Officers for their support and commitment over the last twelve months, here I make special mention of Excellent Companion Simon Ellingham the Past 3rd Provincial Grand Principal for his continued support and commitment over numerous years occupying all of the Director of Ceremonies Offices whilst just completing his second year as 3rd Provincial Grand Principal, likewise Excellent Companion Russell Evans for his service and patience as Assistant Director of Ceremonies, and although Excellent Companion Tiffin has today been invested as 3rd Provincial Grand Provincial, the Province owes him a great debt of gratitude for the diligent manner in which he has administered our accounts (it’s been like getting blood out of a stone Companions, I just hope our new Treasurer is not listening).
During my address last year, I am sure you will all remember it well, I said, “that I looked forward with great optimism to the year ahead” and “that the Holy Royal Arch in Wiltshire is becoming an appealing Order in which to belong”. Well Companions, this has been a most memorable year. We have celebrated with Excellent Companion’s John Northover, Robert Robinson and Ian Knight achieving 50 years membership in this wonderful Order. Dedicating Banners for the Chapter of Harmony and the Wiltshire Chapter of Agriculture, and carried out a double Exaltation Ceremony by invitation of Methuen Chapter.
We have enjoyed the company of the Province of Buckinghamshire at the Highworth Chapter and hosted the quadripartite meeting at the Lansdowne Chapter of Unity with the Provinces of Somerset, Hampshire & Isle of Wight, & Dorset, I take this opportunity to publically thank both Chapters for such memorable occasions, of which they should be extremely proud (I just don’t know what they were so worried about).
However Companions, as enjoyable and successful the afore-mentioned have been, for me they have been eclipsed by the figures presented by our Provincial Grand Registrar. Yes Companions, we have for the first time for a number of years seen growth in our membership in this Province and I congratulate every Chapter for contributing to this success.
Of course you will all appreciate that our numbers in the Royal Arch are inextricably tied to the numbers in the Craft. It is good to know that the increase of Craft numbers continues to be above the national average and in 2017 is positive and one hopes this bodes well for the future in this Province. I look forward to the continued support from the Provincial Grand Master and his Executive in their assistance in promoting the Royal Arch in our Craft Lodges.
Now is not the time to become complacent, but the year ahead continues to look positive with many Chapters reporting a good number of Candidates waiting to join this wonderful Order.
Companions, we need to improve the awareness and heighten the interest of potential Candidates so they become more inquisitive to want to find out more about the Royal Arch and that next step. This will not be achieved if we do not engage with them, I mentioned it last year and I will again now. We need to continue to promote the Royal Arch within our Craft Lodges, if we don’t how else are we going to draw their attention to this Order.
I am still of the opinion that our Chapters are not using the full potential of the website to show case our activities, a photograph with a few words to the communications team is all that is required. Let’s not, as we have in the past, leave it up to the Information Officer and the odd member of the Provincial Team in the hope they will be attending with a camera. Let’s be positive in the year ahead and promote our enjoyment of the Royal Arch through rhetoric in our Lodges and publication of photographs and text on the website, for each and every one of us has a responsibility to promote the Royal Arch without, and I stress, putting undue pressure on potential Candidates.
As always the Provincial Team are here to help you in any way they can, but we can’t if you don’t let us know. We are just about to release another paper for your consideration which will supersede the Sojourners readings within the meeting room and I am sure you will find that it gives a clearer explanation of our proceedings.
Talking Heads is still available Companions, by invitation. It has recently been suggested that it could be presented at a Lodge of Instruction. Excellent Companion Tony Oke has kindly agreed to facilitate this initiative and he will, I am sure, be following this up.
Positive news from Supreme Grand Chapter Companions, they have approved the wearing of the Tercentenary Jewel in our Chapters, however it is not to be worn when attending Supreme Grand Chapter.
Companions at my Installation in 2015 I made reference to the fact that we had not supported a major charity for some 18 months, the last being The Royal College of Surgeons and at that time the Provincial Grand Lodge of Wiltshire was half way through its 2017 Festival in support of the Masonic Samaritan Fund, I did ask that collectively through our Chapters we may be able to support such a worthy cause. Companions I can announce that the Chapters in Wiltshire have contributed a total of £10,500, a magnificent total considering we are already contributing through our Craft Lodges.
Companions your charitable giving did not stop there, towards the end of last year many of you attended a very successful luncheon, themed, Children at Christmas. Through your generosity on that occasion we were able to purchase a number of desperately needed electrical appliances for the Women’s Refuge in Salisbury, and also provide another 200 chocolate assortment boxes for Children through the Warminster Foodbank.
In addition we made a financial donation to Victim Support in Wiltshire which enabled them to purchase specific items to supplement the emotional support they offer through their Victim Support’s youth programme helping children and young people through their difficult times of trauma, fear and anxiety.
Companions the members of the Executive who attended the cheque presentation were so impressed and moved by such a small team of dedicated professionals who are totally committed to the younger generation. So Companions it was agreed at the General Purpose Committee that the proceeds from the alms collection today will go towards Victim Support in Wiltshire for furthering their special knowledge and training in their support work with child victims who have autism with an increasing demand to support those children who are on the higher end of the autistic spectrum. Companions I know your generosity today will benefit children and families through the service Victim Support in Wiltshire provides.
Before I conclude Companions I would like to thank those Chapters who have received and ensured its safe and timely passage to the next Chapter while embracing the concept of the Travelling Quaich or as it is known in Stonehenge Chapter the Glen Moray cup. Companions please continue to enjoy and share this initiative, and when it is your turn to transfer it please take as many members from your Chapter to enjoy the occasion and Companionship of others.
As in previous years the success of a day such as our Annual Convocation is not the result of a single individual but that of an army of willing helpers. I am so aware of the time, planning and commitment that has been expended by all the Companions involved, to those Companions I thank you most sincerely. Special thanks are extended to the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra and his Assistant along with the Director of Ceremonies and his team and those Chapters under whose banners we are meeting under today; the Chapter Elias de Derham, Border Chapter and St Edmund Chapter.
Finally Companions I thank each and every one of you for your support here today and again look forward to the year ahead in serving this wonderful Province as your Grand Superintendent and meeting with you all in your own Chapters.