Middlesex ProPGM Speaks Up

The ProPGM’s Address for PGO Club on 4thApril 2013
Good Evening Brethren,
 Picture courtesy of Pglm.org.uk

How nice to see so many of you here today for this very special evening.  I’ve always liked these meetings because they give me the chance to meet with all of you, the senior members of the Province who are actually interested in what is going on in the Province.

Firstly,let me begin with the sad departure of W.Bro Clive Pigram, who passed to theGrand Lodge above on the 26th December.  As you all know he was a very active Masonand his absence has left a tremendous void in the Province.   The huge number of people that attended hisfuneral gives testament to his commitment to every aspect of his life.

Nowis not the time for me to dwell on it for I will have more to say about Clive atour next Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting. However, you may recall that when he was here with us at our lastmeeting on the 1st November we gave him a tremendous round of applausefor the wonderful Service that he had organised for us at Guildford Cathedral tendays earlier.  It was a Service at whichhe excelled himself and which, despite his failing health, he enjoyedimmensely.  Even he considered it to beone of his best.
With his passing we were uncertain asto whether to hold a Service or not this year. However, as he had organised all of them for the last 21 years I feltthat it would have been an insult to his memory if we didn’t continue withthem.  I am therefore very pleased to announcethat thanks to W.Bro Andrew Storey warning me of the imminent closing date forapplications at St.Albans, we managed to secure the date of Sunday 3rdNovember.  So put it in you diaries nowand do tell your members at your next lodge meeting.
Asa result of this Andrew and our DepGChap Bill Dolman have already been workingon an appropriate Service for us, but as they will be very committed with theirindividual roles on the day I have asked W.Bro Mike Karn to oversee the wholeevent for us. And I am extremely grateful to him for agreeing to do so.  He and I are to have a meeting with the Dean laterthis month.
Now for some Grand Lodge news. The investitures of those about to be appointed or promoted in GrandRank are due to take place on the 24th of this month and I am surethat you will wish to know who the lucky Brethren are.
I shouldhasten to add that whilst they are all Middlesex Masons several of them werenominated by the PGM of either London Metropolitan or another Province. (Please stand when I call your name so thatthe chaps know that it is for your efforts and not merely your good looks).Those receiving a First Appointment are:- Barry Cramer; Alan Peters; GusFielding; Michael Bishop; David Carpenter and Noubar Manoukian.  Those being promoted are:- Peter Austin Cook;David Wareham; Michael Goody and Victor Marsh. Vic, you may recall was a Visiting Officer with us until he moved to Cornwall quite a few yearsago.
Those receiving first appointments in Grand Rank at Supreme Grand Chapter the following day are:- John Culling; Chris Connop; Brian Fisher; Alastair Mason;Alan Scriven; Len Sullivan and Richard Fielding.  Those being promoted are Philip Summers and Colin Fraser.  Again, we are extremely fortunate in that the recommendations for some of these chaps have come from the Grand Superintendents of other Provinces.

Changes in the Executive.
How the years roll by!  This year W.BroRichard Hardaker stands down as APGM of Group 7 having completed 5 years in post.  He has done some amazing work in keeping records and producing statistics of our diminishing memberships and failing lodges. He also acts as the secretary of any Board of Enquiry that I am obliged to convene when a Masonic disciplinary offence appears to have been committed.  Brethren, it is not until you get to a position such as this that you become aware of these sad but fairly rare lapses.  So do lets try to hold on to our Masonic principles – and keep Richard’s work load to a minimum.
Becauseof his experience in this field Richard is to become our Provincial Grand Registrar which will bring us in line with the majority of other Provinces.
Similarly,W.Bro Terry Baker stands down after his 4 year tenure as APGM of Group 3.  A few years ago I asked Terry to head up the new Provincial Communications Committee,  (known as the PCC) so that the Mercury,Website and our Information Officer were all active and in tune with eachother.  Inevitably there were a few teething troubles but I am sure you will agree that all have now combined to provide a wealth of information about forthcoming events as well as reports on recent successes.  Terry will continue to be active as a representative on the Grand Charity
Having mentioned Richard’s watchful eye on our lodges and memberships, now is an appropriate time to tell you that we are down to 224 Lodges in the Province although this will go down again when those that have recently closed have their warrants officially ‘Erased’ at Quarterly Communications in June.
With our overall membership now standing at 5300 it means that the average lodge membership is 23.  Some will have more and some will inevitably have less.  The point is Brethren that enjoyment is the key!  If yours is a lively, entertaining lodge with candidates joining and numerous,frequent visitors, then congratulations! Long may it continue! 
But,if it is not like that, or not how it was when you joined; if there are far fewer members; no one brings visitors; you haven’t had a candidate for a few years and the ceremonies are all rehearsals, then it is definitely time for a rethink.  Perhaps a change round of the senior posts will give everyone concerned a new lease of life; or why not get the Recruit or Die Team to come and give you the benefit of their experience. 
Why not consider amalgamating with another 1, or even 2 lodges that use the same ritual and meet at the same Centre.  It has worked extremely well with Harrow Temple in Unity Lodge and it could do the same for you, too.  All you need is an enthusiastic go-between to contact the others.
Or you could go en masse to visit another lodge so that you get to know the members before committing yourselves to an amalgamation. 
Brethren,if you really wish to continue enjoying your Freemasonry then don’t just sit there hoping someone else will save you – Do Something!.  I am almost certain that the mere fact that some positive action is at last being taken will, in itself,have quite a rejuvenating effect on you.
Changes in the Royal Arch.  E.Comp David Wakefield will be standing down as an APGP after 4 very dedicated years in that roll and I thank him for his tireless support and commitment. His place will be taken by E.Comp Alan Peters.  Congratulations Alan.
Brethren, Ihave been advised by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master that as numeracy is tobe at the forefront of education in our schools , he believes that our Groupsshould follow that lead.  (I can see your eyes glazing over!)  So instead of having Groups 1,2,3,4,6& 7,we are going to have Groups 1,2,3,4 & 5. Radical thinking Brethren! -but please bear with me on this!   Those bright sparks amongst you with GCSE Maths or higher, will have realised that not only have the numbers changed but that we appear to have lost a Group. Careless you may think – but no, it wa deliberate.
ChrisConnop’s Group 6 will be renumbered as Group 5, and the Lodges that made up RichardHardaker’s Group 7 will be dispersed amongst the five remaining groups.
Before our Provincial meeting in May a letter will be sent to those lodges affected by this,notifying them of the forthcoming change either of their APGM or the Group towhich they are attached.
And shortly afterwards the APGMs will notify those lodges which are to be allocated a newVisiting Officer.
From all of this you will have deduced that as from May we will only be requiring 5 not 6 APGMs.
However,on the positive side I am now delighted to inform you that to take over from Terry Baker and look after Group 3, the Provincial Grand Master has been pleased to appoint W.Bro Simon Thoday!   Please stand Simon as I know the members will wish to join me in congratulating you.
With the diminishing numbers of lodges some members may be looking for a Lodge of Instruction to attend so let me give a plug for the Cole Court Lodge of Instruction which meets at 8.00 pm. every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at Cole Court.  Ifyou have a ceremony to perform and need some practice or just need some guidance then please go along and join in. They are a committed bunch of chaps. You will be warmly welcomed and given every encouragement.  There is no doubt about it that practice gives you confidence, and confidence enables you to enjoy the office that you hold that much more.
Leaflets setting out the LoI programme for the year can be found in the bar at Cole Court.   
Dates fory our Diaries.
I know that many of these events will be shown on the website or in the Mercury but as that requires some effort on your part to search for them and actually read them, you rascals,  I’ll tell you about them now, while I have youas a captive audience.  Hopefully I can get you interested enough not only to tell your members about them, but also to attend as well.  Well, I can but hope – but then, as you know, I am a born optimist.
Firstly,and most importantly, is Tuesday, 14th May.  What’s on then? … ..Correct!
It is our Provincial Grand Lodge AGM when Simon Thoday will be invested along with a goodly number of Brethren who are to be appointed or promoted.  Will those who are to be invested on that day please stand.  Congratulations Brethren,I look forward to seeing you there and personally investing you with your new rank.
Brethren,do please remind your Worshipful Master and Wardens that it is part of their duties to attend wearing their collars. In particular, please stress that all the Masters will process in, whichis a special event during their year and shouldn’t be missed, particularly whenI tell you that we are to be honoured by the presence of the Assistant GrandMaster, R.W.Bro David Kenneth Williamson.
Thenext date is Wednesday 19th June when we will hold our Royal ArchProvincial AGM here at the Concord Club. Again, who here is to be appointed or promoted on that day? Please stand.  Congratulations Companions!  I look forward to investing you on tha tday.   Do make sure that the dining application for you and your guests is returned promptly as the limit here is for 300.  In the past we have had to turn people away, which is a shame if you have just been invested but cannot stay to dine afterwards.

I should add at this stage that as in previous years, the names of the Lodges and Chapters that book full tables at either the Provincial Lodge or Chapter meetings will be put into the hat and I will make an Official Visit to the first ones drawn out.  However, if you don’t want to see me you can either spread yourselves around the other tables or askfor your name to be withdrawn.  I won’t be offended – Much!
Afew days later on Saturday 22nd June we will have our annual ‘Masters Ride’, where we hope about 100 riders will be cycling from London to Brighton to raise money for a variety of charities,but in particular for Lifelites, which as you know supports childrens hospices throughout the Country.  For us in Middlesex it is the Shooting Star Chase Childrens’ Hospice, where Lifelites is planning to spend around £36,000 on a updating project. Simone Enefer-Doy, the Lifelites Chief Executive, rode the full 50 miles last year and I understand that she is hoping to do the same again this year.
A before we have invited neighbouring Provinces to take part and at present I understand that both Essex and Dorset have submitted entries.  However, what Paul Sully, our tireless organiser would really like to see is a few more entries, well a lot more really.  All you need, other than being sound in wind and limb, is a cycle, a helmet and a hundred pounds of sponsorship money, which will go to Lifelites. Anything over the first £100 can go to whichever charity that you, the rider, wishes to support, although of course supporting Lifelites is the main object of the exercise.
I should point out that you don’t have to ride all 50 miles yourself. You can do it as a relay team made up from Lodge members or with friends and family.   We have a number of travelling marshals on motor cycles to keep you on the right route, or to track you down if you’ve inadvertently left it!.  We also have first-aiders and supporters in cars, and vans carrying spare equipment etc. but Paul could always do with a few more.  So if you fancy riding, manning a checkpoint, being a marshal or a travelling supporter Paul would be really pleased to meet you afterwards.  Please stand up Paul so that they know who to see.  And can I now ask all those who rode, marshalled or helped in anyway last year to stand please.  Congratulations chaps you did us proud and many thanks for taking it on again.
OnSunday 21st July the Middlesex Grand Family Fete is being held again at the Royal Masonic School for Girls at Rickmansworth.  This i sorganised and run by Peter Hyde and his Fete Committee.  Brethren, It is a wonderful day out for us,our friends and families but it is so easy to forget all the work that Peter and his chaps do in preparing for the event, starting with the sale of Prize Draw tickets, organising Stall Holders, setting up on the Friday and Saturday,running the event, scheduling the displays, and when it is all over on Sunday evening, taking it all down and clearing everything away.  And don’t forget this all has to take place come rain or come shine.  It is atremendous commitment which usually raises between £10 -£15K each year.  The money raised will go to five localcharities each of which has been nominated by one of our Masonic centres.
Again,as last year, I will make a point of visiting the Lodge that sells the most Draw Tickets for the Fete.
 I should also like to take this opportunity of congratulating Peter and his team for organising a superb Boxing evening at theThistle Hotel a few weeks ago.  I have been told that it raised the staggering amount of £9,700! , which is a tremendous result.
Please stand Peter, together with the members of the Committee and take a bow. 
On Monday 9th September at Southgate Centre, if all goes according to plan Middlesex Masters (Southgate) Lodge is to have a Banner Dedication ceremony. If you haven’t seen one before then this would be a good opportunity todo so.  And for those of you who are Mentors let me remind you that this would be open to all Masons not just Past Masters so you might just wish to bring your protégée along to see it.
On Saturday, 21st September we are holding our Bi-Annual Provincial Ball.  This year it will be held at The Lensbury Club, in Teddington and is once again being organised by Mrs.Gillian Allan and members of Albert Duke of York Lodge. If your lodge is too small to hold a Ladies Night then do please consider using this for that purpose. You can book 2,3 4 or more tables and we can make it a special evening for your Master and his partner.  I am advised that tickets will be priced around £85.
TheRoyal Arch Companions amongst you will know that on the 16th October Supreme Grand Chapter will be celebrating its Bicentenary.  However, despite asking Companions to record their interest on the designated website the organisers now need a little more information as to how many would like to attend. 
Accordingly each Province is being asked to find out who wants to attend one or more of the four designated functions.  They consist of:- 1) A demonstration of the new Approved Ceremony at 11.0am; (2) Lunch at the Grand Connaught Hotel; (3) the Convocation in the afternoon, and lastly (4)Dinner at the Savoy.
An email was recently sent from Provincial Office to all Scribe Es asking them to raise this matter with their members, and to collate and return the information. Whilst a few have already done so the majority haven’t and Ireally need to know so that places can be allocated.  This is open to every Companion no matter what position he holds in the Royal Arch.
With regard to the 2013 RA Bicentenary Appeal in support of the Royal College of Surgeons I am very pleased to announce that we in Middlesex have now reached a total of £43, 578
As yet 16 chapters have yet to contribute although to be fair 12 have pledged todo so.  However, can I ask all the Companions here to check if your Chapter has made a contribution, no matter how small, as we need to wrap this Appeal up in the next month or two.  Cheques should not be sent direct to the appeal as they do not get credited as coming from Middlesex.  Please make your cheques payable to ‘The Grand Charity’ and send them to Adrian Howorth, our R.A Provincial Ch. Steward c/o Provincial Office.
Lastly,but certainly not least, my thanks go to Andrew Elliott and Howard Walters for the way that they have looked after the Club’s affairs during the year.  I am sure that you too would wish to show your appreciation of their efforts .
After a short comfort break we will be welcoming the Charity Representatives to join us for dinner, after which Mike Foxwell, Chairman of the Middlesex Province Relief Fund together with our Information Officer, Stewart Graham will be inviting the Lodge Representatives among you to come forward and present your cheques to your chosen Charity.

As ever, I thank you for your kind attention Brethren. Enjoy the rest of the evening.

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