Provincial Grand Lodge
Provincial Grand Master's Address, Provincial Team & Lodge Visits
Click on the section headings below to see the various topics.

4th October 2017   
  Brethren,   
  When I sat down a couple of weeks ago and started thinking about what to say, my immediate concern was that there was so much to talk about that I could end up speaking for far too long, although it might save on the drinks bill before lunch.
  So it is just a quick mention of the following:
  
The Tercentenary and in particular the success of the Windsor Race Day, and the outstanding performances of our sports teams in the various inter-provincial challenges
The launch of the 2022 Festival on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the fact that we have already raised or had pledged over £200,000.
The number of Oxfordshire Freemasons who contributed to the documentary "Inside the Freemasons" aired on Sky TV
The progress being made on Cardinal House and its anticipated opening in the New Year
The upcoming consecration of the new Oxfordshire Provincial Stewards Lodge
  These are also signs of the good heart that this Province is in and this is backed up by the membership data. No longer is this a Province in decline, but Grand Lodge records show that we are growing at about 2% per annum, which is higher than the national average. I am pleased to note that this growth rate has been recognised by those in Freemasons Hall in London in a very positive light. The number of resignations has declined. I am seeing more requests for emergency meetings and multiple ceremonies. And as I and my executive travel around the province to both installation and working meetings, we more often than not note the improved attendances, the vibrancy of the meetings and festive boards and the quality of the ceremonies.
  I am immensely encouraged by the way that the province has responded to the challenges that it faced. But whilst we have made progress and arrested the decline, we cannot relax in our endeavours, and I firmly believe that we need to increase the momentum. Let's not be satisfied with a 2% growth rate, but see if we can increase that to 3 or 4%. The timing and conditions are right for us, as we can and must use the public awareness coming out of the Tercentenary, the TV documentary and our charitable works as well as the expected population growth in the Oxfordshire area to our advantage. The 2020 group has been doing great work in this area and I pay tribute to their hard work. But all of us must support this work.
  Many lodges have embraced this challenge already and I give credit to them. They have asked themselves difficult questions and have come up with their own solutions. In many cases, the Lodges have had to make minor changes in the way they operate and this is to be encouraged. But they have not lost their essential ethos or traditions. I know some may be afraid of change, but the opportunity has to be grasped. At the end of day, we are mere custodians or trustees of our Lodges and our goal must surely be to leave our own Lodge in a better state for posterity than its current position.
  This applies not only to our Craft Lodges, but also to all our units in all other Orders as well. My support for all the Orders is well known, but over the next few years, I really want to emphasise the close connection between Craft and Chapter, which after all is the completion of the journey into Pure Antient Freemasonry. Currently, about 35% of our Craft members complete their journey. Our initial target is to increase this to 40% before tackling the national target of 50%. So you should expect to see renewed activity to drive this forward over the next few months.
  I mentioned the upcoming consecration of the new Stewards Lodge. This will be the first new Lodge in Oxfordshire since 2001 and I hope it will not be the last. Other provinces have consecrated so called niche or specialist lodges to attract new members into Freemasonry. The 2020 group and I would be very interested to hear of any ideas you may have so that this province does not miss an opportunity.
  This positive upturn has not yet reached the entire spectrum of our collective provincial mindset. If there was one area that I could single out for improvement, it would be around our individual responsiveness, whether that be to a summons for a meeting, an invitation to a Lodge or Provincial social event, or a request for help and support. Not only should a response be considered a necessary courtesy, it also shows that we have not lost touch with you. It does not take more than a couple of minutes to respond to an e-mail. But I would also hope that we will feel more able to respond positively to these requests more frequently. Lodge meetings are inevitably better if more attend, and social events need our support.
  This applies equally to our 2022 Festival for the MCF. We have had a fantastic start and some lodges have responded brilliantly. A good number of you have already signed pledges, but many more have not. I would just ask you to look into your consciences, recall the charity charge in the First Degree ceremony and remember the good work that the MCF does nationally and here in Oxfordshire. But over the next four years, I encourage Lodges to organise fund raising events either individually or collectively by centre and I hope that you will support these. These are core to the success of the appeal, as well as to our goal of having fun and involving our families and friends.
  Before closing, let me offer congratulations to those appointed and promoted today, thanks to the retiring team of officers, especially Alan Knowles, and thanks to everyone involved in the organisation today. But above thanks to all of you for your attendance and support today, and I ask you to take the key messages back to your lodges. Above all, tell them that the Province is in good heart and is moving forward.
  Brethren, I thank you for listening and may the Great Architect of the Universe look after you, your families and friends.
  Presentation Of Certificate Of Merit
  Brethren, we now come to the presentation of my certificates of merit. I have decided this year, exceptionally, to make two awards. Unfortunately, the first recipient is a late apology, on doctor's orders. His surprise will have to come later in the year.
  The second Certificate of Merit goes to W Bro Paul Buck. Two years ago, we started planning for the Tercentenary and when the inter-provincial sporting challenge was mooted, I asked Paul if he would take on the Role of Captain of Sport. He threw himself into this unenviable role with wholehearted enthusiasm and singlehandedly managed to cajole, coax, volunteer or twist the arms of 10 captains and teams to represent this province against teams from Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Middlesex and Hertfordshire, as well as organising two of those events. Those teams performed admirably well, and the events were so enjoyed that it is hoped a number will be repeated next year.
  Not content with this, Paul also, without asking, supported Alan Knowles, as our representative helping with the organisation of the Windsor Race day.
  His effort, sheer hard work, enthusiasm and energy for all this, cannot go unmarked and I have no hesitation in making an exceptional second award.
  But before doing so, let me share my own recollection of his contribution. Although Paul is a very competent golfer, he decided to act as non-playing captain of the golf team, not least because I wanted to play myself. On the day, he turned up and supported the team, walking the course and giving lots of encouragement. On the 16th hole, a short par three where the nearest the pin prize was to be awarded, he greeted me with encouraging words – "well PGM, only one person has been in the bunker so far". It does not take a genius to work out where my ball ended up, so in addition to the Certificate of Merit, I am going to appoint Paul to the wholly unconstitutional rank of Provincial Raker of the Bunker and entrust him with the token of that office.
  PrGDC, please bring W Bro Paul to me.