Provincial Grand Lodge
Provincial Grand Master's Address, Provincial Team & Lodge Visits
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3rd October 2018   
  Brethren,   
  This time last year, I was a little worried that 2018 might seem to be a bit of an anti-climax after all the highs of the Tercentenary celebrations. Well I was wrong. 2018 has been just as busy as last year as we celebrated the opening of Cardinal House and its subsequent dedication just a couple of months ago, and the consecration of the Provincial Stewards Lodge back in April, the first consecration that the Province has seen in 17 years.
  The opening of Cardinal House marks the beginning of a new Chapter in the history of Freemasonry in Oxford. At its dedication, I thanked all those involved in bringing the project to fruition, for their patience and commitment over a long period, and I re-iterate that thanks today. Cardinal House is an excellent facility – the air-conditioned temple and dining room have proved their worth already, the catering is top notch, there is plenty of parking and it is easy to get to. Many of its doubters have already been gracious enough to sing its praises and I hope all the brethren in Oxford, in whatever order, will support it and use it as an impetus to retention and recruitment.
  The consecration of the Stewards Lodge was attended by nearly 200 brethren from this and other provinces, and in particular was well supported by the stewards’ lodges of other provinces. As a lodge, it is already providing valuable support to the province and I thank them for that. And I am pleased to hear that all the stewards being appointed today have asked to join the Lodge at its next meeting in December.
  I am sure that we will not have to wait another seventeen years for another consecration. Indeed, I understand that plans are well advanced for at least one, if not two specialist lodges, which will keep my new ProvDC busy.
  These may be the most visible highlights of the last year, but I can point to others. Since last December, the number of Freemasons in Oxfordshire has increased, albeit modestly, by about 1% to stand at 1,743, whilst memberships have increased by over 3% to 2,017. These are now back at levels seen in 2013 – the corner has been turned, but as ever, we cannot relax and must continue our efforts. The launch of Pathway will help us, although one of our launch events had to be postponed because of English football success. I encourage you all to find out more and adopt its principles, which are all very sensible and pragmatic
  We are seeing a good number of initiations, one of the highest in the country relative to our size. Over two thirds of our Lodges have seen an initiation in the last year, and I particularly want to call out Temple Island Lodge in Henley, who have had five initiates in the last 12 months, having not had one in the previous six years. I also understand that they are planning a triple initiation for December and already have another in the pipeline for next year. This shows what can be done and should be an example to all the Lodges in the province.
  There is room for improvement – our resignations are still too high and I have to report that I received the warrant of Old Rectory Lodge at the end of August for transmission back to the Grand Master. We also need to improve our support for other events beyond the basic Lodge meetings, whether they be social functions, open days run by a centre, or community events. But overall, the Province is in good heart.
  I should comment briefly on the retirement from office of two stalwarts of Oxfordshire masonry. Alan Baverstock has been ProvDC for five years and will be a hard act to follow. His eye for detail and preparation is second to none. While the Craft province will miss his services in that capacity, the Chapter province has gained and I have no doubt that Alan will continue to feature within the province in some capacity or other for many years. Alan, I thank you. Ivor Hawkins has been Provincial Secretary for four years and has been a great source of advice and encouragement to me over that period. I suspect few of you know how much work Ivor puts in, and on your behalf, I thank him for all his support and wish him and Rosie well in their new home on the Isle of Wight.
  Last week, we held our annual handover event, where the outgoing and incoming teams met in a social environment, spoilt only by a few words from me. I have no need to repeat those words today. But before closing, I must, as always, thank all of you for attending today, and the many who have been involved in the organisation of today's meeting. They are too numerous to name individually, but I am grateful to each and everyone of them for the care, attention and dedication you have shown in whatever capacity you have been involved.
  Brethren, I thank you for listening and may the Great Architect of the Universe look after you, your families and friends.