Provincial Grand Lodge
Annual Meeting Address and Reports
Click on the section headings below to see the various topics.

 Address to Provincial Grand Lodge 2017  
Brethren, last year you may recall I started by saying that I would be shorter than on the previous year out of deference to George Bonham's short attention span. Sadly this year I do not have that restraint as he is away in the Isle of Man acting as Deputy Grand Master. George we hope you are having a good time and we miss you here very much.
I very pleased to have earlier welcomed Frank Spencer, Past PGM for Worcestershire, who you all know is the Grand Director of Ceremonies Designate in our Order. We all here in Oxfordshire wish you great success and hopefully some enjoyment in this difficult role. Your predecessor Kessick Jones was due to come but duties in Isle of Man have likewise taken him away. Some may say that it is better for us to have the future GDC with us than the outgoing one, but Kessick has been before and has promised to come next year.
This is the second year we have had the meeting at 5.15pm and arranged an evening for our ladies. I am delighted in the popularity of this and the great response. We might have had more visitors but for the business in the Isle of Man and the draw of Cornwall's meeting tomorrow. In fact although the number of visitors is down the number attending is up. This pleases me greatly because it means we have more of our own members attending and after the Annual Meeting is primarily for our members.
Next year we are planning to change the date of our Annual Meeting to attempt to avoid some of the masonic clashes. It is likely to be on Friday 18th May.
The last 12 months as we are told by the Provincial Grand Secretary in his report, can in many ways be considered a successful year. I shall not repeat what he has reported; but decline in memberships should not be confused with the decline in numbers of members. 17 new members were advanced and 4 have joined from other Provinces. This bodes well for the future and if we can build on that we will soon be at least counterbalancing those who have passed away, moved away from the Province or resigned because of advancing years.
Let us all work hard on recruitment so that we can soon show a net gain, even if small one, year on year.
Last year we introduced the Travelling Keystone and this year at Provincial Grand Assembly we introduced the Travelling Ark.
Both have proved to be a great success.
I wish to give enormous thanks to W. Bro John Grout for the very fine Travelling Ark which he personally commissioned to be made and presented to the Province. It is such a magnificently crafted Ark and we have it here today which you can all see on the Secretary's desk.
With the help of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master's Committee we have continued to improve the social and fund raising activities and you will see in the PGSec's report all the details of last year's activities and those for the future.
A special thank you must go to the three ladies of the DPGM and PGSec and my own, for organising ladies lunches around the Province. These have proved very popular and successful and I wish them continued success. This is such an important thing as Freemasonry in the modern world will only succeed if we involve our ladies.
The PGRegistrar sent out an email to try to discover what the members wanted to be organised by way of social events and so assist the Deputy PGM's Committee to organise functions to which more of you might wish to come.
I am grateful to the few who responded but it would be of great help if all members could respond. This will be even more important when we enter our Festival Period because we need to organise functions which will appeal to all members. Please go home, get up the email and respond.
I can announce that Brother Graham McGowan-Smyth has agreed to be Chairman of the Festival Committee. We shall be attending a special Festival Seminar at No 86 in September after which we will set about forming a full Committee and planning for when we announce the start of the Festival Period.
A Provincial Service has been shown elsewhere to be very good for a Province.
This year W. Bro. The Reverend Jim Cocke PProvGSW, has very kindly agreed to put on such a service which he specially designed for the purpose. You have all been emailed the details.
It is on Sunday 21st May at All Saints Church, Headington. I am told that there is adequate parking in a nearby supermarket car park.
The Church will be open at 4.30 pm for you to see the Art Exhibition which the Church is holding as part of the Oxford Art Week and at about 5.00 pm Bro Jim will be giving a talk on the history of the very impressive stained glass windows in the church to be followed by the Service at which you may wear you full Mark Regalia.
Afterwards there will be drinks and light refreshments, at no cost to yourselves.
Please, Please attend in large numbers and notify the ProvGSec in good time if you are attending and how many friends and relations you will bring in order to assist with catering All are very welcomed.
Let us make it a great success.
Although we are a secular Order, we do acknowledge the Great Overseer of the Universe and it would do us no harm to say thank you him in this way once in a while.
I congratulate all those I have appointed to active office and those I have promoted.
I also congratulate W. Bro Stephen Bowers and W. Bro Alan Dishington who will be receiving there first Grand Rank appointments on the 13th June.
Before I end I am sure you will all appreciate the enormous amount of work that goes into putting on an Annual Meeting.
Many people are involved in many different ways but I especially thank the Immediate Past Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for giving us yet another smooth and well organised meeting here in Provincial Grand Lodge and also Our Provincial Grand Secretary and his team for all they have to do organising our members and guests attendance and arranging for the festivities to follow.
This year we again have the ladies here at Heythrop with their own special speaker and diner afterwards. I thank my wife and that of my Deputy for looking after this matter.
Brethren may I thank you all for giving me another enjoyable 12 months as your PGM. I hope I have managed to serve you well and I look forward to the next year full of activities and friendships. I wish you all well.
The alms collection will be for Oxford Mark Masons Benevolent Association.
Brethren may the Great Overseer of the Universe watch over you and keep you, your families and friends in His Love and Care.
Tributes to V.W.Bro. John Holtom
Before asking the ProvGSec to read out the names of this year's officers I would like to thank all the officers of the last year. We have had a number of Team Visits and a joint meeting with our dear neighbours in Berkshire. It was very satisfying to have such a good attendance of the Team on these occasions. I sincerely hope you all enjoyed your year in office.
Today is in part a sad day for the Province.
Our Prov GDC has decided to retire. He has jolly well earnt an honourable retirement.
V.W. Bro John Holtom was appointed in 1996 to the office of Prov AGDC. In 1999 he took time off to be ProvGSW returning as Prov GDC until today. That is 18 years telling us all what to do and has he not done it well?
I will have more to say about Brother John later but for now John, may I say a very big thank you on behalf of the whole Province for this devotion to, may I call it, 'the profession of direction ceremonies'.
Although you have a very worthy and highly qualified successor, we all know that he has a hard act to follow.
Prov. Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, please would you conduct VWBro John Hector Holtom to me.
Dear Brother John, when the then Grand Secretary invited me to lunch and asked me if I would be prepared to fill the gap left by my predecessor's appointment to be PGM of Oxon Craft, I said I would have to speak to you and Barry Prior first.
I made it quite clear that I would not take on the job unless both of you agreed to stay in post especially as I really had no idea how to be a PGM.
It might have seemed to you at the time that I was putting you under unreasonable pressure. I was. However, happily for me and the Province you unhesitatingly agreed to remain as Prov. GDC and you have not only guided me well since December 2014 but have taught me an enormous amount even though I still have a lot to learn.
Some might rightly say that I would not have survived this long without you and they are probably correct. Your knowledge of the Province and its members is enormous; your advice and guidance has been invaluable. For all this you have my everlasting thanks.
I have no doubt that we will continue to see much of you in the future and perhaps the new Prov GDC, although a man of great experience, may wish to seek your advice on occasions. I know that I can always count on you for good advice and counsel whenever I request it (and probably even when I do not!).
You have now been the Prov GDC to 4 Provincial Grand Masters and I am delighted they have all been able to attend today.
Provincial Grand Secretary, please would you read the citation.
Ask the other 3 Past PGMs to stand beside me.
It gives me great pleasure to present this to you in a frame as a memory of your long service to this Province and 4 PGMs.
However we need to say thank you not only to you, but to your long suffering wife, Margaret. There has been a well supported collection made in secret and the members of the Province have shown their gratitude for all you have done.
We asked for assistance from your son John as to what you might like and following his advice after some discussion, I have here travel agents vouchers for £800 foryou and Margaret to pick where you would like to stay for a few days. We know how much you enjoy going places together.
Please choose somewhere non masonic and have a good time.
Enjoy a long and happy retirement from this masonic job well done.