Provincial Grand Lodge
Annual Meeting Address and Reports
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 Address to Provincial Grand Lodge 2018  
This is my 4th Annual Meeting as your PGM and I have tried to serve you as best I can for the last four and a half years since my sudden and unexpected Installation in December 2014. It has been a pleasure and great fun.
Brethren it is my view that masonry is in good heart. We often worry too much about the numbers game. However in recent months I have been to a number of Craft and Mark Annual Meetings as well as the Craft Investiture on 25th April. There is a sea of change following the Tercentenary Year. There is a clear alteration of direction in our processes but not our principles. We are adapting to the 21st Century. At the Grand Festival when proposing the toast to the Grand Master, W.Bro Ben Cross, actor extraordinaire, spoke passionately and eloquently, pointing out that the Craft has survived for 300 years because it had constantly changed to meet the changing social conditions and yet retained all our moral and ethical principles.
I see this everywhere in the Craft and have little doubt that in time if we do likewise we shall reap the rewards of being more accommodating to our members. As the Craft increases in membership so will the Mark.
But be patient. Rome was not built in a day.
We have had changes here in our Mark Province some good, some not so good.
We lost 333 Banbury Road but Cardinal House is now up and running with good facilities and good catering and lodges are slowly relocating there.
Last year our long standing ProvGDC wished to retire and although he will always be greatly missed he is still alive and kicking and has ably assisted us today. Thank you John; great to see you back in action.
I would like to thank the soon to be VWBro Philip Purves for stepping in to fill the gap during the past 12 months despite his enormous other commitments. Congratulations on your Mark Grand Rank Promotion; also on your new job as GDC in the Scarlet Cord. I am so pleased that you will still have time in your very busy schedule to be our ProvGSW.
We welcome today WBro Ray Harrison as our ProvGDC and we look forward to many years with him in that role. He learnt his trade under the guidance of VWBro Holtom and both John and I are very confident that he will be a great success.
Today is another milestone in the Province. Our long standing Provincial Grand Secretary asked to stand down a peg. I am sure you will all join with me to hope and pray that his current medical treatment will be wholly successful. As he himself offered to become the Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary it will be a great comfort and support for our new ProvGSec not only in performing his actual duties, which are enormous, but also in telling him how to keep his PGM under control. (Pause)
Brethren let me tell you something about a ProvGSec. In all well run Provinces it is commonly believed that it is the ProvGSec who actually runs the Province. Some will say that their only problems are with their PGM. In the case of the Oxfordshire Province both are true.
I could not have managed the last 4 and a half year without the total support of WBro Barry Prior. His hard work, guidance and advice have been invaluable. I believe we have now become good friends not only within the Province but also on our visits abroad to other masonic meetings with my Deputy PGM and our partners.
Barry, I am sure Bro Mark Ball will be very glad that we are not loosing you from the administration of the Province.
We welcome W.Bro Mark Ball as our ProvGSec and from the numerous comments that have reached me I am quite sure that I have made the right decision and I thank my Deputy PGM for putting forward his name for this job. Bro Mark I know you and Bro Ian are good friends already and I personally look forward to working with you and becoming good friends.
We also have a change of ProvGTres and I must thank W. Bro Marcus Smith who has carried this burden for the past seven years. Thank you for all the hard work that goes into keeping the finances of the Province afloat. We shall continue to see a lot of you in your new office of ProvGJW.
We also welcome WBro Paul Benham as our new ProvGTres. Bro Paul the Province owes you enormous debt of thanks for stepping in as ProvDeputyGS after the untimely death of Bro Keith Pauling in 2016 and I know how much Bro Barry has valued the great assistance you have been to him. I am so pleased that you have accepted higher office and I am sure you will make sure that the Province’s Finances are well looked after.
I thank all the other Active Provincial Officers for their work and input during the past year and I congratulate all who I have appointed this year. We will continue to give you as much work as possible with Team Visits and continue the policy of using the Wardens and Overseers to represent me around our Province and visiting other Provinces as and when they can. There is little point in holding high Provincial Grand Office if you have nothing else to do other than wear a different apron. I hope you will get great pleasure from this.
I congratulate the following who will be receiving Grand Rank promotion:
I have already mentioned our new ProvSGW on his 'Very'
WBro Percy Taylor as PastAssGDC
WBro Arthur Lewis and WBro Robin Phipps as PastGStandard Bearers.
All very well deserved.
I hope many of you will come to Grand Lodge to support them.
Over the last couple of years we have been sowing the seeds for a more integrated Province by joining together for activities outside Lodge as well as within.
The Marquettes have continued to have their regular lunches around the Province enjoyed by all the ladies who attend. My thanks go to Wendy Wright and Linda Stern for their efforts in this regards.
The Provincial Support Group is now up and running and will soon be advising me with what changes we should make, with ideas from the members up to the Executive instead of it just being the other way round.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master’s Ambassador’s scheme is well under way to make for better contact with the Craft Lodges and Chapters in the Province to assist careful recruitment.
The Travelling Keystone and Travelling Ark make their steady way around the Province and consistent work by Lodge Secretaries are increasing inter lodge visits by our Brethren.
We had a new venture this year being a dinner for all active officers and officers designate and their partners at Cardinal House. At the good suggestion of the Provincial Grand Secretary, those who were receiving first appointments and promotions today were also invited. This was well attended and I believe enjoyed by all. It will be a permanent fixture in the future.
We have again held our Provincial Church Service and my thanks go to WBro the Rev Jim for a splendid service at All Saints. This is growing in popularity and I hope that such a service will also become a permanent fixture.
The other social activities will continue and be added to and I thank the Deputy PGM and his Team for organising these events which are growing each year in popularity. This bodes well for the future.
This brings me to the Summer Dinner at Heythrop Park on the 15th June.
This is a new idea of your Executive; to hold an Oxon Mark fund raising event entirely to support the Oxon Craft Festival. We are very lucky in this Province to have the most excellent relationship between the Craft and the Mark; this does not always happen throughout England and Wales. In this Province we stand shoulder to shoulder. Without a successful Craft Province we cannot have a successful Mark Province.
Please please support this event in great numbers and help us to raise a goodly sum. We are not a large Province but the organisers have extended the invitation to all Craft and Chapter members who are not also Mark Master Masons and we are also getting support from our neighbours in Berkshire and elsewhere.
We are a small province, indeed one of the smallest, but we still manage to play our full part in supporting the Mark Benevolent Fund. Last year I reported on the success of the Mark Walk in London which you very generously supported. I am glad there has been no suggestion that this be repeated this year. It took me a good week to recover.
This year we supported the MBF Shelter Box Appeal and we continue to support other Festivals generously.
As you know Bro Graham McGowen-Smythe has agreed to take on the arduous role of Chairman of our Festival Committee and is getting together a strong Committee to help him. He is new to our Mark Province but comes with enormous experience.
The Festival Committee will have an official launch when they are ready.
This year the Committee of OMMBA have decided to support the Lincolnshire Festival which is the 150th Anniversary Festival of the Mark Benevolent Fund and will be held in Lincoln on 7th July am I am pleased to announce that we are donating to them £1,000
Ask the Acting ProvGDC to bring forward a representative of Lincolnshire.
2019 is the turn of Sussex to host the Festival and I am pleased to announce that the Committee have decided to make a down payment this year of £500.
Ask the Acting ProvGDC to bring forward the representative from Sussex WBro David Dunigan.
This brings me on to the final matter I wish to speak about. I have no need to lecture you about Charity but charity is not only about raising money. The real meaning of charity is love. Love to our fellow human beings. Throughout the year I have heard of many acts of help and assistance by one Brother to another which go unrecorded or unmentioned.
RWBro Richard Slade, your PGM for 8 years, is very seriously ill in the John Radcliffe and I know you will all be thinking of him and his wife Francis in this worrying time for them. We hope and pray that he will make a full recovery and I know many of you will be offering them all the help and assistance as they need.
Brethren all these matters which I have touched on make me proud be to be your PGM and with the good number of new advances and joining members referred to in the ProvGSec’s report, I am confident that this Province is in a strong position to grow as I am equally confident that the membership of the Craft will also grow.
We must all be patient and wait for the seeds we have planted to blossom in the sunshine of the future.
Lastly I thank the outgoing ProvGSec and his team as well as the ProvGDC and his team for organising today. There is much work done behind the scenes to put on this Annual Meeting.
I hope you all and the ladies who have attended with you will have found coming here to Heythrop Park today both enjoyable and satisfying.
Thank you Brethren and may the Great Overseer of the Universe continue to guide and protect you.