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

2nd October 2019   
  Yet another year has passed and it has been as busy as ever. As we heard earlier, we have passed the half a million pound mark with our Festival, which is a magnificent sum, but there is more that we can do. Two lodges have celebrated notable anniversaries, my own mother Lodge, the Apollo University Lodge was honoured by the presence of the MWGM and all the other high rulers at its bicentenary celebration, a truly magnificent and unique event; and Annesley Lodge celebrated its centenary in rather more low key way just last week. I consecrated the Ruck and Maul Lodge back in April, and while there were a relatively small number of founders, 12 joining members and 3 initiates at its first meeting promise the start of something exciting.
  In the coming year, Clarendon Lodge with amalgamate with Isis and Norton will amalgamate with Evenlode, promising a revitalised and re-energised approach to their Freemasonry. They know that the path forward is not easy, but they will I am sure put the necessary effort in to ensure the success of these amalgamations and I wish them well. I also hope to be consecrating a new Lodge next year, the Sir William Morris Lodge. The name betrays its theme and I have no doubt that it will be a success.
  Overall our numbers are encouraging and doing as well, if not better than the national average. Our success to date can be laid at the door of the 2020 group which has focused our efforts on recruitment, retention and rejuvenation. I thank all of them for their hard work, especially their leader, VW Bro Neil Spencer, who steps down today from that role. I have no doubt that his successor, W Bro Alan Baverstock will continue the work this group has done, in his own style. Indeed, he has already told me that the group wants to launch a Provincial Photographic Competition to help celebrate and promote Freemasonry in Oxfordshire. And they also want to replicate the success of the Chapter of the Year award, with a similar award for Craft Lodges. Further details of both these will be available shortly.
  In his address at the September quarterly communication, the MWProGM commented on the teaming aspect of Freemasonry and I want to develop this theme insofar as it relates to Oxfordshire. We are all part of one big team in Oxfordshire, and we could divide ourselves up into many different teams – the 55 Lodges, the 18 chapters, committees, the provincial team, the Panto team, the festival team to name just a few.
  Now, we all know that successful teams exhibit some or all of the following characteristics
     - they work together, so that the whole is greater than the sums of the parts
     - roles can be shared, so that no-one is frightened off by the enormity of the challenge being taken on
     - individuals are allowed to develop in their own way at their own speed, doing want they want to do and are
     good at
     - importantly, teams develop and seek new members and encourage all to be involved as much as they can.
  The same is true in Freemasonry and in the coming year I would like us to focus on this challenge.
  How can we share roles and ritual in our Lodges and Chapters so that we can bring more members into the team without them being scared off?
  There is no easy single answer to this, and Lodges and Chapter will find solutions that work for them, but the benefits could be significant – less work for individuals, less ritual for individuals, more involvement, more fun, more enjoyment and more of the bits of Freemasonry that we like. In Summary, LESS is MORE.
  In raising this challenge in this forum, I know that I am for the most part preaching to the converted, so I will be asking Lodge Masters, secretaries and mentors, as well as my own provincial team to ensure that this message is pushed out, so that it reaches all our members.
  Moving on, just last week, I had the opportunity to thank all the outgoing officers for their services as well as congratulate the newly appointed and promoted officers and to explain their respective roles, so I don’t need to repeat those messages. But in particular, I thank once again my outgoing Deputy, V W Bro Neal Spencer for his hard work and contributions over the past five years.
  I also want to thank one other brother who has been exceptional in his contribution to the province. W Bro Roy Simmonds spent many years on the 2011 Festival for the Samaritan Fund, first as Secretary, then as Chairman. Once that finished, he hoped to be allowed a period of rest, but instead found himself on the board of the Oxford Masonic Hall Company. He has just stepped down from that board after 8 years of service. Few will know his true contribution, but he shown real professionalism and dedication over many years and I hope Cardinal House will be a fitting and tangible legacy to that. Roy, thank you is hardly sufficient for what you have done for the province, but I am sure you will continue to support as best you can.
  Also congratulations to those honoured by the MW Grand Master in April, particularly our Treasurer, W Bro Richard Skym and W Bro Andy Pickwick.
  My Festival Chairman, W Bro Graham Ellis, has already updated us on the progress we have made on the Festival. I am really proud of what you have achieved so far, but I know we can do much better, and I ask everyone to look into their own hearts and challenge themselves whether they have met their commitment so amply demonstrated in the First Degree ceremony.
  I must also thank all those involved in the organisation of today’s meeting – my DC W Bro Paul Buck and his team for all the ceremonial, my secretary W Bro Bernie Wegerhoff and his team for all the administrative side, and all the other brethren who have helped to set up the venue today and will no doubt help to take it down again.
  I have already welcomed and thanked our official visitors and guests for their support today. I hope that they have enjoyed the meeting and will enjoy our hospitality both before and at the festive Board. And I take this opportunity of thanking them once again for the welcome and hospitality that they have afforded me and my executive team when we have visited them.
  But my final thanks are reserved for all the members of the province who have attended today. Thank you so much for your support, as it is this that really makes a provincial meeting successful. It is your meeting, focused around the appointments and promotions. I hope you have enjoyed this meeting as much as I have, and let me finish my asking one further small favour of you. Take back to your lodges the simple message that freemasonry is meant to be fun and enjoyable, and put that message into practice.
  May the Great Architect of the Universe continue to look after you, your families and friends.
  Thank you.
  (L-R) W.Bro. Graham Ellis DPrGM, R.W.Bro. James Hilditch PrGM, W.Bro. Alan Baverstock APrGM