Address by The Most Worshipful Grand Master
Brethren, I am delighted to welcome you here this afternoon and may I say how good it is to see you all. It has become an expected characteristic of our Annual Investiture meeting that the Grand Temple here at Freemasons’ Hall is filled to capacity and I am delighted to say that this year is again no exception.
There can be little doubt that such an attendance is concrete evidence of the esteem in which Mark Masonry is held by its members and when I look around I experience a feeling of great pleasure that so many of you have travelled, often great distances, to be here today.
I am delighted to have invested so many Brethren with Grand Rank today. Your appointments and promotions reflect the valuable contribution you have made to Mark masonry and I have no doubt that your preferment will stimulate you still further to promote the Order at every opportunity.
Brethren, change is often desirable, frequently necessary but always inevitable. Today I have made several changes among the Rulers of our Order. These changes signal the beginning of another new chapter in the history of the Mark Degree and I am confident that the Brethren I have appointed are well qualified to lead the Order into the future.
Today I have been pleased to invest Brother Raymond Smith as Pro Grand Master, Brother John Prizeman as Deputy Grand Master and Brother Stephen Davison as Assistant Grand Master. I know that they will enjoy your support in their new roles and I wish them every success in their future endeavours.
I would like to express my personal thanks to our retiring Pro Grand Master, Brother Richard Wallis, for his dedicated service to our Order over many years. He has always discharged his duties in a friendly and dignified manner which has been greatly appreciated by you all and I wish him a long and healthy retirement.
Today we also bid farewell to our Grand Secretary, Brother Angus Hannagan, who retires after 7 years in the Secretariat. Brother Hannagan succeeded to the Office of Grand Secretary some two years ago and I offer him my personal thanks for all that he has done in running the affairs of Grand Lodge during his tenure at Mark Masons’ Hall. I too wish him a long and healthy retirement.
Brother Peter Croft served as my Provincial Grand Master for Durham from 1995 to 2014. In 2013 I appointed him President of the Mark Executive Committee – an Office he discharged with distinction for two years before becoming President of the General Board in 2015.
Today marks his retirement as President and it is perhaps fitting that I have had the pleasure of his assistance as Acting Assistant Grand Master for the opening of Grand Lodge. I wish Brother Croft well in his retirement and look forward to his continuing support for the Order.
Brethren, during the last five years I have enjoyed the support of Brother Kessick Jones as my Grand Director of Ceremonies. Today, Brother Jones steps down from office to concentrate on his duties as Grand Master of the Grand Council of the Order of Royal and Select Masters. I would like to thank Brother Jones for his outstanding contribution to the maintenance of the ceremonial standards of the Order and wish him well for the future.
I have today had the pleasure of investing Brother Ryan Williams as our new Grand Secretary. Brother Williams joined the staff at Mark Masons’ Hall some two years ago as Deputy Grand Secretary and in that relatively short time has made a significant contribution to the Order. I wish him well in this most important of offices.
My new Grand Director of Ceremonies, Brother Frank Spencer, has a proven track record in the Office having already served as Grand Director of Ceremonies in two of our other Orders. I look forward to working with him and wish him well in his new Office.
The Mark Benevolent Fund continues its valuable work. During the next year the Fund’s support for Hope for Tomorrow will slowly come to an end, concluding at the M.B.F. Festival in Lincoln in July by which time we will not only have handed over the last of the mobile chemotherapy units but will also celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Fund.
On 17th July, I will be present at Armoury House, along with the Duke of Gloucester, who is Grand Prior of the Order of St John, for the launch of the Mark Benevolent Fund’s next major funding project in support of St John Ambulance. Through a major grant of just over £3 million, the Mark Benevolent Fund hopes to make a total of 18 ambulances and 34 support vehicles available for use in our Provinces. The launch event seeing the handover of the first two vehicles for use in East Lancashire and Cheshire.
Brethren, on 6th May the Mark Benevolent Fund Charity Walk took place in central London, along a 7-mile route encompassing four of central London’s most beautiful parks. The response to this event was overwhelming with more than 200 participants raising over £420,000 for the Fund – a truly remarkable achievement. Details of how the funds raised are to be disbursed will be shared with you soon.
During the last year, my team of Grand Officers has had a particularly busy time. In addition to installing 4 Provincial Grand Masters and attending 10 Lodge Jubilee celebrations, including 1 Bi-Centenary and 3 Sesqui-Centenary events, on 12th May they travelled to the Isle of Man to Constitute it as the 41st and newest Province in the Constitution. The coming year promises to be just as busy with 3 Installations already planned as well as the Consecration of the first Mark Lodge in Romania.
2017 is a special year for the United Grand Lodge of England as it celebrates its 300th anniversary. Many events are planned to mark this milestone and I know that our Mark Provinces are actively supporting the celebrations. Let us not forget, Brethren, how necessary it is that we support and encourage membership of the Craft from which we draw our members.
I wish you all a very happy and successful year in which to further the traditions of our beautiful Order and I hope that you all have a very pleasant evening.