No institution can boast a more solid foundation than that on which Freemasonry rests - the practice of every moral and social virtue!
Provincial Grand Lodge A.G.M
Address by the RWPGM - Saturday 8th October 2016
Thank you all for coming today, especially those brethren who arrived very early to set up the temporary Lodge here and will then stay after the meeting has finished, to pull it all down again. Also, those who manage the sound and the visuals and those who willingly give their time to assist with the organisation of this annual event. Brethren the work that you do is greatly appreciated and I do thank you most sincerely.
The past year has been as busy as ever. During the year, we have made a total of 28 Lodge visits including, two Lodge anniversaries, one banner dedication, and the presentation of 15 long service certificates. Sadly, two Lodges, Erddig and Yale, have found it necessary to surrender their warrants during the past year. I take this opportunity to thank the members of the 28 Lodges who have warmly welcomed me, my Deputy and Assistants together with those Provincial Officers who have accompanied us during the visits
I must also thank the Provincial Grand Secretary and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, together with Sally and Jacqui and the team of volunteers for all their efforts.
As I have said in previous years I must give a special thank you to all those Brethren who work up and down the Province raising money for our Festival and for both local and National Charities. Brethren your work is much valued as is your incredible inventiveness in creating exciting ways of raising money.
In response to a request from Grand Lodge, the Provincial Grand Secretary has recently completed a survey to establish the value of donations to non-Masonic Causes given during 2015 by the Province, its Lodges and Chapters. I was surprised to hear that this figure totalled just under £50,000 which I am sure you will agree is a very significant amount, which of course, is in addition to our Festival efforts and which until now had not been taken into consideration when talking about the donations and grants made by our Fraternity in general. Well done to you all.
I also thank those Brethren who are responsible for administrative matters in our Lodges - Treasurers, Secretaries, DC’s, Almoners and Charity Stewards for the work they undertake and their willingness to adapt to the many changes that have taken place and I am sure will continue to take place in the coming years. Finally, I must thank my Representatives for their work, the reports submitted by them provide me with a very useful insight into the welfare and long term viability of Lodges in the Province; your efforts are greatly appreciated.
I congratulate the following Brethren on being appointed Officers of Grand Lodge: - W.Bro. Philip Charles Northam and W.Bro. Timothy Oliver Hill who were both appointed to the rank of PAGDC and to W.Bro. John Charles Hoult on his being promoted to the rank of PSGD.
I also congratulate all the Brethren who have been appointed or promoted today. I hope that you will enjoy your rank and will continue with the good work you have undertaken so far.
Following the appointment of W.Bro. David Thomas as an Assistant PGM this afternoon, it has been necessary for me to appoint a new Chairman of the Dyffryn Clwyd Group of Lodges and Chapters. I have therefore decided to appoint W.Bro. Graham Maxwell to this role and take this opportunity to wish him well and to thank David for all his hard work as Group Chairman in the past.
Following on from the Declining Membership Project last year, I am delighted to be able to report that the statistics for the 12 months up to the end of August showed a very significant improvement on previous years, despite the closure of four Lodges during the past two years. The loss of members for the year is in single figures compared with an average loss of 51 members per annum over the previous five years. This is good news but we must not sit back, Lodges and Chapters must continue to review their long-term viability, the challenge is to achieve positive gains in our membership numbers, a task that will require the effort of us all.
Grand Lodge now monitor all Masonic media coverage throughout England and Wales and I was particularly pleased to note that at the end of July 2016, the statistics showed that - over 91% of local media reports were positive towards Freemasonry, an increase of over 63% up on last year. Only three instances of negative local media have been identified which is 73% down on last year. Good media coverage helps convey the message about the work our Fraternity does and encourages potential candidates to make further enquiries about becoming members.
W.Bro. David Fink who has been our Webmaster for the past ten years, has now decided to retire. David has done an enormous amount of work in establishing and developing the Provincial website since its launch in 2007 and I thank him most sincerely for all his efforts which are greatly appreciated. I have appointed W.Bro. Wayne Owens of Wrexhamian Lodge No. 6715, to succeed David as our Provincial Webmaster and wish him well for the future.
I also thank W.Bro. Hywel Wyn Jones who retires today having been our Communication Officer for the past seven years. Hywel has worked hard to push Freemasonry in North Wales into the public eye. He has established a Provincial presence at three county shows and is our link with the Grand Lodge Communication team. I have appointed W.Bro. Nick Woodward of Foryd Lodge No. 7158, to succeed Hywel as our Provincial Communication Officer and also wish him well for the future.
During the past few years there has been an increased demand for the services of the North Wales Association for Masonic Study. The Association has provided valuable support in assisting Lodges and Chapters with their programme of meetings and in the past year provided lecturers on 47 occasions. My thanks go to the Chairman and Secretary of the Association, W.Bro. Wynford Davies and W.Bro. Phil James and the 21 approved lecturers, who can deliver some 100 lectures on a wide variety of subjects. All of them give their time and effort freely and their contribution to the advancement of Masonic knowledge in the Province is greatly appreciated – even if not always fully acknowledged. New lecturers and researchers are always welcome and any Brother who may be interested should contact the Secretary for further information
Your efforts for the 2017 Festival continue to amaze me, even though we have fewer Brethren we have still managed to generate some £2.64 million towards the 2017 Festival. This is a remarkable achievement and I am hopeful that we will achieve our target of £2.75 million and possibly even exceed it.
There are two events this year that I wish to mention. Firstly, as you are aware we will be celebrating the Tercentenary of Grand Lodge. In North Wales, we are planning to hold a “Big Party” in the grounds of Queen Elizabeth Court on the 1st July 2017. There will be plenty of fun for all the family including live Entertainment and a troop of Circus Performers that will provide children the opportunity to try out some circus skills. There will also be a TLC Teddy Bear Picnic Zone, A Charity Display Zone, a Catering Zone and a Queen Elizabeth Court Garden Fete Zone, I understand there is a stand in the reception area where you can obtain further information.
Secondly, a Festival Event is being planned to take place on Saturday 9 September 2017 at Venue Cymru. The event celebrates the end of our Festival; however, it will not be a traditional banquet but is to be a stage show with a Welsh flavour with well-known entertainers. The Festival amount will be announced and a cheque presented to the Past President of the RMTGB who is here with us today. The cost of the seats will be subsidised as a thank you to all the Brethren who have supported the Festival and help achieve the target.
I urge you all to please give your support to both of these events, the production of which does involve an immense amount of effort by those involved
In closing I want to say that I have found an excellent atmosphere in the Lodges I have visited around the Province; young Brethren are coming in and Lodge meetings and Festive boards are fun. Keep your spirits up, I am very positive about the future of Freemasonry in North Wales.
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