Provincial Craft Festival

Winter Gardens, Margate, on Friday 15th April, 2011




The Brethren of East Kent and their guests assembled in the King’s Hall at the Winter Gardens, Margate on a calm and sunny afternoon on Friday 15th April.

The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, W Bro Peter Hagger called the brethren to order for the processions of Grand Officers, Distinguished Guests, Past Executive Members, the Provincial Executive and finally the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Michael Robin Bailey, preceded by his Sword Bearer and Standard Bearers.

The Provincial Choir set the scene for the afternoon by giving their usual superb rendition of ‘Be still my soul’ from Sibelius’s Finlandia.

The Provincial Grand Lodge was opened in due form.

The PGM rose to report that the Province was mourning the loss of one hundred brethren who had been called to Higher Service in the last twelve months. The brethren were called to Order in respect to departed merit whilst the Provincial Grand Chaplain, W Bro Rev Philip Cox, was called upon for prayer.

The PGM welcomed the Distinguished Visitors and Guests. There were over fifty present. The Metropolitan Grand Lodge and the Provinces of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex and, of course, our sister Province of West Kent, were all represented along with the President of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity, V W Bro Graham Elliott CBE, the Manager of the Secretariat and the Masonic Services Manager from Grand Lodge and six Heads of Orders beyond the craft operating within the Province. They were received by the brethren of East Kent with hearty applause.

The Minutes of the 2010 Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting, the Provincial Grand Secretary’s Report, including the Library and Museum Report, the 2010 Audited Accounts together with the Treasurer’s Report, and the Reports from the East Kent Provincial Charities Association and the Provincial Grand Master’s Charity were all received.

A proposal by the Treasure to increase Provincial Grand Lodge fees to £14 per annum, with effect from the 1st October, 2011, was agreed.

Messrs McCabe, Ford and Williams were elected Auditors for the ensuing year.

Margate2The Provincial Grand Treasurer W Bro John Cooper, being the only nominee, was declared to be re-elected.

Members of the Kent Provincial Library and Museum Committee were appointed as follows: W Bros Roger Waltham (Chairman), John Andrews (Secretary), Tony Periton (Curator and Librarian), Eddie Baker (Operations Manager), Mark Bassant (Chairman of the Association of Patrons), Tony Taylor (Refurbishment Project Leader).

There being no other nominations, W Bro John Jones was declared to be re-appointed as Representative to the Committee of Management of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Association.

Four Representatives were nominated as Members of the Rulers’ Forum, Group 8: W Bros Roger Odd, Tony Eldridge, Chris Saville and Bro Lindsay Goode.

The following appointments were made to the Editorial Board of ‘The Provincial’: W Bros Roger Waltham (Editor), Roger Odd, Peter Saunders, Robin Masters and Richard Seath.

W Bro Tony Elliott was re-appointed as Provincial Information Officer with thanks to him and his Team for all their efforts. 

The PGM then re-appointed W Bro Roger Odd as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, W Bros Brian Powell, Andy Notley, Roger Waltham and Nick Waller (all of whom were also duly saluted) and various other Officers. He then appointed and invested the new active Provincial Grand Officers and those Officers promoted in and appointed to Past Office. The newly appointed and promoted Provincial Grand Officers were then saluted.

The PGM then announced his awards to Distinguished Brethren in recognition of their long and loyal service to Freemasonry in East Kent. W Bro Graham Jolly of the Lodge St George Bahrain 7389 was unfortunately unable to be present and had submitted his apologies. W Bro Thomas Webb of the Simon Langton Lodge 7586 received his certificate and gift with congratulations and thanks for his unstinting service.

The PGM was pleased to present a Certificate of Achievement to the winner of the first Provincial Essay Competition. Entitled ‘The Working Tools – History and Symbolism’, this went to Bro Jeffrey Davis of the Lodge of Loyalty 9494, a Mason of two years standing and a Steward of his Lodge. This is a new initiative aimed at Master Masons to encourage their daily pursuit of Masonic knowledge.

Another ‘first’, after consultation with the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of West Kent, Jonathan Winpenny, was a presentation by the PGM to the Cornwallis Lecturers (from East Kent) of a commemorative lapel pin. The recipients were W Bros John Reuther of the Ashford Lodge 8945; Mike Lawrence of the Old Harveians Lodge 7243 and Geoff Harris of the Queenborough Lodge 3893. The PGM then announced and congratulated W Bro Geoff Harris, as the winner for 2011, with a lecture entitled ‘Freemasonry, should we modernise?’

The President of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity, V W Bro Graham Elliott CBE gave a short talk upon the ongoing work of the Charity to illustrate how our contributions were vital in the support of Masonic, Non-Masonic and Emergency Grants.

The PGM then addressed the meeting stating that it was most pleasing to see such a large attendance. Thanks were extended to the DPGM and APGM’s for their outstanding contributions over the last year, the Grand Officers who represented at Installations and the active Provincial Officers who accompanied the PGM on official visits. In particular thanks were extended to W Bro Nick Waller, who undertook the winding up of the EKPCA, which had run its course, and had now has been given another important task, that of reviewing the 35 Masonic Centres in the Province; to Andy Notley and his team who have built on the Mentoring and Development Strategy, with details of forthcoming Seminars being announced on the Provincial Web Site; to Brian Powell and Michael Lewis [not forgetting Alan Higson] for producing a very professional Web Site, now to be enhanced with the creation of the Information Hub; Roger Waltham and his Committee who have prepared the exciting proposals to improve and refurbish the Library and Museum during a six to nine month closure from June; Roger Odd who has responsibility for the newly formed East Kent Masonic Sports Association; Peter Brooshooft for his commitment to the Masonic Fishing Charity and organising three more events in the Province over the coming months. Our commitment in the community was illustrated by hosting a matinee for 90 children and their parents and carers at the Christmas Pantomime. The return after a protracted absence to Canterbury Cathedral last May for our Biennial Service was most satisfying and would be repeated next year. A smaller scale event at the Thanet Synagogue on the 19th June is scheduled. Stewart Cale, the Provincial Charity Steward and his Committee and Area Representatives were thanked for promoting the 2014 Festival as were all who had helped to us reach the halfway target of £1.5 million. Mike Gee, the Provincial Almoner, was thanked for arranging the launch of the Freemasonry Cares Strategy with a special meeting at Maidstone on Saturday 4th June, to be attended by Laura Chapman, CEO of the Grand Charity. The Universities’ Scheme in the Province had received a boost with the nomination of Pentangle Lodge as a second Receptor Lodge, for which thanks were due to John Grumbridge and Nick Waller. A Grandson of the late W Bros Ray Whitehead and of Ron de Grey, both PAPGM’s, were being initiated under the Scheme. Finally, thanks were extended to all who had made the day such a special one; Secretary Chris Saville and the Provincial Office Staff under, the PGDC and his Deputies, Brethren of the Ramsgate, Sittingbourne and St Margaret’s Centres for furnishing the meeting, Mr Nick Taylor and his Staff at the Winter Gardens for their welcome, W Bro Alan Kilburn, standing down as DPGDC after four year and W Bro Richard Saitch, standing down after three years as Provincial Organist.

The PGM concluded by announcing his impending retirement as PGM and G Supt. He observed that he had been in active office for some 15 years, 8 years as an APGM and Deputy and Deputy GSupt and finally 7 years as PGM and GSupt. With honour and privilege came commitment and that had been his watchword over those years, particularly as PGM. That involved a tremendous amount of personal time and dedication, in addition to his professional and personal commitment. There comes a time when it is appropriate, in the interests of the incumbent and of the Province, for a change to take place. He therefore gave notice that he would be standing down as PGM and G Supt with effect from 30th June. That provided good time for a successor to be appointed to lead to the 2014 Festival and beyond. He expressed confidence that every support and encouragement will be afforded to the new PGM. It has been an outstanding privilege and honour to have held his Offices over that considerable time. They had been very enjoyable and fulfilling. He stated that he could not have undertaken that commitment without the wonderful support of so many talented Brethren and Companions and Masonic friends, all of whom played their part to achieve a happy, successful and vibrant Province for the benefit of all. He placed on recorded his personal debt of gratitude and appreciation to all and paid tribute for everyone’s magnificent loyalty to himself and the Province. He needed to include his wife Sandra who had been outstanding in her active support. She would wish to be included in his recording his personal thanks to all those Brethren and their families whom they met during their visits and events, for their warmth of reception and hospitality provided. It had been a memorable time for them both, but he was sure that it would be agreed that they are now entitled to look forward to a more relaxed time together. As he had stated on many occasions, English Freemasonry affords splendid opportunities and does have a fundamental effect on one’s life. In his view, the greatest of these were the wonderful and lasting friendships which have been formed and cemented. In due course, when permitted, he will look forward to resuming those friendships and sharing his company. To all present and their families he offered his warmest thanks and affection. He finished by wishing all a Happy Easter and for God’s blessing.

Margate3The PGM’s address received an enthusiastic standing ovation lead by the DPGM. The Alms were collected while the Provincial Choir sang an anthem.

The Provincial Grand Secretary announced the receipt of apologies.

The 2011 Provincial Grand Lodge meeting was closed.

The Provincial Grand Master was then processed out of the King’s Hall together with the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, the Provincial Wardens and members of the Provincial Executive, to the accompaniment of a robust rendition of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

The Festive Board in the Queen’s Hall was, as usual a very pleasant affair with much good humour. The Choir lead the singing of Grace and later entertained the brethren during the meal.

Once again, the Winter Gardens’ Team provided an enjoyable meal, together with the efficient service that has become expected. W Bro Charlie Ilott, unfortunately absent, provided his excellent Kentish apples for the delectation of the brethren.

The usual Masonic toasts were honoured, the toast to the Provincial Grand Master being proposed by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W Bro Roger Odd. He remarked that it was the first time since his appointment that the PGM had permitted him to propose the toast and he delved into humorous realms of fancy as to why this could be so. In reply the PGM reminded the DPGM that whatever had gone before, he always had the last word! He reiterated that his Patent was due to expire on 30th June, but that his successor will be announced soon. He stated that he had been most touched by the approbation he had received in the Provincial meeting earlier that afternoon. He was looking forward to a break, but also to the pleasure of returning in due time. His key words had always been, to have the greatest of fun and enjoyment in one’s Masonry. He then announced that the hour was about due to wish the Right Worshipful Rodney Wolverton, Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire, a happy birthday, upon which the Choir lead the assembled company in a rendition of Happy Birthday.

The Festive Board was then closed and the brethren departed with much to ponder.

29 April 2011