To be asked to take on the role of Provincial grand Charity steward is and an honour and a privilege and a further step on the ladder to Masonic achievement of being able to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
I was appointed Provincial Grand Charity Steward in the Craft in November 2009 and appointed in the Royal Arch in March 2010.
Going back in history, I was initiated in Victoria Lodge No.5504 (now erased), in January 1968 and received my first Charity Steward's office in November 1978, I was exalted into Chapter of Unaminity No42 (Bury) in September 1976. My current Craft Lodge is Pilkington No.6522 and my Royal Arch Chapter is Derby No.1055, both meeting at Radcliffe.
Over the years I have travelled quite a lot as a Sales and Marketing Executive and this enabled me to visit many Lodges up and down the country and this gave me inspiration to carry on as a mason, to see the wonderful work that is carried out through Lodges and Chapters for charitable purposes, not only in East Lancashire Province but in many others as well.
My position as Provincial Grand Charity Steward is to communicate effectively the desire of the Rulers of the Province with respect to charity and to forward their message through the channels of Charity Stewards or Festival Stewards (when in Festival mode),throughout all Lodges and Chapters.
Too often we call upon a Freemason to give "freely" in the name of Charity, without ensuring that the individual understands the relevance of charity in the context of Freemasonry.
Charity, whether it be in the provision of financial assistance to our beneficiaries or to local non-Masonic Charities and "good causes" is one of the fundamental principles of Freemasonry putting into practice that which we have been taught.
REMEMBER the NE Corner and the pledge given__________!!!!!
As a Province we are expected to host Festivals for one of the four major charities as and when it is the Province's turn to do so (approx. every 11 years), at the present moment in time the Province of east Lancashire is in Festival mode .
The RMBI 2015 Festival is the major Masonic Charity to which the Province is supporting.
The Provincial Grand master has asked each Brother to give "priority" to supporting this Masonic Charity whilst giving secondary support to the ELMC and then other deserving charities.
The Province being in Festival mode, it is my duty being part of the Festival Appeal Committee as Deputy Chairman, to co-ordinate the Charity Stewards and Festival Stewards to communicate effectively throughout the Festival period.
A leg in both camps, you might say – how do I justify the position. Brethren at this particular moment in time and until the Festival Appeal reaches its climax in the year 2015, there is only one message I as the Provincial Grand Charity Steward have to pass on and that is the Provinces Message – "Complete dedication to the festival", but also very important we, the brethren of the Province, must never forget the ELMC.
The East Lancashire Masonic Charity is here to care for and to afford charitable assistance to needy Freemasons or their widows or to any of their dependant relatives and to reach out to others in the communities in which we live who are deserving of our charitable support.
Support for those less fortunate than ourselves has been a feature of our Masonic activity throughout the history of this Province. In the eighteenth century, charity was disbursed by individual Lodges on behalf of their members. In 1815 Grand lodge ordained that a Province could establish a Local fund for Charitable and other Masonic purposes and then, in 1853, a meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in Blackburn established a Festival of Benevolence. Eventually a Committee was formed to promote the interests of charity. This Committee included one representative from each Lodge in the Province. This was the origin of the Lodge Charity Representative, now known as the Charity Steward.
The more you give, the more you get,
The more you laugh, the less you fret,
The more you do unselfishly,
The more you have abundantly.
The more of everything you share,
The more you'll always have to spare.
The more you love, the more you'll find
That life is good and friends are kind.
For only what we give away,
Enriches us from day to day.
Brian F.Sigsworth PAGSupt.Wks (Craft), PGStdB (RA)
Provincial Grand Charity Steward
12th April 2012