The Provincial Grand Master's Report 2018




I must repeat my thanks to you all for being here and supporting our Province on this special day.
I think we could all be forgiven for thinking that the last twelve months would be a much quieter time for this Province, compared to the year before when we recognised our Tercentenary and were all virtually “run off our feet” by so much celebration at a national, regional and local level.
Your significant contribution to the success of that year has inspired a dramatic growth in the number of initiates joining Freemasonry, which is such welcome news.
Nonetheless, it is a statement of fact (and not conjecture) to say that we have continued to be extremely busy and my thanks go to you all for your personal contribution within your Lodges, which has made this last twelve another “landmark year”.
To ensure that next year will be a success, I should mention that we have arranged for another Dinner and Dance at the University of Bolton Stadium, [formally the Macron] on 29thJune 2019.
You have all seen during this Ceremony today that a significant number of changes have been made in very Senior Offices in this Province.
Whilst I always thank all the members of the Craft Cabinet for their valuable contribution during the last twelve months – and I do so again now– it is very sad for me to see so many of my personal friends retire from their respective offices.
Very Worshipful Brother Derek Thornhill as DPGM has been my “rock” and “mainstay” during my seven years as Provincial Grand Master. WBro Chad Northcott has been an inspiration and, to his credit, has – at times – run me ragged with his constant stream of initiatives.  WBro Peter Hewitt, another APGM, who retires today, has been a life-long friend – long before I knew he was a Mason, or that he knew that I was.
All these Brethren have ensured that my task of being PGM has been fulfilling and enjoyable.  I have valued their wisdom, their experience and their advice.
More than that, I have enjoyed their company and they have brought fun into my role.
I also thank their wives and families of the support they give us.
I draw enormous comfort from the fact that I will continue to see them regularly and we will all continue to be such close friends.
I also wish to thank the Provincial Secretary, WBro Martin Roche and all the staff and volunteers in our Provincial Office.  They are the “backbone” of this Province and I never tire of praising their hard work and dedication.
I now take this opportunity to wish those whom I have appointed already during this ceremony every success in their new offices.
WBros John Farrington, Mark Davies, Alan Kirwilliam and Peter Rhodes richly deserve their preferment and I am certain they will rise to the challenge of increased responsibility in the Province.
I also extend my congratulations to those Brethren I will shortly appoint, reappoint or promote within Provincial Grand Lodge.
This is an important day for you and I congratulate all of you.
I also thank those who retire from offices they have held for the last twelve months.  It has been a pleasure working with you.
Brethren, I have three significant messages to share with you today.
The first is that like many of you (I am) often asked why Freemasonry is relevant in today’s society.  I think it would be apposite to look through the other end of the telescope and ask how today’s society cannot fail to be improved by Freemasonry.
If we listen carefully to the words in the Charge after initiation and the words in the Address to the Brethren at Installations, they both explain in detail what is expected of a Freemason throughout his life, within his family, at work, in Lodge and in the community at large.
If the world lived their lives in accordance with that “Charge” and that “Address” how much better a place it would be.
In addition to all that, Freemasonry provides continuity and reliability – which are qualities so often missing the in the lives of so many. Perhaps above all it provides kindness and tolerance in a fractured and torn world, which needs kindness and tolerance so very much.
Surely in a world where there is so much disharmony and a general lack of agreement, an organisation that can provide so much unanimity and concord should be welcomed with open arms.
My second message is that:-
During this season we will see the roll out of the Members Pathway across the Province. As you are aware from the leaflet distributed in Freemasonry Today and from work already undertaken, the Pathway is an eleven step guide to help Lodges to attract, introduce and retain members. Many of the Lodges that were involved in the pilot scheme that took place have already benefitted from their experience.
Across the next few months a presentation will take place in every District. It will then be for each Lodge to determine how the Pathway can assist in its own particular circumstances.
Support will be available at both a District level and from the Province to help with the implementation of this important initiative. Brethren, I hope that you will embrace this opportunity and I commend the Pathway to you.
 And lastly:
Whilst it is all well and good for me to extol the success we are enjoying in seeing a significant increase in the number of initiates coming into our Lodges, it is essential that they are welcomed and appreciated and that they remainvaluable Masons within our Fraternity.
Times have changed dramatically, Brethren.  When I was initiated into Freemasonry fifty years ago, it was though that you wouldn’t speak to a Grand Officer unless he spoke to you first.
Well, Brethren, those days are over.  You and I may be “the present” butthese new initiates are “the future”.
It is some time since I said this (but I think it’s worth repeating). People may well forget what you did in life; they may well forget what you ever said – butthey willnever, everforget how you made them feel.
I encourage you all to make all these new Masons feel welcome.  And their wives and their families.
Hopefully, in that way, they will find that their new experience of Freemasonry will be a welcome dimension in their lives and be rewarding, enjoyable and so very, very valuable.
I wish each and every one of you continued success in the year that lies ahead.