NEWS FROM THE PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER
We really must start with the serious matter of Coronavirus. As social beings, we look forward to enjoying the company of our Brethren and therein lies the challenge! You will have seen that in conjunction with the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, I have issued guidance to Lodges and Brethren in an attempt to prevent the possible transmission of the virus at Meetings.
My great concern is that the deaths in China and other countries resulting from contracting this virus appear to be among the aged and infirm population. We have many Brethren of advanced years and their health and well-being is my great concern as well as all my Brethren and their Families and Friends. It is known that this virus does not discriminate on grounds of age alone and everyone appears to be vulnerable.
I repeat the advice given by Her Majesty’s Government for all of us to wash our hands frequently and to use and dispose of tissues when coughing or sneezing to help prevent the transmission of the virus. I implore any Brother not to attend Meetings should they feel unwell with “flu-like” symptoms especially if they have recently visited an area of the world where the virus is prevalent. You will of course be missed. However, the choice of self-quarantine is the greater service to Brethren and fellow creatures. Please do keep Almoners informed of any illness as assistance may be needed.
Now on to happier things! I had the pleasure of undertaking the duties of Consecrating Officer for Garforth Lodge No: 9987 at the start of the month. This special event does not happen very often and the Consecration Team worked with skill and ability to bring this new Lodge into existence in accordance with ancient usage.
Indeed! A splendid day was had by all and I record my thanks to the Founders and especially the Organisers for making the event memorable for all the right reasons. Welcome to the newest member of our Provincial Family of Lodges. It is pleasing to note that a number of Candidates have already been proposed and it looks like very busy times ahead for the new Lodge.
May I take this opportunity to confirm that I am always prepared to consider an application for a new Lodge if the evidence from the potential Petitioners can be produced to demonstrate both initial and ongoing viability and sustainability.
A New Assistant Provincial Grand Master Installed! An excellent evening was enjoyed by everyone at West Vale when I installed W Bro. Robert Cole, PAGReg, as Assistant Provincial Grand Master. A packed Temple and Festive Board resounded with the sound of the Brethren having a wonderful time - And it was a splendid occasion!
INCREASING MEMBERSHIP – Attraction, Recruitment, Retention and Retrieval
Members’ Pathway - A Proven Winner! Results from the effective application of the Members’ Pathway continue to impress with increased memberships in individual Lodges. Alas, this is far from universal across the Province. 2019 was not just a “one-off” with the Members’ Pathway and I urge every Lodge to adopt and implement activities to increase membership starting with an annual programme of Open Days.
My thanks to our Provincial, Area and Lodge Membership Officers for their hard work and commitment. Remember! We are all Membership Officers and I repeat my 2019 comment that I do believe that an average of three Candidates for every Lodge is attainable.
The final 2019 membership figures are being verified. However, it does appear that we enjoyed an increase in Initiates and that is good news. We also lost Brethren through death and resignation. We can do nothing about when the Great Architect calls Brethren to higher service. We can and must do something about resignations, hence the information sent to Lodges to be proactive when a resignation is received. I invite Lodges to look through their records and make contact with former members in an attempt to bring them back into the fold. I was shocked when I was made aware that we have over 1000 “unattached” Brethren in our Province.
We sowed excellent seeds in 2019 and I predict that we shall reap the real rewards throughout 2020 and beyond.
RAISING OUR CIVIC PROFILE – Making a difference in our Communities
Floods! Yes, it happened again – Last year it was South Yorkshire - This time it’s the Calder Valley (again!). You will have seen my special “Floods Page” on our Provincial Website? Once again Freemasonry leapt to the assistance of those in distress by making Community donations currently standing at £10,000. Money helps but also a kindly action to show others that we care does as much good. My position remains firm – In any natural disaster in this Province my first concern is for Brethren, families and dependants: None to be without a roof over their head or to be cold or to be hungry. Our concern extends also to the wider Community and we shall do whatever we can to assist.
The Freemasons of the West Riding - Working with the Lord Lieutenants - We have three Lieutenancies within the boundaries of our Province and we are in the process of establishing a programme of allocating dedicated funds to support communities in addition to the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund. Important to Note! This is a new Community initiative with dedicated funding and will not impact on the operation or budget of the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund.
To kick things off - Great things are coming to fruition in the South of the Province. The hard work of my Deputy and the Chairman of West Riding Masonic Charities means that “something new” will be launched on the 1st of April. WATCH THIS SPACE for the detail.
Following the introduction in South Yorkshire, we shall extend the new scheme to the other Lieutenancies in the Province. We need to ensure that the agreed processes work effectively before going Province-wide.
The Provincial Grand Master’s Fund/West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd – 2020 Awards Evening - This will be the first such annual event to be held in October this year. Brethren, Families, Friends and the recipients of grants will be brought together for an evening of celebration. Look out for the publicity Brethren! This will be an opportunity to see where our donations are applied to make a difference, in some cases a big difference, in our Communities.
ENHANCING MEMBER EXPERIENCES – Making it even more worthwhile
Initiates’ Evenings - The roll out programme has started and the success continues. Once again it has been a delightful opportunity for the Rulers to meet our new members and their families around the Province. The feedback has been extremely positive and I am most grateful to the Company of Stewards for undertaking the planning. The Brethren involved in the delivery of the Ancient Change – a high spot of the evening - to the gatherings have all been a credit to themselves, their Lodges, to me, to our Province and to Freemasonry – well done to all – a great Team effort! I can confirm that it will be “same again” in 2021.
Twinning with the Inspectorates of both Malta and of Portugal - Continued thanks to the Company of Stewards for driving this initiative. It is planned to have a special “black tie” dinner on the 6th of May in Harrogate for Brethren and Ladies to celebrate the occasion. Illuminated scrolls with be signed and exchanged following which, a programme of inter-visitation and social activities will be published. Masonry Universal in action!
Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting - Harrogate 2020 - Things will be different as promised and with more information being distributed. The Annual Meeting will be a “member- focused” experience to transact the essential business of the Province and especially to celebrate with the Brethren who will be receiving an Appointment or Promotion in Provincial Grand Lodge.
Looking Ahead to March:
Monthly thought to inspire:
“You can have anything you want, if you want it badly enough” Abraham Lincoln
My Fraternal Greetings and Regards to you and all your loved ones!
May the Great Architect of the Universe bless and protect us all.
RW Bro. David S. Pratt – Provincial Grand Master
“2020 Will Be Better Than Ever!” “2019 – Was Great – 2020 Will Be Even Better!”
David S. Pratt
Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Yorkshire West Riding