Companions it is with great pleasure that I rise to address you today, and as always it is my first duty at this annual meeting to welcome and thank our many guests and visitors from other Districts within the Order, for their personal support to the District of Somerset and Wiltshire on this very special meeting in our Masonic calendar. The support from the other Districts within the Order of Royal and Select Masters is excellent and I together with the outgoing Deputy V III Comp Chris Court and PCW Ill Comp Keith Surry as well as other senior members of the District receive a wonderful welcome with superb hospitality when we travel and visit other District meetings around the country.
We are meeting here in Bristol because although the District Recorder booked Keynsham as had been agreed in the General Purposes Committee it became double booked and I had to find a suitable venue quickly, I therefore decided to try this venue as we have the Premier of the West Council meeting in this building with all the necessary Council furniture.
It has been a great pleasure to visit all the Councils within the District and I am pleased at the general standard of ceremonial and ritual conducted within the Councils. Please forgive me for labouring the fact that Council members, visitors and candidates are not impressed and do not support poorly planned and executed meetings and ceremonies it is therefore most important that due consideration is given to the preparation of a meeting and the need for rehearsals. Companions we have some of the finest ritual in our Masonic Family which if time is devoted to learning the passages we have to deliver, then a great deal of personal satisfaction is achieved.
I am pleased to report to the District that the King David Council of Reflection No.338 the new Installed Masters Council was consecrated on Wednesday 15th November by the Grand Master the M Illustrious Companion Kessick John Jones assisted by the Deputy Grand Master Rt Illustrious Companion Ian Alexander QC and Rt Illustrious Companion Lt Col John Chambers the Grand Principal Conductor of the Council. It was a wonderful occasion that was well supported by Companions of this District together with a number of District Grand Masters and their Companions. One of the highlights, of what I would regard as a superb ceremony, was the Oration delivered by District Grand Chaplain Illustrious Companion Steven Hawkins who at very short notice accepted an invitation to act as Grand Chaplain for the consecration. The Oration he produced virtually overnight was inspiring and extremely interesting, and held everyone’s attention to its completion. Not only did it explain the choice of the Council name but it carefully explained the four ceremonies and putting a reverential explanation that only a Companion in Holy Orders could do. It would be very remiss of me not to thank on behalf of the District and the Companions of the New Council, Illustrious Companion Julian Frost who started the process of forming a new Council and V Illustrious Companion Chris Court who completed the Petition and organised the whole of the consecration day.
We all are aware that we need to support our Craft Lodges, Mark Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters, I am however well aware that some Council’s are having a challenging time in recruiting new Members and I will reiterate what I have said before that I and the District will give a Council what ever support we can, whenever a Thrice Illustrious Master requests assistance. King David Council of Reflection will also help, and may I stress that you only need to approach the Thrice Illustrious Master of 338 who I personally know will delegate Illustrious Companions to provide all the assistance you need.
We must therefore ensure that our Cryptic Masonry is both rewarding and enjoyable; you Companions are the custodians of its future and that’s a big responsibility you all have to bear.
It has been an immense pleasure for me to appoint and invest Illustrious Companion Keith Surry as my new Deputy and I shall look to him for continued wise council and support. It was also a pleasure for me to appoint and invest Illustrious Companion Richard Cooper as the District Principal Conductor of the Council, Illustrious Companion Richard has carried out the duties of District Director of Ceremonies for the last four years and this is a well deserved promotion. I must however thank the outgoing Deputy District Grand Master V Illustrious Companion Chris Court who has served me and the District tirelessly during the last 2 years.
May I offer my congratulation to all the other District Officers that I have been pleased to invest this morning these appointment and promotion in the District recognises the work that you have done in your Councils and the support given to Me and the District together with the other Councils within Somerset and Wiltshire. It will, however, necessitate additional responsibilities upon the recipient particularly in respect of promoting the Order within our District and within the Mark Lodges together with the Royal Arch Chapters in our respective Provinces, particularly assisting the new Members to understand the importance of our ritual, its narrative and the connection to the other parts of our Masonic Family. May I also remind recipients of their duty to support the District Team visits and the other councils within the District during your year of Office, bear in mind Companions I feel rather lonely entering the Council on my own.
Companions the Degree of “Excellent Master” is currently only worked in London but on the 15th February Grafton Council travelled to this Masonic Hall in Bristol to confer the Degree on a number of Companions for this and other Districts. I sincerely hope that Grafton Council of Anointed Kings will accept a future invitation so that we will enjoy the Excellent Masters Degree being carried out here in Bristol where they have all the facilities for the veils ceremony.
I am very pleased to report to this District meeting that at the Grand Council meeting held in Great Queen Street London on the 18th April 2017 the M Ill Grand Master was pleased to appoint and promote the following companions:-
V Ill Companion Sydney Honniball was promoted to Past Grand Councillor and becomes a Rt lll Companion.
Ill Companion George Paskins our District Recorder was promoted to Past Grand Capt of the Guard.
Ill Companion John Allen Deputy DC was appointed to Past Assistant Grand D of C.
Ill Companion Fred Parsons was appointed to Past Grand Standard Bearer.
I do congratulate each of these Companions on their appointments and promotions in Grand Council they are well deserved and just rewards for all their hard work for the District and their Individual Councils.
Companions as is the case with all Masonic meetings a great deal of planning and hard work is carried out by specific District Officers and I would wish to thank our District Recorder III Companion George Paskins for all his hardwork not only in preparing for this meeting but for his continued support, help and assistance to me and the District throughout the year.
I would also wish to thank Ill Companion Richard Cooper the outgoing District Grand Director of Ceremonies for all the hard work in carrying out his duties throughout the year. I would also wish to thank V Illustrious Companion Chris Court who has taken over as District Director of Ceremonies today, for the hardwork he has put into the planning and execution of the ceremonial for this meeting, and also I would wish to thank the Deputy District Director of Ceremonies III Comp. John Allen and Assistant District Director of Ceremonies III Comp Julian Frost for their attendance and personal support to me during my visits to Councils in the District.
Before I complete my address this year, I will leave you with this thought and I hope you will reflect on its sentiments: It was William Feather who said, “Next to doing a good job yourself, the greatest joy is having someone else do a first class job under your direction”. Think about that Companions and remember there are many talented Cryptic Masons who given the opportunity and guidance would make a good Recorder, Treasurer, or Council Director of Ceremonies.
Companions thank you for your kind forbearance and attention to my address.
May the Supreme Master of the Universe continue to guide us, make us tolerant to our Companions imperfections, and encourage us all to live a better life, and may happiness be the order of the day. Thank you Companions.