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 for their 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 wonderful and I together with the Deputy V III Comp Chris Court and PCW Ill Comp Keith Surry as well as other senior members of the District receive a fantastic welcome and superb hospitality when we travel and visit other District meetings around the country. The camaraderie and banter in the DGM’s corner is second to none and Companions that’s where I get all my jokes from.
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. Having recently visited Nailsea Council I would have awarded 2 BAFT awards to 2 Companions delivering their portion of the ritual, it was exceedingly well performed and executed with the Candidate making me personally aware that he was very impressed with the ceremony. 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. We must 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 was with great pleasure that I was invited to St Edmunds Council on the evening that the Master presented the Provincial Grand Master for the Craft in Wiltshire RWB Phillip Bullock with a cheque for £1000 for his festival. I do congratulate the Master and Companions of St Edmunds for their generous gift to Wiltshire Craft and this demonstrates the support we can give to our Provinces and acknowledges our profile within the other Masonic Orders.
The General Purposes Committee held its meeting on the 14th March; this meeting was well supported by the Thrice Illustrious Masters together with their Companions from all the Councils in the District. May I remind Companions of Somerset and Wiltshire that this important committee which is the vehicle for all the Companions in the District to provide an input on topics, issues and suggestions that are relevant to the efficient running of a District, this Companions is our General Purposes Committee not my General Purposes Committee and please use it to help me and the Executive to provide what you want in our District.
The first “Founders” meeting of the proposed Past Thrice Illustrious Masters Council has been held at Burnham Masonic Hall on 18th October and I am indebted to III Companion Julian Frost for making all the arrangements and for acting as the Founding Secretary. It is proposed that the Council will be named as “King David’s Council of Reflection” with the Installation meeting held in Burnham and the second meeting held in Bristol.
As the petition has not yet been completed can I appeal to Past and Serving Thrice IIIustrious Masters who wish to be founders of this council to contact III Companion Frost as soon as possible so that their names may be added to the Petition. Details of the consecration will be forwarded to all Councils when the planning and agreed dates have been confirmed by Grand Council.
May I offer my congratulation to the 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 the Mark and Royal Arch Chapters in our respective Provinces, particularly assisting the new Members to understand the importance of our ritual 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.
Companions the Degree of “Excellent Master” is currently worked in London and will be conferred on nominated Ill Companions in our District who are suitable qualified, and I am pleased to report that lll Comp Keith Surry our PCW received the Degree in the Grafton Council of Anointed Kings held at Mark Masons Hall last February, and that lll Comp Richard Cooper will have the degree conferred on the 28th November again in Grafton Council. However the Grand Master wishes to carry out the Degree in Bristol which has all the necessary facilities for the ceremony, and although a date has not yet been agreed I understand that February or March may be planned for the ceremony which will be conducted by the Grafton Council of Anointed Kings.
The ceremony of Silver Trowel or Degree of Thrice Illustrious Master has been conferred on Ill Companion Neil Hawes in the Grafton Council in London and it was with much regret we were unable to invite our friends from Devon and Cornwall to the annual Taunton Council meeting to assist the District to carry out the ceremony as the only other Candidate was not qualified to receive it due to the rules for me to recommend a past TIM had been changed. However this year we shall be holding a joint meeting with Companions from Devon and Cornwall in June when the Silver Trowel will be jointly conferred on nominated Companions and I do hope that Ill Companions will support the District and Taunton Council at this special joint meeting.
I am very pleased to report to this District meeting that at the Grand Council meeting held in Great Queen Street London on the 16th April 2016 the M Ill Grand Master was pleased to appoint and promote the following companions:-
Ill Companion Adrian Jones was promoted to Past Grand Lecturer and becomes a V lll Companion.
Ill Companion Neil Hawes was appointed to Past Grand Swd Bearer.
Ill Companion Michael Hopkins was appointed to Past Grand Standard Bearer.
I do congratulate each of these Companions on their appointments and promotions they are well deserved.
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 hard work not only in preparing for this meeting but for his continued support, help and assistance to me and the District throughout the year. Companions he works tirelessly for this Order and for the District and we are in deed fortunate to have such a diligent and respected Companion to carry out all the Administrative duties necessary for the smooth running of a District.
I would also wish to thank Ill Companion Richard Cooper the District Grand Director of Ceremonies for all the hard work 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.
Companions I do thank you for your attendance today and I sincerely hope that you have all enjoyed a splendid day with all our Cryptic Companions from this Somerset and Wiltshire District as well as our Visiting Companions and Guests many of whom have travelled considerable distances to be with us at this annual District meeting. Happy memories, good fellowship and making new Masonic Cryptic Friends is surely time well spent. May the Supreme Master of the Universe guide our steps, and provide joy in our hearts that we may be always at peace with our selves and our Cryptic Companions and may happiness always be the order of the day.
I leave you with a significant and noteworthy thought that “Knowledge is treasure but practice is the key to it”.
May the Supreme Master of the Universe Bless you all.