Brethren, I first of all wish to state what a pleasure it is to see the Scribe of Carl Whitehead Lodge here today, Tony we are so pleased to have you with us, attending to your duties. Brethren, W. Bro. Clee gives such a valuable service to the Province in so many ways. Since the formation of the 250 Club, Tony under the initial guidance of W. Bro. Keay and W. Bro. Emmett, worked tirelessly at its launch, and since then he along with his team, has managed its affairs in an impeccable manner. He now feels, in deference to his current state of health that the time has come to pass on this particular responsibility to others. Tony of behalf of Province I give you a heartfelt thank-you for a job well done with the 250 Club and extend to you our sincere good wishes. Brethren as a result of Tony’s efforts and the continuing support of its members we will again be having a Numbers draw later today, so good luck.
The 250 Club now has a new committee; it will consist of L. John Hendry – Chairman, Robert E. D’Abney, Ronald J. Mutagh, Derick Townend and Secretary Philip Oldfield. I thank these worthy brethren for undertaking this responsibility on behalf of the Province.
The generosity of this Province never ceases to amaze me and it was with so much pride that I earlier acknowledged, on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, another 3 Lodges that have contributed sufficient sums to qualify as 150th Anniversary Fund Lodges and now proudly display the button on the Commanders Keystone Collar. Thank you Brethren.
You will, no doubt recall that I informed you last year of the intention to consecrate another new Lodge following the earlier consecration of Peace Royal Ark Mariners Number 681. On the 13th of October 2009 Morley Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No 1905 was consecrated at Batley and now meets on a back-to-back basis with Morley Mark. This new Daylight Lodge is attracting many candidates and is obviously fulfilling a need, having Elevated no less than 6 brethren at its last two meetings!
I now, though they are not applicable to this particular Lodge, wish to refer briefly to the matter of the increase in Grand Lodge Dues and the £5.00 membership based levy being imposed on Lodges. I am as upset as anyone about magnitude of the increase required and the levy applied. The reasons given for this are well documented and as regrettable as the situation is we must now draw a line under the matter and move on. Brethren we cannot undo what has been done nor can we fix that which we do not control. Further more we should accept the assurances given by those that are now involved that things are being put right to go forward into the future.
I also earnestly request, that when raising the levy in your Lodges, which is due to be paid in January, that you follow the advice given by Province rather than by a direct demand on individual members of your Lodge.
Finally, I ask one more thing of you Brethren, that you continue to do what we do best, that’s promoting and enjoying the teachings, the spirituality, the fellowship and the truly wonderful fraternity of this ancient and honourable Order of Royal Ark Mariners.
On a more pleasant note also, the latest Registrars report once again showed a small increase in membership in both gross and net numbers and let us hope that the events of recent months do not do too much damage to this most pleasing trend.
I would now inform you of the new initiative within this Province, which will endeavour to attract even more Mark Masons to join us. At my invitation, W. Bro. Derek Cope, in conjunction with the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, has produced a magnificent visual presentation expounding the many virtues of our Order. It is intended that W. Bro. Cope will make his presentation to Mark Masons at Lodges on pre-arranged, appropriate occasions and the Province will take a pro-active role in facilitating the organisation of such events.
Brethren I have already congratulated the new holders of Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank personally whilst investing them with their distinctive collaret’s and you in turn, have acknowledged their preferment by your Salutations. These worthy brethren have contributed to the well-being of their respective Lodges and the Order over the past few years and have earned the honour that has been bestowed upon them today. I look forward to their further contribution and in doing so wish them good health to enable them to enjoy their new rank.
Perhaps brethren, acclamation from us all, is now appropriate.
Whilst on the subject of commitment to our Order, after much consideration, it has been decided that an award for long and distinguished service be introduced. This will be known as the West Yorkshire Royal Ark Mariner Distinguished Service Award.
It will NOT be applicable to the Holders of Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank and will only be presented to Brethren who have given very long and unstinting service to their own Royal Ark Mariner Lodge or Lodges. Such will be its eminence that it is envisaged that there will be no more than two recipients of the award each year.
It is with much pleasure therefore that I will now invite the first recipient to receive this award.
Brother Director of Ceremonies please escort W. Bro. Trevor Lancaster Hughes MBE, holder of Prov.RAMGR., to me.
W. Bro. Hughes I thank you for your long and distinguished service to this Province and the Order, and in recognition of it, I now affix to your breast pocket the West Yorkshire Royal Ark Mariner Distinguished Service Award ribbon and jewel. In doing so I wish you many happy years wearing it.
Brethren I have said many times before that one of the most pleasurable parts of the duties of the Rulers of the Province is the visits we make to your Lodge Installation Meetings, and it is most gratifying when we witness ceremonies that are performed without the aid of the ritual book. What a difference it makes also, when others, by sharing the workload, give assistance to a Commander that has difficulty in mastering the whole.
I again extend my thanks to W. Brothers Vic Smith, George Quinn, Bill Richardson and Edward Patnick for representing me during the past year. I particularly extend a special thank you to W. Bro. Bill Richardson and W. Bro. George Quinn who, after many years of tremendous service have retired from the list of Royal Ark Mariner representatives. Have no fear though Brethren, they both inform me that we have not seen the last of them yet!
W. Bro. Rod Taylor, Commander Noah, before concluding the business here today may I on behalf of the Province thank you, your Officers and Brethren for again hosting this Annual Provincial Assembly in the calm waters of your mooring here a Tapton Hall. I also thank the Provincial Director of Ceremonies and Secretarial team, but particularly thank your Assistant Scribe, W. Bro. John Morgan, who due to the indisposition of W. Bro. Tony Clee has been so involved in the preparatory work of today’s proceedings.
Worshipful Commander, you and the Carl Whitehead Lodge can be justifiably proud of your contribution to Royal Ark Mariner Masonry in West Yorkshire. Its large membership, drawn from our many Lodges, engenders so much goodwill and fellowship throughout the Province.
I also thank you personally for the many fraternal supportive visits you undertake to other Lodges in the Province during this your year in Office.
Once more it is so pleasing to have the support of my Deputy and our Past Rulers with us today.
Additionally the presence of R. W. Bro. Eric Gore-Brown the Provincial Grand Master for our neighbouring Province of North & East Yorkshire. R. W. Bro. Eric we are always pleased to have you here with us in West Yorkshire. All the more so today, following West Yorkshire golfers successful invasion into your territory this week, once more retaining in West Yorkshire the Inter-Provincial Golf Trophy. Also the presence of what I now suspect to be, as a consequence of the Golf result, a somewhat disillusioned delectable duo of Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters from the North & East, Worshipful Brothers Fred Smith and Frank Woolgrove.
Right Worshipful and Worshipful Brethren your attendance and support is so appreciated by everyone, thank you so much.
Lastly Brethren I thank each and every one of you for your magnificent support throughout the year, for your presence today and for listening to me so patiently.
May wisdom continue to guide our footsteps and the Supreme Commander of the Universe keep you and your loved ones safe.
Enjoy the rest of the day.