St. Thomas of Acon - Province of East Anglia

Grand Preceptor's Address 2018



Dear Sir Knights,

 I hope that you have all enjoyed that superb lunch and are not too relaxed as we enter into the next part of our busy day.

As I’m sure you will appreciate, this has been a day of highs and lows for me, as I know it will have been for you, following the passing of our Right Worthy Grand preceptor, Sir Barry of Braintree.  Over the last few years I have become close to Barry and will miss his council and support.  However, we now move on and I will ensure that I make every effort to uphold the fine legacy he has left our wonderful Province. 

Sir Rodney of Totham Magna, I thank you on behalf of myself and the Province for that moving eulogy that you have given for Sir Barry, where you expressed both yours and all our thoughts.

Although I have already welcomed our distinguished guests I would again say how delighted we are to see you all joining us to-day and sincerely hope that you have had and are having a pleasant time with us.

It is now my great pleasure to welcome all the Sir Knights of our own East Anglian Province.  It is really wonderful to see so many of you here today and I extend my grateful thanks to you all for your attendance and support.

Sir Knights, it has been a great honour for me to be appointed as your Right Worthy Grand Preceptor and to succeed Sir Barry.  It seems that every time I accept an office I am following an extremely hard act and this one will certainly be no different!

During the last 12 months, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the Chapels within our Province in support of Sir Barry or Sir David and have been very impressed with the warm and friendly welcomes that we received.  I would, at this stage, also like to express my sincere thanks for the support that has also been provided by the Provincial Team and the Freelancers during Official Provincial Visits and also unofficially in support of various Chapel Meetings. 

I have also been able to visit many of the Provinces around the Country to represent our Province, with Sir Barry or, latterly, when travelling was difficult for him, to represent him and our Province.  In addition to what has been a very busy year, I have also fulfilled by duties as Grand Banner Bearer – avoiding knocking anyone out with that weighty object – although, there were some near misses on the odd occasion…..

With my Provincial Secretary’s hat on, I can confirm that our Province generally appears to be in good order, although one or two of our Chapels are still experiencing challenges; namely Pilgrims Chapel Nº 2 who, in an effort to improve membership numbers, have moved from Loughton to Upminster where the facilities are superior.  This has been a big challenge to the new Secretary, Sir Edward of Chattisham (Ted Flack), who has come through his first year, meeting all the challenges thrown at him.

The Chapel of De Clare of St Augustine Nº 26 has also undergone a few membership challenges this year which, following the retirement of Sir David of Wixoe who is both an extremely experienced and talented Secretary as well as a very senior Mason, Sir Anthony of Diss (Tony Brazier) has taken over the reins and I wish him every success in his new Office as he works to arrest the membership decline.

As was reported by our Provincial Grand Registrar earlier in the meeting, our membership has remained stable, even showing a slight increase and, although most Chapels have been able to admit Candidates, unfortunately, there have been a high number of resignations. 

As I have already stated our Province generally is in good order, but we do need to do our utmost to encourage more to join our lovely Order and to redress the number of resignations.  I fully appreciate that in recent years, due mainly to the economic climate which we have all experienced, recruiting new members has been difficult throughout Freemasonry, but please do your best to promote our Order whenever and wherever possible.

One of the highlights of our year was the Consecration of the Dean John Colet Chapel  128 on Tuesday 13th February 2018 at the Southend Masonic Centre, which was extremely well supported and a very special event to have been able to attend.   Also, at the first regular Installation Meeting of the Chapel in October, the Province conducted the Chapel Banner Dedication Ceremony.  This was also one of Sir Barry’s last Official engagements for the Province making it a very memorable event for those who were able to attend.

Plans for the forming of further Chapels within the Province are still very much in the pipeline, particularly one that will hold one meeting in Malta and one meeting back in East Anglia.  The founding Secretary and our new Provincial Grand Secretary, Sir Antonio of Holborn (Tony Masella), with the support of Sir Walter of Runnymeade, is, I believe not too far from progressing the submission to Grand Council.

Considerations for the setting up of a Chapel to meet at King’s Lynn are still in the pipeline, however, the Province is looking for a Founding Secretary to run with this.  Any volunteers please contact the Provincial Grand Secretary.

The Province was very well represented at the Canterbury Pilgrimage in September and it was very pleasing for the Province to be able to make a £500 donation to the Organ Stop Appeal, bringing the total donation from Grand Council to £4000.  I believe that the date for the next Canterbury Pilgrimage is 21st September 2019 and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Cathedral.

Our Grand Warden of Regalia, Sir Walter of Runnymeade, has also managed to sell £190 of Provincial stock during the last twelve months.

Although I realise that through your respective Chapel Secretaries you have been advised of Grand Ranks to be conferred at the Grand Master’s Council on 29th December to Sir Knights from our Province, I would like to congratulate those concerned. 

The following Sir Knights were reappointed to Active Office; Sir Lee of Bromley-by-Bow K.H. as Grand Prior, Sir Adrian of Epping, KC as Grand Treasurer, Sir Daniel of St. Albans as Assistant Grand Marshal, Sir Stanley of Clay Hall, K.C as Grand Sentry, Sir David of Epping Forest as Assistant Grand Sentry and Sir Terence of Mildenhall as Grand Historian. 

In addition there are a number of first appointments to active Grand Rank these being Sir John of St Michael’s Mead, our Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal, as a Grand Cellarer and Sir Stephen of Harwich, our Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary, also as a Grand Cellarer.

Promotions to Past Rank were also received by Sir Patrick of Aulnoy as Past Grand Historian, Sir Bernard of Tyre as Past Deputy Grand Marshal and Sir Ian of Broxbourne, our Provincial Grand Treasurer, as Past Grand Herald.

Our Province continues to do extremely well with Grand Rank Appointments and, Sir Knights, I am sure you will wish to show your appreciation to all those concerned.

I would now like to congratulate all those Sir Knights who I have had the honour to appoint to Provincial office today.  I realise that this has often been said before but not only is it in appreciation for what you have already done for our Province and indeed for our wonderful Order in general, but also in anticipation of your continued support and commitment during the forthcoming year and, hopefully, for many more years to come.

I would like to express my sincere thanks for all the help and support Sir Barry received as your Right Worthy Grand Preceptor from all the members of the Executive Committee and the Provincial Officers and also the help and support I received in my role as Provincial Grand Secretary. 

Finally, my thanks must go to all those involved in making the arrangements for our meeting today, in particular to our Provincial Marshal and his team, Sir Robin of Outwood for the Printing for the Meeting and also to Peter and Gill Brown of the Newmarket Masonic Hall for their kind co-operation and support.

Sir Knights – that concludes my report.  Again I would like to say how delighted I am to see so many present, both guests and members of the Province and I am sure we can look forward to a good year together.

With all good wishes and in Humilitas et Caritas.

Sir Derek of Anfield, Right Worthy Grand Preceptor [East Anglia]

Saturday 24th November 2018