20th August 2020
It is a long time since I last addressed you all, for various reasons.
Firstly, I hope that you are all keeping well and avoiding Covid. I have only heard of one member of the Group who has died from it. Bro. Bob Tannock, his father was a Founder of Lancaster Lodge and his brother Michael is probably known to quite a number of you in the Algarve. Bob returned to England in 1998 to be his son’s right hand man whilst campaigning for the European Elections. His son was elected and Bob continued working for him. Bob was 86 and fell and broke a leg earlier this year and died in April from Covid, contracted in the hospital where he died.
- I did think of suggesting a Group initiative to take action but as our lodges are spread much further apart than any Province in England it did not seem practical.
- We have highly competent Brethren in each Lodge to lead such initiatives without instruction from me to provide assistance locally. To me it would seem that I have a lack of confidence in the Brethren to issue such an instruction! I am sure that I am correct.
This year has been a very strange one for the whole world, not just Masonry, but as we have survived for over 300 years, I am sure that we will continue to survive, if not immediately thrive. It is a big concern that the elderly will seriously consider whether they come back to Masonry once the crisis is over. Being a very logically trained Surveyor by profession, I would ask them to think logically and consider whether they are to stop going out in case they are run over, go walking for exercise in case they fall over, drive in case they are killed in a car accident? If that is the case then I wish you well and hope that you enjoy such a life!
Masonry has so much to offer all men, whatever their station in life and health. It is a well-known fact of life that you only get out of it what you are prepared to put into it. Some masons, both old and younger are commonly known as “knife and fork” masons. The expression often being used in a derogatory manner, which I abhor! I learnt a lot in my Mother Lodge, from the elder brethren, not in office, but always willing to chat, particularly at the Festive Board. That is where you learn about how Masonry started, why we all love it so much and why it will continue for another 300 years. We had a Grand Officer, PDGOrg who was the Lodge Organist an even in his 80’s was regularly brought to the Lodge by another member who had retired near to him 30 miles away. I cannot remember much of what he taught me except how to make a gin and mixed, his favourite tipple and much more powerful than a Gin and It! As an innocent young 27 year old I was very ignorant!
We have to keep our lodges together and keep this valuable source (or perhaps sauce!) of knowledge in our lodges. Even merely attending in the dreaded “k & f” category is adding something to both their and our lives. Offers of lifts are greatly appreciated by the older members, let’s ensure that they keep attending.
We are now, hopefully, on the cusp of transition from restrictions to full Masonic Activity. All our Lodges have two, three or more prospective members, so remember when setting table plans to put new members alongside other recent members but also the senior members with so much to teach!
Grand Lodge Visitor
For the last couple of years, I have been trying to get Sir David Wootton, who is my boss and responsible for all overseas Lodges to come here, he thought it an excellent idea especially as his wife had spent several months in Cascais in her youth. However, that has never materialised, I think the main reason being that the Pro Grand Master came for our own celebration of the 300th Anniversary and it was considered (by some) too soon for the AGM to come. However, on 1stJune Sir David expressed a desire to hold a Zoom meeting with the Group Brethren. I have chased it a couple of times and finally today I was asked if we could do it on 1st September! So please make a note in your diary’s brethren for 18.30 on the 1st. This is the plan
PROPOSED CONTENT & RUNNING ORDER: Max length of meeting – 45/50 minutes
– Introduction: 3 minutes (LP)
– Greetings from Grand Inspector – 4/5 minutes
– Greetings and short address: Sir David Wootton – 10/15 minutes
– Q&A Session: Sir David Wootton – questions to be submitted prior to meeting by Brethren and regulated by Sir DW before going live on-air – 15/20 minutes
– Session ends: short address by Grand Inspector thanking Sir DW for his ‘visit’ – 3 minutes
– Close: short thank you to all for taking time out to attend session – 2 minutes (LP)
I have also been asked to give a brief resumé about the Lodges here, so I am asking the Secretaries of each Lodge to do so. If any of you have a question you would like to put to the Assistant GM please let me have them by 09.00 on Thursday 27th for forwarding to Sir David for him to regulate.
Grand Chapter Visitor
On June 1st last year I was in Malta for the 200th Anniversary of the Founding of Melita Lodge (the second minute book had been lost so SGC would not issue a 200 year certificate) attended by the Third Grand Principal, Gareth Jones. Needless to say, I discussed with him the attendance at a meeting of a Chapter here in Portugal and he would be happy to come. It then took SGC 4-5 months to give formal approval, but we were fairly well advanced on a visit in September this year. I do not need to explain why it has been postponed, but hopefully it will happen next year. I sold it on the fact that we had three Chapters, but only three Lodges to feed into them due to the distances involved, and we are working hard to attract Brethren from those Lodges and I thought that a visit from him with an open chat to Master Masons would no doubt assist us in increasing the membership and securing the future of our Chapters. I will be in touch as soon as Covid allows Gareth to come here safely, probably September next year now.
Under the guidance of VW Bro Dr David Staples, more briefly known as the Grand Secretary he is determined to make UGLE paperless, (I trust not in the cloakrooms) and Hermes is being developed to do this. It is an all internet based system of reporting, to which all Secretaries will have access, for their own Lodges only. I attended a Webinar the other day on it and it does sound pretty impressive. Secretaries will send draft summons agendas to UGLE which will then be adjusted and returned so that all the items correspond to the B of C with the correct wording. Reports of every meeting will have to be sent in and a reminder system will email a Secretary if he has failed to send in his Meeting Report on time, if he still fails, he will receive a second reminder with a copy to the ProvGM, DistGM or GI. This will apply to Installation returns, Registration forms etc as well. A bit “Big Brother” but it should actually ease a Secretary’s job once he gets into the swing of it.
When will it be activated? They say 2021 or 2022, but bearing in mind ADelphi 1 was scrapped after several years and ADelphi 2 is still far from perfect after nearly 10 years, I “hae ma doots”!
Brethren, you should by now have received the Minutes of the March QC and Paper of Business for June via your Lodge Secretary and will see in the Minutes that there was a briefing entitled “Anecdotes – Rumours and Facts”. That Brethren is well worth reading to see just how seriously UGLE is taking the future of English Masonry.
You will see, looking at the obituaries, that RW Bro. Philip Mann TD died recently. He was the power behind the approval of Prince Henry the Navigator Lodge being founded. He managed to thwart the concordat Sir James Stubbs, former GS, had with the French, that any Regular Masonry in Portugal would be under the French GLNF. He was the SGW at the time of the Consecration and for many years on the Grand Master’s Advisory Board. He had finally retired to Switzerland and was over 100 when he passed to the Grand Lodge Above. He presented the boxed set of Working Tools to the Lodge at the Consecration.