Brethren and Companions of West Wales,
Today marks the end of my first year as Provincial Grand Master and I think it would be fair to say it has been a year of two halves. It is a great shame that we can’t hold our Provincial Meeting as normal this year, but we are in good company with everything else having been cancelled or postponed as well.
I would like to start by paying tribute to the great support I have received from the outgoing Provincial Teams especially the Wardens, W Bro Clive Webb and W Bro Colin Jenkins and the Principals, E Comp Jeff Lewis and E Comp Ion Murphy. To all the outgoing acting officers, I express my sorrow that your year in the sun was curtailed by the pandemic. We had a lot of fun in the 6 months we were able to enjoy our freemasonry together and I look forward to your company at the very many happy meetings which are to come.
It is a great regret to me that I can’t invest the incoming acting teams and those who have been appointed and promoted within Provincial Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Chapter today as normal. Brethren and Companions, I feel your pain and I will do my best to make sure that your year is as special as possible. Appearing on the Provincial lists is a testament to all your hard work for our beautiful organisation which is greatly appreciated both by your lodges and chapters and the Provincial Executive. It is not only meant to reward you for what you have done already but encourage you to even greater deeds in the years to come.
I would like to mention the incoming Wardens, W Bro Richard Bambrey of Saint Padarn Lodge and W Bro Chris Buckley of the Prince of Wales Lodge and the incoming Third Provincial Grand Principal E Comp Emyr Davies of the Aeron and Peterwell Chapter. Very few attain these high ranks and I look forward to your company at meetings when circumstances allow us to meet again in person.
I congratulate W Bro David Rayson on his appointment to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in Grand Lodge and W Bro Ryland James on his promotion to the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon. I also congratulate E Comp Mike Eckley on his appointment to the rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer in Supreme Grand Chapter. All three of these brethren have given years of dedicated service to the Province and I am delighted that their hard work has been formally recognised.
Despite the difficult situation we find ourselves in, West Wales Freemasons have continued to make a huge contribution to our communities, both by wonderful charitable donations and by volunteering our time and expertise. This is not the place to list everything we have done, but some of my personal favourites are the £2500 to Lifelites who provide life changing technology to children in hospices, £54,000 to Plant Dewi for fathers living in difficult circumstances and £7000 to fund life changing surgery for 5 year old Eliza Scriven.
The Mackworth Club have been volunteering their time and expertise in St David’s Cemetery in Carmarthen and a team from the Milford Haven lodges have been refurbishing the offices and facilities of the Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity. There are many other fine examples of the beneficial effect that freemasons and freemasonry have in West Wales. It is a privilege to lead such a wonderful and caring group of individuals.
Sadly, some of the things which we had hoped to achieve this year have been put on hold for the time being, but I am still looking forward to consecrating a new Welsh Language Lodge and a new Motorcycle Lodge. I also look forward to the new improved Strumble Lodge going from strength to strength after the amalgamation with Kemes Lodge. The results of the “My Lodge – Our Future” seminars are still to be fully implemented and as it says on the Provincial website, “The past is in your head, the future is in your hands”
My final speech before lockdown was to launch our 2026 Festival in favour of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. I am delighted to announce that due to some excellent financial planning by my predecessor RW Bro Stephen Hookey and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Festival Chairman W Bro Ryland James the Province has transferred an initial donation of £300,000 to the MCF. There is still a lot of work to be done by us all in the years to come, but we are off and running. I would like to take this opportunity to thank W Bro Ryland James and W Bro Steve Thurgood for all the hard work they have been putting in behind the scenes so that everything is in place for a more formal launch of the Festival later in the year.
The last 4 months have been difficult for everyone. We have all had to learn new skills so that we can attend online meetings, me included. I would like to thank those who have facilitated, organised, and arranged these meetings. I have been to lots of virtual festive boards, quizzes, and other events. Brethren across the Province have been generous with their time, expertise and their online platforms and I thank you all on behalf of the whole Province.
I would like to thank the Provincial Officers and members of the Mackworth Club who have put so much time and effort into our COVID 19 response. The Executive are grateful for your support, wise counsel, and practical assistance. I think we can be immensely proud of our contributions to various organisations across West Wales.
The biggest single donation was over £10,000 worth of clothing for in-patients in the Hywel Dda University Health Board which covers the whole Province of West Wales. This was organised by the Mackworth Club and they are to be commended. I would also like to thank W Bro John Watson and his team of Almoners for all the hard work they have been doing keeping in contact with the more vulnerable members of our organisation. 43% of our members are over 70 years of age and only 30% are under 60, something we need to keep in mind as the lockdown restrictions in Wales are eased.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who helps run the Province both in the collared offices and behind the scenes. Normally we would read a list out at the meeting, so that everyone gets a mention, but I know you all know who you are. I thank you for all your hard work, your suggestions and most importantly the banter.
Brethren, although we live in troubled times, I can assure you that the situation will improve, the lockdown will be lifted, and our lives will return to normal. Until that time arrives, we have each other and we have Zoom to keep our spirits up. I have been enormously impressed with the efforts which have been made across the Province to take care of one another and I know that I can rely on all of you to keep yourselves and your brethren and companions safe and well.
Brethren I thank you all,
Diolch yn fawr i chi gyd