Companions all, I bid you a hearty welcome to the Provincial Convocation, it is good to see you supporting the Province with your attendance. Also, to those that I have had the pleasure of appointing to and promoting in Provincial Grand Rank. Of course, it is my duty as always to make these awards in appreciation of your past services in the Royal Arch and to impress on your minds of the future endeavours that I trust you will bring to bear to keep your respective Chapters thriving and in good heart.
Companions, you are aware of the initiatives that we have introduced in recent years together with the appointment of ‘Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals’ to aid in driving them forward. A lot of the groundwork has now been completed and we look forward to consolidating and make the Provincial assistance to you more relevant to your needs. I have, for instance become aware that some Chapters require assistance with filling certain Officers during their ceremonial. The executive are now pursuing ideas to see if we can help in that respect. The Chapter Liaison Officer Scheme is progressing, and I would now like to see one of these officers in each Chapter to assist you in any way that he can. In any case companions do get in touch with the Province for help and advice.
To keep you appraised of the situation with our Chapters in Denmark, I can tell you that all three units are now firmly established and are receiving candidates on a regular basis and such is our success that Hertfordshire can boast The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Denmark, The Past Deputy Grand Master, the Past President of the General Board of Danish Freemasonry and a Danish Provincial Grand Master among our members. I am also aware that some of our companions have started to make visits to Denmark and I hope that this will increase in the future.
Companions, I have today appointed and invested a new Third Provincial Grand Principal in E Comp Robert Asser and you will get to meet him when he visits your Chapters. This of course means that we have the retirement from that office of Rod Hancock and I would like to place on record my grateful thanks to him for his professionalism in the discharge of his duties as well as to his counsel and advice. We also say goodbye to two other well-established Officers in E Comp Howard Collins who has overseen our charitable support of the 2019 Festival and E Comp John Burnapp who has been our Provincial Almoner. They have performed their respective tasks admirably over recent years and we also wish them well in their retirement. The new Provincial Almoner, E Comp Robert Gurney and new Provincial Charity Steward, E Comp Clive Bradnum will now fulfil these roles and will be in contact with you in the future.
Companions, this year has seen the completion of the Appeal in support of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and your support of the 2019 Festival Appeal has been magnificent and I thank you all for your efforts. This means that we can now concentrate on supporting our own favoured Charities and I am aiming to assist you with your endeavours inasmuch that I would like to ‘match fund’ your individual collections up to a sum of £250 from the Provincial Benevolent Fund to give a boost to those Charities. This means, of course, that we now must support the Provincial Benevolent Fund to raise monies and I trust that you will occasionally make collections within your Chapters to send to the Province. I asked our new Provincial Charity Steward to do an exercise on how many of our Chapters have a relief Chest Scheme in operation and was somewhat surprised that the majority don’t. Companions, it is very easy to set one up. You can download a form online and once set up you can gain an extra 25% from the Tax man where appropriate. It’s free money and Clive Bradnum is there to help and assist you.
Regarding our social activities may I thank you for your support through the year. We have had our usual Sunday Lunch, the ‘High Tea’ at Mayflower Place in Hertfordingbury and our Golf day and Dinner. Next year in addition we have added a weekend away which takes place on the 20th to the 22nd of November. Companions, I hope that you will avail yourselves of these functions as their success depends on your support and details of events can be found on the Royal Arch Provincial Website.
This year on Saturday the 30th March we organised a Prostate screening event at Watford and of those tested on the day we had four ‘red’ results and those companions received further treatment to fix the problem. As far as I am concerned Companions lives have been saved. I am most grateful to our Second Provincial Grand Principal, Phil Masters, for the organising the event and for his services in arranging another screening for next year which will take place on Saturday 21st March at Letchworth. Again, Companions the event will be advertised nearer the time and on the Website.
In conclusion companions you will appreciate that the executive are there to help and support you with your ceremonial work and membership, to provide you with rest and relaxation via the social programmes and to give you a health boost with the Prostate Screening, all to keep the happy in Hertfordshire.
Companions, as we near the completion of another Provincial Convocation I am sure that you are aware of the many hours of hard work that go into producing today’s annual event and my grateful thanks go to: My Deputy, E. Comp David Hampton for his continued support in which he has ensured that our initiatives have been moving along apace and his assistance to me has been invaluable. To the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, E. Comp John Linley and his team for their tireless work over the past year and the countless hours spent in putting this Convocation together. To the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, E. Comp Bob Wale and his team for their efforts today and their escorting duties over the year and the Provincial Grand Treasurer, E. Comp Tim Huckle for keeping a vigilant eye on our finances so well during the year.
Companions I look forward to your company at dinner and to the pleasure of your company next year and as I always say, please bring another Companion with you.
May the True and Living God Most High Bless you all.
James William Sharpley, Most Excellent Grand Superintendent