I have this morning presided over the lowest attended Provincial Convocation that the Province has witnessed, not a statement I had envisaged making on becoming your Grand Superintendent, such are the conditions imposed on us all by the Government during this Coronavirus pandemic.
This much reduced Convocation was necessary to deal with the essential business of the Province and was much shorter in duration than we usually experience when we meet for a superb time at Great Queen Street in the splendor of the Grand Temple. As usual, it was my duty to acknowledge the passing of many of our Companions to the Grand Chapter above, even more deeply felt that their sad loss cannot be honoured and replaced at the present time.
I offer my sincere congratulations to those of you who from today can assume your new Provincial Rank, as either a First Appointment or Promotion in Hertfordshire, and I trust that you will be enthused to make great efforts to strengthen and enhance your respective Chapters when a semblance of normality returns. For those who have been afforded Active Provincial Rank, I look forward to enjoying the pleasure of your company during Provincial Chapter visits, when they can be resumed. I am also aware that since lockdown, the Active Officers from last year missed out on the opportunity to attend many Chapters during the spring & summer and I extend to them the invitation to join us if they so desire. It will potentially lead to a larger number of Provincial attendees at Chapter Convocations which I trust they will welcome with open arms.
There have been changes in the Provincial Executive which have also been affected by the Pandemic and ‘The Rule of Six’.
E Comp John Linley has retired from the office of Provincial Scribe E and E Comp David Broomer has succeeded him in that role. E Comp John Linley was then to have been Invested as Third Provincial Grand Principal with E Comp Robert Asser moving to Second Provincial Grand Principal but such are the effects of the pandemic, that this has not been possible and currently leaves E Comp John without a formal Office. We can only alleviate the situation by acknowledging E Comp Linley as Third Provincial Grand Principal Designate until such time as the changes can be made. This means that I must also thank E Comp Philip Masters, the Second Provincial Grand Principal and E Comp Robert Asser, the Third Provincial Grand Principal for agreeing to remain in their respective Offices.
There are other Companions who are retiring from office today and to whom I must give my grateful thanks:
To E Comp Tim Coles, who agreed to remain as Third Provincial Grand Principal on my appointment as Grand Superintendent and subsequently to be the Provincial Mentor and Membership Officer, putting the necessary procedures in place and developing them into the working documents we use today. Tim, many thanks and we trust that you will enjoy your retirement from Active Office. E Comp John Linley will assume these roles and remain on the Provincial Executive.
To E Comp Robert Wale who retires as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, I give thanks for his assistance, advice and dedication to our Ceremonial. He is succeeded by E Comp James Angus who will also become a member of the Provincial Executive.
Finally to E Comp Darren Bending who retires from Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, who I thank for initially overseeing the Provincial visiting schedules, then to being the Adelphi2 Liaison contact with Freemasons’ Hall and latterly devising the ‘Visiting Officer’ scheme, from inception to the working process we have today. He is succeeded by E Comp Kevin Gould. All other Provincial Ranks awarded are as was published on the 12th May 2020.
As you are all aware, the Ceremony of Exaltation was suspended in March and remains so to this day and I fear for some time to come. This inevitably leads to continuing loses in our membership that we cannot currently replace but I urge you to be proactive in attracting potential Exaltees, so that we have a good number of confirmed Candidates in waiting to complete their journey through Pure Antient Freemasonry when normality returns. Now is the time Companions to do that recruitment work!
Sadly, this year I have also missed the opportunity to welcome guests from other Provinces who support our Annual Convocation. In particular, I always welcome a contingent of our Danish Companions who make the trip to be with us from their Hertfordshire Chapters operating in Denmark. Again, the Global Pandemic has prevented this but I wish them well.
Companions, in these troubling times our Masonry has been somewhat curtailed and the Royal Arch will continue to suffer until the Coronavirus pandemic is brought under control.
It only remains for me to wish you and your families good health and I look forward to when we can all meet again.
Stay safe and may the True and Living God Most High bless you all.