Given at the Divisional Meeting 16 November 2019
Distinguished Guests, Worthy Knights all,
Like a lot of people, my first thought often when commencing to write any such address is usually, where do I start - well, no problem really as there is really only one essential start point and that is to sincerely welcome everybody who has taken the time and the trouble to be here today.
Busy men lead busy lives and a lot of Freemasons live even busier lives.
To stand here before such a gathering is indeed a real privilege, so, a heartfelt thank you to all the Knights of the Lincolnshire Division for the support you have shown, not only for today, having turned out in such great numbers, but throughout the past year. As the Intendant-General, I certainly appreciate it and value it immensely.
Whilst I have already welcomed our Distinguished Guests, may I take the opportunity to reiterate just how wonderful it is to have you all with us today - your presence and zeal to travel long distances, particularly in such inclement weather as we have had recently adds so much to our meetings and highlights the deep and fraternal friendship that exists between us as Red Cross Freemasons.
We always, without fail, receive such a warm and kind welcome when we visit you that it is a delight and a real privilege to reciprocate this fellowship and I hope that this feeling has been apparent to you all since you arrived earlier and throughout your stay with us.
The annual Divisional meeting serves a number of functions but the appointing and investing of the Divisional Officers is perhaps primarily the main reason.
May I therefore congratulate all those of you who have been appointed and promoted today - your contribution in the coming year to the well being of the Division cannot be understated and I wish you all well for your time in Office and hope you enjoy it immensely.
Sincere thanks also for those who were a part of the Team last year - your efforts for the Division this past year are also so much appreciated.
The 'ceremonial visits' undertaken were particularly enjoyable for me as Intendant-General and I trust that you enjoyed them also. It is such a real privilege to visit the various Conclaves and experience their hospitality and fellowship of the Knights.
What I cannot do is let the opportunity pass, without personally thanking a couple of long-term Officers of the Division who are stepping aside.
Ill. Kt. Derek Perkins who has retired after a good number of years as our Marshal - did I say retirement? Somehow, I doubt it!
Ill. Kt. Terry Walton who is also stepping down as our Assistant Recorder - Terry has been an unsung hero in the Division for quite a good few years, both assisting our Recorder but also undertaking many tasks at my behest, mostly without the glory and always carrying them out to such a high standard.
Unfortunately, Terry cannot be with us today but we wish him well with his current health problems.
P. Kt. Arnold has relinquished his role of Captain of the Sepulchre Guard after many years of association to the Guard in various guises. May I also thank Graham for the continued use of the facilities here at St. George’s along with the senior Management and catering staff of the college who once again have welcomed us and looked after us so well - Graham, please thank them sincerely on our behalf.
I must confess that I as Intendant-General have very little to do with the planning of today's meeting, such is the dedication of so many others - as Intendant-General, I just do as I am told, honest - ask my wife!
There are many people to thank for the planning of our meeting today, all of which takes commitment and great effort - our Recorder, Ill. Kt. Ray Wade and his team, Ill. Kt. Bloss Billin and W. Kt. Jim Mc Quade along with the knights of the Ancaster Conclave who assisted him to deliver and set up the furniture for the ceremony, Ill. Kts. Perkins and Berry and their respective ceremonial teams along with the Sepulchre Guard and I can't forget Mrs Anne Burrell and Sarah for all their efforts in providing the pre-meeting refreshments and the essential and all important beverages at the festive board.
Worthy Knights, there are a multitude of tasks which have been undertaken to pull this meeting together so please bear with me and accept my apologies if you have contributed to the meeting in some way but I haven't mentioned you all by name - I can assure you that it doesn't mean that it is not appreciated. Remind me during the year and I may even buy you a drink.
Last but not least, may I thank all the Grand Officers who have taken the time to be here today and also for all the work you undertake and the support you continue to give to both your Conclaves and the Division, particularly when it would be so easy to sit back.
I feel it is incumbent upon me to give a brief update on the Division at present.
I am firstly pleased that our membership numbers have more or less held up this year and what is really uplifting for me is the commitment and enthusiasm which I have encountered in all the Conclaves I have visited this year despite the obvious difficulties we face.
What has been especially noticeable is the 'togetherness' which exists in all our Conclaves, even those with a relatively low membership, which is usually so very evident at the Festive Boards, often described in the official reports I receive as happy, welcoming and convivial - long may this continue.
Worthy Knights, you have hopefully noticed the pop-up banner in the foyer which has been recently purchased to display at the various masonic centres in our Province. I have also received the approval of our R.W. P.G.M. to visit, should they so wish, any Royal Arch Chapter in the Province to give a brief talk on our Order and for this I am so very grateful. If you feel this could assist you, please let me know.
Add to this the web-site, the introductory explanatory leaflet and the awareness presentation which has been drawn up and the basic tools to attract new members to our Order are in place.
The awareness presentation has already been trialled at very short notice and a member resulted from it so please consider it.
Another new initiative is the setting up of a Facebook page by Ill. Kt. Dennis Berry. Whilst I realise that this may not appeal to a number of our current members, for the 'younger generation' such services are not only the norm but are expected and, when all said and done, they are the future.
All that is missing Worthy Knights is you, you are in many ways, the main piece of the jigsaw - ask people, they can only say no and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Having said that, I feel that the 'numbers game' is not the way ahead; make sure that they are good candidates. I strongly believe that a smaller committed Conclave is actually far stronger than a larger one where members do not attend or contribute. Look after and nurture your initiates and particularly your Royal Arch Companions and I wish you all well in your endeavours.
As I mentioned earlier, I always do as I am told by my wife, so a special thank you for all the Knights and their Ladies who attended the Dower House Hotel for our annual Ladies night - I think we actually had a record attendance since we moved the venue and all who were there seemed to enjoy the event - hopefully we can continue with and build upon this success next year. If you haven't attended before or even for a few years, please do so, you would be so welcome.
Many thanks for all your continued efforts and contributions to charity. A cheque for £500 was presented to the Grand Sovereign's Fund for Children earlier in the year, a very worthwhile charity if ever there was one and the annual Divisional Charity cheque for £750 is in the safe hands of the Fryston Conclave and I am sure that this will be distributed to several worthy and deserving local charities in their immediate vicinity.
Worthy Knights, I truly hope that you have an enjoyable day today.
There is something really quite special about standing here as Intendant-General and I thank you for that honour and privilege, but it is above all your day, to celebrate the Division and our Order.
Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to seeing you on my travels during the next year.
Happy have we met, happy have we been, happy may we part and happy meet again - such true words which we repeat at all our meetings.
Worthy Knights, enjoy your Red Cross Masonry, God bless you all and good health to you and your loved ones.
In F, U & Z,
R. Ill. Intendant-General for Lincolnshire