PGC Address 2011
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The following is an address given by the ME Grand Superintendent of Northumberland on Wednesday 13th April 2011:


This is the first occasion upon which our Annual Convocation has been held here at Newcastle Race Course , coincidentally but not accidentally, the same venue as that utilised for our Annual Provincial Craft Meeting albeit that the number of Brethren attending the latter necessitates the use of the large room on the ground floor.   I bid you all and our distinguished guests a warm welcome.

The decision to change both the place and time of the Convocation was not taken lightly or irrelevantly.   Given that previous meetings had always necessitated Companions and guests being in the centre of Newcastle at 5.00 p.m. - never an easy task irrespective of the time - it was considered that the smaller membership of the Holy Royal Arch could be more appropriately and conveniently accommodated in our present surroundings which I very much hope meet your approval.   I recognize that the decision may not initially lie comfortably with all Companions but I believe that the facilities which these premises provide are the best currently available and significantly better than any of our previous places of meeting – providing easy access, privacy, a pleasant chapter room for our Convocation and tried and tested arrangements for the Festive Board.  I also hope that by holding the annual meetings for both Craft and Chapter at the same venue there will be a reduction in overall cost and more brethren and companions will ultimately be encouraged to attend.

I am confident that the ME 2nd Grand Principal will concede that the focus of today’s proceedings, notwithstanding his presence, should quite properly be upon those Companions whom I have had the pleasure of investing with the regalia of their new Provincial Grand Rank.

I congratulate those whom I have appointed.     It is formal acknowledgement and recognition of the contribution which you have each made to your respective Chapters.  Rest assured that it is not something which is automatically acquired by the passage of time; it is a preferment which you have earned and you can be justifiably proud of your attainment whether your rank is active or past.    I would however remind you that humility and docility are characteristics that I would expect to see displayed at all times by you in the discharge of your new responsibility.    Similarly, I extend congratulations to those who have received promotion.  It is formal approval and further recognition of your continued effort and good work in the cause of Royal Arch Masonry which I trust you will long continue.  As I am sure you are all well aware promotion is no longer finite and further evidence of your commitment can and will be recognized.

I consider it appropriate at this juncture to announce a change in the tenure of office of the 2nd and 3rd Provincial Grand Principals.  For the past fourteen years these offices have been progressive and in many cases, until more recently, occupied by Grand Officers.  I could see no cogent reason for this continuing and I therefore intend to revert to the position which existed prior thereto.   Appointment therefore to Provincial Joshua and Provincial Haggai will in future generally be a promotion or further promotion and will be for one year only.   I believe that this will provide an incentive and a more regular opportunity for Companions to experience high office.

Some Companions, of course, today complete their year in office.  In particular I wish to express my thanks to Alan Reece for his support and help as a Co-Principal during the past two years, especially for his significant contribution in providing me with an accurate assessment of the health of all our Chapters.    I place on record my thanks to the remaining officers who have supported me and my Deputy in splendid numbers with much enthusiasm, great interest and on one notable occasion admirable resilience by attending a Provincial visit when the proclivities of our harsh winter might well have defeated those with less resolve - I regret having to admit that they certainly defeated my Deputy and me.

At present, approximately 40% of the Craft’ membership are members of the Holy Royal Arch.  Clearly I would wish to see that figure significantly increased, ideally to 100% as I very firmly feel that unless and until Brethren have been exalted they have not completed their Masonic journey.  I would therefore recommend you all to be active in and outwith your own Lodges and Chapters – and particularly in the latter case see that Exaltation is not simply a word with which the Candidate associates having joined this degree and that the quality of the ceremony following his entrance results in him being entranced and fuelled with a desire to find out more about its composition and constitution   There is much to comprehend.   Answers and appropriate explanations can of course be found in books but how much more practical and enjoyable for a Companion to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge within those other Orders and Degrees whose emblems are so conspicuous in both the ritual and the furniture of this wonderful and colourful Degree, as those Companions who are already members of these other Masonic Orders will readily attest.

I anticipate that most if not all of you will have heard of the Ceremony of the Veils.  Its function, insofar as the other Orders to which I have just referred purportedly fail so to do, is ostensibly to provide a link between the completion of the third degree in Craft Masonry and entrance into Chapter. The Ceremony has been part of Chapter working in ScotIand for many years.  In Bristol it is practised as a pre-cursor to and an integral part of the exaltation ceremony but its performance outwith that Province is, sadly, not permitted.   Supreme Grand Chapter has, however, recently provided a form of ritual for a demonstration of the Ceremony of the Veils which can only be given under the supervision of the Grand Superintendent, or a duly authorised Companion of sufficient seniority and experience, and must not be given so frequently that it ceases to be a special event.  I stress that it is a demonstration only - it cannot presently be given in a regular Convocation.  It is my intention to arrange a demonstration later this year and I am sure that Provincial Scribe E would welcome applications from Chapters wishing to host the event.

I am delighted to report that an increasing number of Companions have qualified to receive certificates in recognition of 50 years’ membership.    I congratulate Astley and Napier Clavering Chapters on achieving their centenaries and Security Chapter on achieving its golden jubilee and can confirm that these landmark events were all celebrated in an appropriate fashion.  if other chapters are to follow their example, we need to be aware that our membership generally comprises Companions of more mature years and consequently we all have an obligation to urgently address the need to introduce new members of appropriate quality and in sufficient numbers to minimise any losses.

In two weeks time I shall be attending the regular communication of Supreme Grand Chapter in London at which the Annual Investiture of recipients of Grand Rank will take place.   As it is a regular meeting attendance thereat is not restricted to those with invitations - all Companions may attend although only those suitably qualified may vote.  I understand that a good number of Companions will be in attendance to support the following Companions who are to be honoured:

  • Promoted to PAGSoj – E Comp Trevor Narey
  • Appointed to PGStB –    E Comp George Atkinson
  • E Comp John Bartlett and
  • E Comp Colin Hume.

Let us congratulate these Companions on their well deserved preferment.

Companions,  Whether you are here for the first time - either to be appointed and invested or simply to offer support – or are here as a regular your support is greatly appreciated.  I hope that you have enjoyed the experience and if so please tell your colleagues and encourage them to join you in attending next year.

I am sure you will realize that what you have just participated in or witnessed takes a great deal of preparation and organization.  On your behalf I should like to express formal thanks to:

The management of Gosforth Park Race Course Company, and to Emily in particular, for the help with all our requirements and the logistics necessary in setting up the Chapter room;

Our Director of Ceremonies E Comp David Lillie together with his Deputies and their Assistants for ensuring, apparently with the minimum of effort, that everyone was where they intended and when they intended and for  overseeing our ceremonial in their customary dignified manner

Our Scribe E, Colin, and Assistant Scribe E, Alan, together with all other helpers at Provincial Office.  I derive great satisfaction and pride when Companions tell me how much help they receive when calling at Provincial Office, which I am told is invariably accompanied by a smile from the secretarial staff, – although they do not confide whether the smile appears on their  arrival or broadens on their departure.  Provincial Office is your office and I am hugely grateful for the manner in which your concerns are so ably managed there.

Companions, It is a very real and special honour to be your Grand Superintendent.   May TT&LGMH; guide you in all your endeavours and keep you safe.

Link to UGLE website