M.E. Grand Superintendent and Companions, it is my privilege and pleasure to submit this report for consideration on the activities and progress of Royal Arch Masonry in your Province for the past year.
It is with sadness I have to report that during the year sixteen of our members have passed to the Grand Lodge above; four of their number had received Grand Chapter Rank, E. Comps John Trollope Fisher, Kenneth John Pausey, Edward Robertson Bunn and Robert Patrick Power. May all our departed Companions rest in peace; we add our sincere condolences to their families and Chapters.
Since our last Convocation, Members of the Executive Team have continued the policy of visiting Chapters throughout the Province, being escorted and accompanied by acting Provincial Officers. These visits were not only to Installation Convocations but also to working meetings where the Chapter has an exaltee, to make him especially welcome into our Province. Such visits are deemed an important part in the process of maintaining effective lines of communication between Companions within the Province and their Executive Officers.
In April the Executive had the pleasure in dedicating a new banner for the Companions of the Grenfell Chapter No 3077. At the April meeting of the First Principals Chapter a demonstration team of Provincial Grand Stewards presented the Royal Arch Ceremony of Passing of the Veils. The Ceremony was well received by all who attended; visitors included E Comp Walter Marcus, Grand Superintendent for the District Grand Chapter of South Africa, Western Division. The Ceremony of Passing of the Veils was again demonstrated in November at a meeting of Hershel Chapter.
It is with regret I report on the closure of Wraysbury Chapter No 8689. The Chapter was formally closed in due Ceremony on the 2nd of October 2012. The Closing Ceremony enables the symbols of the harmony to be returned to the Province so that they may be again dispersed when Royal Arch Masonry has need of them.
Members of the Provincial Executive Team have been privileged to attend the Annual Convocations of some twenty-four neighbouring Provinces, many of whom we are pleased to see with us today. Our Provincial Convocation gives the Province of Buckinghamshire the opportunity of reciprocating the kind hospitality our Representatives have received during those visits..
The Grand Superintendent’s Annual Reception and Dinner was held in July at the Bellhouse hotel, Beaconsfield. It was a relaxed occasion where friends and their ladies were able to socialize at ease, with companions from all parts of the Province attending, a wonderful evening of fine food, good company and excellent entertainment. Our thanks go to E. Comp Garry Mason and his wife Suzanne in organizing the event.
During August our ME Grand Superintendent and his wife Pru invited members of the Buckinghamshire Royal Arch Executive, along with members of Inglefield Chapter to a relaxed Sunday afternoon barbecue held in their garden, in Farnham Royal which was much appreciated and enjoyed by all who attended.
September Roman Way Chapter No 9533, held a social event with their ladies and guests in aid of raising funds for the 2013 Royal Arch Festival in support of raising funds for the Royal College of Surgeons. At the event Roman way Chapter presented a cheque for £2,000 to the Royal College of Surgeons.
Future Social Events
A Gala Race Day is to be held at Windsor Racecourse on Sunday 30th June 2013, in support of the Royal Arch 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for The Royal College of Surgeons.
As a thank you and a celebration of the Royal Arch Bicentenary Appeal on the Saturday 30th November 2013 a Ladies Evening is to be held at Beaconsfield Masonic Centre.
Further details of the above events can be found further on the Provincial Website..
In December the Province had the privilege to host a visit from the Province of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire which took place at the Installation meeting of Thames Schools’ Chapter, held at Marlow Masonic Centre. The Grand Superintendent, M E Comp Graham King, of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire accompanied by his Executive and acting officers of the year were warmly welcome by our Grand Superintendent Dr Richard J.H. Neal, the Buckinghamshire Executive team and acting officers of the year. An enjoyable Masonic occasion, enhancing friendship between the Provinces.
The website has continued to be a great success, providing information and news throughout the Province with some 1,500 access to the site per month. I must thank all who help me with the content of the site in particular my assistant E. Comp Mike Stephens who keeps the calendar of events updated and to our Second Provincial Grand Principal E. Comp Paul Cawte for supplying information from around the Province. I would draw your attention to our interactive section on the website for each companion and Chapter to get involved. The website has been improved to make user friendly for tablets and mobile IT equipment.
Over the past year various measures have been put in place aimed at increasing membership in the Royal Arch Province of Buckinghamshire, however, it is sad to see that the steady decline in subscribing membership experienced in previous years has continued during the year under review, resulting in 1,235 Companions being registered on the Grand Lodge Adelphi data base as at 1st March 2013 compared with 1276 for the corresponding period of 2012.
Although down by 41 from the previous year, the percentage of Craft Masons who are members of the Royal Arch has marginal improved at a little over 38%.
There were 34 Exaltees compared with 28 for the previous year, whose ages ranged from 25 to 82 years.
32 Joining Companions and 7 Rejoining Companion.
Unfortunately 82 (20 from closure of C8689) Resignations, Cessations or Exclusions occurred.
And sadly the deaths of 16 Companions, to whose families and Chapters we express our deepest sympathy.
A target has been set by Grand Lodge to increase the percentage of Craft Masons with membership of The Royal Arch to 50%. Companions I believe it is beholden on all companions within our Province, to encourage the 62% of Craft masons in Buckinghamshire who have not at present joined our beautiful Order and experienced the enhancement of their Craft masonry, the Companionship and the Joy of Royal Arch Masonry!
It is with considerable pleasure that I can now announce that the M.E. First Grand Principal has been pleased to make Appointments in Supreme Grand Chapter to the following Companions in the Province of Buckinghamshire:-
E.Comp Roger Leslie Perry – to the rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer
E.Comp Richard Hayden Reano – to the rank of Grand Standard Bearer
E.Comp Peter Austin Cook – t0 the rank of Past Assistant Grand Sojourner
The Investiture of these worthy Companions will take place on Thursday 25th April 2013 and I am sure that you would like to join me in offering our sincere congratulations and best wishes to them all.
In organizing our Annual Convocation here at Sindlesham the whole process is made so much easier by the enthusiastic support and willing co-operation received from a number of Companions from the Provincial Grand Chapter of Berkshire. We are particularly grateful to their Grand Superintendent, E.Comp. Kenneth L. Benford and his Executive Team for allowing us once again to use the splendid facilities of Sindlesham Court. I would like thank my Assistant E.Comp. Michael Stephens for his help throughout the year and in the preparation and organization of today’s Convocation and Banquet, along with many other Companions, which I trust will be enjoyed by all present.
Finally thanks to you Most Excellent Grand Superintendant for all the valuable guidance, assistance and support you have given to me in carrying out the duties of my office. It is a tribute to your leadership that your Province is thriving, happy and keenly looking forward to what I am sure will prove another successful year for the Royal Arch in Buckinghamshire.
John A Stribling, 25th March 2013