Companions, we have now come to the item on your agenda which is my address. This will be the tenth one I have had the privilege of delivering and will perforce have to be my last as I will have to retire from office before next March when my successor will take over.
First let me congratulate all those companions who I had the pleasure of investing and promoting in Provincial Grand Chapter this afternoon. To all of them I wish success and happiness in their various offices – look after and promote your Chapters and help to mentor the new exaltees – they are our future. Not only make them welcome but help them to understand the mysteries and meaning of the order. This year I have appointed a Provincial Grand Almoner for the first time in this province – this office is important and you should all understand this role is not the same as in the craft. He will be helping companions who either are disenchanted with their chapters or who simply don’t understand the order and will work discreetly with scribes to make suitable arrangements for them. He will liaise with his counterpart in Provincial craft and of course with my executive.
The province is lucky to be able to appoint Ex Comp Steven Knight to this office. He is a retired surgeon who worked out of Heatherwood Hospital Ascot and King Edward VII Hospital Windsor. He was someone I worked easily with before I retired from practice and I know will bring a surgeons astute analytical eye to the problems which lie ahead.
This year the province has celebrated the Bicentenary of the Royal Arch with great success. We have raised in excess of £42.000 and there is more to come. Special luncheons, social events and a glorious party at Beaconsfield (Jack Sturridge janitor) rounded off a happy and successful campaign. I take this opportunity to thank you all for your kindness and generosity – all this without any arm twisting. At this point I must mention our Charity Steward E.Comp John McKenzie who stands down today and who organized the advertisement and collection of funds – his was a truly magnificent effort. I must reveal to you all that he became ill last summer – such that Cardiac Surgeons fell about him with knives to restore a good cardiac circulation. I had to curb his ardour so that a good recovery could be achieved.
The Provincial visits to Gloucester and Hereford as well as Wiltshire were great fun, it was good to be hosts to these Provinces at Aylesbury and Marlow. These get togethers are very useful and all the acting officers of the Province should try to be present at future events.
These Convocations would not happen without the hard work of some special companions. First our Scribe E John Stribling with his tireless attention to detail and hard work and his assistant Scribe E who organizes the Chapter visits. Secondly the Provincial DC Richard Reano who had a very successful year in Supreme Grand Chapter, as DC to George Pipon Francis, and still finds time to work in the craft with Lodges of Instruction. Next year he receives an Acting Grand Rank and ADC in Grand Lodge – Richard we a=salute you! Our thanks to all our deputies throughout the year.
My executive continue to work hard and I must thank my Deputy Grand Superintendent John Keeble for his counsel and quiet advice on all occasions. The Second and Third Principals all work well – Paul watches the finances and Robert’s lectures and quizzes are a great success.
As I come to the end of my stewardship of this Province as your Grand Superintendent, I find it hard to believe that I shall have been in office for ten very happy years – it has been a great honour and I have made so many new and interesting friends. So many of them sit close to me up this end of the temple – I can only thank them for their kindness, fun and advice – never a dull moment. I watch with interest the progress and maturing of so many Bucks RA masons and I hope that the profile of Royal Arch in this Province has been raised as a result of our efforts.
I said ten years ago that I perceived there was a need for knowledge in our order – I did not realize how hard a task it would be . Now a formal program is taking shape and our companions should be better informed in the future.
In conclusion let me thank each and every one of you throughout the length of the Province. Your unfailing kindness and help at all times and your encouragement are something I shall never forget.
Look after my successor and I am sure he will reciprocate in kind. I have made so many friends over the years, not only in this Province but throughout the South, Midlands, East and West of England, not forgetting the Principality of Wales. It has been fun, as it should be.
I will close with that all embracing Lenten said be all worshippers on Ash Wednesday – We are all but dust and to dust we shall return, turn away from evil and be faithful to our God.