Mark – many thanks you for your kind words. I can honestly say that – of all the introductions I’ve received over the past two and a half years – that was, by far, the most recent …
I am delighted to see so many of our family and friends with us this afternoon, along with key members of our community – our six Mayors, Matthew Rushton, Cannon Precentor of Rochester Cathedral, and the rest of our honoured guests. I very much hope you all enjoy your time with us today – at lunch – and at this afternoon’s investiture ceremony.
This is indeed another impressively attended luncheon in the Grand Connaught Rooms – and in no way do I underestimate the huge logistical task this was to organise. My heartfelt thanks go to James Marsh, Chris Clark and their teams for all their hard work and planning. It does, however, amaze me that so many people have been able to attend an event like this – and the Bookings team at the Provincial Office tells me you have all ordered the same meal – Remarkable!!
I would like to begin by saying a few words about the CALM Appeal – and how delighted I am to be presenting cheques to our six Mayors, and other worthy causes, this afternoon. I cannot stress enough that the CALM Appeal has been a landmark success in so very many ways. It has given us the opportunity to support a wide variety of good causes across the length and breadth of out Province and we can be assured that a diverse range of charities, throughout our local communities, will benefit from this Appeal. Equally, it has allowed us to forge much closer links with the local Boroughs and Councils in our Province – and subsequently given us a better understanding of some of the local issues on our doorstep – and where we might be able to assist. By the same token, it has given our local communities and stakeholders a much better understanding of our principles as Freemasons.
This is real progress – and I think that the Province of West Kent has followed the mantra of the great Walt Disney, who said:
“The way to get started is… to stop talking and start doing.”
The essence of all positive change in this world is an appreciation of each other – as human beings – and what we respectively stand for, and believe in.
All around the world, we continue to see seismic change, which we never thought possible in our lifetime. As a Province – and as Freemasons – we need not only to appreciate that change is happening – but also understand why it is so necessary, and so vital to our survival as an organisation.
There are some simple facts that stare us in the face. Our membership has sadly been in progressive decline – and in terms of demographics, the larger percentage of our membership is not in its twenties to forties. Balance and equilibrium is the key to the future.
There are many wise words that our older members can impart to our younger Brethren: for example
“I have been your age – but you have never been mine … the experience I possess may be valuable to you.”
Equally, to attract younger members, the next generation must be able to see and clearly understand the relevance of what we do and the principles we stand for. They will also, without doubt, want to do things their way – just as we all did – when we were their age. This is not ageism – it’s a fact of life. We need to work together – across generations – to achieve the best results for all.
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin that said:
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Our new Executive wants to empower – and derive the benefits from – voices from all quarters of the Province – from the Entered Apprentice to the Grand Officer – and ensure – robustly, if necessary – that no view is ever stifled… so, as Mark so very eloquently stated – “that we may all explore, dream and discover together”.
So…. in conclusion, who could possibly fail to see the “Relevance” of all that we have achieved this year?
We have brought Freemasonry back into the fabric of local civic life – and have reached out to new audiences and communities – with our message of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. To my mind, there can be no simpler – or indisputable sentiments than those.
My sincere thanks to you all for attending today – I hope you have enjoyed your lunch – and hope that you all have a truly memorable afternoon with us all.