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PROVINCIAL MATTERS
At the Annual General Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, the Provincial Grand Master appointed and invested Bill Withers and Noel Voice as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, following the retirement of the Rev John Harvey and Les Hipwell.
Bill Withers, an Army Officer for 34 years, has spent much of his career on the move between posts in the UK and Northern Ireland, and abroad in Germany, USA and the Falklands. Married to Babs for 36 years, they have two daughters both of whom attended the Royal Masonic SchoolforGirlsinRickmansworth. A keen sportsman, Bill enjoys fly fishing and rugby, and was the Army’s representative on the Rugby Football Union Council for 9 years. A keen supporter of England and the Lions, he enjoys touring and away games in Dublin, Paris and Rome.
Bill was initiated into the Aldershot Army & Navy Lodge in 1983 and was installed as
Master in 1995. He has served the Province as Sword Bearer and Deputy Director of Ceremonies, and the Craft as an active Grand Officer. In 2011, he was appointed Project Officer for the Province’s three Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons events held at Rushmoor, Lepe County Park and Ryde, and successfully brought together freemasons and non-masonic agencies in that unique celebration. From there a natural progression was to Provincial Information Officer.
Commenting on his appointment Bill said: “It is a great honour and privilege to continue to serve the Province. Freemasonry is experiencing many positive changes through its openness, increased social activities for new and young masons, social media, and the maintenance of high masonic standards and propriety by its leadership.”
The Annual Provincial Meeting saw the reorganisation and appointment of a new Secretariat following the retirement of Colin Upton, who served the Province with distinction for many years, most recently as Provincial Grand Secretary.
The new Provincial Grand Secretary, Geoffrey Brook (pictured left), will be responsible for liaising with other masonic provinces, overseeing relationships with the Grand Lodge and helping lodges within the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Province with landmark anniversaries and celebrations. Additionally, his role is to act as Secretary to the Cabinet, Clerk to the Disciplinary Committee and liaise with the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters.
Noel Voice, a qualified banker, worked with Barclays Bank in the UK and Standard Bank in West Africa. On his return to UK he moved into the IT industry and worked with IBM, Philips NV and Motorola in a variety of roles. Prior to his retirement, he was the Founder and Chief Executive of a publicly quoted IT software company specialising in systems for the hospitality industry. Married to Jean for 44 years, they have two daughters and three grandsons. His hobbies are woodturning, gardening, travelling (one daughter lives in New Zealand) and playing a round of golf when time permits.
Noel was initiated into Prince Edward of Saxe Weimar Lodge in 1983. He is also a Past Master of Lodge of Friendship and East Hants Masters’ Lodges in Petersfield. He has served the Province as a Steward and most recently as Group Representative for Winchester, and Secretary of the Provincial Grand Charity (The Tom Langton Fund) for the past nine years.
Noel commented: “I was delighted to be invited to take on the role of APGM after serving as the Winchester Group Representative for a number of years. It is a great honour to have the opportunity of continuing to represent the Winchester Group, to work with the Chandler’s Ford Group and to play a part in the continuing success of the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight.”
Geoffrey lives in and operates from his home in Kingston-
upon-Thames, and travels down to the Provincial Office in
Chandlers Ford as necessary each week. He was initiated
in William of Wykeham Lodge in 1990 whilst teaching in
Winchester, and has been their Secretary since 2004. He has
also served and been active in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Metropolitan and Surrey Provinces, and recently co-authored a book with a friend and fellow Surrey mason outlining the history of freemasonry in Surrey.
Deputy to the new Provincial Grand Secretary, Frank Milner (pictured right), was also appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden at the Provincial meeting. He was initiated into Taverners Lodge in 2000 and held the office of Director of Ceremonies for three years. He was appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in 2008 and is currently Chairman of the Lecture Committee.
His role is to manage the Provincial Office in Chandlers Ford and immediate task to streamline the many processes required to be carried out at the office in Chandlers Ford. Frank has already made much of the provincial material accessible on line and is encouraging as many returns as possible to be made in the same way. He is also responsible for overseeing training and education across the Province.
Mary Thorpe (pictured centre) is a valued member of the team and the backbone of provincial administration. She is well known to lodge secretaries across the Province having worked in the Provincial Office since September 2007. Previously, Mary was employed by the Masonic Charities Association and was greatly involved in the administration of the 2005 Festival in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.
Frank Milner
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