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The real tragedy was that we did not revert as soon as the Nazi threat was lifted, which is why I say that the problem is largely of our own making. Don’t assume that members of the public are aware of how things changed as a result of oppression across Europe. Most importantly, the organisation did not change but men became secretive about their membership. When I mentioned this part of our history addressing a reception of civic leaders, several came up to me afterwards to say that they were totally unaware of how the secret image came about, and felt that the public would be far more accepting of the Craft if the they were aware of this part of our history.
Provincial Matters
Some Groups have established social clubs where masons and their friends, who may wish to join the Craft, can socialise and get a better understanding of freemasonry. The success of these initiatives is due in large measure to our embracing social media which is a powerful communication medium available to us all. I wish to pay tribute to our social media team who have encouraged everyone to get involved in Facebook and Twitter. The Province is already reaping the benefit and I fail to understand the resistance of some brethren to utilising a free facility, which enables communication across all divides within and without the Province. I accept that, if these facilities are abused as they are by some on which the media focus, then problems might arise; the simple solution is to use them, not abuse them. Very straightforward I would have thought.
Over the past year the Provincial team has enjoyed a number of special meetings but in particular we have consecrated a new Lodge and dedicated a new Masonic Hall. I am indebted to all the brethren who worked so hard to make these events an overwhelming success. Pax Hill Lodge was consecrated last
November and is closely associated with the Scouting Movement and I have no doubt that this close association will be beneficial for both organisations. This is the first of what I expect to be a number of special interest Lodges in the Province. Also we have a new Masonic Centre in Purbrook, which I was privileged to dedicate and which is available to the community in the area. I congratulate all those involved in the project which will provide a stable home for a number of our Lodges.
I was delighted with the response of brethren and their families to the Cathedral Service at Winchester which will now be an annual event. I have no doubt that this will assist our integration into the community, and I thank all those who worked so hard to make the event such a success.
The changes at the Provincial Office are a necessary part of our development into the modern world. Our new Provincial Secretary will not be restricted by the demands of the day to day administration of the Province and will be able to assume a more public profile within and without the Province, which I believe will be highly beneficial. His Deputy will manage the day to day activities in the office forward and benefit from the increased technology now available, and on which we rely so heavily.
We say farewell to Assistant Provincial Grand Masters John Harvey and Les Hipwell and I thank them both for their support and commitment over the years. Their replacements, Bill Withers and Noel Voice, are highly experienced masons and are already well integrated into the Provincial team. I am looking forward to working with them and with the other officers invested this afternoon. I am however mindful of the fact that we have so many brethren throughout the Province working hard to take freemasonry forward in an ever-changing world. I wish to pay tribute to these brethren for their commitment, their dedication, and their support. 5

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