2022 AGM Address

Distinguished Guests and Brethren,

I am absolutely delighted to see so many of you here today at our Provincial Annual General Meeting. So very different from my first AGM under the ‘Rule of Six’ in 2020 whilst Deputy Provincial Grand Master In Charge, then last year at the Novotel, Southampton with a reduced number of 250 and no Guests. But today another venue and over 800 present in this magnificent room at the Head Quarters of our Craft.

Since our last Annual Meeting, I have witnessed a huge energy and enthusiasm with our return to ‘near normality’ following the pandemic, whilst at the same time respecting those of our members, who still shield and our unable to attend. I do hope that we are doing everything to include those members in same way or another.

We have brought over 440 men into the Craft in this last year and we have another 200 plus in the pipeline. This bodes so well for the future as we look after them in their early days of membership.

It has been an extremely busy but rewarding period of time. I have been privileged to preside over Lodge Anniversaries, Banner Dedications, Long Service Presentations (including two 70 year membership certificates – only 35 years for me to go!) and a Consecration, as we have tried to catch up with these special occasions. It is fair to say I have worked your Provincial Cabinet, Area Executives and Active Officers very hard. And, many are working hard again today Brethren – although I have given the APGMs the day off!

As we launched our fundraising Festival, I have been humbled and inspired at meeting a number of charities and presenting them with significant donations from our own funds. It is truly worthwhile work Brethren and we really do make a difference. My thanks to my Festival Director, Festival Committee and Ambassadors for leading us in our aims for the 2027 Festival.

A lot of this work you will see in our new Annual Review, on your seats today with included Agenda papers. I hope you will take the time to read it. It will be sent to all subscribing members in the Province. My sincere thanks to Roger Maber, our Communications guru for masterminding its production.

Our relationship with the Royal Arch and all Progressive Orders is particularly important to me and I value their friendship and support. It is good to see many of them here supporting us today. Thank you. I made a comment ‘We are all in this together’ at the start of the pandemic, which George Deacon, the PGM of Our Mark Province has also adopted – thanks George!

The Pandemic has taught us many lessons, in our working, personal and Masonic lives. Also, engagement of our members, management of our Lodges, the management and future of our Masonic centres – only recently, some of your Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, the Provincial Grand Registrar, Superintendent of Works and I, held a meeting of over 80 Brethren involved with the running of these buildings. The aim was to open a dialogue to work more collaboratively with one another.

Virtual meetings have been a huge bonus. For administrative purposes and keeping in touch, ideal. But you can’t beat a face-to-face meeting!

Attendance at Special meetings are very high, normal meetings less so and I encourage you to assist those who have perhaps lost their confidence or interest in attending their meetings.

In the autumn we will be launching the Grand Lodge 7 year Strategy which sets out the strategic roadmap to secure the future of Freemasonry. This is based upon strong foundations, with the ambition of maintaining thriving membership, a coherent organisation, engaged in our communities. Every member will receive more information in the next few months.

Meanwhile, our Provincial priorities remain, attracting new members, caring for existing members and above all sharing and enjoying what we do. Never was there a better time to be a Freemason.

2023 also marks the 300 years since the Constitutions were formed. Grand Lodge will celebrate and acknowledge this important anniversary and plans are being made for our province to arrange a suitable event to do the same. More to come……

My special thanks and appreciation go the Provincial Cabinet, Area Executives, Provincial Secretariat, Ceremonial Team, Treasury and Almoners for keeping the wheels of Governance and Administration turning.

My sincere thanks to those retiring today, W. Bro. Frank Milner, Provincial Grand Secretary, after 9 years at Provincial Office, W. Bro. Neil Morse, our Provincial almoner and W. Bro. Greg Williams, our FITC Coordinator.

I wish my new Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Chris Lockwood, his new Area Chairman, Mark Werner and their Team every success in the South West Area. Likewise, to W. Bro. David Ryan our new Provincial Grand Secretary, I look forward to working together.

Finally, my congratulations to all those whom I have Appointed and Promoted today, it is your day, enjoy your new ranks, remembering that as Provincial officers, you are expected to support our Province and your lodges.

For the 550 of you joining with me for a late lunch in the Connaught Rooms I will see you there, for those of you making alternative arrangements, please enjoy and be good!

Brethren, I enjoy what I do, let us enjoy being Freemasons and share that enjoyment with our families and friends.

Brethren, it is a pleasure to serve. Thank you for your attention.


Yours sincerely and fraternally

W. Bro. Jonathan C. Whitaker

Provincial Grand Master

6th July 2022