Grand Masters Address to Grand Court 2016


The address given by M W Bro Paul W Johnston, PGHCh, GCSM, Grand Master on the occasion of the Eleventh Annual Assembly of Grand Court at The Masonic Hall, Leicester on Saturday 22nd October 2016

I extend a most sincere welcome to all our Guests many of whom have travelled from afar. Their commitments are considerable yet they have found the time to be with us here today in Leicester. Over many years they have extended to me every courtesy and kindness when I have had the honour and privilege to attend their meetings and it is an enormous pleasure to know that they are here today supporting us. I would ask that you save your welcome until after I have introduced them all to you.

Brethren I am pleased to welcome:

The Grand High Priest of The Grand College of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and Order of Holy Wisdom, Most Illustrious Knight Priest Christopher Gavin Maiden

The Past Pro Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons for England, Wales and its Districts and Lodges Overseas, Most Worshipful Brother Benjamin Addy; who is the President of the Grand Witan

The Recently Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons for Switzerland, Most Worshipful Brother Peter Ernst Ribi

The Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Iowa, Most Worshipful Brother Bryce Brent Hildreth who is Provincial Grand Master for the United States of America. Many Brethren from the United States are with us today. Perhaps they can stand so that we can acknowledge their commitment.

We also have in attendance the Grand Master of the Hermetic Order of Martinists who is the Unknown Philosopher.

Brethren I so very pleased to also welcome R W Bro Bharat Epur, Provincial Grand Master for Southern India; and he is accompanied by W Bro Ben Roy.

From Bolivia I am so pleased to welcome the Provincial Grand Master R W Bro Jose Mendoza

From Spain we are honoured by the presence of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master V W Bro Barrie Mansell; he is accompanied by the Provincial Grand Secretary W Bro Roy Mitchell and W Bro Roy Porter and the brothers Crawford.

Brethren let us all now join together in welcoming our Honoured Guests in the traditional Athelstan fashion.

Much has happened since that wonderful weekend in November last year when, after the meeting of Grand Court, we held a Service of Rededication of our Order in All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey; where the Banner of our Order was blessed by Father Jonathan; and where I made a significant donation of £57,500.00 on behalf of the Order to All Saints Church. Over the following months further donations of £2,700.00 were received which resulted in a total donation of £60,200.00. I am now informed that a further donation is expected. When I stood in All Saints Church, as part of that congregation which filled the Church, I knew that through your generosity, your compassion and your dedication our Order had come of age. For me it was a very moving moment and one I will always cherish. Brethren you exceeded my wildest expectations, thank you. I recently met with Father Jonathan and there have been developments regarding the moving of the Coronation Stone, in particular the late interest of the Royal Borough of Kingston Council and the Chairman of the 10-90 Committee will keep the Order informed in due course.

Following on from that marvellous weekend in November our Order has developed in many ways. I acknowledge the wisdom, understanding and leadership of my Provincial Grand Masters who have all worked so well and worthily over the last year; and who together with my ‘Team of Officers’ at Grand Court work tirelessly on behalf of the Order.

During this period R W Bro Howard Doe, R W Bro Malcolm Burns, R W Bro Brian Prevett and R W Bro Raymond Dinning have all, after so many years of exemplary and dedicated service, retired.

Yes they will be missed but in wishing each of them a very happy retirement I know that they will always be available to help in your Courts, your Provinces and at Grand Court.

The retirement of these very dear and distinguished Brethren has meant, together with the sterling support of my Officers, I have been busy installing Provincial Grand Master’s.

As I name them will they please stand:

  • R W Bro Ralph Mannings Apperley as Provincial Grand Master for Kent
  • R W Bro Roger W Freeman as Provincial Grand Master for Wessex
  • R W Bro Jose Mendoza as Provincial Grand Master for Bolivia. Brethren whilst in Bolivia we also consecrated five new Courts and constituted the Province.
  • R W Bro Lionel B Mee, KSM, as Provincial Grand Master for Sussex. Brethren earlier this month we consecrated a new Court in Sussex, The Sword of Constantine Court, No 120.
  • R W Bro Oscar de Alfonso Ortega as Provincial Grand Master for Spain. Brethren R W Bro Oscar is not able to be present today due to ill health and I ask RW Bro. Barry Mansell to pass on our best wishes to Oscar.
  • R W Bro William H Carlyon, J.P., KSM, as Provincial Grand Master for Lindsey

Brethren we welcome you to Grand Court for the first time as Provincial Grand Masters.

Overseas visits demand a lot of preparation and commitment for all those involved. It is not necessary to name the Brethren but I thank all those who assisted in our undertakings in Bolivia and Spain.

Our Order is blessed to have three very hard working Assistant Grand Masters R W Bros Allen Surratt, Arthur Macken and Madhavan Chellappa, who are based in Australia, India and the United States of America, respectively. Within their spheres of responsibility sit many Sovereign Grand Lodges and Supreme Grand Chapters. Through their knowledge of Freemasonry they ensure that our Order grows overseas in a manner that is acceptable to local customs and traditions. They are three wonderful Ambassadors for our Order. I am sure that over the coming months they will be working tirelessly to ensure there is more work to be undertaken overseas.

Today has also seen some retirements from Active Grand rank, with new replacements eager to begin their various duties. To those Brethren that have stood down today thank you for all that you have done during your tenure of Office; the manner in which you discharged your duties is so greatly appreciated.

One of those who has stood down is the Deputy Grand Secretary, W Bro David Hughes. Bro David has recently become a Metropolitan Grand Inspector in Metropolitan Grand Lodge. David we know that your new duties will be considerable. During your time as our Deputy Grand Secretary we all realised your ability and we are so proud that you have been awarded such a high rank; we are obviously sad to lose you from active Office; you achieved much as Deputy Grand Secretary; please enjoy your role as a Metropolitan Grand Inspector.

To all those that have undertaken new Offices welcome.

I am always pleased to be accompanied by acting Grand Officers when I make Official visits either here or overseas. My administration will ensure that you have plenty of notice to attend, should you so desire and I look forward to your company when I undertake these duties.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the amazing work and dedication to duty of our Grand Marshal and his team of Deputies; Brother John thank you for making everything tick and for making the Grand Master look so efficient!

To our Grand Secretary; Brother Roy your first year in office has been a huge success and you have worked tirelessly for the Order and our brethren. As our Order ever expands the number of items that now cross your desk is immense and your vast experience is an invaluable asset in ensuring the Order’s administration is carried out efficiently. Brethren, I speak to our Grand Secretary more times a day than I do my long suffering partner!

Today brings significant changes to the Statutes of the Order. These changes have been brought about in order to ensure our Order is more efficient and remains fit-for-purpose for the future. The Grand Witan, a name that Athelstan would have been very familiar with; which will be under the Presidency of R W Bro Ben Addy, has a clearly defined role. Over the coming months and years, we shall all feel the benefits of the Grand Witan, and the influence of its President.

Last night R W Bro Dr Chris Ansell was installed as Grand High Chancellor of our Appendant Order. It is his ardent wish to devote himself to his new Office and he has therefore stood down as an Assistant Grand Master, an Office he has undertaken with considerable aplomb since 2013. Whilst I will miss him as my Assistant I look forward to the fresh approach that he will bring to the very important Office of Grand High Chancellor. I am sure that we will have some very exciting times ahead of us and that he will do his late father Keith proud.

I have already paid tribute to R W Bro David Buxton, Past Deputy Grand Master and Past Grand High Chancellor. David your influence on our Order began before the Order was inaugurated. That we are all here today in such great numbers is a tribute to all that you have achieved. It would be totally remiss of me not to mention your good lady Janet as she is as much part of the early years and history of this Order than we are. We shall never forget your achievements and I actually believe that you and I are probably two of a very select club of members who have been present at every single Grand Assembly.

Present throughout all that has been achieved over the last year it is our Deputy R W Bro Dr John Lloyd who I commend to you all. He is a great source of knowledge and wisdom.

Put simply he is our guiding light – thank you John.

Brethren we still have much to do to ensure out Order grows and flourishes. Your work and commitment for the Order, your Provinces and your Courts is greater than anything I could have expected. Over the last 11 years we have made the most splendid of starts setting the highest of standards. Our Order is now, quite rightly regarded as being vigorous and progressive. We must not sit back and reflect on what has happened but focus on the future. The future for us means a continuance of that which we have so far achieved – bringing the joy of Athelstan Freemasonry to Royal Arch Masons; ensuring that our new Brethren immediately become part of our Order; maintaining the high standards of ritual; supporting each other as Freemasons; and not forgetting that we must also enjoy ourselves.

You will be pleased to know that it is now nearly time to cease our labours and go to refreshment.

Thank you all for your attention.