The question of the provision of a Provincial Grand Master’s apron for the future Provincial Grand Master had been touched upon on numerous occasions with senior members of the executive over the last two to three years. A particularly sensitive issue within the Province as the only one in our possession, previously worn by RW Bro. Frederick Mansell Gabb (1990-1996) was quite old and in very poor condition.
However, a short while ago I managed to track down the apron worn by RW Bro. Brian Charles Cull who had served the Province from 1996 to 2006.
It may not be generally known, that whilst as an act of courtesy a retiring Provincial Grand Master is invited to submit three names as his successor for consideration, Grand Lodge are the sole arbiter of the selection process. So, after informing the Grand Secretary of my intention to stand down immediately prior to our Provincial Meeting in June my thoughts soon turned to how the apron should be presented to my successor, no matter who, and when.
The decision to hold a Celebratory Mark Advancement ceremony at Maius Lodge in January in the magnificently refurbished temple in Risca Masonic Hall provided the opportunity to do something a little different. Initially it was to be a straightforward presentation either within the temple or at the festive board. But having worked closely with VW Bro. David Powell for almost 5 years I knew he would appreciate something a little different.
So, the idea of a raffle was born. Disguised as a box of redundant Christmas Crackers the “booby prize” was duly “won” by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. Probably another first for the Province of Monmouthshire, the first time a Provincial Grand Master’s Apron and Collar have ever been won in a raffle, something I’m sure my successor will always remember.
RW Bro Derek Thomas
Following the first Mark meeting of the year at Risca, which was to celebrate the refurbishment of the Temple at Risca Masonic Hall, the PGM, RW Bro. Derek Thomas, announced his retirement.
This surprise news came following the Advancement of Bro. Wilfred Chivers by the PGM himself, who was ably assisted by the team that carried out multiple Advancements whilst at Bucharest in July 2017.
He explained that this meeting, the first of the year, was the appropriate one at which to make his announcement. The Maius Lodge of MMM is his Mother Lodge and he recalled that his first involvement with masonry was at the age of 11, helping to lay tables in the Risca Masonic Hall.
An impressive array of distinguished brethren were at the meeting, including the PGM of Craft in Monmouthshire, RW Bro. Richard Davies. He gave much praise for RW Bro Derek, when responding to the Visitors Toast and talked of his pleasure of the close relationships that had been developed within the principal masonic groups within our Province.
The New PGM
Following his announcement the PGM was pleased to confirm that his recommendation had been agreed by Grand Lodge, and that his successor will be the Deputy PGM, VW David Powell.
Whilst there was a general disappointment that RW Bro. Derek was standing down, all were very pleased that VW Bro David was to take over.
VW Bro David spoke about the continuation of the policies that RW Bro Derek and he have formulated during the last 4 years. These have proved to be very successful in promoting the Mark, not only within Monmouthshire, but also, via The Mark Internet Lodge, to other areas of the world including Romania.
He finished by expressing his pleasure to receive such a promotion, but that will happen in June, and in the meantime there was still much to do under the leadership of RW Bro Derek.
The Mark Master Masons of Monmouthshire have donated £17,000 to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny to fund equipment for its Critical Care Unit.
The Masons’ contribution will be used to purchase a specialist portable ventilator, which can be used by children when they need to be transferred inside or outside the hospital. The ventilator is adaptable and can also be used to help adult patients.
The donation came after Bernard Williams, of the Monmouthshire Mark Masons, was cared for in the Critical Care Unit at Nevill Hall Hospital when suffering with a perforated bowel and Sepsis in March 2016.
Romania – Provisional Consecration Programme
Prior to the advancement ceremony held on Tuesday 28th November, the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Monmouthshire RW Bro. Derek Thomas took the opportunity to meet with the Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Romania MW Bro. Radu Balanescu in order to discuss the introduction of the Mark degree in Romania.
As March 2018 will mark the centenary of the formation of Romania as we now know it, it was felt that it would be appropriate if the Primus Mark Lodge could be consecrated that month. Several dates were proposed and as this first ceremony will be undertaken by Mark Grand Lodge they have been duly forwarded for consideration and it is anticipated that confirmation may be received prior to the Christmas recess.
What has been confirmed is that the second lodge will be consecrated at Mark Masons’ Hall on Saturday 2nd June 2018. Provisional dates have also been made for the consecration of further lodges in Constanta on the 10th November 2018, Bucharest on the 9th March 2019 and Timis on the 15th June 2019.
It is proposed that ceremonies of advancement will be undertaken on the day before each of the consecration ceremonies in Romania.
Please note that whilst the majority of these dates are provisional at this stage, when each or any of them are confirmed this news section will be updated accordingly.
The PGM, DPGM and other members of The Mark Internet Lodge returned from Romania this weekend after adding a further 73 members and taking the total membership to more than 200.
Some of the New Brethren with TMIL team.
The word is that there are more to join probably in March when the first Romanian Lodge will be consecrated. More about that in the New Year.
PGM chating with VWBro. Derek Straker Moxley J.P. , PastDepPGM of the Mark in Monmouthshire after presenting him with his Grand Patron Gold Collar award at his home in Swindon.
VWBro Derek joined the Mark Degree in 1950 becoming Deputy ProvGMaster in 1972 retiring in 1980.
For many years he was a Draper in Abertillery before retiring to Yeovil where he took a great interest in helping to restore old airplanes. This included making various parts for them.
It was VWBro Derek who first brought the Benevolent Fund into Monmouthshire.
Aged 92 yrs he is as bright and sharp as a pin although lacking a little in Mobility. We wish him and his good lady many many more years of health and enjoyment.
Following a lovely meal at the Cwrt Beddyn Hotel, on Sunday 19th September the PGM, RW Bro. Derek Thomas, was pleased to hand a cheque to Sister Janet Marty in support of the ‘Progress Prostate Cancer Support Group’.
The Gwent Branch is based at The Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport.
The sum given was a magnificent £4000.
Janet whose title is ‘Uro-Oncology Nurse Specialist’ is based in the Urology Department at the Gwent.
The award came about following conversations between W.Bro Mike Knight and the PGM praising the treatment faciloities at the Gwent. The Masonic Golf Society had previously supported this worthy cause in 2015.
The event was full with approximately 140 dining, and a very pleasant afternoon was had by all.
A team of over 50 strong led by the PGM and in support of The Mark Internet Lodge (TMIL) visited Bucharest during the week commencing 10th July 2017. Many brought their ladies to make a party of over 80 visitors.
Temperatures were high at between 33C and 35C during the two meetings with the Temple air con failing during the first meeting. This is clear from the pictures below when jackets were discarded.
TMIL opened it’s 1st overseas meeting on the 11th at 4pm and under the guidance of it’s Master, WBro. Roy Morris, accepted 5 new Joining members, and then Advanced 30 Romanian Brethren.
The 2nd meeting on the following day saw the PGM keep the Gavel, when W.Bro Roy presented it, to then install a Provincial team into the offices of the Lodge.
With his team in place he too carried out another Advancement of 30 Brethren, but there was a difference as this was truly a unique occasion.
One of the Brethren was the Romanian Grand Master who, with all the other Brethren, enjoyed the ceremony immensely.
This meeting was followed by a splendid dinner dance where British/Romanian lifelong friendships were cemented. More visits are expected to follow.
Some of the pictures follow.
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