A special event took place at the Ashlar Lodge on Thursday 22nd March 2018. The Provincial Grand Master R.WBro Derek Thomas, accompanied by the Provincial Grand Master Designate V.WBro David Powell, brethren of the lodge and visitors gathered to celebrate 50 years in Mark Masonry of a respected and popular brother V.WBro Nigel Mumford.
Following Military Service V.WBro Nigel who is an accomplished musician followed a career as a peripatetic music teacher for Monmouthshire Education Department. He was a Musical Director and teacher of several Brass Bands in the area.
It was during this time that VW.Bro Nigel was Advanced into the Mark Degree on 28th March 1968 becoming Worshipful Master of his Lodge in 1979.
Nigel was accompanied by his Daughter and Son-in-Law
On Friday 2nd March I was thrilled to attend an extraordinarily meeting of The Mark Internet Lodge, held at the Ramada Nord Hotel Bucharest in which a further 42 brethren were advanced into the Mark Degree.
I was then invited to accept the gavel in order to undertake a quite unique ceremony. To “Confer the Secrets of the Chair” on Bro. Radu Balanescu, Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Romania and Bro. Razvan Buzatu his Grand Chancellor.
The following day, Saturday 3rd March, I was then privelaged to witness and participate in the Consecration of the first Lodge of Mark Master Masons in Romania. The new lodge is the Alexandru Vaida-Voevod Lodge No. 1988, and W Bro. Florian Birlea was installed as the Primus Master.
More excitement was to follow as at the end of the meeting the Deputy Grand Master, RW Bro. John Prizeman announced the appointment of W Bro. Radu Balanescu as Past Grand Junior Warden, so his style and title is now RW Bro.
But the icing on the cake was to happen later at the Gala Dinner. The children of a local orphanage gave an enchanting display of folk dancing and singing. Afterwards when thanking the children and staff it became apparent that due to a recent cut in state funding the orphanage was in severe financial straits.
A discussion amongst the senior representatives present from Mark Grand Lodge led to the Deputy Grand Master announcing to the ladies and brethren present that the Mark Benevolent Fund would make an immediate grant of £10,000 available.
The Worshipful Master, Officers and brethren of The Mark Internet Lodge then made it known that the alms collection taken at the advancement ceremony would also be presented to the orphanage.
Just to complete the story on my return home, and following a series of brief telephone calls to the executive it has been decided that the Mark Province of Monmouthshire will make a further £1000 available, the intention being to make this presentation in person on my return to Romania in April.
The brethren of Monmouthshire Mark Masons held a successful Sunday Lunch at the Cwrt Bleddyn Hotel, Usk in support of Prostate Cancer. The event was well attended and raised the sum of £4000-00p.
The photograph shows the Provincial Grand Master presenting the cheque at the Urology Dept. Royal Gwent Hospital Newport.
Left to Right: RW Bro. Derek Thomas (PGM), Mrs Janet Marty (Uro-Oncology Nurse Specialist) Adam Cox (Consultant Urologist), and Adam Carter (Lead Cancer Urologist)
Responding to the toast to the ladies, the PGM thanked all for the support he had received during his time as PGM and was sure that the same level of support would be given to his deputy VW Bro David, who will be taking over as PGM in June.
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