Celebrating 300 years
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 10:57

‘Freemasonry in our Districts’

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

10 MARCH 2010

A speech by the VW The Grand Secretary Nigel Brown
Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master and Brethren,
On the 27 April this year, the day before the Annual Craft Investitures, the Pro Grand Master has made the decision to hold – for the first time – a business meeting here specifically for all District Grand Masters. This is a clear sign of the importance we attach to supporting our Districts and the Board of General Purposes felt it important for me to give a short talk today on both why the Districts are important to us at Grand Lodge as well as to all their members.

Published in Speeches

The second national Masonic Mentoring conference was hosted by Grand Lodge at Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street on Wednesday, 10th February. Provinces and Districts were well represented, with delegates contributing from almost every Craft Province, the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and from Districts overseas, including the Eastern Archipelago and South Africa. A variety of perspectives were shared throughout the day, never with a shortage of discussion.

Proceedings were opened with an address from the Grand Secretary, who described the importance of equipping our members to act as advocates and ambassadors of the Craft. The opening address was followed by a key note presentation by W Bro Stuart Esworthy PPrSGW(Warks), titled 'The Values and Expectations of the 21st Century Mason', assessing the characteristics and nature of the Craft that may attract prospective candidates in the early 21st century.

Following the opening sessions, W Bro David Wilkinson PDGSuptWk, Metropolitan Grand Inspector and W Bro Jon Leech, MetGMen, presented the Metropolitan Grand Lodge’s Training of Mentors in London. W Bro Jon Leech also shared the Metropolitan Grand Lodge’s Initiate’s Guide, Guide for Royal Arch Masons and Mentoring Officer’s Guidance.

Lunch provided an opportunity to meet other Mentors, share experiences and browse a wide range of Mentors’ and Candidates’ support materials brought to the Conference by the delegates.

W Bro Gary Brown, ProvGStwd(Yorks W Riding) and W Bro David Loy PM ably tackled the after lunch session, energising the audience with an imaginative presentation of Masonry Matters, the Province’s successful, new initiatives enthusing new Masons, sharing ideas between Lodges and providing important, stimulating roles for new Past Masters .

The day concluded with a look at the year ahead from the national coordinator, W Bro James Bartlett, PJGD. The delegates discussed the 3R Library, the role of the Internet in attracting prospective candidates, recruitment materials and enthusiastically endorsed a further national conference in 2011, together with more regional meetings.

Published in Mentoring Scheme

Quarterly Communication

9 September 2009
A speech by the VW Grand Secretary Nigel Brown

Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master and Brethren. ‘Building Bridges – Freemasons’ Hall in the 21st Century’. You may think that this talk is about operative masonry and with some justification as we have recently successfully completed the building of four fire bridges at the east end of this fine Grand Temple. Built to the satisfaction of English Heritage and do have a look when you ever have a moment, at the way the bridges are appropriately adorned with squares and compasses. But the talk is not about that. Nor is it about the opening up of all the sealed entrances to the Connaught Rooms.

If you would allow some poetic licence, the building of bridges between us and what is from this day forth to be known as the Grand Connaught Rooms. As the President just announced the lease is being granted by the Board of General Purposes with definite benefits to the United Grand Lodge of England. The new people – the Principal Hayley Group - have, since the beginning of July, been completely refurbishing the Building to bring it back to its former glory – working literally day and night – at their expense – gutting the building, and for example, installing new kitchens, so the food will be cooked on site served by people who know what they are doing as well as new wiring, lifts and loos. They are spending over five million on the work. It is all exhilarating and inspiring. They have worked tirelessly to have the Grand Hall – now once again one of the most impressive banqueting rooms in London - ready for today’s lunch. All the rest of the major refurbishment works are to be completed by the end of September. So they ask for patience until that time. By the way, do look at the uncovered Masonic black and white marbled floor. The proof of the pudding will, quite literally, be in the eating. However if their rapidly growing order book is anything to go by, people are intending to return in droves. It is clear from our discussions that they are taking the trouble to understand our needs – and see us Masons as valued customers – unlike their predecessors.

However it is the speculative side of building bridges that this talk is all about. Building bridges from here, at Freemasons’ Hall, with both the non Masonic and Masonic community. First then, building bridges with non Masons. Having now seen all the Provincial Information Officers in a series of regional meetings – the one consistent request is for another Freemasonry in the community event. In fact, we all know that Freemasons should always be actively working in their communities. A great example is when Provinces have a stand at county shows – not only being manned by Freemasons of all ages but especially when wives and partners are part of the team. Grand Lodge has done its bit since the last Freemasonry in the community in 2002 – predominantly by allowing Freemasons’ Hall to be used more extensively than before – as a conscious implementation of strategy - and having a policy of open communications in all our dealings. That strategy has meant that we have moved to a position of respect within the local community. We liaise successfully with all the local residents’ associations as well as with Camden and Westminster Councils. Examples of building bridges are holding open days for locals – in fact on the 19 September it is ‘open house’ for all major buildings in London and on previous form we expect some two and a half thousand visitors on the day. Then we host the ‘In and around Covent Garden’ Annual General Meeting and on the 11th September Camden has invited us to participate in the opening of the new Piazza outside here in Great Queen Street. The opening ceremony will take place at the Tower Entrance. They also see us as the iconic building for the area. However that is all very well – what we actually want is for all members, wherever they are, to see the building as important to and representative of the whole English Constitution. The fact is that it is owned by all members, not just those from London. This wonderful building completed in 1933 as a peace memorial to all those Masons who died in the First World War is still, in the 21st century, one of the finest art deco buildings and is rated as a Grade II* building internally and externally. The actual shrine is a focal point and is situated at the West end of the Vestibule area showing the names of those who died, linked to Lodges throughout the Constitution. Brethren, let us also see this shrine as a continuing memorial to those Freemasons who have died, in the loyal service to their country, in all the wars since the First World War. In that context, it is heart warming to see the high level of support from Freemasons to families of those who have been killed or to very seriously injured soldiers themselves in Afghanistan, in the most ferocious fighting since the Second World War.

Our highly successful events go from strength to strength with thousands of people coming through our doors each year. This is in addition to all those who come on our regular tours of the Building and visit our centre of excellence, the Library and Museum. We are therefore talking about people who would otherwise never come in or know anything about Freemasonry. Freemasons’ Hall has been appointed a Unique Venue of London. The rigorous membership criteria means we are considered to be representative of London and an important building alongside, for example St Pauls or the Natural History Museum. Indeed, for the last three years we have been nominated by the events industry as one of the top locations for availability, accessibility and services offered to film makers. Freemasons’ Hall is our 21st Century brand name and we are highly respected within the events industry.

For film makers, this is a designers’ paradise. Both for television series and Hollywood blockbusters. Then there are the award ceremonies and the list is long. We highlight the Gala Dinner for the London Philharmonic Orchestra – the Grand Master being their patron. A pre dinner recital in the Grand Temple was breathtaking and the Artistic Director remarked that the acoustics in here were ‘perfect’. By letting them have the Hall free for the evening we are shown as sponsors for the whole year on their promotional material. As an aside, they raised seventy three thousand pounds for their own charity that evening. This charity allows under privileged children from all over the Country the opportunity to come and listen to live orchestras. We are very careful about whom we let hire the venue and indeed are keen never to interrupt Masonic activities. However I will mention amusingly that Tesco’s recently came to display the items that are going to appear in their shops at Christmas. Although rather surreal at this time of the year, the marvellous thing was that we had five hundred journalists in over two days – none of whom thought they were allowed in and all of whom were wowed by the fantastic building. Clearly the revenue stream is important – we have raised a great deal of money to maintain the fabric of the building – and another real benefit is the soft PR for the Craft as a whole.

Then we have built bridges with the four Masonic Charities all of whom, as you know, have moved into the building and it is a great delight to see how they are now working together and with us, again to the benefit of the Craft. We are also delighted that over this very summer the Metropolitan Grand Lodge has also moved into the building and into the space previously occupied by the Grand Charity.

Secondly, as part of building bridges with our membership it is important that we stay very close to Metropolitan, the Provinces and Districts. These relationships are very important to us and they grow stronger each day. Apart from the reality of geographical spread in England, Wales and abroad, everyone here considers you all of equal importance. It is also important that all our members throughout this geographical spread appreciate the vital role that this iconic building, the Mother Lodge of the World and the Headquarters of the English Constitution, plays to Freemasonry in general and to them specifically. Indeed, Brethren from our Districts and from all over the world view a visit to this building as a highlight to their stay in London. First and foremost, this is a working building, from where a vast membership organisation is run on 21st century business lines. Apart from the running of the business of Freemasons’ Hall we link to Metropolitan Grand Lodge, to 47 Provinces in England and Wales, to 33 District Grand Lodges around the world, to 5 groups under Grand Inspectors as well as to lodges abroad not under Districts or Grand Inspectors. That is well over 8,300 Lodges and now couple this with the Royal Arch which is also run from here, gives us a total of over 11,600 Lodges and Chapters. Or, to put it another way, over a quarter of a million members.

As you can imagine there is a huge volume of correspondence and of course, in this day and age, an increasing amount of electronic mail. Hundreds a day, many requiring considered advice and guidance on a vast range of technical Masonic issues. Some say ‘why don’t you have standard responses?’ Well, Freemasons can be ingenious – they think of ninety ways to ask the same question – all with a twist!

Then there are, just by way of a snapshot, the Board of General Purposes and Committee of General Purposes meetings covering for example strategic and investment decisions; conferences; the Rulers’ Forum with representatives from all the Provinces; the provision to all the Provinces - and increasingly to the Districts – of a standardised and integrated system for maintaining membership data called Provincial ADelphi; the writing, production and distribution of Freemasonry Today; initiatives such as mentoring, orator schemes and new websites, monitoring national and all local newspapers and dealing with the press and giving advice on media issues. Brethren, on that subject, our relations with the media have improved dramatically through the efforts of the Provincial Information Officers and from here. We will take no nonsense from any detractor. Interestingly, this considered approach has earned Freemasonry considerable respect and us – many new friends. That snapshot, that flavour of a few of the things we do, is for the good of all members. Things like today’s Quarterly Communication, or Supreme Grand Chapter and Investitures do not just happen. They all have to be organised and staffed. Just think what it is like for a Lodge Secretary to run one meeting and then compare, no, we need say no more – you have got the picture! Don’t forget we also work closely with Provinces and Districts with their activities including the installation of Provincial or District Grand Masters, bi-centenaries, centenaries and business meetings throughout the Constitution.

The Centre here is in many ways a clearing house, giving advice and guidance when asked for. Having said that, we do initiate change and our great strength is adaptability. Whether from 1717 or 1813 it has been our ability to adapt to the society in which we are living without changing the basic principles and tenets.

At the same time we will continue to keep the building up-to-date and in good order. This means that the building remains a prestige venue and commercially viable.

So, Brethren, with the leadership of our Rulers and the direction of the Board we will together continue to build and strengthen those bridges as we move happily forward from a strong base towards our three hundredth anniversary in 2017 and beyond. We commend to every single member, wherever you are, the true value of Freemasons’ Hall and all it stands for in the 21st Century.

Published in Speeches
The first national conference for Mentoring Coordinators was hosted by Grand Lodge at Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street on Tuesday, 24th February. Almost every Province was represented, as was the Metropolitan Grand Lodge, with a turnout of nearly 80 delegates for the busy day. By the conclusion of the conference there was popular demand for the event to be repeated early in 2010.

Proceedings were opened with an address from the M W Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, who spoke about the role of mentoring in both nurturing and tutoring Masons. The opening address was followed by presentations from Toby Jones, who iintroduced of the 3R Library to delegates, and then an interactive session from Nick Cripps on mentoring skills and techniques, during which small groups of delegates considered aspects of effective mentoring. A working lunch, led in to the afternoon plenary session on “the way forward”, considering questions such as the role of Provincial Mentors, central support, indicators of success, the introduction of the Holy Royal Arch and other topics, all under the watchful eye of the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown.  The day concluded with a thoughtful presentation from Hugh Stubbs on the national Masonic charities, their activities and introduction of this important part of Masonry to mentees. After the close, delegates described the conference as a great success: new relationships had been made with fellow Mentoring Coordinators and interesting ideas shared.
Published in Mentoring Scheme
Friday, 12 December 2008 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Winter 2008

It would be very easy to sit in my office everyday and deal with the heavy workload that continually flows in. However, I remain keen to get out and about, within reason, whenever I can. I believe it essential to hear first hand how people in both the Provinces and Districts feel about the issues facing them.

So, since last writing, I have attended Installations of Provincial Grand Masters or Grand Superintendents in Durham, Cumberland and Westmoreland and Guernsey and Alderney and the Installation of the Grand Inspector of Malta. I attended Northumberland's Annual meeting. I accompanied the Pro Grand Master when he attended the Fifth Regional Conference of District Grand Masters and their executive teams in Bermuda. The Conference was a great success with the District Grand Masters of Bermuda,· Bahamas and Turks, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and Trinidad and Tobago.

I have just returned from Singapore where I accompanied the Assistant Grand Master when we attended the 150th Anniversary celebrations of the District of Eastern Archipelago. I ran a very worthwhile business meeting which was attended by the District Grand Masters of North and South Island of New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bombay, Hong Kong and Eastern Archipelago.

We are making good progress with the design and building of the new UGLE website as well as working hard on many of our other initiatives such as the Mentor and Orator Schemes.

2008 has been a marvellous year for Freemasonry. I wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2009.

Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary

Published in UGLE
Monday, 01 October 2007 01:00

Grand Secretary: Exciting times ahead

The merger of MQ and Freemasonry Today and the development of external relations is discussed by Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary

It is always good to hear exciting news. The announcement, by the Pro Grand Master in his speech at the September Quarterly Communication, that MQ and Freemasonry Today are to merge, is indeed exciting. The merger has been planned for some time and further underpins the positive initiatives of the Pro Grand Master to communicate with you, your families and non-masons.

You might wonder why we are using the title ‘Freemasonry Today’ for the new magazine, especially as this is a merger and will be the magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England. The answer is simply that it is a good title.

You will also be interested to know that the Grand Secretary, on behalf of the Board of General Purposes, will act as ‘compliance officer’. That means that all editorial, now to cover a wider range of topics, will be approved before publication.

This then, is the last issue of MQ. The first issue of the new magazine will be published in January 2008 with your free copy being distributed in the same way as MQ was.

At the Tripartite meeting held at Freemasons’ Hall in June I had the opportunity to meet my opposite numbers in the Grand Lodge of Ireland and Scotland, Barry Lyons and David Begg respectively. We liaise very well and it was a pleasure to meet them.

In July the Assistant Grand Master traveled to Sri Lanka to celebrate their centenary and to install the new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. As part of my remit to look after the Districts under our jurisdiction, I had the privilege of accompanying him.

We met many of the brethren and their wives. The Assistant Grand Master was also interviewed for the District magazine called The Banner. The interviewer was pleasantly surprised about our openness and the clear direction our Rulers have set.

I accompanied the Pro Grand Master on the third of his four Provincial meetings. These continue to be extremely successful. I cannot put enough emphasis on how important are our Provinces and Districts.

On that point, the Grand Chancellor gave an excellent talk at the last Quarterly Communication clearly confirming how successfully our respective roles were working out.

In particular, re-emphasing how his role allows the Grand Secretary to now concentrate on the Provinces and Districts, whilst he can concentrate on matters regarding Grand Lodges not under our jurisdiction.

Any thoughts that I may have had that August was a quiet month at Freemasons’ Hall London were soon dispelled. Clearly, from a ceremonial aspect, things do go quiet.

However, in all other respects it is as busy as ever. On top of this, the building works continue and we all look forward to their completion and to welcoming the Charities into Freemasons’ Hall. I am happy to report that our discussions on their move have already given us the opportunity to establish a very good relationship.

This is a wonderful and inspiring time for Freemasonry and we look forward to keeping you up-to-date with all the initiatives in the new Freemasonry Today.

 

Published in UGLE
Sunday, 01 July 2007 01:00

Grand Secretary: Notes

Grand Secretary Nigel Brown reviews the latest developments within Grand Lodge

His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent celebrated 40 years as our Grand Master on 14 June. This is a wonderful achievement and we are all honoured that His Royal Highness has done, and continues to do, so much for the Craft and Royal Arch.

The Pro Grand Master’s speech at the June Quarterly Communication emphasised that this is an exciting time for Freemasonry.

Lord Northampton has launched several initiatives, which will support our spirit of openness and ensure the bright future of the Masonry we so enjoy. The Pro Grand Master spoke of the importance of openness with family, non-Masons and potential candidates. We are all the best people to communicate our love of Masonry.

Interestingly, someone mentioned the other day that if each of us proposed one new candidate of quality in the next five years, membership would cease to be an issue. Finding new members is surely the responsibility of all of us.

Provincial Information Officers are doing a very important job on the communications front. In order to support us all in communicating and the openness that I have already referred to, the Pro Grand Master is looking at our house magazine, the websites and the production of a DVD. We will keep you informed on progress.

Later this year the Charities will all be under one roof at Freemasons’ Hall. Although the Charities are separate entities, a new sense of belonging and unity will be instilled. Talking about the Charities, the Pro Grand Master announced the fantastic news that recent Festivals had raised over fourteen and a half million pounds. For your interest this total was based on:

Yorkshire, West Riding raising £5.02 million for the Grand Charity;
Somerset raising £3.56 million for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution;
Cumberland and Westmorland raising £2.05 million for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys;
Nottinghamshire raising £3.79 million for the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

During my nearly twenty years as a Mason, remembering that I am still secretary of two Lodges and Scribe E of a Chapter, I often wondered what Grand Lodge actually did. I am now amazed at the sheer volume of work that is tackled, with the minimum of staff. Nevertheless, it is high on my agenda to always improve our professionalism and efficiency.

Did you know that it takes ten members of staff two hours each morning just to sort the post out so that it can go to the right department? In addition to that there are emails and telephone calls coming in all day – and overnight! You need to know that we treat everything as important and I thank the staff so much for all they do for us all.

In fact, we are keen that you learn more of each department’s work in future editions of the house magazine.

Another fact I have learnt is the enormous amount of time and effort the Rulers give us. We have very strong leadership and we can all be confident of the future. The Grand Secretary also reports to the

Board of General Purposes for the Craft and the Committee of General Purposes for the Royal Arch. Both the Board and the Committee have the very best of experts with great experience to handle all the issues we face. 

The Rulers are involved in visiting the Provinces and Districts under our jurisdiction, whether it be to install a new Grand Master or Grand Superintendent, attend festivals or annual meetings or an unrelated visit to give support.

For example, the Pro Grand Master, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, attended the first of his Provincial meetings at Sindlesham in May, with the remaining three to be held in Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. At the end of these visits all 47 Provincial Grand Masters, or their Deputies, will have attended.

The Pro Grand Master also mentioned at the last Quarterly Communication that he would be visiting our Districts in India at the end of November and that the Assistant Grand Master was attending the centenary of the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka and installing the new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent.

So, there is much exciting news and I have only been able to give a flavour of some of the areas our leaders are looking at. John Hamill, our Director of Communications, in the last issue of the magazine, ended one of my quotes to him as saying '… but if we do not make it an enjoyable experience there seems little point in doing it'. I stand by that – keep having fun!

Published in UGLE

Nigel Brown, the new Grand Secretary, is interviewed by John Hamill

With Grand Lodge agreeing the resolution empowering the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Chancellor to oversee Grand Lodge’s Masonic external relations, the role of the Grand Secretary has been freed up to enable him to concentrate primarily on the huge task of administering the Craft and the Royal Arch both at home and in our Districts, Lodges and Chapters overseas.

With the central administration for over 283,000 brethren in 8,357 Lodges (of which 792 are overseas) organised in 47 Provinces, 33 Districts and five Groups under Grand Inspectors to oversee, to say nothing of the organising of Grand Lodge meetings and those of the Board of General Purposes, Strategic Working Party, ad hoc and permanent committees (and their equivalents in the Royal Arch) as well as organising and co-ordinating the paperwork for each, ensuring that the Rulers and Board members are properly briefed on all topics of the day, and dealing with questions from Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and their secretaries, the Grand Secretary’s role is no sinecure!

Nigel Brown, appointed Grand Secretary from 1st February, brings a wealth of professional and Masonic experience to his new office. Born in Lusaka, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, he was educated in Southern Rhodesia before entering the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in which he served for ten years, retiring as a Captain.

Then followed 15 years in senior management in which he earned a high reputation for his administrative and planning skills and attention to detail, leading to his setting up a consultancy advising clients on winning competitive global tenders.

Although not the first in his family to be involved in Freemasonry, it was through his Service connections that he entered the Craft, being initiated in the Household Brigade Lodge No. 2614 in 1985. After being Master, he continued to serve the Lodge as Director of Ceremonies, Charity Steward and, currently, Secretary.

He has also been active in Prince of Wales’s Lodge No. 259 and other Lodges and Chapters. His liking for ritual and ceremonial brought him to the attention of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his appointment in April 2005 as a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

The GDC and his Deputies are key players in serving the Grand Master and the Rulers, and in maintaining the high reputation that the United Grand Lodge of England has in the Masonic world for the excellence of its ceremonial at Grand Lodge and other major Masonic gatherings.

The new Grand Secretary sees close co-operation between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District authorities as being vitally important to the good administration of the Craft and Royal Arch.

Over the last few years pressures from other areas – particularly foreign relations and dealing with the outside world – have led to there being less of a focus on Freemasonry at home and in our overseas Districts and Groups, but the Grand Secretary sees the strengthening of ties between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges as his first and ongoing task.

'I am very much looking forward to the end of April when I shall have the good opportunity of informally meeting the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters when they attend the Pro Grand Master’s business meeting.

'As a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies I have had the privilege of visiting a number of Provinces as part of the Grand Lodge team for the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master or Grand Superintendent and have begun to get a feel for how a Province works.

'Equally, I look forward, with my senior management team, to my first meeting with the Provincial and District Grand Secretaries and Scribes E when we get together on the morning of the Annual Investiture. Later in the year I shall be accompanying the Pro Grand Master when he meets the Provinces in groups for more detailed discussions.

'I sincerely hope – if invited – that over a period I shall be able to attend the annual meetings of the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges. Communication is of vital importance and should be a two-way process from which we can all learn and benefit the Craft as a whole.

'The same thoughts apply to our Districts, Groups and Lodges overseas, though there is the additional dimension of distance involved. However, just as with groups at home, communication is the key. With the ease of today’s electronic communications I believe that ‘distance’ should not be a problem in providing a high quality of service from the centre.

'Thought is being given as to how we can increase personal contact, possibly by once again meeting Districts in groups as was done a number of years ago, and of striking a balance between visits to our own people overseas and those to foreign Grand Lodges and major international Masonic gatherings.

Published in UGLE

With Grand Lodge agreeing the resolution empowering the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Chancellor to oversee Grand Lodge’s Masonic external relations, the role of the Grand Secretary has been freed up to enable him to concentrate primarily on the huge task of administering the Craft and the Royal Arch both at home and in our Districts, Lodges and Chapters overseas.

With the central administration for over 283,000 brethren in 8,357 Lodges (of which 792 are overseas) organised in 47 Provinces, 33 Districts and five Groups under Grand Inspectors to oversee, to say nothing of the organising of Grand Lodge meetings and those of the Board of General Purposes, Strategic Working Party, ad hoc and permanent committees (and their equivalents in the Royal Arch) as well as organising and co-ordinating the paperwork for each, ensuring that the Rulers and Board members are properly briefed on all topics of the day, and dealing with questions from Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and their secretaries, the Grand Secretary’s role is no sinecure!

Nigel Brown, appointed Grand Secretary from 1st February, brings a wealth of professional and Masonic experience to his new office. Born in Lusaka, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, he was educated in Southern Rhodesia before entering the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in which he served for ten years, retiring as a Captain.

Then followed 15 years in senior management in which he earned a high reputation for his administrative and planning skills and attention to detail, leading to his setting up a consultancy advising clients on winning competitive global tenders.

Although not the first in his family to be involved in Freemasonry, it was through his Service connections that he entered the Craft, being initiated in the Household Brigade Lodge No. 2614 in 1985. After being Master, he continued to serve the Lodge as Director of Ceremonies, Charity Steward and, currently, Secretary.

He has also been active in Prince of Wales’s Lodge No. 259 and other Lodges and Chapters. His liking for ritual and ceremonial brought him to the attention of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his appointment in April 2005 as a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

The GDC and his Deputies are key players in serving the Grand Master and the Rulers, and in maintaining the high reputation that the United Grand Lodge of England has in the Masonic world for the excellence of its ceremonial at Grand Lodge and other major Masonic gatherings.

The new Grand Secretary sees close co-operation between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District authorities as being vitally important to the good administration of the Craft and Royal Arch.

Over the last few years pressures from other areas – particularly foreign relations and dealing with the outside world – have led to there being less of a focus on Freemasonry at home and in our overseas Districts and Groups, but the Grand Secretary sees the strengthening of ties between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges as his first and ongoing task.

“I am very much looking forward to the end of April when I shall have the good opportunity of informally meeting the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters when they attend the Pro Grand Master’s business meeting.

“As a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies I have had the privilege of visiting a number of Provinces as part of the Grand Lodge team for the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master or Grand Superintendent and have begun to get a feel for how a Province works.

“Equally, I look forward, with my senior management team, to my first meeting with the Provincial and District Grand Secretaries and Scribes E when we get together on the morning of the Annual Investiture. Later in the year I shall be accompanying the Pro Grand Master when he meets the Provinces in groups for more detailed discussions.

“I sincerely hope – if invited – that over a period I shall be able to attend the annual meetings of the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges. Communication is of vital importance and should be a two-way process from which we can all learn and benefit the Craft as a whole.

“The same thoughts apply to our Districts, Groups and Lodges overseas, though there is the additional dimension of distance involved. However, just as with groups at home, communication is the key. With the ease of today’s electronic communications I believe that ‘distance’ should not be a problem in providing a high quality of service from the centre.

“Thought is being given as to how we can increase personal contact, possibly by once again meeting Districts in groups as was done a number of years ago, and of striking a balance between visits to our own people overseas and those to foreign Grand Lodges and major international Masonic gatherings.

“Even in the short time I have been in office I have experienced the warmth of welcome received overseas, when the GDC and I joined the MW The Grand Master in Ghana for a brief Masonic meeting whilst he was representing The Queen at the 50th anniversary celebrations of Ghana’s independence.”

The Grand Secretary will continue to lead the Communications team at Grand Lodge and would like to see a more pro-active policy.

“Openness and a steady flow of good, factual information about Freemasonry are key to restoring Freemasonry to its proper place in society, and the Craft at all levels has a vital part to play in the process. The Grand Lodge team and the network of Provincial Information Officers have made significant changes to public attitudes over the last few years and we need to build on their successes.

“We need to find ways of giving individual brethren the tools and the confidence to talk about Freemasonry with their families, friends and colleagues and, above all, with potential good candidates.

“I have no doubt that negative public attitudes have had an effect on potential candidates and that in some professions joining Freemasonry has not been seen as a smart career move. These are attitudes we must change if we are to continue to attract professional men.

“Talking about Freemasonry is not always easy, as I have found from recent experience! Before becoming Grand Secretary, at social events, when the conversation inevitably turned to what people did, I would talk about my various business and personal interests.

“Now, as Grand Secretary, I am having to learn how to talk succinctly and clearly about Freemasonry! Talking about something which we all clearly enjoy is surely one of the best ways of dispelling some of the myths that have grown up around the Craft. Enjoyment is one of the keys to the future success of Freemasonry.

“We must be efficient and professional in how we organise our Masonic affairs at all levels, but if we do not make it an enjoyable experience there seems little point in doing it. I think that whoever put together the Address to the Brethren got it so right when they exhorted us ‘to unite in the Grand Design of being happy and communicating happiness’”.

John Hamill is Director of Communications at Grand Lodge

Published in UGLE
Page 6 of 6

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