We spoke to James Blake, Provincial Membership Officer in Derbyshire about his role and its importance within Freemasonry
Q How long have you been a member and how did you get into Freemasonry?
Having moved to Belper in Derbyshire around eight years ago, and not knowing anyone locally, I decided that meeting people in the local pub was a good way to build a new network of friends. I was quickly welcomed by a friendly group but noticed one night a week they were all busy elsewhere. My curiosity got the better of me and so I asked them where they went, this was when I discovered Freemasonry.
Joining was one of the best decisions I ever made and I am so grateful to Brethren from the Bradelei Lodge for welcoming me with open arms. Freemasonry has helped me make new lifelong friends and I feel I have personally developed myself on my journey through the Craft.
This year I have been duly elected to be installed in the chair of Bradelei Lodge 9205, my mother Lodge, in September.
Q When did you become a Lodge / Provincial Membership Officer?
I became the Lodge Membership Officer (LMO) for Bradelei Lodge six years ago and was appointed as the Provincial Membership Officer (PMO) for Derbyshire in April 2021. It was a great privilege to be asked to take on the membership challenge for the Province, and with a very supportive team we are making huge strides forward.
Q What was it about the role that interested you?
As the LMO for Bradelei, I was well aware of the Members’ Pathway and that it was due to be re-launched later this year. Membership is key to our future success and I was honoured to receive the opportunity to make a real difference.
Q Can you give us an idea of the “day in a life” of a PMO/LMO and how they differ?
Wow, that’s a difficult question to answer as both roles are really varied! It might help to give an example of a few projects the team and I are working on, which include:
As a PMO:
• Building connections and a network of LMOs across the Province;
• Planning future membership events;
• Tracking and screening enquiries before passing them onto Lodges;
• Reviewing resources to help drive engagement and enthusiasm when the Members’ Pathway is re-launched;
• Working with other PMOs to ensure a joined up approach.
As a LMO:
• Taking a hands-on approach in encouraging your Lodge to create a Lodge Plan and Lodge Profile to highlight what makes your Lodge unique;
• Receiving and dealing with enquiries from prospective candidates, both directly and from the Province;
• Ensuring candidates are engaged, and contacted by their Proposer and Seconder, as they go through the process of joining a Lodge.
Q How has Pathway helped you with these tasks?
Undoubtedly, the impact of Pathway has helped improve the interview process throughout Derbyshire. Whilst each Lodge is unique, we have seen the value of having a joined up structure to this element of planning. It also means people are talking about the importance of membership.
It’s true to say we are very much looking forward to the re-launch of the Members’ Pathway as I believe it will help Attract, Engage, Develop and Retain new and existing members across the country.
Q Finally, what hints and tips would you give to other PMOs and LMOs?
I would encourage them both to actively engage with the revamped Members’ Pathway, which is due to launch later this year. It is also very important to create a Lodge Plan and Lodge Profile to give you the foundation for success. Finally, I would recommend you appoint a dedicated Lodge Membership Officer who has a vital role to play in attracting and retaining members.