Changing of the guard
Graham Ives reflects on 10 years of teamwork free from preaching and dictating as he prepares to step down as Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent
In the middle of May 2008, Graham Ives received a letter from the Grand Secretary that would change his life. The Grand Secretary had been instructed by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, to offer Graham the position of Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire.
Graham was installed as Provincial Grand Master one month later. ‘I didn’t really know what the role held for me; it was a steep learning curve,’ he says. ‘For a time, I felt like a fish out of water, but I received much support, advice and friendship, and soon became very comfortable with the role.’
Graham’s rise to the role of Grand Superintendent in the Royal Arch happened at a more leisurely pace. ‘I had been a member of the Provincial Executive of the Royal Arch for a number of years before I became Grand Superintendent. I understood that role more fully and was immediately at ease with it,’ he says of the office, which he has held for as long as he has been Provincial Grand Master.
Occupying the two most senior roles in Lincolnshire Freemasonry, Graham knew there would be a tremendous amount to do in the years ahead. ‘Fundamental to my time in office has been a desire to reach out to every mason in the Province, whatever their rank. Whenever I was on an official visit, I ensured that I was talking not just to senior brethren and companions, but to everyone.
‘My hope was always that when I left the lodge or chapter, everyone would be smiling and would have enjoyed my presence as much as I had enjoyed their company – from the newest Entered Apprentice to the longest-serving Grand Officer. I genuinely believe that I have achieved that goal.’
Graham recognises how crucial those around him were during his time as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. ‘It would have been impossible for Lincolnshire to have achieved what it has without the capable and dedicated teams I have had the privilege of working with.’
Looking forward, Graham acknowledges that given the pace and form of modern Freemasonry, no one individual can accomplish all the tasks required. ‘The modern roles of the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent are very similar now to those of a chief executive. I believe that it is an exciting time to be a Freemason and that we can all look forward with confidence to the future.’
HIGHLIGHTS FROM A DECADE AS PGM
Far exceeding Festival targets
‘Against a target of £1.5 million, Lincolnshire raised £2.75 million for the 2014 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. This was right at the top of my achievements during my term of office. I was overwhelmed by the way in which the brethren and their families donated their hard-earned money to this very worthy cause, especially when you recall that for part of the time, the country was in recession.’
The Tercentenary service in Lincoln Cathedral
‘In Lincolnshire, we celebrated the Tercentenary in fine style, culminating in a magnificent service in Lincoln Cathedral. It took a lot of organising by a large number of people, but it paid off handsomely. It was a splendid and moving feeling to see the brethren and their companions, together with families and friends, filling the cathedral to capacity, wearing full masonic regalia.’
The commitment to involving Provincial officers
‘I made a decision to invite the year’s acting Provincial officers to accompany me on all my official visits. I wanted to create the opportunity for it to be something very special, but this is a big Province, stretching from the Humber almost to Peterborough. Would the officers want to make those journeys? It turned out that they did, and the visits have been a resounding success for the acting Provincial officers as well as the brethren and companions of the lodges and chapters visited. I suspect that I shall miss those official visits more than anything else.’
Consolidating the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire
‘I was determined that the Royal Arch would play a prominent part during my terms of office, not only as Provincial Grand Master but also as Grand Superintendent. A number of successful initiatives have taken place, and I am very grateful to all the dedicated Royal Arch masons who have supported me in these ventures. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Lincolnshire has one of the country’s highest percentages of Royal Arch masons in relation to Craft masons. We have consolidated the strength of the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire over the past 10 years, and there is a very sound platform to move forward.’
News that her organisation was going to be given £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation reduced Pat Ebbs to tears
“Words can’t explain what this means to us. No-one has even done anything like this for us before, and saying thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough,” she told Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives, when he went to Scunthorpe to make a formal presentation of the funds given to Magic Moments for Autisic Kids.
Pat is the driving force behind the charity, and knows better than most about life in families with autistic children – she has seven grandchildren suffering from it.
The money is the largest single donation ever made to the group, which has the objective of preventing sufferers of autism from feeling isolated, of training them and giving them life experiences.
Pat said the donation was a colossal sum of money and would make a significant difference to the families helped by the charity, which itself has been awarded an MBE. All of the money will be spent on providing experiences for the children, which will include a sledging trip and possibly a holiday in Wales at a venue specialising in holidays for disabled children.
Six Lincolnshire charities have benefited from Lincolnshire’s Community Awards after unprecedented public involvement. The Awards are a major part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations, with the Masonic Charitable Foundation distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country.
All of the Lincolnshire charities were presented with their Awards by Graham Ives who commented: 'It was uplifting to hear the stories of the people who have been helped by these donations. Volunteers work so hard and to be able to provide the wherewithal for them to make an even more effective contribution is the perfect way to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry.
'We’ve been active in charity work for all of Freemasonry’s 300 years, but this is the first occasion we’ve asked the public to help us decide how to spend our money. We are very pleased that so many people from Lincolnshire took part in the vote.'
Brethren from all four craft lodges in Boston have attended the very first meeting to form a Light Blue Club committee for the Province of Lincolnshire, which has been setup for new and young Freemasons
Although the speeches had to compete with the local football club’s firework display during the meeting led by W Bro Gary Cadle, a committee was formed. All committee members are below Provincial rank and include a brother who had taken his Second Degree just two days previously, as well as many Master Masons who have not yet been through the chair of their Lodge.
The meeting followed the formation of Lincolnshire’s Light Blue Focus group by the Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives and overseen by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. The group will help to set up similar clubs in the Province wherever there is a need – and there has already been interest from brethren across the Province. It is envisaged that although each club will be run separately, they will work under the Lincolnshire Light Blue Club Banner so that a member of one club will be able to attend events organised by any other club.
Many events will involve casual social activities open to anyone (masons, non-masons, partners and families) when invited by a member. The network of clubs will work under the DARE initiative, to Develop, Attract, Retain and Encourage, and it is predicted that through the social and Masonic activities organised, brethren and non-masons from across Lincolnshire will meet and enjoy companionship in a variety of ways.
W Bro Gary Cadle said: ‘It really has been encouraging to see Brethren from across Boston coming together so enthusiastically with the aim of increasing their Masonic knowledge and social circle. We have some great ideas for events and activities which we will be publicising across the Province soon.’
He added: ‘It would be great if we can work with other similar groups in Lincolnshire. We have already met with members of Light Blue Clubs from Warwickshire, London, Essex and Wales.”
Following the meeting, and as an indication of the social spirit of the new club, many members went for a meal at a local Indian restaurant.
More than 30 carers will be able to take a break next year, thanks to a £2,000 grant from Lincolnshire Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation
The grant to Respite Association will pay for the annual rent of a caravan at Richmond Holiday Centre in Skegness.
The caravan will be used by families of mentally and physically disabled children and spouses of people with various forms of dementia. While alternative short-term care is arranged, the carer can have a well-earned and much-needed rest beside the sea.
Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Graham Ives said: ‘We’re really pleased to be able to help the Respite Association with its wonderful work in the community.
‘Carers are often forgotten by the rest of us and Respite gives them the opportunity to take a well-earned rest.’
More than 1,000 Lincolnshire Freemasons and their families and friends gathered in Lincoln Cathedral for a unique service
Wearing Masonic regalia and parading in the Cathedral for the first time, they were marking the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary and the formation of the first Grand Lodge. The service was conducted by the Dean of Lincoln, the Venerable Christine Wilson, and the Provincial Grand Chaplain of Lincolnshire, the Rev John Spriggs.
The Rev Spriggs said: 'What we know is that 300 years ago four London Lodges formed the first Grand Lodge. From that small beginning, Freemasonry has grown and spread throughout the world.
'As Freemasons we are justly proud of our craft and all it achieves in the lives of its members and their families, and in the wider community.'
Also in attendance were the Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives, with the Lord Lieutenant Mr Toby Dennis and Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill.
After the service, the PGM Graham Ives presided at a lunch a few miles away at the Epic Centre at Lincolnshire Showground.
Fresh intake for Universities Scheme
Five years ago, Lincoln’s Saint Hugh Lodge, No. 1386, was admitted to the Universities Scheme. The undergraduates have brought vitality to the lodge and introduced many new young people to Freemasonry. PGM Graham Ives, Deputy PGM John Hockin and the Provincial team visited the lodge to witness the raising of five candidates in November. This was followed by the raising of five brethren and five initiations in subsequent months.
Over in Stoke-on-Trent, Universities Lodge of Staffordshire, No. 9907, has been consecrated at Shelton Masonic Hall, becoming the 65th lodge in the Universities Scheme. The Consecrating Officer was Past Assistant Grand Master David Williamson, President of the Universities Scheme.
Lincolnshire makes a difference
Freemasons in Lincolnshire have raised £2,762,932 for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), which was announced at an event attended by more than 960 masons and their partners to mark the conclusion of their 2014 Festival Appeal. The Province has also donated a further £25,000 to Lifelites.
Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives, who serves on the RMTGB’s council, said, ‘The Trust is a modern, vibrant and forward-looking charity. It has been a great privilege for us in Lincolnshire to support such a worthwhile cause.’ RMTGB President Mike Woodcock added, ‘Thank you for everything you have done during this appeal. Your contribution will make such a difference to the lives of so many children.’
In June, one hundred and eighty masons and their families attended the Annual General Meeting and Court of the RMTGB
The event took place in the RMTGB’s two hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary year at the County Assembly Rooms, Lincoln, under the chairmanship of Graham Ives, Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire and member of the Council of the RMTGB.
The president and chief executive, along with other members of the Council and staff, delivered presentations to explain the past, present and future work of the charity.
Lincolnshire Freemasons are in the final year of their 2014 Festival Appeal in support of the RMTGB, which is currently assisting more than two thousand children and grandchildren of masonic families.
Lincolnshire special day
It is not often that a Provincial Grand Master sees the initiation of his son, but such was the case for Graham Ives in Lincolnshire when his son Henry became a mason. Not surprisingly, there was a large turnout for the occasion, as the PGM delivered the Charge after Initiation to his son, initiating him into Earl of Yarborough Lodge, No. 2770.
Pictured above: ProvGM Graham Ives and his son Henry with WM Michael Hutchinson and Wardens Steve Marris and Barry Flint