It has been a particularly busy few weeks – not least with the installation of a new Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, and Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence. On your behalf, I know you would want me to wish them both well in their important tasks. The Grand Master said that Lord Northampton retires leaving the Craft more confident than ever. We are privileged to have a distinguished team taking ‘over the reins’ to lead us forward.
An Adjutant, Alex Maclean Bather, has been appointed. Alex is responsible to the Grand Secretary for the day to day running of all the projects and initiatives that we have been tasked with. As you can imagine there are several hundred. By way of example, I highlight the new UGLE website, the Mentoring Scheme and the detailed preparation for the greatest masonic event ever in our history since the in 1717 – our Tercentenary in 2017. We have just run a very successful conference for Provincial Grand Mentors, chaired by Lord Northampton. Mentoring is vitally important and at the heart of our future. It was tremendous that all Provinces were represented and everyone was exhilarated by the day. You will hear all the details of the Scheme, via the mentoring coordinators. The key point is that everyone will be mentored throughout their masonic journey.
I am to speak with all our Provincial Information Officers in a series of regional meetings as I want to highlight the importance of the role of Information Officer. The role will increase in importance as we progress our policy of open communication and of our increasingly positive dealings with the media. I am also, in the short term, running the Communications Department. We are determined to clarify the aims of our communication policies to align them with our philosophy of open communication and the needs of the twenty-first century. Interestingly our Events are a wonderful success and we have recently been accepted as a member of the prestigious Unique Venues of London and are now in partnership with other iconic buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Somerset House, Royal Courts of Justice and the Natural History Museum. To give you a flavour, we have recently had Hollywood stars such as Matt Damon in the ‘Green Zone’, Oscar nominated actor Robert Downey in ‘Sherlock’ as well as John Cusack in ‘Shanghai’. The Hall appears in many TV shows such as ‘Spooks’, ‘Whitechapel’, ‘Hustle’ and the forthcoming productions such as ‘Miss Marple’ and ‘Primeval’. The most stunning set build here has been for ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ which is released in March on DVD. Alongside the filming the building also hosts corporate conferences, dinners and award ceremonies, such the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’. The two clear aims are to generate an income stream and to have as many non-masons as possible visit our magnificent building to help eradicate the nonsense about conspiracy theories and negative attitudes. Be assured, the daily routine of the building is not interrupted by external events.
It is a great pleasure to let you know that we are sponsoring two students at the City & Guilds of London Art School. One is on the stone carving course and one on the conservation of stone course. It reminds us all of our history in stone masonry when we were operative masons. The editor has agreed to write an article in a future issue to follow their work. The Masonry Department at the School played a major part in the restoration of the stone work at Windsor Castle after the fire in 1992.
Finally, I want to mention an issue that I feel very strongly about. In society it is increasingly more acceptable to put other people down for self aggrandisement. This is particularly prevalent in the media. There is no room for this in Freemasonry. We therefore do not accept or tolerate any member who is rude, arrogant, disrupts the harmony of their Lodge or Chapter or, in some cases, is willing to bring Freemasonry into disrepute to achieve their own selfish ends. None of us want these people as members which underpins the serious responsibility on all of us to bring only men of quality into our ranks. Happily there are only a tiny minority of cases but even one, is one too many.