Last November, the Assistant Grand Master, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, visited our Districts of Sri Lanka, Madras, Bengal and Bombay & Northern India. They also attended the Annual Assembly of the Grand Lodge of India in Bangalore, which marked the first time we have been able to visit our daughter Grand Lodge for some 10 years, and helped cement the friendship which has been re-established since our re-recognition of the Grand Lodge of India.
Last month, the Assistant Grand Master also visited our District of South America, Southern Division, to install the new District Grand Master, RW Bro Ernest Steven. The ceremony was held in the Masonic Temple of the Grand Lodge of Argentina and during his visit, the Assistant Grand Master was able to meet not only the Grand Master of Argentina but also those of Uruguay and Chile, all of whom are hoping to visit us here in London before too long.
The Assistant Grand Master was also able to visit our only Lodge in Chile, Lodge of Harmony in Valparaiso, which happens to be the Mother Lodge of Bro Bosanquet, Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, who accompanied the Assistant Grand Master on this visit. Bro Williamson was impressed by their commitment to English Freemasonry, the quality of their work and their hospitality. However, he also mentioned that their meeting times were somewhat later than he was used to, as he rose to reply to his toast at ten minutes past midnight! [laughter]
I myself have just returned from a 10-day tour of our Districts of Eastern Archipelago, and Hong Kong & the Far East, accompanied by the Grand Secretary. We started in Singapore with a television interview and a question and answer session, together with an outing to visit our Brethren in Johore.
We then flew to Kuala Lumpur where the Grand Director of Ceremonies joined us for the remainder of the trip. We attended a Chapter Installation meeting in Seremban, followed by the 10th Anniversary meeting of Joseph Eu Lodge, which I had had the pleasure of Consecrating in 1994. We then flew to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Eastern Malaysia, where I dedicated a brand new purpose-built Masonic Hall in the morning and Consecrated a new Chapter to meet there in the afternoon.
I was pleased to be able to greet the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of China (in Taipei), who had flown in for the occasion, having generously contributed towards the cost of the Hall. The next day we flew to Hong Kong where I installed RW Bro David Fok as our new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for Hong Kong & the Far East.
Everywhere we have visited we have received a truly Masonic welcome and I would like to record my thanks, and those of the Assistant Grand Master, to our Brethren in the Districts we have visited, for their hospitality and friendship.
It is important to remember that our Districts and Lodges overseas are as much a part of the United Grand Lodge of England as our Lodges in England and Wales. They may be far from us in geographical terms, which makes it difficult for the Rulers to visit them as often as we would wish, but what visits we do make are greatly appreciated. It also gives us the opportunity to cement our friendly relations with our sister Grand Lodges and other more distant Grand Lodges around the world.
I might add that at the end of September the Deputy Grand Master will be going to Ghana, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, to install Bro Quansah, our new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent there.
Brethren, as this is the last time we shall meet before the summer recess, I wish you and your families a relaxing and enjoyable time until we meet again in September at the start of another Masonic year.