The Address by the Provincial Prior at the Provincial Meeting at Botley on 4th September.
Brother Knights of the Province of Hampshire & IOW and our Distinguished guests. Well, we are here, in a physical meeting rather than a virtual one and I welcome you all to this meeting at Botley. I am grateful to the Directors for finding us our regular date and I am especially grateful to Mark and his staff for catering for our needs. We will be dining in this room afterwards so we need to give him and some our of Brother Knights some time to set it up.
As you know, we are still under some constraints and following the protocols for this Centre, hence our reduced numbers in attendance today, but I and the Brother Knights of the Province are delighted to welcome our Visitors who have been able to attend and enhance our meeting today.
The ability to hold Virtual Business meetings became the bedrock of maintaining contact with our Brother Knights, for both this and the other Progressive Orders, over this last 16 months or so and I am sure that the virtual contact will be useful in doing some of our work in the future, especially our Executive meetings, and we should keep this option available for those who are still reticent in returning just yet.
We have some catching up to do, especially conducting ceremonies for our list of new candidates and also Malta ceremonies. We will facilitate extra meetings, if required, and assistance will be available if any Preceptory gives timely notice to our Vice-Chancellor.
Our Provincial Officers have been reappointed this year as they had no opportunity to partake in Official Visits in the last year. I look forward to seeing as many as feel able to accompany me and/or my Sub-Prior during the year. The Official Visits don’t start till late November to give the Preceptories time, either to have a meeting or rehearsal before being descended upon, however, I am keen to attend unofficially, whenever I can, to physically meet the Brother Knights after so long.
Seven Knights have heard the Great Captains call since we last met and you heard their names earlier. We will miss them all. Again, the limitations on funeral attendance meant we could not always say our farewells as we would wish.
The Chapter of Great Priory, normally held in May, had to be cancelled, yet again, as was the Great Priory of Malta meeting last November, but our Grand Master or the Great Seneschal made a personal call to congratulate those receiving appointments or promotion in Great Rank. I look forward to witnessing their appointments at the Malta meeting in November.
Not only were the Virtual Business Meetings important to maintain contact but I am again grateful to Em Kt David Nash who has continued with more editions of the Templar Times, including quizzes and articles to maintain interest.
I am very hopeful that we now have a clear path to prepare for 2023 and the 175th Anniversary of our Province. The Provincial Registrar is coordinating an update to our history, we have plans to hold a Church Service at St Cross in Winchester in June 2023 and of course our Provincial Meeting in the September will be another highlight.
Earlier you approved a donation from the Province of £500 to the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital which is usually added to by the collection we make at this Annual Meeting. You will have seen an envelope or Gift Aid Form on your seat and these will be collected at the playing of the Templar Hymn.
Last year we had the 20 4 2020 appeal for the Hospital and our Province has raised £1420 to date from our Brother Knights. But the appeal was stifled by the lockdown and so in 2021 it will continue with the title Eye to Eye 2021 and I brought along some Swift Pins to sell today at £20 and these will continue to be available for sale, on an ongoing basis.
Although the Eye Hospital is where we put our main effort year on year, we cannot ignore the fact that we are all Masons and support and benefit from the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Craft Province launched the 2027 Festival this year. In addition, we are Progressive Masons and a large number of our Brother Knights are Mark Master Masons and our Mark Province has commenced the 2026 Festival for the Mark Benevolent Fund. As we had no physical Provincial meeting last year the Executive have supported my request to donate to both these Festivals. I therefore call upon the Provincial First Constable for a Proposition and I call upon the Provincial Second Constable. Provincial Marshal would you escort the Provincial Grand Master of the Craft and Mark to me please.
Since March 2020 the burden of the administration of Virtual Business Meetings and advice on how to conduct them, as well as ensuring that the strict protocol was followed has fallen on our Provincial Vice Chancellor, Em Kt Ron Wray. It has not been easy and he has been a rock throughout this time. Even more, this meeting has had a much-shortened timetable and we were unsure if it would be cancelled if a third wave struck. I thank him for getting us to this point. I thank all the Provincial Executive for their fulsome support.
Finally, I must stress, that no Brother Knight should feel compelled to attend a physical meeting of his Preceptory or Priory if they have any concerns about their health or the health of their loved ones, nor should they feel duty bound to attend because they feel they may be letting their Preceptory or Brother Knights down. Brother Knights, remain vigilant, keep in contact with your fellow Brother Knights and stay safe.
God Bless you all Brother Knights