Cambridgeshire's Provincial Grand Master, RWBro. W. C. M. Dastur, delivers an address to mark the day of the Provincial Grand Chapter and Provincial Grand Lodge meetings. Due to be held on Tuesday 16th June 2020 they were cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

 

The text of the message follows:

Brethren and Companions, today, Tuesday 16th June, we were due to have held our annual Provincial meetings for both the Craft and Royal Arch but sadly we have had to postpone both of them as a result of Covid 19. This pandemic has of course given the Province and indeed the whole of freemasonry the opportunity to engage with our local communities providing assistance to those in need of our support.

But first I want to give my congratulations to those brethren and companions who were to have been formally invested today with their Provincial Grand rank, active appointment, or promotion. This is a marvellous achievement and one which I did not want to see go by without some form of public recognition and acknowledgement. It is due reward for all that you have done and, whilst today is inevitably different, I hope it may still be a memorable one for each of you.

I hope it will encourage you to do more for your lodge or chapter. In the charge we all received at our initiation we were urged to make ourselves respectable in life, useful to mankind and an ornament to the society we had joined. Brethren and Companions, in these difficult times what better motivation do you need?

All the Provincial appointments take effect from today. The new Provincial executive teams face a challenging time ahead. Who knows when we can return to some form of normality BUT when we do I know it will be for them a fulfilling and enjoyable one.

To the retiring wardens, WBros. Danny Ellis and John McCormick, the Second Provincial Grand Principal, Excellent Companion David Blair and the other retiring officers, thank you so much for your service in the last year particularly representing or supporting me at Lodge Installations or Chapter Convocations.

Brethren, we took so much of our freemasonry for granted before it was suspended, and I know that in recent weeks it has been hard for many of us. We are finding new ways of keeping the spirit alive, communicating and engaging together so that when we do resume we shall thrive again – a prospect I fear, sadly may not be true for many businesses especially on our High Streets, and in the hospitality trades.

On the charitable front Freemasonry always excels – it is in some ways the lifeblood coursing through all our veins. MCF has already allocated £1million pounds for Covid 19 causes and is raising a further £2million. From this Cambridgeshire has received two awards for a hospital scrubs initiative and also for syringe drivers for the Arthur Rank hospice. Additionally, we have also obtained matched funding for MAGPAS and the East Anglian Air Ambulance as well as small grant for council educational support packages for poor or deprived children who have limited facilities now the schools are closed.

Some of this has been or will be reported in the press and media and we continue to engage actively with them, but I firmly believe that our first priority is doing the right thing. This is what gets recognised best in the long run.

Mike Hinton who assumed the role of Communications Officer has had a challenging end to his first year as the Executive uses all the media options including Zoom, our Provincial Website and the Second Rising. UGLE has just issued its inaugural First Rising tempting me to suggest that where Cambridgeshire leads others may follow.

I am so grateful to Mike and his team. Leveraging social media can be so rewarding whilst being an important way of engaging with the younger members of society and I must mention the Light Blues Club in this regard under the leadership of Ed Williams. They have stepped up so well to assist in many ways in the last few months since lockdown.

We now have membership officers in almost all our lodges, and they have a hugely important and responsible role at the moment. Brethren, we cannot be complacent – it is at times like these when people re-evaluate their personal budgets and priorities. Retaining contact with all our members and then encouraging them to return when we resume is so important. Ian Hardman the Provincial Membership Officer, and the Provincial Mentor Jon West, are bringing enthusiasm, new ideas and methods, but they will need all our support when we return especially as we re-engage with candidates and encourage others to join.

Which ceremonies we can practise and when is for the future but ensuring those ceremonies remain attractive, enjoyable and, importantly, with sensible meeting timings and length will remain one of our biggest challenges if we are to encourage brethren, old and new alike. It is at times like this when we both value and miss our brethren and friends. I have not as yet suggested a regular 9.00 o’clock toast BUT perhaps it might be an appropriate for us all to raise a glass to remember old friends and absent brethren at 9.00pm this evening. Brethren, I shall be doing it – will you join me?

We should also take time to remember those members of Cambridgeshire Provincial Grand Lodge whom we have lost since last June. They too have played their part in the history of their lodges as well as in that of our province and we should remember them especially at 9.00 this evening.

When we resume our meetings we have an exciting programme ahead of us. Candidates to initiate, pass, raise or exalt, masters and principals to install, stories on lockdown to tell, a Festival target to meet, possibly a Carol service at Ely Cathedral and three new lodges to consecrate. I shall say little more on these other than to leave that tempting prospect with you.

Excellent Companions David Blair and Paul Gillingwater deserve our hearty congratulations on their first appointments to Grand Rank in Supreme Grand Chapter whilst WBros. Malcolm Basing and Kevin Mader saw similar recognition in the Craft. Sadly, both installation meetings were postponed but their recognition reflects highly on our Province as do the other promotions and reappointments in Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter.

It is particularly fitting that Kevin Mader was recognised as he has done an amazing amount for the Province in the last two years but none more so than in the last few weeks since lockdown. The amount or work we have had to handle has been immense, perhaps five times more than normal, and he has willingly and cheerfully borne the brunt of it as has EComp. Edmund Brookes in rising to a similar challenge in the Royal Arch.

My sincere thanks to them both, as well as to my two Deputies, our Provincial Treasurers, Almoners and Charity Stewards and indeed the rest of the executive team. They are all the unsung heroes in these trying times ensuring we have a successful Province and making my job that little bit easier.

I know there are so many other contributions to acknowledge as we navigate these difficult waters and whilst I cannot name everyone, the fantastic amount of effort and dedication you put in to making this Province so successful is much appreciated. Thank you.

Freemasonry and particularly freemasonry in Cambridgeshire still has a very promising future but it will need everyone to contribute when we resume. Whether this is by bringing in new friends, re-engaging with older ones, working for good causes in our local areas or just simply making sure we enjoy our ceremonies ritual and festive boards. Learning from and building on our experiences during the shutdown and building on the good things that have come out of this pandemic will be a critical and important aspect of our recovery process.

Brethren, it has been a pleasure to address you today and I really do hope it is not too long before I shall be meeting and greeting each and every one of you. In the meantime, keep well, look after yourselves, your families and your friends and may the Great Architect be with you now and always.