As a precaution against the Coronavirus, please note that  all masonic activities at Freemasons' Hall, Bristol will be suspended until further notice.

 




Coronavirus Update 6


Dear Brother Mark Master


I hope that you and your families are keeping well and safe. Penny and I are fine and ticking off the long ‘to do’ lists that we’ve had just getting longer for ages.


Well now that we are into the first phase of easing the lockdown, I’m sure that you are all absolutely clear on what you now can and can’t do! Whatever it is it still doesn’t include masonry unfortunately.


I’d like to thank the lodges for the return of the questionnaires and their proposals for how we can get Mark Masonry going again in September, if we have the opportunity. Clearly a September start is our hope but if significant social distancing and meeting limitations are still in place we may not be able to make a real start until 2021 and I would like lodges to start thinking about how that could be dealt with. We will get clear notification from Mark Grand Lodge on what we can or can’t do before and after the restart. I am aware that UGLE have also been issuing guidance on what can or cannot be done in Craft meetings and some confusion has arisen because of this. I would like to make it clear that it is the guidance from Mark Grand Lodge that will govern what we do in our Mark lodges not that from UGLE.


The Province has been extremely active on the charity side since I last wrote to you. We have been supporting a number of food banks in the area and other charities who are providing services for key worker’s and ‘at risk’ children. Obviously, this means that in a small Province like ours the coffers become empty very quickly. Our Provincial Charity Steward has written toyou requesting whatever help you feel you can give to allow us to go on supporting these essential charities and I would like to reinforce his request and personally ask you to help as much as you can. Whether this means a monthly donation as a number of us are doing or taking more numbers in the 200 club, it will all help. Speaking of the 200 Club you will have seen that we will be holding the next draw for the prizes via a Zoom meeting on the 27th May. An invitation to join the meeting will be sent to you all. In addition to the prize draw I am hoping that we can use this session for you to ask any questions you would like or make any suggestions for causes we might support. If you are looking for things to do to fill your days rather than watch a fourteenth re-run of ‘Strictly come Bake-off’ then can I recommend a study of the Mark ritual?! Many of you will have a copy of the latest Blue Book print of the ritual but pdf copies are also now available and can be sent out to you so that when we do return the ritual will be perfect and people will be fighting to give the secrets or the addresses.


I do look forward to seeing you all as soon as we possibly can.


With kind fraternal regards,


Stephen Rawlings

Provincial Grand Master

 




Coronavirus Update 5


I hope that you and your families are keeping well and safe.


With the progression of the Coronavirus outbreak I know that it is difficult to think beyond the moment, but we need to start thinking and planning on how we will tackle the restart of masonic activities. We are currently hoping that this may be possible in September and consequently I have asked the Secretaries and Scribes to begin to plan your lodge’sprogramme of regular and emergency meetings as if this is the case.


Planning now will be vital as the Craft Lodges, the Chapters and all the other orders that meet in Park Street will be looking to hold emergency meetings in this period and it is highly likely that the rooms will quickly become over-booked. If we are not ready, we will miss out.


It will, of course, also give you all something to think about rather than sitting in your deck chair enjoying the sun, drinking too much wine and putting on those extra pounds which you were determined to lose when masonry was suspended.


Can I remind you all that the Province and the Grand lodge are here to offer help if any is needed? Look after your lodge brethren and let us know if there are problems. The Provincial Grand Almoner, W.Bro. Reg Bleaden, is happy to take if you have or know of any issues. Additionally, Grand Lodge have set aside monies from the Mark Benevolent fund to support not only members but other organisations which may need support to deliver essential services through this difficult time. I would welcome suggestions from members on worthy causes which we may be able to help and also ideas for things which we could do as masons in the community to make a difference.


It is vital that we all support each other through these difficult days so keep talking to each other, keep the masonry alive and look after yourselves and your loved ones.


With kind fraternal regards,


Stephen Rawlings

Provincial Grand Master

 




Grand Rank Appointments and Provincial Promotions


We are delighted to announce the following Bristol Brethren have received promotions in Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge;

Grand Rank Promotion

 W Bro. Michael Huggins DPGM - Past Grand Senior Deacon


Grand Rank 1st Appointments

W Bro. Michael Oates - Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies

W Bro. Martin Weaver - Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies


Provincial Promotions

W Bro. Rick Salton - Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden

W Bro. Ian Millard - Past Provincial Grand Junior Warden

W Bro. Stephen Stafford - Past Provincial Grand Registrar

W Bro. Colin Lowther - Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer

Bro. Nigel Curtis - Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer

Bro. Ron Brunton - Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer

 




The 2020 Mark Weekend Away



The 2020 annual Mark Weekend away was held from 6th to 8th March at the 4-star Voco Oxford Thames Hotel, Sandford on Thames, Oxford.


This was another highly successful occasion attended by 70 Brethren, their Ladies and friends.


An excellent choice of hotel offering very well-appointed rooms, good food, very hospitable staff, spa, pool and gym facilities and naturally delightful company. This is certainly a hotel that is worth another visit.


Dinner on Friday night was most enjoyable. We were then ‘entertained’ by our Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies W.Bro. Ashley Hawkins who had prepared a quiz, with each table forming a team. The quiz comprised of a variety subjects, with each team having a ‘joker’ to play for double points. Coming after his success in the horse racing of 2019, it was interesting to see that it was the PGM’s team that won the quiz, either because he had some influence over the question master, or he had surrounded himself with particularly intelligent people! Overall, a very enjoyable and fun evening for all.


Saturday started with the traditional hotel breakfast, after which many spent the day exploring Oxford or the surrounding areas. The city of Oxford is certainly not for cars, so we used public transport, many of us of a ‘mature’ age travelling into Oxford using our bus passes. The City Sightseeing Bus was a popular starting point, as the tour and accompanying commentary provided a detailed account of the architecture, the way in which the University has expanded and influenced the city’s development and details of some of the well-known personalities who have had an association with the city. There is clearly more to be seen than could be managed in the relatively short time available to us.


On returning to the hotel we made ready for the evening; a drinks reception followed by the Gala Dinner. A raffle raised in excess of £300 for our Provincial Mark Benevolent Fund and this was then followed by an excellent disco, which by request had a distinctly ‘60s’ influence. It was notable that from start to finish there were dancers on the floor for every piece of music played, proving that despite ‘anno domini’ we can still ‘move it’ on the dance floor! However, as a consequence, at midnight and beyond, there were a number of tired revellers and numerous aching limbs the following morning.


This really was a superb weekend, made so in no small measure by Brother Mike Page and his wife Lynn. Our sincere thanks to them for all their efforts in finding such an excellent hotel, in a most interesting location and in flawlessly planning the events of the weekend.


 




Mark Provincial Dinner 2020


The Annual Mark Provincial Dinner was held on 1st February 2020 at the Masonic Hall, Park Street.


As it was a date near that of the Chinese New Year it was decided that the evening would have a Chinese theme. The evening was attended by nearly 80 Ladies, Brethren and friends.


As usual, Freddy Eyermann and his staff put on a splendid meal, the proceedings being very well planned and arranged by Mike and Lynn Page. There were of course those who dressed for the occasion


This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and an ideal way in which to start the social activities of the Mark Degree for 2020.

 




Coronavirus Update 4


This last week seems to have gone quickly. The list of jobs to do in the garden which I’ve hardly touched for years is getting smaller by the day. Penny is hoping for a spell of bad weather before ourcaptivity is over so that some of the jobs inside the house get done!

I hope that you are all still keeping well and are also finding plenty to do.

We now have our list of members in each of the local postcodes and I’m going to contact some of the younger members in each area to see if they would be able to give some help if any of their local more senior brethren need assistance. Don’t be surprised if you get a call because younger member in terms of our degree appears to mean anyone under 55!

Last week I gave you feedback from Grand Lodge on how the Grand and Provincial Appointments would be dealt with. The Provincial Appointments were recorded on the summons for Provincial Grand Lodge of which you all had a copy. However, I can now confirm the appointments to and promotions in Grand Rank which the Grand Master has be pleased to make this year. These were announced last Friday, and it gives me the chance to send my congratulations to the following brethren:

My Deputy, W.Bro. Mike Huggins has received a promotion to Past Grand Senior Deacon.

W.Bros. Michael Oates and Martin Weaver receive their first appointments in Grand Rank to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.

My congratulations to them all.

I have now been informed by Grand Lodge that providing the September meeting of Grand Lodge can take place the intention will be to make the promotions and confirm all the first appointments. This will be a super day and I hope that as many of you who are able will make the journey to London to support our three brethren.

Lastly, I would like all the lodges to begin to consider how we can re-start our meetings, hopefully in September. Look at how many meetings you have missed, think about the candidates you have lined upand make a plan using the Grand Lodge guidelines. I’m anticipating that most lodges will want extra meetings so look at the year book and think about dates now. Craft Lodges and Chapters will be in similar positionsand the Hall is going to get very busy. If you want guidance and advice contact me or the Provincial Secretary.

I wish you all well in the coming weeks, keep in touch, keep well and as I said last week keep learning the ritual.

My very best wishes to you all. With kind fraternal regards,


Stephen Rawlings

Provincial Grand Master

 




Coronavirus Update 3


Well another week gone.

I hope that you are all keeping well and are not too bored. I have asked the Provincial Secretary and the Registrar to put together a list of members in each of the local postcodes and to indicate the brethren most at risk or in need of help in those areas. I’m hoping that we can then enlist the aid of some of the younger members in each area to be contact points for any help that may be needed. To help this the Provincial Secretary recently sent out a note to you all asking those who have received letters as some of the 1.5m high risk individuals, if they would let us know who they are so that we can keep in contact and organise help. Please do let us know if you are on the list.

We have also had recent advice from Mark Grand Lodge on the management of meetings during and after the virus lock down. The Provincial Secretary will be sending these out to each Secretary and Scribe in the Province. These guidance notes will allow us to keep appropriate records during the suspension and to organise our meetings when the suspension is over.

However, the main point from it which I want to passon to you concerns Provincial and Grand Lodge Appointments.

Appointments and Promotions
Brethren selected for appointment to and promotion in Provincial Grand Rank assume their new ranks with effect from the 14 March 2020.

I will hold a smaller additional Provincial Meeting this year to carry out the necessary business and to congratulate you all on your appointments.

Grand Investiture Meetings
Even though the Grand Lodge Investiture meeting scheduled for June will not now take place.

Brethren receiving Grand Honours will be notified of their appointment by email and will assume their new ranks with effect from the date that the Investiture meeting should have taken place.

I wish you all well in the coming weeks, keep in touch, keep well and keep learning the ritual. You’ve all got so much time on your hands now that I’m expecting word perfect ceremonies in the autumn!

My very best wishes to you all.

With kind fraternal regards,


Stephen Rawlings

Provincial Grand Master

 




Coronavirus Update 2


Dear Brother Mark Master,

Well here we are one week into our masonic lock-down!

I hope that you are all keeping well and communicating with each other. It’s important that in this time of real stress and concern we support each other.

Particularly those brethren who we know are on their own or at high risk from the virus. Please take time to contact them and give what support you can. If you know of any brother who is unwell or in difficulty please let me, the Provincial Almoneror the Provincial Secretary know. The Mark Benevolent Fund in London is still operational and looking to help any brethren in difficulty in these unfortunate times. The Provincial Grand Charity Steward and I will be on hand to chase any needy causes with London.

With Park Street closed and Masonry suspended it is a strange feeling for us all to be moving into the Spring with no companionship. The Beaufort Lodge have a WhatsApp Group on which we share thoughts, silly jokes, even sillier jokes and also problems. Can I recommend to all the Mark and RAM Lodges that you consider a similar approach, it keeps us together as brethren and also lets us give support where needed. I’m sure that all the lodges have one of their younger members who has the IT savvy to set one up.

Lastly I must say how horrified I have been in the last few days to see the number of people totally ignoring the requirements for social distancing. It is vital if our health service is not to be totally overwhelmed by cases and unable to give everyone who needs it the care required. Please follow the advice and stay safe and please promote these vital measures as far as you can withothers.

My very best wishes to you all and I am really looking forward to us all being together again.

With kind fraternal regards,

Stephen Rawlings
Provincial Grand Master

 




Coronavirus Update


Dear Brother Mark Master


Over the weekend I wrote a letter to you all suspending all Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodges for the foreseeable future because of the severity of the epidemic and its potential impact on our members.


We have virtually 50% of our membership over the age of 70, 60% over 65 and only 30% under 50. Based on the latest guidance that we had had from Grand Lodge on Friday no one over the age of 65 should attend a meeting and consequently I could therefore see no alternative than that the Bristol Lodges would have to suspend their meetings at the present time and until the emergency is over.


I believed that this was the right thing to do to protect our members. I forwarded this message to the Grand Secretary on Sunday to ensure that Grand Lodge knew what the Mark Province of Bristol was about to do. However, in the current emergency things seem to move faster than emails and before I was able to issue it yesterday things had again moved on.


The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday afternoon indicated how quickly the situation was deteriorating and called for self-isolation for over 70s and those with health conditions whilst also recommending that large gatherings and social interaction in enclosed spaces should not happen. A meeting was held to discuss the future use of Park Street and as you know from the letter sent out today from the Provincial Grand Secretary of the Craft that we made the decision to close the building and suspend all masonic activity not just the Mark and RAM degrees.


The UGLE and Mark Grand Lodge will I believe issue a joint guidance today which will confirm that for the whole of Masonry. This has been a very sad week, having to cancel the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting and to write to you now suspending Mark and RAM Meetings but I believe that it vital to do so to protect us all and more especially our older and less fit brethren.


Finally please note the last bullet point in the guidance that we should look out for and take care of our brethren and I would hope that you will all take time to ring or email your lodge members and good friends in masonry to make sure that all is well and offer help where needed.


My very best wishes to you all through the next few months, let us hope that we all meet safe and well when our lodges can once again open on our beautiful and happy degree. I promise you that we’ll all have a big party to celebrate that event!


With kind fraternal regards,


Stephen Rawlings