Report by Geoff Harris, Media Coordinator.
On Thursday 17th March 2016, Provincial Officers from The Province of East Kent gathered at the Winter Gardens, Margate for the Provincial Officer’s Mess. On arrival the members were able to spend time together socialising and catching up with friends before entering the main hall for lunch.
The President of the Mess, Geoffrey Dearing, was warmly applauded into the Mess by the 266 members present, after which he welcomed everyone, especially those attending for the first time. He was pleased to take wine with everyone, followed by the Acting Deputy and Past President of the Mess, and then the Visiting Speaker, Brigadier David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The members then enjoyed a splendid four-course lunch with wine, after which the President proposed a Toast to Her Majesty the Queen followed by a Toast to the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent.
The President then addressed the Mess, beginning with apologies for absence before speaking about the following issues:
- To welcome new members attending the Mess for the first time.
- To remind members of the Craft Annual Festival being held on Friday 15th April 2016.
- To remind members of the Holy Royal Arch Festival being held on May 19th, during which Russell Race, the 2nd Grand Principal, will be in attendance.
- Canterbury Cathedral Appeal: the Brethren have been generously supporting this fund to raise £200,000 in conjunction with the Provinces of West Kent, Sussex and Surrey. He was pleased to announce that we are now half-way to meeting our target and asked members of the Mess to help maintain interest in the appeal to ensure that we meet or exceed the target.
- There will be a special service in Canterbury Cathedral on the 18th February next year to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry, to which all are invited. The service will be taken, and the Address given, by The Very Rev Dr Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury Cathedral.
The President then introduced the Guest Speaker, Brigadier David Innes. David spoke at length about the formation of the new Masonic Charitable Foundation, outlining the need for the consolidation of the four individual charities into one to best serve the needs of our members and families; the previous arrangement left unfilled-gaps that prevented maximum benefits to be achieved. He said; “It is our intention that the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) will become known and recognised as a service of excellence…..lodge Charity Stewards and Almoners are important to the success of our future to help increase the image of Freemasonry within the charitable sector”.
Following his talk, the President then thanked David Innes; who received great applause for his interesting and informative presentation.
After thanking everyone for attending, and a Vote of Thanks from the Provincial Junior Grand Warden, James Reuther, the President retired at 3.30pm to hearty applause.
See also the interview with David Innes on the Freemasonry Today website: www.freemasonrytoday.com