Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, for the Province of East Kent
Q: Richard, at Margate in October last year you were invested as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, at the same meeting at which our new Provincial Grand Master was installed. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I am married to Christine and we have two lovely daughters who are both married and have now flown the nest. We have three super grandchildren and three rescue cats – or have I got that round the wrong way?
I lived in Sevenoaks and went to school in Tunbridge Wells. I have had careers in the Police Service, Local Government, Olympic Games, contracting in London and I am currently working as a Change Manger for an international company.
Q: Obviously, the role of an APGM is very serious, bringing with it many responsibilities. What does your portfolio include, and what do you hope to bring to the role?
A: My portfolio is ‘Communications and Compliance’. Communications is very exciting as we now need to bring all the strands together and refresh the way we do things. Simply put, we need to corporately brand what we do on Facebook, the Provincial Website and other media streams so that there is a consistent approach. This will help to let everyone know the brand! The other push is to modernise the brand, keep it fresh and generate excitement – and, of course, this must help to drive recruitment.
In terms of ‘Compliance’, this is to look at legislation and policy and make sure that our due diligence is spot on.
Q: How did you first get interested in Freemasonry, and why?
A: Living in Sevenoaks, I would walk past the masonic centre in St Johns Hill nearly every day. I remember seeing that it is was a masonic meeting place and I always wondered what they did. I think then I was about twelve years old.
Several years later my future wife’s father, a Sheerness mason, introduced me and proposed me. I still didn’t know what the masons did – and to my mind there was only one way to find out!
In the early days, Freemasonry was fun. Like any trade or occupation, as a young apprentice, there was a lot to see and learn and everyone was so helpful. In fact, being a Freemason took me into areas and helped me develop skills that would benefit me later in life, such as public speaking, debating, meeting new people, confidence-building and organising.
At the time of joining I was just twenty-six, but the average age profile of my lodge was a lot higher, probably around the fifty-sixty bracket. This did not matter, as everyone was equal – and with hindsight, I think it was a good thing, because the older members were the steadying and guiding philosophers. It reminds me of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars being mentored by the Jedi Masters Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi – and, before you scoff, the Jedi Code was a mantra of moral and ethical conduct expected to be adhered to by all members!
Q: What would be your advice to anyone thinking about joining today?
A: Never expect to take out more than you put in – and, above all, have fun doing it, because it is a great organisation.
Q: How did your own masonic career happen?
A: Freemasonry allowed me to just thoroughly enjoy what I was doing. It provided me with the opportunity to improve myself and to help others. I was never in it for the glory, and along the way the promotions always came as a huge surprise.
Q: Looking back, would you do anything differently?
A: I think that I would be more open with my friends and work colleagues and tell them who we are, how much fun we have and the good work that we do in general.
Q: What gets you out of bed every morning to keep driving forward?
A: As a change manager I play a key role in ensuring projects (change initiatives) meet objectives on time and on budget by increasing employee adoption and usage. I also focus on the people side of change, including changes to business processes, systems and technology, job roles and organization structures. I find it absolutely fascinating, and it may not surprise you that the most common response I hear is, “Why change? We have always done it this way”. These are the nine most damaging words today in any organisation.
Q: What are your top passions today in Freemasonry?
Helping people, making a difference to people’s lives and meeting new people.
Q: If you could be a super-hero for a day, who would it be and why?
A: Chewbacca, the Wookie from Star Wars. A bit like Freemasonry, you never know what he’s saying but you know he has your back – without question!
Q: Your top tip for life in general?
A: Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.
Q: Mark, you were invested as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master at the annual Craft Festival at Margate in April last year. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I was born at Minster on the Isle of Sheppey in December 1966. I was educated at Canterbury and Sittingbourne schools, and went into business as an Independent Financial Advisor, based in Sittingbourne. I started my own company in 1991. In 1997 I married Jacqueline, and we have three children: Harry (21), Olivia (18) and William (15).
Q: Clearly a very busy man! What about hobbies and other interests?
A: I play the occasional round of golf. I enjoy a bit of motorcycling. I used to have a couple of sports bikes, but now I’ve got a Harley Davidson and a Yamaha MT-09, which is a trials-type machine. My ambition for 2019 is to ride out with the Widows Sons, the masonic group based in East Kent. Oh – and I also like gardening, especially lawncare. There’s no truth in the rumour that I insisted our children ride their scooters along the strips, not across!
Q: Please tell us a little about your masonic career.
A: I was initiated into the Gore Court Lodge No.8231 in 1992, became Master in 2000 and have since joined another half dozen Lodges. I am currently Master of the East Kent Masters Lodge No.3931. I’ve always set great store on the charitable nature of Freemasonry and done as much as I could in that respect. Like my colleague Richard Wingett, the promotions I’ve received in Freemasonry have been unexpected and a wonderful surprise. I was appointed Provincial Grand Charity Steward in April 2017, and had hardly got my feet under the table before being invested as an APGM this April.
Q: What is your remit as an APGM?
A: Centres and Charities. I am here to advise and offer help in improving the efficiency and attractiveness of our Masonic centres, and am looking forward to meeting all the centre management teams in 2019. On the charity front I was pleased to attend the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity (CEKFC) Annual Awards presentation in mid-November, and will be looking forward to working with my colleagues on the 2025 Festival on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) starting this year, for which planning is already well under way. I believe a Festival is about helping people. I shall be encouraging Lodges and Chapters to make an annual donation to the CEKFC and regular monthly donations to 2025 Festival: regular income helps us to plan and make better and more efficient use of your generous contributions.
Q: Have you a final few words for us?
A: Keep on doing your wonderful work for charity. My team and I are most happy to talk to anyone, anywhere. Simply contact us at the Provincial office.