Report of the Provincial Grand Guide to the 2021 AGM

Report of the Provincial Grand Guide. Province of London. 2020-2021

Right Worthy Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler, Brethren all.

I beg to present my report on our activities during what has for many been a very difficult and challenging year. During most of this year physical meetings were prohibited due to the strict restriction of public gatherings which continued to be enforced for the first seven months of this Provincial year this affected not only Freemasonry but all other societies and they have all experienced a significant reduction in membership.

This prohibition caused ten meetings to be replaced by virtual zoom meetings, held as either social meetings, virtual business meeting or some combination of the two. In all 121 attendances were recorded at such meetings.

 Ten actual meetings have been held with a total of 109 attendances recorded out of a possible 252. A turn out of only 43%, well down on the normal average with the main reason for absence being a disinclination to travel in to central London, particularly amongst the more elderly and vulnerable Brethren. Which given the high infection rates still being experienced is hardly surprising.

Fortunately only a handful of meetings did not occur at all.

Despite the difficulties a total of 10 Brethren were inducted into the order and 5 were admitted to the Princes degree. Still quite an achievement given the circumstances.

However during this year we have lost 17 members, 4 sadly due to death, but 13 for other reasons. So we are not managing to run at replacement level and our membership numbers have reduced from 303 to 296 and when we make allowance for multiple memberships, the actual number of Brethren is down to 240 and if we consider that of these nearly 100 have not attended a single meeting for over two years, so we must not only make every possible effort to recruit new members but we must also put our attention to retaining the members we have and to encourage attendance.

The zoom meetings have actually given us a tool that has proved effective in getting back in touch with members who we have not seen for some time and might be hesitant to attend, my own. conclave last week welcomed a brother who had not been seen for over 20 years but had joined in a virtual meeting saw what he had been missing and took the first opportunity to attend a real meeting.

You may therefore feel that your conclave should continue to hold periodic zoom socials in addition to your normal meetings to improve bonding and to keep in touch with older brethren who would otherwise be lost from the Order.

Throughout the year the Provincial Grand Visitors have diligently attended meetings both virtual and physical and have provided help, advice and information to keep contact with as many of the members as possible. This year we are losing Wy.Bro.Peter Willson who has served as a Provincial Grand Visitor for three years now and is well known by you all, to enable him to take on the somewhat more arduous position of Provincial Grand Secretary, and I wish him well in this position. His place in the visiting team is being filled by Wy.Bro.Michael Clark an equally experienced and enthusiastic brother who has already indicated his availability for visits and I trust you will receive him into your Conclaves with your usual warmth.

Given that the infection rates are still high there is a chance that our resumption of meetings could prove to be a temporary respite, with further restriction being put in place as winter progresses. We must be prepared to act straight away and return to virtual meetings, perhaps allowing more than just basic business to carried out.

In the meantime please take whatever precautions that you feel fit your personal circumstances, wear a face covering if you wish, try to maintain a reasonable social distance, make sure the room is ventilated and the equipment is sanitised, wash your hands regularly and never attend a meeting if you feel at unwell. Together we will get through this and normality will return. Right Worthy Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler and Brethren