Provincial Almoners Letter from Andover

Dear Brethren All, 

A mixture of weather in this part of the Province this week, which has caused some effect on the garden. On Monday the lawns received a treatment of fertiliser, which they needed very much, then on Wednesday we had a fall of snow which I am sure has knocked things back. Having said that the broad beans look quite healthy so we are keeping our fingers crossed. Pat has seen a variety of birds in the garden recently including some goldfinches, bluetits, plenty of sparrows and pigeons. The blackbird appears to be settling into one of the bushes well.

On the masonic front we attended the Ins and Outs Luncheon at Botley last Sunday, along with some other 120 brethren and shared a convivial time together. On Tuesday many of us attended Mark Grand Lodge in Great Queens Street, which was Presided over by Most W. Bro. John Herbert Prizeman, Pro Grand Master, and what a momentous meeting it was. Mark Grand Lodge was called off in order that we could receive some important guests, and a visual presentation was made of the work of the MBF during the last year when £1,108,300 had been distributed to worthy causes and charities. The honoured guests were representatives of some of those worthy causes and charities, who were all received with rapturous applause. I found the event very moving and emotional. It emphasised, brethren, where your generous donations to the MBF have been used in a very beneficial manner.

The Portal Jewel was displayed in Grand Lodge, Reverend Canon George Raymond Portal, M.A. (1827 – 1889) was the Founder of the Mark Benevolent Fund. I here quote one of the pages of the booklet we received at the meal afterwards, “Fund Activity Summary 2022. 30% went to charities making direct applications. In 2022, the Mark Benevolent Fund made 30 grants to local charities, Provinces, Districts and other worthy organisations and 20 grants to our own members and their families throughout England and Wales. £76,257 Hospice and Cancer Care, £160,780 Disability Support Services, £139,800 Health Care, £255,000 Humanitarian Aid, £190,451 Local Community Focus, £148,186 Secondary Emergency Services, £102,438 Youth Sector, £35,388 Our own members and their families. 70% went to applications initiated by our Provinces.” One lady, and I apologise as I did not record her name, who addressed us was from Romania, who on seeing the  Ukrainian refugees arriving at her local railway station used her own money to feed and support them. This has lead to her being supported by MBF to continue this work. A striking lady.

Brethren you can see the varied organisations that benefit from your generosity, for which we are all very grateful. I am told that the visual presentation will be made available to each Province and I hope that sometime you may be able to see this for yourselves, if the opportunity arises I hope that you take full advantage of such an opportunity.

I mentioned earlier that this was a momentous occasion, well it was, for this reason, The Pro Grand Master, after this presentation, called Mark Grand Lodge back on again. He then Introduced Most W. Bro. Jonathan Spence, Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, and invited him to address the brethren present. Most W. Bro. Spence stated that he and the Mark Pro Grand Master had met together to discuss closer working relations between Grand Lodge and Mark Grand Lodge. Most W. Bro. John Prizeman, Pro Grand Master said that we do need this relationship because, at the end of the day, we are all Master Masons together and the Mark Degree relies on its’ membership from Craft Masonry. I am sure that this relationship will be fruitful.

Brethren continue to keep those lines of communication open, we still have members sceptical about venturing out, keep an eye on all, as I have said before, we should all be almoners as we are a caring society.

This is a longer letter than normal but I do have important information that I wish to pass on. Please, if you do not have regular giving to the Mark Benevolent Fund in place, and are able to, give it serious thought. Your contributions will be gratefully received and distributed properly.

Thank you for your support and listening to me.

Best wishes

Malcolm Lloyd, P.G.S.D., Prov. Grand Almoner