Red Cross of Constantine - West Midlands Division

Intendant General Address 2019


I have already welcomed our Distinguished Guests, especially our guest of honour, Rt Ill & Venerable Knight, The Reverend Timothy L ’Estrange and I now welcome everyone else, your attendance & support here today is very much appreciated.

You will notice that we have slightly changed the format of our Divisional Meeting. The Conclave Standards were arranged in the West of the Temple prior to opening the meeting, rather than being processed and the individual Conclave reports were submitted to the Divisional Recorder prior to the meeting, rather than being read out this morning. I hope you approve, I would be interested to receive feedback.

I congratulate the new Divisional Officers on their appointments and my special thanks go to out-going Officers for their support and attendance at meetings of Conclaves in the Division during the past year. I particularly appreciate the support of my Deputy Ill Kt Jim Mulligan and the Divisional Viceroy, Ill Ray Nield, who attended meetings of other Divisions when I was committed to other duties. I have received unstinting support & counsel from Jim Mulligan & Rt Ill Kt Colin Young.

My sincere thanks to our Divisional Recorder, Pt Kt Geoff Watkins for his tireless work – I am sure that I have driven him mad with numerous requests for information and assistance – he has never complained, at least not to me; also, to our Divisional Treasurer, Ill Kt Jim Coxon for keeping our finances in good order.

The Division is indebted to P Kt Barry FitzGerald, who has done a wonderful job as Divisional Almoner, please let him know if you become aware of a Knight who is suffering ill-health or other difficulties.

I congratulate all those members of the Division who received Grand Rank Appointments and Promotions at Grand Imperial Conclave last July, they were well-earned. I also take this opportunity to congratulate Rt Ill Kt Tony Llewellyn on his appointment to the rank of Knight Commander of Constantine.

We had a busy year, with 12 New Knight-Companions being Installed and the Division conducted 4 Appendant Orders ceremonies at various Conclaves. Those who participated in these ceremonies are to be congratulated on the high standard of ritual they delivered.

I am pleased that three of our new Knight-Companions are here today and I would like to introduce them.

Firstly, W Kt David Morgan, St Oswald Conclave: next, W Kt Robert Grainger, St Oswald Conclave; W Kt Sean Warner, St Dunstan Conclave and last, but by no means least, W Kt Jonathan Bryan, St Chad Conclave.

I congratulate you and welcome you all to your first meeting of Divisional Conclave

I have made 37 visits to Conclaves within the Division during the year and have often been supported by Divisional Officers, which has been very much appreciated, not only by me, but by the Conclaves.

I made 8 Visits to other Divisions during the year, including the Installation of Rt Ill Kt Terry Deakin as Intendant-General and V Ill Kt John Wickes as Deputy Intendant-General for Hertfordshire, also the Consecration of John, Baron von Hoff Conclave in Middlesex. I have been warmly welcomed at them all.

2018 saw the celebration of the centenary of Rose of Sharon Conclave and a second visit in 10 months to West Midlands by The Grand Sovereign, who presented a Centenary Warrant to the Conclave. He also gave an explanation of the Red Cross of Constantine certificate to W Kt Jim Woodhall, who was Installed as a Knight-Companion during the meeting.

Particular thanks go to P Kt John Handley for his work in arranging the meeting and preparing the history of the Conclave; also, to P Kt Chris Hallam, who at the time, was Sovereign of the Richard Wallis Conclave, for conducting an excellent Installation ceremony in the presence of the Grand Sovereign.

The Division was able to present a cheque to the Grand Sovereign for his Care Fund for Children, which, together with the donation made at last year’s Installation meeting and a separate donation from Rose of Sharon Conclave, brought the total donated to the Fund by the Division in 2018 to more than £1500.

Last August we had a successful visit to the Royal British Legion Battle-Back Centre at Lilleshall, by 26 Knights and partners, when we were able to present a Cheque for £1000. We are planning more visits this year– they do a vital job, and with your help, we will continue to support them. The collection from today’s meeting will go to Battle-Back.

I look forward to working with the new Divisional Team. The objectives remain the same, Regain - Recruit – Retain. This must be a team effort.

We are having some success in Regaining lapsed members and we have new candidates in the pipeline. Please make every effort to learn the ritual and give new Candidates the best possible Installation ceremony. The Rituals are beautifully scripted and properly delivered will make a positive and lasting impression on Candidates. Most Conclaves don’t have formal rehearsals, but informal practices can make an enormous difference, good ceremonial really is the key to retention. It also helps if everyone is using the same edition of the books!!

Obviously, we rely on the success of the Craft and particularly The Holy Royal Arch for new Candidates. The new Solomon website, developed by Grand Lodge, is an excellent tool and I strongly recommend everyone to sign up to view it – it is a very simple process to register and provides very useful information to assist in promoting Freemasonry in general and for us, the Holy Royal Arch in particular, without Royal Arch companions we cannot prosper and grow our Order

I still find it very frustrating to hear experienced Masons say, “what is Red Cross of Constantine?”. We have now produced some publicity material, but you can each play a role in raising awareness of Red Cross of Constantine, just talk about it, raise the noise-level, it does work, the majority of new candidates come from discussions about the Order

Retention is problematic, the age-profile of the Order is increasing and has an inevitable impact on membership, but we still lose members without knowing why and we have much more work to do in counselling members who are contemplating resigning. It is obviously better to try and retain a member rather than trying to persuade them to re-join. Understanding the reason why a Knight is contemplating resignation is half way to retaining him.

The Divisional Recorders’ Conclave has a special event planned for their meeting in these rooms on the 30th November, with a visit by V Ill Kt Ryan Williams, the Grand Recorder, to talk about the role of Mark Masons’ Hall in administering the Masonic Orders which are based there, I am sure you will all be welcome to attend.

You wouldn’t expect me to close without mentioning the Divisional Sepulchre Guard and thank them for their continued support throughout the Division, both at Appendant Orders ceremonies and during Team Visits. Membership of the Guard is a great honour and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

I hope that those who have been appointed to the Guard will give serious consideration to joining the Labarum Guard Conclave, it is a unique Conclave, bringing together members of the East & West Midlands Divisional Sepulchre Guards and membership is only open to present & past members of Divisional Sepulchre Guards.

Thank you for your attendance this morning, I know many of you are joining us for the Festive Board, but to those leaving immediately after the meeting, I wish you a safe journey home.