Red Cross of Constantine - West Midlands Division

Intendant General Address 2017


I have already welcomed our many guests but I must say again what a pleasure it is to have them with us amongst whom, as you have noticed are Heads of Orders and Rulers in the Craft. We trust that once more you all enjoy our work and our hospitality.

I said last year that being able to appoint or promote well deserving Knights in this Divisional Conclave is one of the great privileges and joys of my position. And the knights so recognised have always, every year, continued their work and commitment with even greater energy which is easily witnessed by a visit to their respective Conclaves. I must say again that over the years my faith in the knights of this Division has been fully justified and for that I feel proud and very humble. I thank you now in anticipation of your work in the future.

And for those honoured with Grand Rank, as always, the expectation is much more demanding. Once again we have been fortunate in the ranks conferred upon our brother knights:

Our own High Prelate, Rev Justin Parker was appointed Sub Grand High Prelate and has already been out an about on duty, both Richard Ayling and Dennis Roberts were honoured by being promoted to Past Grand High Almoner, which, as you know entitles them to the prefix Very Worshipful – and both honours again so richly deserved as it was for one of our members of The Labarum Guard who is from the East Midlands, David Smith.  Tony Weal, who has valiantly struggled with his game hip, was promoted to Past Grand Prefect, another well deserved honour. Ted Belcher and Ray Nield were made Past Grand Prefects, Steve Turner Past Grand Vice-Chamberlain and David Wollington Past Grand Herald. And finally John McGann was made Past Grand Prefect – John unfortunately suffered a serious stroke last year and is unlikely to enjoy his new rank. But all these knights fully deserved their preferment and will, I know, continue to serve steadfastly.

Some of us were privileged to be able to visit Battleback at Lilleshall earlier this year. You will know that this is the main focus of our Divisional charity this year. It is a remarkable place providing, as you know, support, encouragement and training for those wounded, disabled or suffering from PTSD from all the services. They are funded by the Royal British Legion and from charitable giving and were very pleased with our cheque for £1500, which in a small way will help with their work, which has already resulted in Olympic qualifications and medals for many of their graduates. And this year, as you know, our Gala Charity Dinner on September 8th will be for Battleback, as will this day’s collection, and will be addressed by Brigadier Hargreaves whose brainchild was Battleback and whose other child is V.Ill Kt Fred Hargreaves. Further details will be available shortly, but it will be black tie, mess kit, medals to be worn and ladies to attend – and once more I’m hoping we can have the Mess silver out to make it a true Mess Dinner Night.

I hope that Conclaves can give one collection a year to the Division for Battleback but all other charity donations must be as the Conclave decides always remembering that the Grand Sovereign’s Children’s Fund is an ongoing general charity for the Order. And we, as a Division, have received some £2500 this year from that charity one tranche for a school setting up a summer camp for children from disadvantaged areas and another sum for NICE a charity working with disabled children using Communicative Education techniques. Do remember that if you want to send money for any charity you can do it through our estimable Treasurer Jim Coxon – he is so good worthy Knights that this year the meal for today’s dinner is cheaper by £2

Once again I find myself continuously surprised and gratified by the volume of your giving: it is remarkable.

Over the year Ian and I have once more visited every Conclave, some more than once; we have attended and sometimes taken part in Appendant Orders meetings at Wellington, Stafford, Tewkesbury, Kidderminster and here and the team meetings, Divisional Officers visiting Conclaves have also been successful. Those knights promoted today know that they are expected to try to attend such team visits, but, worthy knights, as they are all in the Divisional Calendar on the website I would encourage everyone to put them into their diaries and turn up. You don’t have to stay for dinner, but, believe me your presence will be much enjoyed and valued by the Conclaves visited.

In the course of the year I went with a team to two Holy Royal Arch Chapters in Gloucestershire to give a presentation about our Order – and, worthy knights, it worked we have candidates – so over to you – have Sepulchre Guard, will travel. We also, in conjunction with KT and RX held a joint Church service, addressed, of course by our own Justin Parker. It was a great success and I hope that we can repeat that success in the north of the Division and in the south with the respective Knight Templars and Rose Croix of those areas.

For all these events, as noted, the Sepulchre Guard turns out. You have seen them work today and they are a splendid bunch. May I point out to those who are recruited, or are about to be recruited to the Guard, that there are expectations. It is expected that you will be able to attend some 60% of the call-outs  - that’s about 5 meetings a year, possibly 6 – but it’s not many and the more you attend the better. The esprit de corps of this unit is remarkable, like being in an elite regiment, and they really add to what takes place in any meeting – so over to you.

Ray Nield, was a member of the Guard and has carried that keenness into his post as Divisional Almoner – he has been tireless but can only work with what he is given so please, Recorders, let Ray know of any Knight who is ill or who has died so that he can pursue ways of providing help or just send a card or token.

And, again, I ask that Conclave Almoners make a point of contacting any Knight who has missed a meeting or two just to make sure that all is well.

We are, as a Division, in good health – but I once again challenge you as I have for some years – 2 candidates per Conclave. And once more I repeat that I am willing to visit any of you if you have a White Table evening and bring a team, the Guard, whatever, to help the evening and again would point out that not only Holy Royal Arch but Knight Templar and Rose Croix should be happy hunting grounds for you. You never fail me and that is why I feel confident in issuing my challenge year after year. Thank you.

I have had great support this year, as in every year. Ian has always been there and is an invaluable member of this Division, Richard Ayling is someone you, and I, can rely upon always and Jim Mulligan has re-vitalised our administration. He is a true star as all the individual Conclave Recorders know. I said last year that after the departure of our previous Recorder to pastures new his learning curve was almost vertical – Jim has conquered an Everest and to him also I owe my grateful thanks. Someone else who had a difficult model to follow was John Tristram, our Marshal, who took over from the legendary Colin Brown. John has shown that he is well up to the task his skill and experience guiding us surely.

So another year ends a new Red Cross year begins. I thank you for your support and help in everything. If we exemplify Christian love by our charitable giving then that is your doing – you are the lions – I can only provide the roar.

Shortly you will hear our precepts – may I remind you of what the Canon Dean at Tewkesbury said four years ago in closing his sermon. He then paused and said,

“Shortly your Prelate will pronounce the Precepts of the Order.

“It’s all well and good to say them, to have them pronounced at meetings. I say to you now that it is not enough. If you believe in them go out and live them in the world.”

God bless you all, thank you for coming and listening – and may brotherly love prevail.