Red Cross of Constantine - West Midlands Division

Intendent General Address 2020


I have already welcomed our Distinguished Guests, especially our guest of honour, Rt Ill & Eminent Knight Peter Hawken and I now welcome everyone else, your attendance & support here today is very much appreciated.

My sincere thanks to our Divisional Recorder, Pt Kt Geoff Watkins for his tireless work, particularly with Mark Masons Hall in getting the Division’s records up to date and obviously, his work in organising today’s meeting. Amongst his other duties, our Divisional Recorder has found time to publish the new Divisional Directory, a herculean task, for which I thank him. Copies for each member of the Division are available here today

My thanks also, to our Divisional Treasurer, Ill Kt Jim Coxon for keeping our finances in good order, he does occasionally remind me that our bank account is not a ‘bottomless pit’

The Division is indebted to P Kt Barry FitzGerald, for his continued work as Divisional Almoner. Please let him know if you become aware of a Knight who is suffering ill-health or other difficulties.

I thank Ill Kt Mike Grillage for acting as our Organist this morning, Mike your music is very much appreciated.

I congratulate the new Divisional Officers on their appointments and my special thanks go to the 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 both attended meetings of other Divisions when I was committed to other duties. I continue to receive unstinting support & wise counsel from both Ill Kt Jim & Rt Ill Kt Colin Young.

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 and I am pleased to note that they each continue to provide the Division with strong support.

I look forward to working with the new Divisional Team. The objectives remain the same, - Recruit – Regain – Retain. This must be a team effort. We Installed 8 new Knight-Companions during the year and we are having some success in Regaining lapsed members. I was pleased to welcome V Ill Kt Raymond Rooke and W Kt Bill Stammers ‘back to the fold’ We have more new candidates in the pipeline; however, some Conclaves need to make a concerted effort to find new members.

I STILL find it very frustrating to hear experienced Masons say, “what is Red Cross of Constantine?”. We have 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 is the most effective means of promoting the Order. The majority of new candidates come from discussions about the Order at festive boards.

Three Conclave within the Division have conducted Appendant Orders ceremonies during the year, which was fewer than previous years, however each had more candidates than normal. After the Appendant Orders ceremony at Labarum Guard Conclave last July, one of the recipients said to me “I joined the Royal Arch 54 years ago, hoping to find the true meaning of Christian Masonry, I finally found it this morning”. Food for thought when we are talking to prospective candidates.

Please make every effort to learn the ritual and give new Candidates the best possible introduction to the Order, I have noticed an increasing trend towards reading the ritual, unfortunately this does negatively affect the delivery and impact of the ceremonies. Most Conclaves don’t have formal rehearsals, but informal practices can make an enormous difference, good ceremonial really is the key to retention. I will repeat what I said last year, it also helps if everyone is using the same edition of the books!!

Following the celebration of the centenary of Rose of Sharon Conclave, I am pleased to report that the members of that Conclave now wear a commemorative Centenary Jewel, some of which are proudly on display this morning. The procurement of these jewels was arranged by P Kt John Handley, the Divisional Registrar, who is also their Recorder

The Divisional Recorders’ Conclave hosted a special event at their meeting last November, with a visit from V Ill Kt Ryan Williams, the Grand Recorder, to talk about the role of Mark Masons’ Hall in administering and developing the Progressive Orders in Freemasonry. I am sure those how attended found it very informative and enlightening.

I made 35 visits to Conclaves within the Division during the year. Having arranged two Divisional ‘Team Visits’, I managed to miss them both, due to hospital appointments, however my Deputy, Ill Kt Jim Mulligan, many Divisional Officers and the Divisional Sepulchure Guard supported these visits, which has been very much appreciated, not only by me, but by the Conclaves.

We are introducing a new format of Visit Report, this will require some input from Conclave Recorders, which will be explained in due course, the aim is to have a more comprehensive view of the work undertaken by individual members of the Conclaves

I made 7 visits to other Divisions during the year, including the Installation of Rt Ill Kt Raymond Johnson as Intendant-General for West Yorkshire and V Ill Kt Hugh William Moir as his Deputy Intendant-General. Also, the Consecration of Sepulchri Custodes' Conclave, the Derbyshire Divisional Sepulchure Guard Conclave. I have been warmly welcomed at all of them.

The West Midlands Division covers 6 Craft Provinces and I managed to attend many of the Craft Annual Provincial meetings and Royal Arch Annual Convocations within the Division, including the Installation of the new Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire and the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent for Worcestershire.

The Division has made a number of applications on behalf of small children’s charities, for grants from the Grand Sovereign’s Care for Children Fund and in the last 12 months we have been able to present cheques totalling £7500. In recognition of this, today’s collection will be donated to the Grand Sovereign’s Care Fund.

Our Past Intendant-General, Rt Ill Kt Colin Young, is currently the Most Puissant Sovereign of the Grand Sovereign’s Conclave. The next meeting of the Conclave will be held at Worcester on 8th April 2020, we anticipate that the Grand Sovereign will be in attendance and I am sure both he and Rt Ill Kt Colin Young would be pleased to receive your support at the meeting.

Last July we had another 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, which brings the total donated to Battle-Back since we started to support that charity to £8500. We are planning more visits this year– they do a vital job and with your help, we will continue to support them.

We have not held a social event since I was appointed Intendant-General. Members of the Division should, by now, have received an invitation to a Sunday Lunch, to be held at the Wishaw Sports Ground, Sutton Coldfield, on the 10th May This is a wonderful venue, in the middle of the Division, about ½ mile from the Belfry. They serve high-quality food in a convivial atmosphere, however the capacity is limited, so I strongly recommend that you book early

You wouldn’t expect me to close without thanking the Divisional Sepulchre Guard for their continued support throughout the Division, both at Appendant Orders ceremonies and during Team Visits. Membership of the Guard is a great privilege and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Members are uniquely qualified and encouraged to join Labarum Guard Conclave.

Thank you all for your attention and 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.

Kind regards

In Faith, Unity & Zeal