Good morning brethren and welcome.
Well, to say the least, this is not the way we planned it….. I have a format for this annual presentation but that is out of the window and I shall now attempt - as Monty Python said – something completely different. This may come as a great disappointment to some – I know that one person times my speech to the second and has a book open on its length!!!
Good luck with that Jules ….
But, and there is always a but, before we get started, we should remember those who fallen along the way over the last year, all those dear and well loved brethren who will no longer be in our company, share our laughter, delight us at our work and entertain us at our festive boards. Brethren, please take a moment of peace and remember, in your own way and with our own personal memories, those brethren who have departed to the Grand Council above.
When we were hit with closure of our meetings, we immediately began a programme of ensuring that the welfare, happiness and health of our members was uppermost, that our Councils maintained their strength and that AMD, in the cluttered and busy world of London masonry, remained relevant and important to them.
We already had a very energetic Communications team who were supported by an excellent website and a number of good and effective social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp and these have been used to great effect throughout –
- Immediately began a communication tool in the form of The Covid News, remember that brethren, a publication of such importance that Rupert Murdoch made enquiries to take it over. It ran to about 10 editions, about 1 every fortnight. It was a great success and during the long lockdown was a good method of carrying our message of – we are here for you. This is now back to the quarterly newsletter and with the same purpose.
- We used KOL to sort our member list into three groups, red, amber and green, green was those who should hopefully cope ok, amber was those we needed to check on and Red were those who by age or vulnerability we needed to make sure had ready and available help. We rang and spoke to all the ambers and reds.
- From the start we organised a weekly get together on Zoom which has a loyal following and about 30 of us turn up and have a chat, we call it the London AMD Zoom bar and I liken it to going into a crowded bar and chatting with your mates. Scott Cargill, is the barman, and hosts the event to make sure everyone gets the chance to say something – it is great fun but more importantly we realised that the Zoom Bar was the only occasion some people could chat to their mates since March.
- We held our Secretaries and New Members dinners virtually on Zoom and even had a very successful social evening where we Zoomed on to listen to a retired police officer who was on the spot at the time of the Profumo Affair – it was fascinating and kept us enthralled for an hour or more.
- We have gone into partnership with London Scarlet Cord and bought, between the two of us, a professional Zoom account so that we can talk for longer than the usual 40 minutes. Mind you sometimes I have found 40 minutes quite long enough!!.. It is for all Consistories and Councils to make use of for their virtual meetings, GP meetings, get togethers, social events and is to underpin the aim of keeping in touch.
- From our Zooms, our ring rounds and the Bar it became apparent to me that there are many members who do not have access to any sort of computer and some with no email, there are others who have an email but do not have or know how to use the camera – in these times that can mean a lonely existence. Brethren, We have purchased 100 face masks; they are in glorious AMD green with a gridiron embroidered on the side. If we have to wear them, and we do, then we might as well have a bit of fun while we keep safe. From the sales of these masks, we will make £300 profit and we will use this money to purchase the relevant equipment and training to bring more of our members into our meetings. After the AMD bar when I floated the idea, I had two very generous donations amounting to £300 – absolutely brilliant, it means we will have a total of £600 and can start the process immediately. All details will be on the website.
- Our Council of Improvement continues to meet virtually using Zoom and is remarkably successful in these difficult times.
So extreme times which we have met with some innovative ideas and with more to come…
But other things have happened within the District. Both our Treasurer – Gordon Trew and our Secretary – Peter Warner stepped down from their offices due to health reasons. This was a blow to the District and to me personally, both have delivered magnificent work for the District and managed their areas of business to a high standard. I thank them both for their loyalty, commitment and hard work. I have promoted Scott Cargill to District Secretary and Richard Criddle to support him as Asst Secretary and John Baker to Treasurer – all three have begun their work in an enthusiastic and impressive manner and this demonstrates the strength within our membership, and I thank them and wish them well.
Apart from these, our Officers will remain as they are for the year with the addition that Peter Warner will be the active Junior Warden for the year. Well done Peter.
We have had success at Grand Rank as well, Matthew Hampson becomes Dep G Dir of Ceremonies; Mike Winch remains at Grand Sword Bearer; first appointments for Simon McCarthy at P Grand Swd B; Mike Adkins, John Platts, Jeremy Shaw and Tony Avery to PGStdB and Jan Melvin to PGInner Guard.
Congratulations to them and all those across the Order who have been so honoured.
Finally, let me say a huge thank you to you Grand Master, to our guests who have Zoomed in to support us and to the members from London who have joined with me today to celebrate our wonderful Order and its strength and prosperity in London. The good attendance here, we are 150 in number, is a magnificent reflection of the loyalty, commitment and affection in which our Order is held and that affection is embodied in the person of MW Bro Thomas Firth Jackson.
In a few weeks it will be December and the Christmas season will be upon us, I wish you and your families, most especially at this time, all good wishes, good health and much happiness at this time of year.
Enjoy the rest of your day, we shall now logoff, but the AMD bar will be open tonight at 8pm for our weekly dose of gossip and good company, brethren enjoy the rest of your day…
God bless you all
Now go and wash your hands and stay safe.