In his address to the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on Wednesday, 25 September, the Provincial Grand Master, Paul Gower announced that he intends to stand down before next year’s Annual Meeting. The full contents of his address can be found below; followed by the Deputy Grand Master, Dick Knifton’s toast to the Provincial Grand Master at the Festive Board later that evening:
At the close of this meeting I will have completed twenty five years’ service as an Officer of this Province; having been first appointed as an Assistant Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1994.
For the past six of those twenty five years I have been proud and honoured to hold the highest provincial office; that of Provincial Grand Master for Hertfordshire.
It has been a most satisfying and rewarding experience and I have enjoyed almost every moment of it but on Saturday of this week I will reach my 73rd birthday and, Brethren, it is time for me to make way for a younger man.
I have therefore communicated to the Grand Master my wish to retire as Provincial Grand Master, on a date to be agreed, but before the Annual Meeting in 2020.
Brethren, I would not have been able to undertake this office without the help and support of so many members of this very happy Province and I thank you all for your goodwill and encouragement.
To my successor, whoever that may be, I offer my very best wishes and congratulations on being appointed to one of the most prestigious roles within English Freemasonry and I charge you, Brethren, to treat him with the same courtesy and kindness that you have always exhibited towards me.
May God bless you all.
The Provincial Grand Master’s speech was greeted with a standing ovation and heartfelt applause from all the Brethren present.
Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, other Right Worshipful Brethren, Distinguished Guests, Brethren all,
Our Provincial meeting, as ever, marks the end of a Masonic year and the beginning of a new year; with Brethren stepping down from office and Brethren stepping up to renew the vitality that so defines our Province.
I know I speak on behalf of those Brethren who you have recognised today for their service and support of Freemasonry, by appointing and promoting them to roles in your Province, in expressing their thanks to you for your confidence in their ability to serve Freemasonry in general and Hertfordshire in particular.
I am also certain I speak for every Brother, both here tonight and in Provincial Grand Lodge this afternoon, that we are all tremendously shocked by your announcement that you have decided to stand down as our Provincial Grand Master at the end of May next year.
Your achievements since taking office in 2013 are too numerous to mention all but, for starters, you have successfully interpreted and introduced the Grand Lodge policies necessary for Freemasonry to remain relevant in our modern world with a gentle but firm hand.
You have overseen the birth and development of the Fleet House Light Blues Club, which now has over 100 members and is thriving so successfully that it has made a very professional pitch to host the 2020 meeting of the New Young Masons’ Conference.
The Universities Scheme has progressed from strength to strength, with multiple Candidate ceremonies which are the envy of many Provinces.
These Brethren are the future of our Craft and it is your guidance and enthusiasm that has encouraged these very successful groups within our Province.
Under your guidance your Provincial Grand Charity Steward, Chris Noble and his team have delivered a stunning result for the 2019 Festival Appeal for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, topping £3.6million and still counting, and celebrated with an enormously successful Festival event at London’s Guildhall.
Provincial Grand Master, we were certain that that you would continue in office for the foreseeable future but we all understand that nothing lasts forever in life and change is always inevitable. But, Provincial Grand Master, you are standing down just as we were just getting used to you!!!
I know I express the warmest best wishes and support from every member of our Province when I say we wish you and your family the very best for the future and offer you our heartfelt thanks for everything you have done for and achieved with the Brethren of Hertfordshire.
Our Province will be handed on, in due course, to a new Provincial Grand Master in robust and fine form, which is a legacy of which you can be justifiably very, very proud.
Brethren, this is a very poignant moment for us all but I must ask you to please rise and join me in a huge toast to our Provincial Grand Master.