Provincial Grand Master’s 2021 Christmas Message

by Neill Rhodes

Just click play to listen to an audio version.

Anthony Howlett-Bolton – Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire

Since drafting my Address to Provincial Grand Lodge last September, much has happened in the life of the Province. As usual, we have had a number of highs and lows. Amongst the lows must be counted the closure of a severely weakened lodge which traditionally is something that we are not used to but, on the positive side, we have found new lodges for its members so that they can continue to enjoy their Freemasonry in Berkshire. Amongst the highs must be the Consecration of the Didcot and Gourmet lodges in October and December respectively, truly wonderful occasions. It was also a pleasure to witness the joy on the faces of the children and parents whom we hosted at our annual traditional pantomime offering at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

Whilst respecting the position of those who for personal reasons, feel the need to exercise additional caution, I have been greatly heartened over the last three months by the enthusiasm with which the majority of our members have positively re-engaged with Freemasonry within the Province. We have had a lot of fun in each other’s company. On almost a daily basis, as a Province, we need to be light on our feet about what should and should not go ahead. Whilst I am fundamentally of the view that we should all make our own decisions based on our own circumstances and not to have others dictate our actions, it would be remiss of me and my Executive Leadership Team not to be sensitive to wider implications. We take this responsibility seriously and exercise it with caution and discretion for the welfare of the Province and the reputation of Freemasonry in general.

The Christmas festive season is one of celebration, joy and hope. It is also an opportunity for families and loved ones to get together, to recharge their batteries and to give thanks for all the gifts that have been bestowed upon us during the year; even in times of melancholic reflection.

From my perspective, it is an opportunity not only to take stock of where we are as a Province and what we need to do in 2022 but also an opportunity to reflect on the privilege of being the Provincial Grand Master of this very special Province, to think warmly about all the friendships and camaraderie that I witness as I travel around, the new masonic acquaintances and friendships that I have made and most particularly to embrace and to take comfort from all the support and encouragement that I receive as we all work together as one united team to ensure that Freemasonry continues to thrive in Berkshire.

I wish you, your families and all those whom you treasure a very Happy Christmas and a successful and joyful New Year. I have no doubt that 2022 will have just as many challenges to present to us as we have experienced over the last few years. I suspect that we are not out of the woods yet! However, I am also confident that it will bring many great opportunities as well. Through your individual and collective efforts, the Province of Berkshire is well placed to weather any storms we may encounter and to seize and embrace the opportunities as we enjoy our Freemasonry in each other’s company. I particularly look forward to taking part in all the events planned to support our Festival 2023.

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