As many of us plan for the kickstart of various aspects of our lives, including live meetings of our Lodges without restrictions, are we expecting things to return to what they were? Or are we taking the opportunity to do something different, something better? What will be your new normal?
At the start of the pandemic I saw this as a period in my life I would never have again. An opportunity. A chance to rest and create. I started writing a book and I changed my daily routine.
It wasn’t long before I started delivering online talks. 132 talks later I now have a worldwide audience of over 4,000 – and that includes you.
I am now thinking of how I will build on this experience and continue to reach people I could never have reached 18 months ago. There are a number of possibilities, including hybrid meetings, a new platform and even a regular Masonic chat show.
So, please would you help by completing this 2-minute poll, to tell me how you would like me to deliver my talks, and possibly other work, in a post-pandemic future.
Finally, I want to say a big “Thank you” to everyone who has made a donation to my charity fund during the pandemic. So far we have raised £22,087. My efforts to raise money for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) continue and, with your help, we may be able to hit £25,000. If you would like to support the MCF, please click the following button to make a donation.
It is the time of year for both Scouting and Freemasonry to honour those who have given great service to those organisations. I want to congratulate those receiving honours and awards, as well as reflect on how important it is to recognise those who work so hard for our good causes.
But for Covid-19, yesterday would have been the Annual Meeting for the Mark Province of Derbyshire. For a number of years I organised this meeting. One of the greatest pleasures I had was sending letters to the recipients of those being appointed to or promoted in Provincial grand rank. Most recipients were delighted and many were surprised. The pleasure they experienced when they processed to have their honour conferred lifted everyone at the meeting.
Just occasionally some were disappointed. Often these were the ones who spoke of “expecting promotion.” I think they missed the point. No one has a right to an honour. They are not given for long service and are not automatic. They are given for good service, especially that “over and above the norm”, and are in the gift and prerogative of the fount of honour, whether that be the head of a Masonic Order, the Chief Scout or, in the case of national honours, The Queen. To expect them is presumptuous and ultimately leads to disappointment.
Over the years I have been fortunate to have received many Scouting and Masonic honours and awards. I have been pleased, in fact delighted, in every case, largely because they were unexpected. In fact, in all but one instance they came as a complete surprise. They told me that my work is seen and valued. The effect has been a renewed and even deeper sense of commitment. I have never undertaken any work to get an honour but having been honoured I have tended to give more, so that I may be worthy of the honour.
Today I wrote a letter in support of a nomination for a Queen’s honour for a Freemason who has given many years of great service to Scouting and his community. In my opinion, he deserves wider recognition.
A little while ago someone must have taken the time to nominate me for a Masonic honour. I don’t know who it was and probably never shall. However, on Wednesday I shall receive a Masonic promotion that I never expected would come my way.
This came as a complete surprise and told me that my work (I presume my efforts in relation to membership development) is seen and is valued. That the promotion came from “the centre” means a great deal to me. The response from those who know of my work has been overwhelming and deeply humbling. By the simple act of nominating me, someone (supported of course by those who approved the nomination) has given me a great deal of pleasure and encouraged me to do even more.
So, if you see someone doing good work “over and above the norm”, please take a little time to thank them or, better still, to nominate them for an honour. It is a great way to recognise people and to let them know they are appreciated.
This weekend would have been the National Scout Service at Windsor Castle, to which Queen’s Scouts and recipients of Scouting’s highest honours and awards are invited to attend. This Wednesday and Thursday would have been the Investiture Meetings of United Grand Lodge of England and Supreme Grand Chapter. For the second year running, so many people are missing the big celebration of their awards and honours.
Congratulations to all those Scouts and adult members of Scouting honoured this week by the Chief Scout. Congratulations also to those due to receive appointments to or promotion in grand rank from the Grand Master and First Grand Principal in United Grand Lodge or Supreme Grand Chapter. I hope that you can celebrate, despite not being able to enjoy the big occasion. I know I shall be doing so!
Lastly, a sincere thank you to the unknown Brother who nominated me for my honour. You really don’t know how happy you, by your thoughtful act, have made me.
Other Masonic fundraising activities – such as “The 2017 MBF Walk”, “Bill Summ’s Masonic Songs” and “Old Men & their Mountains” have raised a further £13,013.14.
The total raised for charity since 2012 amounts to £103,040.51. Full details can be found on my charity page.
My reason for announcing this today are:
Those who have donated deserve to know.
To thank those who have supported me and my charities in all these endeavours.
To give us all a reason to celebrate our collective efforts.
So, to everyone who has booked me to give a talk, endured my planning and delivery, attended one of my talks, stayed throughout one of my talks, supported and encouraged me in so many ways, sold my books, bought my books, read my books, driven me to venues, put me up in their homes and in any other way contributed to or supported my fundraising activities.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
And of course, I have to say – because I wouldn’t be much of a fundraiser if I didn’t – if anyone wishes to make a donation, please use the button below:
I was asked this question very recently and came up with the answer, “On the Ides of January.” Already Christmas and the New Year are long behind us and 2021 is well under way.
In the last few days, my daughter Caroline graduated Master of Laws from City, University of London, and I was very fortunate to receive the first of my two Covid-19 jabs as someone deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable.” I have also started my new role as Provincial Membership Officer in the Province of Nottinghamshire.
However, 2021 has not signalled a change in our ability to meet without restriction. Indeed it may be many months before our members can gather together as they wish. In the meantime, we continue with virtual gatherings.
My own experience of these has been very positive. I have “met” brethren I would never have met otherwise and participated in meetings of Lodges I can rarely attend. My reach has expanded to all continents, and most timezones! I suspect far more of our members have developed a hunger for learning about Freemasonry, although I continue to be concerned that many are either not engaging with what is on offer or are simply not being contacted by their Lodges.
It is great to see platforms such as “Freemasons without Borders,” “The Lodge, Hope of Kurachee” and the “Trans Oceanic Masonic Study Circle” develop and mature and an increasing number of Lodges start their own programmes.
Although some say they are “Zoomed out” – and I know that feeling – my own belief is this is just about finding a new balance. We must continue to offer meaningful Masonic experiences, to engage our members and provide value for their membership.
As for my own talks, I have now delivered 82 online since April and have another 31 booked already – reaching as far as September this year. So, please do get in touch if you wish to book me for your Lodge / Province / District / Grand Lodge or other Masonic Association.
This post is a great opportunity to thank those who have attended my talks for making donations through my fundraising page, https://bit.ly/2012JustGiving. So far these have raised £13,755.15 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation, taking total funds raised from my Masonic speaking engagements since 2012 to £89,016.12. Including other activities such as books and sponsored events, the total raised for Scouting and Masonic charities since then is £102,029.26.
Twelve months ago none of us could have imagined we would be where we are now! You don’t need me to tell the story because we have all been there and we are all still making our way through the difficulties presented by Covid-19.
Yet, despite all the tragedies and losses and difficulties we are still experiencing, there is always hope.
Out of loss comes opportunity for learning, consolidation, new birth and growth. Crises accelerate change and we can already see the direction of travel. In the last few months members who have not attended have become re-engaged with their Lodges, communities have seen what a difference Freemasonry makes to our lives and – by extension – to theirs. Many of us – and many of our Lodges – have used the time to learn, regroup, refresh and plan for the future.
I have only left my house four times since March. Yet I have met over 5,500 brethren from all around the world on Zoom meetings for Lodges, Masonic associations, Provinces and Districts. I have used the time to research, to write and to plan as well as to speak to a much bigger audience than I could ever have imagined reaching in ten months.
Thank you to everyone receiving this email. You have supported my Masonic work by booking or attending at least one of the 76 online talks I have given in that time.
I wish you and your loved ones a merry, restful and peaceful Christmas and I wish you the very best of health and happiness for 2021, whatever it might bring.
This week has seen England go back into lockdown. Effectively all Masonic meetings will be suspended, either by a Provincial Grand Master’s implied powers or (possibly) by an edict from the Grand Master.
I am seeing more of our brethren share the difficulties they have been experiencing with the current restrictions. At the same time I have experienced some quite uplifting moments over the last seven days, culminating in this morning’s online Service of Remembrance organised by Nottinghamshire Freemasons.
My week started on Monday with the inaugural delivery of my Mike Baker Memorial Lecture, “How to grow the membership of your Mark Lodge”, over Zoom. Organised by R.W.Bro. Archie Torrance, the Provincial Grand Master for the Mark Province of Kent, more than 140 attended, including the Deputy Grand Master, R.W.Bro. John Prizeman, the Assistant Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Steve Davison, the Grand Secretary, R.W.Bro. Ryan Williams, and eight Mark Provincial Grand Masters.
Freemasonry lost so much with the passing of my friend Mike Baker but, by creating a lectureship in his name, his Provincial Grand Master has ensured his legacy will live on and he will continue to inspire us to take positive steps in our Freemasonry.
One of Mike’s favourite quotes was, “The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.” We have more time now to address issues within our Lodges, and to lay the foundation for future growth, than we will ever have again. In memory of Mike, please take this time to fix the roof.
Tuesday was a talk for Vastern Lodge 8977 and the Province of Wiltshire. The Lodge has been running a series of online talks over the last few months and I was privileged to be the latest. I delivered my refreshed and revamped, “Seven habits of highly successful Lodges” to an audience of interested and engaged brethren. The talk has a very positive message outlining a framework of success against which we can all assess our Lodges. It is the basis for the new book I am writing on Lodge management.
On Wednesday I returned to the Mark Province of Devonshire to deliver the follow-up to my earlier talk on the historic links between the Craft, Mark and Royal Arch. This one concentrated on the narrative and symbolic links between what are clearly the core degrees in Freemasonry. What was so good about this event was the positive enthusiasm for a more constructive appreciation of these links, rather than the divisive wedge that has sometimes been driven between the Mark and Royal Arch.
Then on Thursday I was once again in Cheshire to deliver my talk, “The Royal Arch: what is it all about?” Every single member of the Craft and Royal Arch Executive, and representatives from all four areas in the Province, attended this talk – as did many from the target audience of those who have not yet become Royal Arch Masons and those who are recent Companions. Once again a hugely positive discussion followed from some excellent questions. With the clear leadership and combined approach to managing the Craft and Royal Arch in Cheshire, it is little wonder that the Royal Arch is thriving in the Province.
On Friday I joined a Zoom meeting in the Province of West Kent to discuss how we will approach an online programme for 2021, combining entertainment, general interest and Masonic education into an integrated and engaging approach. As the Head of Learning & Development in the Province you would expect me to say this but West Kent is showing the way forward for member engagement.
Yesterday was a day of reflection. It was the 11th anniversary of the consecration of The Scout Lodge M.M.M. No. 1907, the world’s first Scouting Mark Lodge, of which I was honoured to be founding Master. It was also the third anniversary of UGLE’s Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, and which I was honoured to be present. Two great, uplifting and memorable occasions when Freemasons came together for common purpose.
Earlier today I tuned in to the online Service of Remembrance organised by Worksop Masonic Club in the Province of Nottinghamshire. While paying tribute to those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice in armed conflicts, it also recognised the fortitude and example set by those of our predecessors who lived through past restrictions. Reflecting on their experience and example may perhaps inspire us to stand firm and get through this pandemic in as positive a manner as we can.
The common thread through all these talks and meetings has not been me. It has been the willingness of the brethren and companions to gather together, to engage in a collective Masonic experience, to continue to question, to learn and to contribute.
We will get through this difficult time. We can use the time constructively to learn and stretch ourselves. We can use the time to improve our Lodges and make them fit for the new future. So that when we can return we can seize new opportunities for growth an expansion, just as our predecessors did when Freemasonry emerged from earlier times of difficulty.
And to my brethren and companions who are experiencing difficulties, please be open, let others know, reach out to your Lodges, Provinces and Districts and accept the help and support that you will inevitably receive.
However isolated we may feel at present, none of us are an island. Together we are part of one of the world’s greatest forces for good. Together we will get through this.
Tomorrow evening, 26th October at 19.00 GMT, I will be delivering the inaugural Mike Baker Memorial Lecture, “How to grow the membership of your Mark Lodge”, for the Mark Province of Kent. By the kind permission of the Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Archie Torrance, brethren from recognised constitutions are very welcome.
W Bro. Mike Baker passed away unexpectedly on 23rd April this year. He was very well known in English Freemasonry, across our Provinces and Districts, as a talented and hardworking communicator. Having worked in sales and marketing at the Royal Mail, Mike joined United Grand Lodge as Director of Communications in 2013. I got to know him soon afterwards and we worked together on a number of projects. At the time of his death he was enjoying working for Mark Masons’ Hall as a communications consultant. We had membership of one Lodge in common, Letchworth Lodge No. 3505 in London. I was proud to call Mike a friend and miss his good humour, his love for communication and the banter we often exchanged.
Mike was Initiated in Kynaston Studd Lodge No. 5416 in London and joined Petts Wood Lodge No. 5435 in West Kent. He served as a Metropolitan Grand Standard Bearer and then as Social Media Manager for Metropolitan Grand Lodge. He was Exalted in Tothill Fields Chapter No. 6638 and joined Petts Wood Chapter No. 5435, where he was the MEZ at the time of his passing. He was appointed PAGDC in United Grand Lodge in 2015 and an active AGDC in Supreme Grand Chapter in 2017.
In the Mark he was Advanced into Orpington Lodge M.M.M. No. 1083 and was a joining member of Kent Mark Stewards’ Lodge No. 1691 and Greenwich Lodge M.M.M. 332. He was appointed P.A.G.D.C. in the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in 2019.
The lectureship has been established by R.W.Bro. Archie Torrance, Provincial Grand Master for the Mark Province of Kent, with the kind permission of Tina, Mike’s wife. I am sure Mike would have felt honoured if bemused by a lectureship named after him. As for what he would have thought of my appointment as the first lecturer, I imagine it would have lead to some strong banter!
What I do know is that Mike would have been very pleased with the topic, as membership growth was a passion of his and a subject that he and I worked on together.
Rest in peace, Mike. You truly marked well.
Other talks this week
Also, in this coming week I am delivering the following talks:
You can see other talks I am scheduled to deliver here.
Thank you to everyone who has made a donation following one of my online talks during Covid-19. The total raised so far is £8,352.51, all of of which is going to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
With immediate effect, I am now using the MCF’s new online fundraising system run by Just Giving. The new donations link is bit.ly/2012JustGiving.
Getting through the first six months of Covid-19 was one thing. Overall we seemed to adapt very well. Many rushed to help others and it is great to see the delayed Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognise so many ordinary people for their extraordinary efforts.
As we face increased rather than relaxed restrictions it all seems like hard work now, doesn’t it. How much longer will this go on for?
Personally I am preparing for another 12 months of isolation and shielding, where the only contact I will have with others will be through a screen, microphone and speaker. But 12 months is too big to contemplate so I am focussing on three months at a time. As I get through each three months I can then take stock and get myself mentally fit for the next.
While not many of us cannot meet together as Freemasons, we can all use this time to become better Freemasons and better people. We can all use this time to reflect, contemplate, take stock, improve and plan ahead. We can do the same in our Lodges too, using technology to meet and discuss matters.
I believe a positive mental attitude is so important. I have set myself new goals and am seizing the opportunity to be productive. My talks and my work on a new book are my way of doing something constructive.
Sadly, not all our friends will come out of this time. I was terribly shocked to lose my friend Mike Baker, who passed away suddenly in April (not related to Covid). It was a great honour when R.W.Bro. Archie Torrance, Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Province of Kent, invited me to be the Inaugural Mike Baker Memorial Lecturer. Archie set up the new lectureship in Mike’s memory and I have selected a title that Mike would have appreciated, “How to grow the Membership of your Mark Lodge.” I will be delivering it live on 26th October. Please book here.
My other talks and their dates are all listed here. Please book in good time to get a place – they are proving very popular and many are attracting up to 100 bookings. I am also pleased to schedule new dates if invited by Light Blues Clubs, Provinces and Districts. You can also see some of the talks on my YouTube channel here.
Finally, I was overwhelmed to learn that, as a result of my talk for them on 15th August, the District of South America Northern Division has set up a local charity appeal in Brazil, in conjunction with the other English Orders in the District. This is truly a great initiative and I am delighted to have had a small part to play.
After a lot of thought, this week I set up a YouTube channel – predictably called “W Bro. Tony Harvey” – to share some of my Masonic talks.
If you couldn’t attend a talk live, please go to my channel, here. I would be really pleased if you would also “subscribe” (so that you can keep up to date with new uploads) and if you would indicate whether or not you like the talk.
Here is one example, my “Seven habits of highly successful Lodges” talk.
For a number of reasons, these recordings won’t normally include my favourite part – the lively Q&A that invariably follows and which is normally longer than the talk itself.
If you want you and your brethren to engage with me, ask me questions, debate the issues and see what others think, please invite me along to deliver a talk to your audience. I accept invitations from Lodges, Provinces, Districts, New & Young Masons’ Clubs and Masonic Associations under UGLE, HFAF, OWF and recognised overseas jurisdictions.
Distance and timezone are not a barrier to me. I will arrange a talk around you.
I am already discussing a couple of overseas speaking tours in late 2021. If you want me to speak live please also get in touch.
In the meantime, to see the online talks I currently have planned, please click here.
I am having a break from talks for a week or so, as I have set aside some time to do a lot of new writing. Have a good week – I know I will.
The Scouts annual Gilwell Reunion, always held the first weekend in September, went virtual this year, with the Kindred Lodges Association running a workshop on Scouting and Freemasonry.
This weekend every year my family attends the Gilwell Reunion, the annual event for adults in Scouting. The Covid-19 pandemic prevented us all gathering in person at Gilwell Park, so it all happened online. A big ‘thank you’ must go to The Scout Association for making this happen and providing such a rich variety of entertainment, workshops, interviews, networking events and sheer fun. All on Zoom and Facebook.
It won’t surprise you to know that I did a talk and Q&A on Scouting and Freemasonry on behalf of the Kindred Lodges Association. We had 65 turn up for the session at 5.00 pm on the Saturday and the response was excellent. Some great questions and some things for the KLA to think about as development opportunities.
Christine Chapman, Grand Master of Freemasonry for Women (HFAF), and Sylvia Major, Grand Secretary of the Order of Women Freemasons, were with us on our panel – a great example of Masonic collaboration.
My only regret was that I could not attend the get together of the Gilwell Fellows, which was scheduled at the same time.
Looking ahead, my upcoming talks can be found at https://prestonian2012.org.uk/upcoming-talks/. I am taking a few days off from giving talks, to concentrate on reading and writing. My next talk is “Seven habits of highly successful Lodges” on Friday, 11th September, for Shropshire’s Solomon Group. Before then I also have a board meeting for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
Over the last few months I have often been asked whether people can have copies of my talks or whether they are recorded.
I don’t give out copies. For two reasons. First, I want to engage in the live Q&A myself. Secondly, I don’t wish my personal views to be presented, and potentially distorted or misrepresented, by other speakers.
I also don’t tend to publish recordings, although I am giving further thought to this.
What I have decided to do is to turn many of my talks into a book.
The talks in question will be those on the theme of “The future of Freemasonry.” The book will concentrate on how we can manage and develop our Lodges to make them attractive, relevant and welcoming to the 21st century working man while perpetuating the timeless purpose and meaning of Freemasonry. It will be aimed at members of working Lodges and will offer practical means to develop a Lodge, as well as the rationale for doing so.
The book will build on my experience as a Secretary, Mentor and developer of the Members’ Pathway. It will also, build on my experience of change within The Scouts and on my professional experience as a leadership and change coach, consultant and facilitator.
I will keep you updated on news of my book. So far I have completed the first draft of Chapter 1, which is based on the 7-habits of highly successful Lodges.
In the meantime, I do hope to see you on one of my talks. If you want to host one yourself, please do get in touch here.
I am looking forward to delivering four talks in the next week; for a Lodge in London, for the Mark Province of Devonshire, for the Corinthian Club in West Lancashire and, on Saturday, as part of an online workshop for the Scout Association’s virtual Gilwell Reunion.
If your main interest is in my upcoming talks, here is the list of confirmed dates.
May I emphasise the five talks I am delivering this week? Five different titles for five different hosts on three continents, all of which have spaces available (at least they do as I write this) and all of whom would value your support.
Please click on the links in the title of each to go to the booking page. If there is no link, it is either because plans are in the early stages or it is a private event.
If you are curious to know about my latest activities, please read on after the list of talks below.
The last week seems to have been full of planning meetings for future talks. The great thing about these is that I get to know the people who have invited me, along with their tech support and other members of their Lodge, Province, District or Club. That helps build rapport and pays off when it comes to the vent itself. So this week I have been “meeting” brethren from the Order of Women Freemasons, Devonshire Mark, Warwickshire 5 of 9 Club and Strathearn Lodge.
I have had other meetings with my Kindred Lodges Association brethren, to plan our virtual interactive workshop at the 2020 Gilwell Reunion, The Scout Association’s annual event for adults in Scouting. This is exciting. For the last few years we have had a stand at the live event but a workshop gives us a chance to get a consistent message out to interested and curious parties, and to engage with them in a Q&A.
I have also had a great time delivering talks to Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire Light Blues Clubs and having online informal meetings with Pioneer Lodge & Chapter 9065 (my mother Craft & RA units), Lodge of Unity Peace & Concord 316 (the KLA’s Installed Masters’ Lodge) and Peak Council RSM 184.
For all these meetings and talks, brethren, I thank you so much. Being in contact in this way is helping keep me sane as I go into my twenty-third week of shielding.
During the last week, my talk for the “Freemasons without Borders” Facebook group, “The narrative and symbolic links between the Craft, Mark & Royal Arch” was published on YouTube and has already had 318 views. You can see it here:
This follows another talk on the historic links, which has had 1.2K views so far, and can be seen here:
So, the coming week is going to be dominated by giving five talks. In between I will be working on a new book. Back in 2013 Lewis Masonic commissioned me to write a book based on my talk, “Seven habits of highly successful Lodges.” I delayed the commission to work on the Members’ Pathway. Now that I have written a lot more material on Lodge development, I am returning to my book project. I shall be editing rather than writing from scratch, and I plan to incorporate Masonic use of my Success Cycle model of leadership and change. Keep watching this space for news!
We have all been in the awkward position of having to answer “No” when asked that question. I am pleased to say that the brethren attending my talks have responded with a loud “Yes.”
So far, you have donated £5,045.01 to my Prestonian charity fund. With the expected gift-aid of £1,058.75, this will make a total of £6,103.76. As I promised, all of this is going to the MCF Covid-19 Community Fund. £5,065.01 has been paid over so far and the rest will follow when it clears into my Relief Chest.
These sums have also contributed to the following Festival totals:
West Lancashire 2021
Leicestershire & Rutland 2022
West Kent 2026
I have delivered 30 talks online since the middle of April. Twenty of those were for groups that fall within areas that could benefit from the MCF. The brethren attending on those occasions were asked if they would donate. 271 individual donations have been made.
I want to say a very big “thank you” to the organisers and attendees of my online talks for their generosity and support.
If you would like to make a donation, please go to https://bit.ly/2012Donate. Everything received from Masonic sources during Covid-19 will go to the MCF Covid-19 Community Fund.
Last week I asked you for some feedback. Thank you to everyone who responded. The feedback has been very positive and encouraging. In summary, it said, “Keep on doing what you are doing”. Welcome to the 109 brethren who have joined my list since last week and who will receive this weekly update.
So, looking back over the last week, the highlight was my “Narrative and symbolic links between the Craft, Mark & Royal Arch” talk for Freemasons without Borders on Tuesday and my “Seven habits of highly successful Lodges” talks for the Province of West Kent (Thursday) and the District of South America Northern Division (Saturday). Thank you to the organisers and attendees for all you did.
Between these I have had numerous planning meetings for future talks, when I get to know the brethren concerned, plus some really interesting coaching work for my clients.
All my upcoming talks are listed here. In the next week I have two deliveries of “How to grow the membership of your Lodge” for Oxfordshire Light Blues Club (Tuesday) and Bedfordshire Light Blues Club (Thursday).
This week, I want to thank those who have been following my weekly blogs and ask you for some feedback. I am still experimenting to find the right balance of content and frequency and your answers to my questions below will be very helpful.
The past week has featured two talks for South Africa, Rising Star Lodge in the District of Orange Free State and Lyceum Lodge of Research in South Africa North. I am grateful to those who have organised these, especially RW Bro. James van Zyl and W Bros. Colin Morris, Rob Allam and Roland Dunstan, and all who attended them. The Q&As were especially enjoyable.
I have also been doing some work on the Members’ Pathway. I am working with James Bartlett to create some introductory booklets. Once we have finished writing the content, their visual design will be done by UGLE’s marketing and communications team.
I have also added a new page to my website, featuring some articles on Masonic topics – especially change.
All that, plus writing and planning some new talks and some corporate coaching work, seems to have filled my week.
This coming week is a big one. I am delivering part two of my “Links” talk for Freemasons without Borders on Tuesday. Part one looked at “The historic links between the Craft, Mark and Royal Arch” and is available on YouTube. Part two looks at “The narrative and symbolic links between …” and is looking to be well attended.
I will also be delivering my “Seven habits of highly successful Lodges” talk twice. This is proving to be very popular. A delivery later today is sold out and more and more people are recognising its value as we look at the health and strength of our Lodges.
Last Wednesday I delivered my fourth talk for Cheshire Masters’ & Masons’ Forum (MMF) since we started having Zoom meetings. It was the second time I have delivered, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution & change” for them. As always with Cheshire MMF, a great audience with a lively and interesting Q&A session.
One attendee wrote to tell me he was disappointed I had not proposed further specific changes in the fabric of Freemasonry. The objective of my talk is to encourage Lodges to take stock of their situation and plan their own change, not to present a personal manifesto for the whole of Freemasonry. However, I did encourage him to prepare his own talk to share his thoughts. He has since come back and said that his frustration is more to do with his own Lodge. I directed him to the Members’ Pathway and suggested he seek support from his Provincial Membership Officer.
On Thursday we had a very productive meeting to discuss the Kindred Lodge Association’s (KLA’s) future presence at Scouting’s annual Gilwell Reunion. We made a good start on a plan and agreed to continue after a period of reflection and creative thinking over the next two weeks.
For me this has been the toughest week since I started shielding in March. On the one hand, imagining a release from this situation is at times uplifting. At others it only highlights that I cannot foresee when I can go beyond my front gate and travel, meet friends and see great places.
Just when I was at a low point came the best news.
Our daughter, Caroline, had passed all her exams in her Legal Practice Course and so had qualified for the City Law School Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, with a commendation. This was the latest step in her long-held ambition for a career in law. She is currently working on her dissertation to turn the qualification in to a Master of Laws (LLM) degree and then she will be looking for placements and ultimately a training contract to qualify as a Solicitor. Hopefully they will be in London, in which case she will probably still be working part-time in the Pillars! Diane and I are so proud of her and held a garden celebration yesterday fit for the occasion!
The week ahead will include two talks for Lodges in South Africa and various other Zoom planning meetings. I do hope to see you on one or more of them.
I had a great response to last week’s blog. Some seemed to think I really was asking for a collective noun for Provincial Secretaries and I received some very helpful suggestions on social media. And no rude ones! To all who answered, thank you.
So, what have I been doing this past week?
The online Committee meeting of The Mark Provincial Grand Secretaries Lodge went really well. This is a great Lodge comprising present and past Provincial Grand Secretaries in the Mark. We are an unattached Lodge (what Province could cope with us) that meets twice a year on a Saturday somewhere in England & Wales. At one meeting we have an update and Q&A forum with the Grand Secretary and the other is the Installation. Our partners join us for the day, having luncheon with us before the Lodge meeting and then their own event. Like all Lodges, our plans have been disrupted due to Covid-19 so we have put everything back by one year.
My talk to Dore Masonic Hall on Tuesday was very well received. The team at Dore (which is within the Masonic Province of Derbyshire but civically is in Sheffield, very confusing) is doing a great job at managing a change process. It is engaging all Lodges and all members in creating a vision for the future and a development plan designed to take them there. They wanted my “Evolution & change” talk to act as a catalyst for forward thinking and have asked me back for September to continue the process. I will watch – and support – their efforts with great interest.
While I love delivering talks, I love even more knowing what difference they make. At heart I am an educator and facilitator. All my professional life I have sought to stimulate and support personal and collective change, growth and development, to help people and organisations be more successful. My Masonic hopes are exactly the same – to make difference. If my talks have had a positive impact on you and your Lodge, please let me know. Who knows, with your permission I may even be able to share your good news, whether its to my personal audience via this blog or – if appropriate – via the Members’ Pathway.
I also wrote another talk during the week, taking the bullet points I use for a live and highly interactive White Table talk (“Welcome to our Lodge Room”) and turning it into a scripted talk for an online audience of recently Initiated Freemasons and those interested in joining. The new talk is called, “All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)” and is being delivered for the first time to the Corinthian Club, a Light Blues Club in the Province of West Lancashire, on 4th September. It is, of course, available for others to book to attend and for others to arrange for their Lodge, Province, District, Light Blues Club or Masonic Association.
Last night we had a Zoom meeting of my mother Chapter, Pioneer Chapter in Derbyshire, to discuss our support for the founding of a new Chapter, to be called Historic Vitae Chapter and to be attached to Musket Pike & Drum Lodge No. 9906. This is a travelling Lodge for historical re-enactors and has Initiated over 30 new members in the last five years. It is only right that they now offer Royal Arch masonry for their members. Although there were questions about the rationale, I am pleased to say we gave it the go ahead. Support energy and enthusiasm, I say.
Lastly, I put three of my articles up on my website. The first is my 9-step process for “Managing evolution and change in the Lodge”, which is given to Lodge Secretaries when I deliver my talk, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution and change.” The second is called, “Why some brethren resist change and how to respond.” This is in response to questions I often get in my live talks and does exactly what it says on the tin. The other is, “The secret of Freemasonry.” This is a robust response to our critics and was written as a series of bullet points direct onto my smart phone at around the time of the Grand Secretary’s “Enough is Enough” campaign. It had a great response on social media and although subsequently I tidied it a little, it still has the freshness and authenticity of the original – or at least I think so. If the articles are well received I will put up more.
So, looking ahead, what am I doing in the coming week?
As far as talks are concerned, I have one for Cheshire Masters’ & Masons’ Forum (MMF), my fourth since we started having Zoom meetings and the second time I will have delivered, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution & change” for them. The Province is one of our larger ones. They are very well organised with a group structure and excellent communications. The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro. Stephen Blank, has a very clear leadership message and has encouraged his Lodges to embrace change. He has also been very supportive to me over the last few years since we first worked together on the Members’ Pathway. As a Founder member of the yet to be consecrated Omnium Lodge No. 10005 (the Lodge for the Open University), I am looking forward to becoming a member of his Province.
The other highlights of my week ahead are two Masonic Zoom meetings, and a Scouting one.
The first of the Masonic meetings will be of the Province of West Kent’s Learning & Development Team, which I am privileged to lead. How can I do that when I live in Derbyshire? Well, I only provide the strategic glue, having recruited and appointed an excellent team of a Provincial Education Officer (Alan Wondzinski), Provincial Training Officer (Steve Archbold) and a Provincial L&D Administrator (Richard Savage). The Provincial Grand Orator (Clive Moore) is a co-opted member of the team. Our meeting this next week will be to look at how we can further support the Provincial Grand Master’s drive to engage and support brethren during Covid-19. RW Bro. Mark Estaugh is a very strategic and highly energetic Provincial Grand Master who is doing all in his power to ensure that members of the Province continue to get value from their membership, despite our current restrictions.
The other meeting will be of fellow members of the Kindred Lodge Association’s (KLA’s) committee. We are taking the opportunity to look at how we can improve the KLA’s presence at Scouting’s annual Gilwell Reunion. This is a key audience for the KLA and we want to ensure we get our message across in a modern and professional manner. Having secured the support in principle of the Grand Master of Freemasonry for Women (HFAF), MW Bro. Christine Chapman, I am hoping we will include them in our future events.
The Scouting meeting is of the Executive, or Trustees, of my local Scout District, of which I am Chairman. We face a number of challenges, including getting local Scouting back to face-to-face meetings and the long-term future management of our campsite and water activities centre.
In the middle of all of this I shall be doing some further work on taking my professional activities online and running webinars in leadership and change for paying clients.
Starting a blog is a great way to encourage reflection. Looking back over my Masonic activities of the last week, I am struck by how many wonderful people I know, and am close to, through Freemasonry.
As for Lodge meetings, all online of course, they included Austral Lodge No. 2534 in Mafikeng, of which I have been a member since my visit in 2012. Despite most members only having met me once, and some not at all, they have very kindly embraced me and I feel as much part of that Lodge as most others.
Another was with the members of The Scout Lodge M.M.M. No. 1907, of which I am proud to have been the founding Master. This is the world’s first ever Scout Mark Lodge and it travels to different Provinces to connect local Scouting with local Mark Masonry.
My third meeting was for a quiz with Walesby Forest Lodge No. 9674, the Scout Lodge of Nottinghamshire. I was a founder in 1998 and absolutely love this Lodge. I joined the quiz with Diane and Caroline on the night of our 32nd wedding anniversary. And then we won the quiz! Thank goodness for Caroline is all I can say.
Monday also saw an “Ask the ProvGM & GSupt” Zoom meeting in the Province of West Kent. The ProvGM / GSupt is Mark Estaugh. Mark had received around 50 questions in advance and by clustering them around themes was able to answer all of the issues. His openness, clear direction and passion set him apart as an outstanding leader and members of the Province, of which I am proud to be one, cannot fail to feel his enthusiasm rub off on them. The meeting was expertly managed by Dan Spencer, the new Assistant PGM.
On Tuesday, I delivered a talk for Mimosa Lodge No. 4396 in the District Grand Lodge of Orange Free State. The District is one of our smallest with less than a hundred members. Nevertheless, Rob Allam managed to assemble an audience of 50 to hear my “Have we anything to communicate?” talk, and they included many from surrounding Districts and other jurisdictions, as well as some from South Africa Lodge No. 6742 in London, an excellent Lodge ably managed by James Dow, a great servant to Freemasonry here and in South Africa.
I have also been writing this week. I tidied up my paper, “Why some brethren resist change and how to respond” and put it up on my website on a new page. I added something I wrote during the Grand Secretary’s Enough is Enough campaign called, “The secret of Freemasonry.” The first of these papers is a response to many questions I get to how to respond to resistance from influential brethren. I am happy to expand this paper with more scenarios if people want. The second is a robust response to our detractors. I put it up on social media at the time of the campaign and thought some people might find it useful again.
Over the course of the week I have had a number of discussions with brethren about a planned return to Lodge & Chapter meetings. Most seem to feel that, despite our natural inclinations to gather as brethren, we should not rush to return and that most meetings in the next two to three months are likely to end up abandoned. Despite this, some are clearly going ahead. I just hope that partial returns do not divide rather than unite us.
In case you are wondering about the title of this blog article, all will be revealed as I outline what I am expecting in the coming week.
On Tuesday, I am delivering my talk, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution & change” for brethren who meet at Dore Masonic Hall. Dore is going through an exciting change process. The members have been invited to contribute to developing a clear and agreed vision of the future and a structured development plan. The process is being managed by a small group under the leadership of Steve Williams, an energetic and skilled Freemason who recently retired as a local Solicitor. Dore is very fortunate to have him. If you would like to “attend” this talk, please register at https://fofec-doremh.eventbrite.co.uk before 15.30 on Tuesday.
Then on Wednesday we have a Zoom meeting of Peak Council R.S.M. No. 184. I was due to go into the chair of the Council this summer but will now have to wait until next year. I enjoy the Order of Royal & Select Masters and, having only recently re-joined, was looking forward to my Installation. I left many Orders around the time I was appointed as Prestonian Lecturer, so that I could concentrate on Craft, Mark & Royal Arch. I have re-joined because I recognise the valuable lessons Cryptic Masonry offers. To be honest though, I am not looking forward to learning lots of new ritual. Oh well.
Thursday evening will be a Zoom Committee meeting of The Mark Provincial Grand Secretaries Lodge No. 1641. This is an unattached Lodge with membership restricted to present and past Mark Provincial Grand Secretaries. We meet twice a year in a Province selected by the Lodge Committee, normally with one being near the WM’s home. At one of the meetings we host The Grand Secretary’s Forum, an update by the Grand Secretary followed by a Q&A session. The Grand Secretary, R.W.Bro. Ryan Williams, is an excellent ambassador for the Lodge as well as for Mark Masonry in general. I joined the Lodge immediately after I became the Provincial Grand Secretary of Derbyshire in 2007 and am now privileged to be its Secretary. Keeping over 100 Provincial Secretaries is an interesting task at times, and I am grateful to the members for their fantastic support. As to what to call us, other than M1641, answers please in the comments area!
So, that is my reflection on the last week and a look forward to the next. How it turns out in practice, we shall see.