My latest project is …

The list of talks that I am currently scheduled to deliver is below. Please click on the link in the title to take you to the booking page. After the table you will find news about my latest project.

DateBSTTitleHost Province / District / Grand Lodge
1/9/2019.00Freemasonry: does it live up to expectations?Love & Unity Lodge 5354Met GL
2/9/2018.30The historic links between the Craft, Mark & Royal ArchDevonshire MarkDevonshire Mark
4/9/2019.30All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Corinthian ClubWest Lancs
5/9/2017.00Scouting & FreemasonryThe KLA at Gilwell ReunionThe Scout Association
11/9/2019.00Seven habits of highly successful LodgesSolomon GroupShropshire
12/9/20Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?Baden-Powell Lodge 465Grand Lodge of Argentina
23/9/2019.30The Royal Arch: what is it all about?West KentWest Kent
25/9/2019.00Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?OWFOrder of Women Freemasons
28/9/2018.30Seven habits of highly successful LodgesNorthants & HuntsNorthants & Hunts
1/10/2019.00All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Cheshire MMFCheshire
5/10/2019.00All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Pilgrims’ Lodge 5008West Kent
6/10/2019.00Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?Hope of Kurrachee 337Fife & Kinross
7/10/2018.30Seven habits of highly successful LodgesStaffs Membership Strategy GroupStaffordshire
15/10/2019.00How to grow the membership of your LodgeDore Masonic HallDerbyshire
26/10/2019.00How to grow the membership of your Mark LodgeTo be announced
29/10/2019.00The Royal Arch: what is it all about?Cheshire Area 4Cheshire
2/11/2019.00The Royal Arch: what is it all about?West Lancashire
14/11/2014.00All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Freemasonry for WomenFreemasonry for Women (HFAF)
17/11/2019.00The future of Freemasonry: evolution & changeLodge of Established Order 9822Lincolnshire
25/11/2019.00Freemasonry: does it live up to expectations?To be confirmed

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.

Have a great week,

Onwards and upwards!


The (second) birth of a Masonic book

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.

DateBSTTitleHost Province / District / Grand Lodge
24/8/2018.00The Royal Arch: what is it all about?British Chapter 334South Africa Western Division
25/08/2019.00Is belief in a Supreme Being really essential?Strathearn Lodge 4965Durham
26/08/2019.00Seven habits of highly successful LodgesCheshire MMFCheshire
27/8/2019.00Freemasonry: does it live up to expectations?Five of Nine ClubWarwickshire
29/8/2019.00The future of Freemasonry: evolution & changeSt Paul’s Lodge 374Montreal & Halifax
1/9/2019.00Freemasonry: does it live up to expectations?Love & Unity Lodge 5354Met GL
2/9/2018.30The historic links between the Craft, Mark & Royal ArchDevonshire MarkDevonshire Mark
4/9/2019.30All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Corinthian ClubWest Lancs
11/9/2019.00Seven habits of highly successful LodgesSolomon GroupShropshire
12/9/20Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?Baden-Powell Lodge 465Grand Lodge of Argentina
23/9/2019.30The Royal Arch: what is it all about?West KentWest Kent
25/9/2019.00Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?OWFOrder of Women Freemasons
28/9/2018.30Seven habits of highly successful LodgesNorthants & HuntsNorthants & Hunts
29/09/2019.00All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Cheshire MMFCheshire
6/10/20Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?Hope of Kurrachee 337Fie & Kinross
7/10/2018.30Seven habits of highly successful LodgesStaffs Membership Strategy GroupStaffordshire
29/10/2019.00The Royal Arch: what is it all about?Cheshire Area 4Cheshire
31/10/2011.00All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)North East Corner ClubBuckinghamshire

Looking back

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:

Looking forward

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!

Thank you once again, brethren.  Have a good week.

Onwards and upwards.


Yes, they had something to give in the cause of charity

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:

  • Durham 2021
  • West Lancashire 2021
  • Leicestershire & Rutland 2022
  • Oxfordshire 2022
  • Derbyshire 2025
  • 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 Everything received from Masonic sources during Covid-19 will go to the MCF Covid-19 Community Fund.

Your feedback

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.

Looking back

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.

Looking forward

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).

Thank you again.  Have a good week.  I know I will!

Onwards and upwards.

What do you think of it so far?

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.

So, upcoming talks look something like this.  Please click on the title to get the booking link.  If there isn’t one yet, please keep an eye on for latest updates.

DateOrganiserProvince / DistrictTitle
11/08/20“Freemasons without Borders”Facebook GroupThe narrative and symbolic links between the Craft, Mark & Royal Arch
13/08/20West KentWest KentSeven habits of highly successful Lodges
15/08/20South America NDSouth America NorthernSeven habits of highly successful Lodges
18/08/20Oxon Light Blues ClubOxfordshireHow to grow the membership of your Lodge
20/08/20Bedfordshire Light BluesBedfordshireHow to grow the membership of your Lodge
23/08/20Lyceum Lodge of ResearchSouth Africa NorthMasters in the Making
24/08/20British Chapter 334South Africa WesternThe Royal Arch: what is it all about?
25/08/20Strathearn Lodge 4965DurhamIs belief in a Supreme Being really essential?
26/08/20Cheshire MMFCheshireSeven habits of highly successful Lodges
04/09/20Corinthian ClubWest LancsAll you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)
23/09/20West KentWest KentThe Royal Arch: what is it all about?
29/09/20Cheshire MMFCheshireAll you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)
29/10/20CheshireCheshireThe Royal Arch: what is it all about?
31/10/20Bucks NECCBuckinghamshireAll you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)

There are a few more yet to be finalised.

So, here are four questions and I would value your comments.  Please use the comments option on the blog page.

1) What sort of information would you like in my blog? For example …

  • Updates on my talks and other Masonic news
  • My thoughts and reflections on Masonic issues, especially membership related
  • Only dates of future talks

2) How often would you like this information?

  • Weekly
  • Fortnightly
  • When new things happen

3) What subjects would you like me to write about in my articles?

4) What subjects would you like me to create talks about?

Thank you again. Have a good week!

Onwards and upwards.


A tough week, a great audience, a disappointment, a celebration and an eye to the future

The current dates of my forthcoming online talks are:

DateBSTTitleHostBooking link
04/08/2018.00Seven habits of highly successful LodgesRising Star Lodge
06/08/2018.00The Royal Arch: what is it all about?Lyceum Lodge of Research
09/08/2019.00Seven habits of highly successful LodgesGoose & Gridiron N&YMC
11/08/2018.00The narrative and symbolic links between the Craft, Mark & Royal Arch“Freemasons without Borders”Handled by Freemasons without Borders
13/08/2019.30Seven habits of highly successful LodgesWest KentProvincial page
15/08/2019.00Seven habits of highly successful LodgesSouth America ND
18/08/2019.00How to grow the membership of your LodgeOxon Light Blues Club
20/08/2019.00How to grow the membership of your LodgeBedfordshire Light Blues
25/08/20 Is belief in a Supreme Being really essential?Strathearn Lodge 4965To be agreed
26/08/2019.00Seven habits of highly successful LodgesCheshire MMF
04/09/2019.30All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Corinthian Club, West LancsInternal event
23/09/2019.30The Royal Arch: what is it all about?West KentProvincial page
29/09/2019.00All you ever wanted to know about Freemasonry (but didn’t know how to ask)Cheshire MMF

Please check my website regularly for updates.

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. 

Please keep an eye on for latest dates.

Onwards and upwards.

When is a rhetorical question not a rhetorical question?

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.

Exciting stuff!

If you want to see dates of my talks this coming week and beyond, please go to

Thank you for your support.

Onwards and upwards.

What do you call a gathering of Provincial Secretaries?

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 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.

If you want to see dates of my talks this coming week and beyond, please go to

Onwards and upwards.

From the Members’ Pathway to my garden (via South Africa and Women’s Freemasonry)

I had two great – although very different audiences – for my Masonic talks this last week. 

On Tuesday I ran an online Members’ Pathway session for West Lancashire’s Secretaries and Scribe Es, with an audience that peaked at 240.  On Thursday I did my talk “Is belief in a Supreme Being really essential?” online for Lyceum Lodge of Research No. 8682, in the District of South Africa North, with an audience of just under 100.

Along with others, I have been working on the development of the Members’ Pathway since early 2015 and sit on UGLE’s Membership Working Party sub-group.  The great thing about the Pathway is that we know it works.  Lodges that use it have planned their future development, attracted and introduced new members and are improving their retention practices, all using techniques that have been tried and tested.  The challenge is to get it in the hands of more Lodges and then help them to use it. 

This is where my talk on Tuesday came in.  West Lancs have a weekly Zoom call for Secretaries and Scribe Es and they wanted to know more about the Members’ Pathway.  So, they invited me.  As I was speaking on behalf of the sub-group, and UGLE, I needed permission to speak, which was readily given.  I updated the introductory session we ran for the regional roll-out workshops and it seemed to go down very well.  Certainly, the feedback from the Province and people who took part has been very positive.  As always, I enjoyed the Q&A session most and was pleased to engage with those who wanted to know more.  I asked the audience to appoint the best person they could to be their Lodge Membership Officer and to support him as he takes the Lodges through Step 1, “Lodge Planning”, and beyond.

Thursday was the second time I had delivered a talk to Lyceum Lodge of Research.  The first had been a live delivery of my Prestonian Lecture in the fabulous Masonic Hall in Johannesburg, back in 2012.  The Secretary then was W Bro. Jeff Spiller, who has been on many of my recent online talks and continues to promote my work. 

It was great to see so many brethren whom I had previously met, either in South Africa or on my visits to South Africa Lodge No. 6742, in London.  The questions were challenging, as might be expected of a research Lodge and for such a topic. 

It was also clear that many brethren find it difficult to disentangle the notion of a Supreme Being from that of organised religion.  Of course, as Freemasons we don’t discuss the teaching, theology or dogmas of any religion, concentrating instead on what unites us together, a shared belief in a Supreme Being.  But if Freemasons find it difficult to differentiate, how do they discuss the issue with prospective candidates and applicants?  Perhaps we need to offer more guidance in this area, so that brethren can explain the distinction with confidence and candour.

Other key events this last week included tuning in to “Freemasons without Borders” to hear MW Bro. Christine Chapman, Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF), now known as “Freemasonry for Women”.  Christine gave a great talk explaining the origins and development of women’s Freemasonry.  She is a brilliant advocate for Freemasonry in general and passionately believes that if men can benefit from it than so too should women.  Christine made it clear that her Grand Lodge wishes to continue to work with ours, but no more wish us to combine than we do.  She and I are already talking about how we can work together with Scouting.

Yesterday, The Ralph Reader Lodge M.M.M. No. 1997 held a Virtual Business Meeting, to elect my good friend Bro. Jamie Ingham Clark as our Master for the next year.  I am so proud of this Lodge and look forward to see it grow over the coming years as it introduces more brethren with a background in London Scouting into Mark Masonry.

So, what do I have planned for this coming week?

If it hadn’t been for Covid-19, tomorrow I would be in the Province of Cornwall to deliver my talk, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution and change” to One and All Lodge No. 330.  Instead I will be joining Austral Lodge No. 2534, the Lodge in Mafikeng, South Africa, for our regular catch up Zoom call and then joining my West Kent brethren for a “Ask the Provincial Grand Master” Zoom call. 

Tuesday, I “go to” Mimosa Lodge No. 4396 in the District of Orange Free State to deliver my talk, “Have we anything to communicate?  The language of Freemasonry in and out of the Lodge”.  OFS is a small District but most welcoming and I am looking forward to being “with” them.  If you don’t have anything on Tuesday at 6.00 pm BST, please book to join this call.  There are some places left and I know the brethren will appreciate your support, as will I.  You can book using the following link and will be sent the meeting details three hours before the talk is due to start.  The talk is all about how we talk about Freemasonry and encourages us to use everyday language when talking with non-Masons.

If you want to see dates of other talks beyond this coming week, please go to

On Wednesday we have a Zoom meeting for The Scout Lodges M.M.M. & R.A.M. No. 1907.  I am especially looking forward to this, as our members come from far and wide.  Being the first ever Mark Lodge for those with an interest in Scouting, it travels the country to introduce local Mark Masonry to local Scouting. 

Most of the rest of the week I am on Scouting business, and some paid work as well.  Having had such success with my online Masonic talks, I am preparing some of my sessions on leadership, change and organisational development for online delivery to paying customers, all based around my book, “Introducing the Success Cycle”. 

Lastly, on Thursday, Diane and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary.  I shall be taking the day off from all Scouting, Freemasonry and work.  As I am still shielding, I just hope the weather will be good so that we can spend our time in the garden.

I plan to have a good week and hope you do too.

Onwards and upwards!

Further confessions …

Two weeks ago I wrote about my experiences as a virtual Masonic speaker. Like all of us, I have had to adapt to Covid-19, the lockdown and the suspension of Masonic activities. I have also learned very quickly to take my talks online.

Having done so I have found new and bigger audiences. For example, my talk, “The historic links between the Craft, Mark and Royal Arch” for the new Facebook group “Freemasons without Borders” attracted 291 attendees for the live delivery on 23rd June and (so far) 741 views on YouTube.

Early on I decided that online talks are probably better with slides. In a live setting I know I can hold an audience so I had not created visual aids for all my talks. As I often say, I am the presenter, not PowerPoint.

However, in the online setting slides can help keep the audience focused, especially when they are sitting among domestic distractions. So, I have created slide packs with images designed to stimulate and foster curiosity or amusement (and am grateful to Bro. Gerald Sclater for permission to use the following).

I have also found a new interest in some of my older talks, so I have polished and updated, for example, “Seven habits of highly successful Lodges”, “Freemasonry: does it live up to expectations?” and “The Royal Arch – what is it all about?”.

Updating these has also helped me grow. I have gone deeper into my research, gathered more data, read more books and articles and traced more primary sources.

I have also “finished” my latest talk, “What is Freemasonry’s fascination with completion?”, which examines the historic and narrative references to “completion” in the Royal Arch and gives my own interpretation of the deeper meaning of that ceremony. In truth, I suspect it won’t be “finished” until I deliver it and even then I am sure I will continue to develop it.

Whoever said that teaching is a learning experience had it absolutely right. I am polishing my ashlar to help “bring out all that is potentially contained within” and while I am far from perfect I know I am a better man.

I desperately want to get back to real Masonic meetings but in the meantime, virtual gatherings are the best we have. Going forward, I am sure online deliveries will continue to be part of my repertoire.

Confessions of an online Masonic lecturer

Ten weeks ago I thought Zoom was an ice lolly. Seventeen online talks later it’s my direct link to an audience that has so far gone over 1,000. This is my story (so far).

It all started when Josh asked me if I would deliver my talk, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution & change” (the 2018 Cornwallis Lecture), to an online meeting of Leeds Light Blues. Most of us were very new to this, thrown into a flurry of Zoom meetings in our rush to adapt and adjust to the Covid-19 driven suspension of Masonic meetings. Josh and his team were already leading the way and had the skills to make it work. Safe in their hands I tentatively felt my way into a new universe.

Now, please understand. I love engaging with a live audience. I love speaking, getting my message across, monitoring the body language as it gives away peoples’ reactions, responding to their questions, reading the room, noticing who wants to ask but is holding back, debating issues and – yes, unashamedly – seeing and feeling my efforts appreciated.

Some say I am quite good at this stuff.

How would it work online, when all I could see were postage stamp versions of my audience?

Well, it requires an adjustment. It’s no good wishing it were different. You have to embrace the opportunity you have been given, quickly learn new skills, take the feedback that you can and respond accordingly.

That first talk had an audience of 74 and raised £525 (plus gift-aid) in online donations for my charity appeal, in aid of the UGLE / MCF Community Fund. The immediate feedback was great, as was the follow-up. It very quickly led to more invitations as guests invited me to their Light Blues Clubs and Provinces.

After the second, for Cheshire Masters’ & Masons’ Forum, I realised a pattern was developing. There needed to be two hosts; a “presiding officer” (a bit like a WM) and a “tech guy” (a bit like a DofC). It was clear that access to the call and security were issues and that registrations involved a lot of work on the part of the host. So, I looked at best practice, drafted some guidance notes and opened an Eventbrite account.

The guidance notes give new hosts and me a framework to discuss and agree how their event would work. Eventbrite, which includes a scheduled email system, relieved them of the burden of responding to email registrations. Coupled with the Everyday Hero fundraising platform linked to my Prestonian Relief Chest, and social media marketing, we were ready to step up to the next level.

I also found I liked doing my own warm up. A tricky one this as it is not my event and before the formal start I have not been introduced. But, chatting with people as they come online certainly helps me to take the temperature of the audience and build some rapport. And audience rapport is essential if a speaker is to have a positive effect.

Of the seventeen talks I have done so far, two have been for overseas Districts (South America, Southern Division, and Trinidad & Tobago). On many talks there have been people sign in from various European countries, Africa, Iceland (thank you Olafur), the USA, South America, Asia, Australasia – as well as all parts of the UK. While I have travelled to four continents to deliver my Prestonian Lecture, I could not expect to have got such a wide exposure so quickly.

It is interesting to see how different organisers run their online lectures. One asked audience members to switch off their camera as well as their microphones, actually depriving the speaker of any visual connection with their audience and any source of feedback. Others distribute their meeting codes widely, opening up their events to the possibility of gatecrashers. We are all learning and I am sure we will see good practice develop for some time to come.

As I have held a number of Masonic lectureships, it has been interesting to see new organisers join the field.

I have been working with UGLE’s Learning & Development Team and my fellow Prestonian Lecturers to record and publish our work on Solomon. This involved new learning again as we struggled to make good quality sound recordings over PowerPoint slides. My own lecture, “Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?”, was the first to go up and tomorrow (19th June) we will hold the first live Q&A to a global audience.

On Tuesday (23rd June) I will be the twelfth “Freemasons without Borders” lecturer, following in the illustrious footsteps (or is it seats?) of two Grand Masters and two Grand Secretaries, with my talk, “The historic links between the Craft, mark & Royal Arch degrees.”

Without doubt, the stars of this new platform are the Light Blues Clubs. They have the technical skills, the social marketing experience and the enthusiasm to make online talks for large audiences work. In the vast majority of cases they have had excellent support from their Provinces who have recognised that these brethren can be relied upon to do a great job and to further the cause of Masonic education. As the Head of Learning & Development for the Province of West Kent, I am looking forward to developing my team’s relationship with our Light Blues Club.

Online lectures may not replace the live experience, but they are the best we can have for now. Once our meetings resume I will certainly continue to deliver some online, especially for my new found friends in Light Blues Clubs.