The first Square Bear visit of the 2017 has certainly been worth waiting for. Yesterday evening over 300 brethren from across our Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight gathered together at the Novotel in Southampton. The occasion was the annual EGM, but not just any EGM, this was a Special General Meeting.
This was a celebration of many facets. Top of the list of celebrations was the honouring of 73 brethren who have been awarded Provincial Promotions and Appointments, almost 60 of those brethren were able to attend and the Provincial Grand Master R.W.Bro. Michael J. Wilks was most pleased to receive each brother in turn to present them with their collar and jewel and offer his personal congratulations.
The next order of business was to recognise those lodges who had not yet been presented with their 2016 Festival Gavels in recognition of those lodges achieving their platinum award.
Already the gathering brethren were thoroughly enjoying this wonderful occasion when it was now time to celebrate the Formation of the Masonic Province of Hampshire some 250 years ago and the recognition of 300 years since the establishing of the first Grand Lodge in London. The tercentenary
celebrations of the UGLE will be undertaken across the province throughout 2017.
W.Bro. George Mars, the Provincial Grand Orator presented a most interesting lecture on the history of masonry from its inception in 1717, and in particular within the Province of Hampshire and its eventual joining with the Isle of Wight. A most interesting and informative piece of work superbly delivered by the Provincial Orator.
Two musical interludes were provided by the Provincial Choir, these were performed to a high standard and confirmed in their lyrics the values of Freemasonry and the good humour in which we all undertake our work together.
Before closing the meeting the PGM addressed the brethren again congratulating those brethren and lodges who had been honoured. He also again thanked everyone for the hard work and achievements in supporting the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys in our 2016 Festival and informed all that now was the time to continue and further our support for local charities, but continuing the theme of supporting young people how important it is to enhance our support for those terminally ill and life limited children and young adults who receive care from Naomi House and Jack's Place in Winchester, and also the specialist facilities for young people established as part of the Earl Mountbatten Hospice on the Isle of Wight. The Lifelights Charity which provides the necessary technology and back up training to these establishments will require our ongoing charitable support, and the PGM encourages brethren from across the province to do all we can.
Brethren continued to enjoy one another’s company after the meeting at a sumptuous Festive Board where the PGM took opportunities to take wine with the Heads of Other Orders they being invited guests, all those brethren who had received honours and then with all brethren present in recognition of the six areas of the province from which they hail.
A tremendous evening with so much to celebrate and enjoy together. A terrific start to 2017.