Annual Provincial Meeting, Ashlar House, Bury St. Edmunds

Once more I must thank you all for your record attendance here today, not only our own members but the Heads and Executives of other Orders, but all our visitors both official and our special guests, who appear to enjoy their sojourn to the Far East.

I have welcomed earlier The Very High and Right Eminent Great Seneschal, Malcolm Slater a member of the Venerable Order of St. John, and I took the opportunity of writing to him recently, to offer not only my personal congratulation but those of the Province of East Anglia, and I hope that he will address us after lunch.

I am also passing on my thanks to the deputation from the Order of Malta, which is larger than normal, as we have with us today The Great Prior of Malta, V.E. Kt. Jonathan Whittaker, after absconding to Australia last year.

Our numbers have dropped very slightly from last year, as we have had a few Brother Knights who are reducing their memberships to just one Preceptory, plus we have had several members who have been offered and accepted honorary membership, for the services that they have given to our Order, which they have thoroughly earned and deserved.

We must continue to look at our Royal Arch Chapters, to select suitable Companions to join us, and I reiterate what I said last year, please do not leave it to a few in our Preceptories, it is up to us all, to play our part.

Once again we have had four very successful Provincial visits, as on 26th. April we went to Prudence Priory No. 16, where 18 of our Malta Officers were present, on 10th. May we visited Cabbell Preceptory No. 69, where 23 of the Officers accompanied me to my own Preceptory, to witness the Installation of Richard George; a past member of the Bodyguard; into the chair; on the 27th. July we went to Beeston Regis Preceptory No. 667, to help them celebrate their 10th. Birthday, where 85 Brother Knights were present, to add to the occasion, and finally on the 10th. November we welcomed the M.E. & Supreme Grand Master, Paul Raymond Clement, to Holy Rood Preceptory No. 179, on his first official visit to East Anglia, where he presented V.E. Knight Derek Baldry, with his 60 year certificate, and in his address to V.E. Knight Derek, he promoted him to Past 1st. Gt. Constable, a field appointment, which cost Derek nothing, much to the delight of the 95 who had come along to witness the event.

Our Annual Family Church Service, was held at St. Mary’s Church, Woodbridge, with some 150 plus Brother Knights, their wives and partners who were present to witness a delightful service conducted by W. Bro. the Rev. David Hanwell, as the vicar of St. Mary’s, W. Bro. the Rev’d Canon Kevan McCormack was unable to be present, and we then walked down the hill to the Community Centre for a delightful tea, provided by one of our Masonic Caterers, Housdens. This year it will be held at Wymondham Abbey, on Sunday 23rd. September 2018.

Once more I must pay tribute to E. Knights Stephen Mann, Mike Smith and Roger Dor, for the wonderful Banquet, held at the Royal Cambridge Hotel, in Cambridge, and all who were privileged to have been there said what a wonderful occasion it was, and they just seem to be getting better. The Banquet this year will be at the Dunston Hall Hotel, on the Ipswich Road, just outside Norwich, and will be on 24th. November 2018.

I am pleased to tell you all that the Grand Master will be pleased to appoint to Past Rank, the following Brother Knights.

Malcolm (Mac) Speake Past Gt. A. De. C.
David Walker Past Gt. Chamberlain
Robin Shaw Past Gt. Chamberlain

Raymond Briggs will be promoted to the rank of P. Gt. St. B. (V.B.) and through London Roger Farley will be promoted to P. Gt. Herald, and our congratulations go to all of them, and I hope that as many of you as possible will join me at Great Queen Street, London, on Wednesday 16th. May, for the Templar meeting and again on Tuesday 20th. November, for the Priory meeting, to witness their preferment.

I would once again like to pay tribute to my Sub Prior, V.E. Knight Bill Hagger, who has not enjoyed the best of health this year, and has recently, been diagnosed with a hernia, so please Brother Knights, do not give him anything heavy to carry………... Only buy him singles and not doubles!

To Peter Coles for his unstinting work as my Vice Chancellor, and is the most experienced of all the Vice Chancellors, to him I say a very big ‘Thank You,’ for all the hard work he gives me, but to the Order in general, and his advice and knowledge is certainly appreciated by myself but to the Executive as well.

To my Chancellor of Malta, Colin Birkbeck, without whose help and dedication, today just would not have happened, and for that I thank him on behalf of the whole Province.

To my Marshals, E. Knights, Robin Shaw, David Abbott and Tony Mason, for the way that they conduct themselves throughout the whole Province, and for their dedication to the small details of what happens during our meetings, as well as being ever present at our Preceptory of Conformity throughout the Province.

To now, E. Kt. David Hedges, my Commander and his happy band of my Bodyguard for the way that they willingly support me, in my travels around the Province, and I know that they are without question…..the best.

Once again I must thank E. Kt. David Walker for collating, correcting and printing our K.T. Year Books, which are ready for the Registrars or their nominated person to take back for onward transmission to your members.

The whole executive would like to thank the Isle of Ely Preceptory No. 677, for their help and cooperation in assisting the Province in their arrangements for today.

I would also like to remind you all of our ‘Swift Appeal,’ and to tell you the progress the top three are making, and they are, in reverse order Dunwich No 538, , Royal Plantagenet No.80 and leading the pack Hereward the Wake No. 439. So do not forget that you have 12 months to go, before the winner will be announced, at next years Provincial meeting, so happy collecting, and the collection today will be going to the Eye Hospital at Jerusalem.

There will be a new initiative this year which will be announced shortly, through your Registrars, where each Preceptory will be asked to appoint a, ‘Swift Co-ordinator, ’where he can individually speak with members, to increase our overall giving to this wonderful Hospital.

I will leave you with this thought; please remember, that many people are alive today because it is illegal to shoot them.

Thank you all, for your attention, attendance and above all your company, and may the Great Captain of our Salvation, be with us all.

Stewart C.L. Middleton
Provincial Prior of East Anglia
Saturday 24th. February 2018