Visiting Officers' Briefing Update

Autumn / Winter 2016

Brethren in this document I have provided you with several pieces of information from which you can ‘cherry pick’ items of relevance to pass on to any Lodge for which you are a Visiting Officer.  Some of the information is new and some is an update, or an expansion, of items which have previously been reported because many of the topics are ongoing. 

Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Lodge 2021 Festival.

In aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Brethren on the 24th October 2016 at Provincial Grand Lodge our PGM will launch our new Festival which as you know by now is for the new Masonic Charitable Foundation. This is every Lodge's opportunity and every individual member's opportunity to support this wonderful Masonic charity which does so much for our Province and will continue to do so for years to come. There are lots of ways to support our Festival. Monthly donations which can have gift aid applied show individual support, qualifying to wear the new Festival Jewel. Lodge events or raffles can be held in favour of the Festival ensuring that your Lodge becomes a Patron of the new MCF once it has donated the requisite amount. Please visit our Festival Website which can be accessed via the Provincial Website which will give you all the information you will need to have a successful and most of all fun Festival.

Watch out in the very near future for our new Festival Initiative "Taking the Festival Challenge". This is your chance to do something for the Festival and get sponsorship via our own Festival "just giving" pages. Every penny that you raise will go to the MCF, all monies raised via sponsorship can be gift aided and it will go directly to the MCF and attributed to you and your Lodge. Give up drink; lose weight, run a marathon, walk 10k, take a parachute jump whatever you would like to do for the Festival the sponsorship can be handled for you. Be one of the first to wear the special "I took the Festival Challenge Pin" only available to those who have taken up a challenge.

Full details of the Taking the Festival Challenge will be with all Lodges later in the year. Our Festival is for 5 years let's make sure we all have some fun whilst we raise much needed funds. Since our last Festival which started 11 years ago in 2005 Buckinghamshire has received over £2.75m in support from the Four Grand Charities. This is now our opportunity to ensure that the MCF can continue that high level of support to help Buckinghamshire Freemasons and Buckinghamshire based Charities.


The new Provincial Tie is available through Lodge Secretaries from October 2016 at £15.00 each.

2017 Tercentenary Event.

Tickets for the Tercentenary family event to be hosted by Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire to be held at Windsor Racecourse on Sunday July 2nd 2017 are on sale via the Website at £19.00 each. They are also being sold and promoted around the Province by members of the Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge. At the end of the year they go on sale to the general public and will be increased in price to £29.00. The day will include horse racing, entertainment for the whole family, a variety of food outlets from fast food to silver service and culminating in a evening music concert with an 'A' list entertainer.

Provincial Fundraising Team.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Clark, has put together a Provincial fund raising team. The team, led by Pat Miller, will organise and run events to raise money which will then be used to fund various Provincial projects. Please visit the provincial website for ongoing details.

Cheque Presentation Evening.

Please encourage the Brethren to support the Cheque Presentation evenings which are always a great success and also very enjoyable. If they want to know more or wish to attend an event they should contact Ron King the Provincial Charity Steward. These events are ongoing. Visit the Provincial website for details.

Contact Ron King This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Teddies For Loving Care.

This scheme, which is operated in a number of Provinces, provides teddy bears to children in hospital accident and emergency departments. The project has been operating successfully in Buckinghamshire for a number of years but a new project manager, Mel Shah, is trying to increase the profile of the scheme and raise more funds to buy more teddies. Fund raising boxes are now in place at all major centres and new relationships have been formed with hospitals and hospices throughout our area. It is hoped that we can even provide teddies to the air ambulance in the future.

Contact MEHUL SHAH This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Garden Projects.

In addition to the existing Masonic Gardens that are now well established at High Wycombe, Marlow and Gerrards Cross patients and visitors at Milton keynes Hospital are now benefiting from the transformation of one of the hospital's busiest courtyards thanks to Buckinghamshire Freemasons. The garden was officially opened on September 1st by the PGM and the the Hospital chairman Baroness Wall of New Barnet. W.Bro Vincent Leiu, one of the hospital governors invited around 30 Masons and hospital staff to attend the opening.

Contact Robert Wharton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The Provincial Press Room

The aim of the Press Room is to ensure that maximum exposure is achieved, both internally and externally, for any events organised by our Lodges and to promote the Lodge activities both to the local press and in Concord. This would include any positive activities that the Lodge undertakes and in particular such things as Freemasonry in the Community work, charitable donations or events, ladies nights, social functions, etc.

The following people are involved in the Provincial Press Room:

Peter Moody External Communications Executive

Steve Smirthwaite Provincial Media Officer

Bernard Friess Provincial Photographer (plus team of photographers)

Sue Dorman Editor of Concord

Steve Smirthwaite Heads up a team of spotters.

contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Eugene Matthias is now well established as Provincial Grand Mentor and has a full season of workshops and seminars planned for 2017.

Dates for early 2017 are

6th February - Beaconsfield

8th February - Aylesbury

16th February - Bletchley

22nd February - Slough

24th February - Marlow

Please encourage the Lodge Mentor to talk to the Lodge about his role and direct him to the Provincial Mentor if he has any queries. Lodge Mentors have a simple return to make each year and these returns are important. Please also request Lodge Mentors to encourage all new Masons to support the North East Corner Club.

Contact Eugene Matthias This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Every Lodge should consider having at least one oration during the year as an appendage to a working degree. Orations range from 10 to 15 minutes long and can be linked together as a substitute for a working meeting.

Please suggest that the Lodge contacts the Provincial Orator, Bryan Harfield, for further information and to arrange an oration session.

Contact Bryan Harfield This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

North East Corner Club

The North East Corner Club continues to thrive under James Blackhurst and his team and a number of very successful meetings are planned. The Club now has strong links with Mentoring within the Province as these areas of the Craft are strongly linked.

Please encourage the newer Lodge members to support the club and emphasise that they will not only have the chance to learn lots of new things about Freemasonry but will also have the opportunity to meet other new members from other lodges within their area.

Contact James Blackhurst This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Nigel Beaven This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Freemasonry in the Community.

Lodges continue to support a good number of worthy causes and events around the Province and wherever possible they are encouraged to get as much publicity as they can.

Please suggest to your Lodge that they should be starting to plan towards this year's activities. Remind them that the Provincial Grand Master makes a Freemasonry in the community award each year to one Lodge and also to at least one individual Brother.

Contact Graham Dearing APGM 

University Scheme.

The objective of the Scheme is 'to establish and/or enhance arrangements and opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to enjoy Freemasonry'. There are now over 55 Lodges pursuing a similar, yet distinct, course. Their membership consists of undergraduates, postgraduates, senior members of the university and alumni, ranging in age from 18 upwards. All under-25s benefit from the recent decision by Grand Lodge to halve their dues in order to make Freemasonry as accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

There are currently two Lodges within the Province which have been successful in joining the Scheme and these are Grenville Lodge which meets at Buckingham and Marlow Lodge which meets at Marlow. Both Lodges have been particularly successful in finding candidates from amongst the student population. However, the admission to the Scheme is quite rigorous and guidance can be obtained from the University Scheme website at


Alternatively, assistance can be sought direct from W. Bro. Peter Moody APGM

Members' Development.

There are a number of workshops and seminars available for members to attend in order to assist them in their roles as Lodge Officers and to further their Masonic knowledge.

In particular, sessions will be held during the year for DC's and ADC's in Craft and Chapter, Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Scribes E's, and Charity Stewards.

In addition, the very successful Master Elect/Wardens seminars will continue to be held. Details of dates and venues of all the seminars and workshops can be found on the Provincial website.

BMW Club.

The BMW Club is now fully operational again under the guidance of Nigel Gough. The club is set up to support struggling Lodges to enhance their numbers at least one meeting a season.

Contact Nigel Gough This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund.

The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund was established in 1991 to support smaller masonic, non masonic charities, community groups and individuals with strong Buckinghamshire connections. The BMCF is not established to support large national and international charities for ongoing general appeals. Our funds are generally donated for specific project requirements with a visible start and conclusion date. In its first 20 years the fund donated £1 million. During 2014 / 15 alone £56,000 was made available to good causes.Please also remind them of the benefits of the "matched-funding" scheme whereby upon application from a Lodge, the BMCF will match a Lodge donation to a Buckinghamshire charity if it is for either equipment or a special purpose, up to a figure of £1,000.Please encourage them to support the fund and in particular to make the £3 per head voluntary contribution payment.

Contact Andrew Hough This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Buckinghamshire Masonic Benevolent Fund.

The Buckinghamshire Benevolent Fund. This fund has been established to assist Masons or their dependants in time of distress by means of outright grants, annuities, periodical payments or loans until such a time that one of the main Masonic charities can assist. During 2014 / 15 grants of £62,000 were distributed together with a further £183,000 from the 4 principle Masonic charities.

Contact the Provincial Grand Almoner W.Bro Phil Blacklaw This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Royal Arch Representatives.

Most Lodges now have a Royal Arch Representative. This role is not a formal Lodge Office, and should not be seen as such, but it is a vital component in enabling Masons to attain the climax of pure Ancient Masonry. Please check that your Lodge now has a Royal Arch representative, that he is comfortable in carrying out the role and that he knows how to get any further information he or the Lodge may require.

PSA Testing.

Prostate Specific Antigen

The PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in your blood. PSA is made by the prostate gland. The PSA level in your blood stream is measured in nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL).

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Buckinghamshire under the auspices of V.W.Bro Mike Stimson in conjunction with the Warwick based Graham Fulford Trust has introduced a programme of PSA testing throughout the Province. The scheme is open to all Masons at no cost and depending on the type of event and location to a wider non masonic audience.

Prostate cancer is a cancer which develops from cells in the prostate gland. It is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Each year about 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK. It affects about 1 in 9 men in the UK at some point in their life. Most cases develop in men over the age of 65. More than 10,000 men die from it every year, making it the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men after lung cancer.

Prostate cancer is different to most other cancers because small areas of cancer within the prostate are actually very common, especially in older men. These may not grow or cause any problems for many years (if at all).

The latest figures we have show that in Buckinghamshire of the nearly 600 test carried out 9 were of a cancerous nature and required surgery.

Contact Mike Stimson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Notarius Lodge.

Notarius Lodge has a large membership and is one of the premier Lodges in Buckinghamshire. It is open to any Brother who is, or has been, a Secretary of a Lodge or a Scribe E of a Chapter. The Lodge is considered a centre of excellence for all secretarial matters within the Province and will not only receive regular information from the Provincial Grand Master and the Provincial Office but will also become a testing ground for ideas and suggestions before they are released on a wider basis. The Lodge will provide information and instruction to those who require it and will be the lead on all matters requiring a secretarial input.

Please encourage any eligible Brethren to join this prestigious Lodge. There will be just two meetings each year and costs will be kept to a minimum. Impress on the Brethren that by joining they could play a very important part in shaping the future of the secretarial strategy within our Province.

Brethren, I trust you will find the above information helpful. Don't forget that you can get a lot of useful information from the Buckinghamshire Provincial website ( Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any further information about any of the subjects mentioned in this briefing paper or indeed if you have any other queries.

I hope that you continue to enjoy the vital role you are carrying out as a Visiting Officer for the Province of Buckinghamshire and I thank you for your continued support and assistance.

My thanks also for the contribution made by the Provincial Executive in compiling this briefing paper.

Yours sincerely and fraternally,

V.W.Bro Robert S. Wharton.

Deputy Provincial Grand Master

Contact - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.