When a Visiting Officer visits a Lodge they are a senior representative of the Province of Buckinghamshire appointed by the Provincial Grand Master. As such it is expected that in the Lodge meeting they will sit in the East, to the right of the Worshipful Master, after any Grand Officers who may be present.
At one meeting, which is chosen by the VO as their official visit, they are expected to sit next to the Worshipful Master at the Festive Board but after any Initiates who may be present. At all other meetings they are encouraged to sit with more junior Brethren at the Festive Board so that they can gauge the feelings of the newer Masons, offer advice, give information or just generally chat to them to make them feel comfortable in their presence. The Visiting Officer is asked to try and attend at least half the meetings of the Lodge each year.
A Visiting Officer is an important communication link between the Lodge, the members and the Provincial Executive. The Visiting Officer is therefore expected to act as a communicator, friend and mentor and to provide a tangible link between the Provincial Executive and the Lodge. To help them in this role, they receive occasional briefing papers which will provide important information to be passed on to Lodges and they are encouraged to regularly visit the Provincial web site to keep up to date with what is happening in the Province.
They can choose to address the Lodge on the second rising if time permits, or when responding to an appropriate toast at dinner. They are advised never to push a Lodge in a direction in which it is not prepared or willing to go and to use discretion at all times so as not to be seen to meddle in the affairs of a private Lodge.
VO's are asked to encourage and motivate Lodge members to assist the Province in achieving its strategic objectives and to give advice when called upon to do so. If they do identify problems within a Lodge they are asked to quietly discuss them with the Master, Secretary, DC or another senior Officer and never try to resolve problems whilst speaking to the Lodge assembled.
As a VO gets to know his Lodge and its members his knowledge of the Lodge, its strengths, weaknesses and problems will be invaluable to the Province. They are encouraged to attend Installation Meetings as their "local knowledge" could well be very useful to the Representative of the Provincial Grand Master on that occasion.
VO's should take the opportunity to talk to new Masons and "younger" Brethren as all too often the concerns of newer members are not expressed to the Lodge. Any discussions are often best achieved during the interval between the meeting and dinner or by sitting with newer Masons at the Festive Board.
At the end of December each year a Visiting Officer is required to complete an Annual Report Form and return it promptly to the Deputy Provincial Grand Master by mid-January. Any recommendations on this form are particularly useful when the Executive are considering appointments and promotions in the early part of each year. A Visiting Officer is however encouraged to make comments and/or recommendations to the Provincial Executive about a Lodge, or any individual Brother, at any time.