Updates from the Province

Each update from the Province will be posted here, latest update at the top.

Please continue to refer to this page and above all keep yourself and your family safe.

Sent 17 Mar 2020 (14:17) via ConstantContact

By now you should have all received the notice from Grand Lodge that the Grand Master has suspended masonic meetings for a period of four months. I fully support this action. A copy of the notice from the Grand Master is attached to this letter. 
What we must do now is to concentrate our efforts in two main areas. Firstly, we must make sure that we look after our elderly members and make sure that they do not feel alone during this difficult time. We must also support our caterers and bar staff who will be without a source of income for the next four months.
I have changed the responsibilities of my Executive to focus on the issues related to the Corona Virus pandemic in the following way;
  • Phil Blacklaw’s team of Almoners and Mentors will focus on making sure our older brethren remain safe. I would like to encourage all members to keep a watchful eye on your neighbours and the general public, especially if they live alone. I know as Freemasons that looking after others comes as second nature.
  • Tony Robinson's team will be liaising with all Centre Management to assist in producing a strategy to support our caterers and staff. I would encourage all centre management teams to make contact with Tony as soon as possible.
  • Gary Brodie's team will maintain social media contact with brethren to keep you all as fully informed as possible and we will continue to support you in every way we can.
Please look after yourselves and those around you and pay attention to the Governments instructions. I urge you to take them very seriously indeed.
Yours sincerely and fraternally
John Clark
Provincial Grand Master

Sent 16 Mar 2020 (17:39) via ConstantContact

Dear Brethren
This morning the following statement was issued by UGLE, it provides some useful advice to secretaries with regard to the holding of meetings and how to handle the preparation.
Yours sincerely & fraternally
Barry Sparks
Prov. Grand Secretary
There appears to be confusion (and a certain amount of conflicting advice being given either by Provincial/District authorities or by well-meaning individuals via social media or the internet) about the steps to be taken in relation to scheduled meetings during the Coronavirus pandemic.
For the avoidance of doubt, unless and until there is a general suspension by the MW The Grand Master of Lodge and Chapter meetings, Secretaries and Scribes E should continue to issue a summons for each meeting –preferably by e-mail.While it would not be appropriate to forbid Lodges or Chapters from holding a meeting on a bare quorum, it is strongly recommended that Secretaries and Scribes E collect apologies from all or a majority of the members in order to establish in advance of the meeting that it will be necessary for it to be abandoned.
The appropriate statement (shown below) should then be entered in the Minute Book.
“The regular meeting of the Lodge on.... day .... March, 2020 was duly called in accordance with the attached summons. Owing to the incidence of the coronavirus the required number of Brethren to open the Lodge could not be assembled and the meeting was abandoned”
“The regular convocation of the Chapter .... March, 2020 was duly called in accordance with the attached summons. Owing to the incidence of the coronavirus the required number of Companions to open the Chapter could not be assembled and the convocation was abandoned”
To be clear, Secretaries and Scribes E may abandon meetings if they receive apologies from enough members to make the meeting inquorate.They may state that they will assume apologies from those who have not responded to them.
Guidance will be issued in due course as to how, once meetings are resumed, Lodges and Chapters should deal with business that could not be transacted during the pandemic.
Dr David Staples FRCP
CEO and Grand Secretary

Sent Sat 14 March 2020 (10am) via ConstantContact

Immediate Action Required
Dear Brethren
You have already received our previous messages with advice from Public Health England, and UGLE, please do take these messages seriously and follow their advice. 
Yesterday you will have received additional guidance from the United Grand Lodge of England which strongly recommends that anyone over the age of 65 or those with hypertension, heart disease, lung disease or diabetes does not attend Lodge or Chapter meetings for the foreseeable future. They recommended that meetings of more than 100 members should not take place. 
Whilst it is ultimately the decision of individual members and their lodges, taking this into account and after careful consideration by the Provincial Executive, I am issuing the following recommendation to mitigate the risk to our members:
  • With effect from Monday 16th March all lodge meetings planned prior to Tuesday 14th April (after Easter Monday) should not go ahead in the normal manner. They should either be summoned to transact minimal masonic business (opened, minutes agreed and closed) with a simple quorum of five to satisfy the needs of Rule 137 of the Book of Constitutions or abandoned if a quorum is not present. To further mitigate the risk, the holding of Festive Boards and LOIs is discouraged.
  • We recommend that all masonic social events planned during the above time should also be abandoned.
  • All Official representatives, Acting Officers and Visiting Officers must NOT attend Lodges in their official capacity during this time. This is to minimise the risk of transmitting infection up and down the Province.
The Provincial Executive will continue to monitor the situation and review it prior to the end of this period and advise accordingly. We will keep you advised as further information becomes available. It is hoped that by taking these steps now, we can keep all of our members and their families safe and be able to resume activities at the earliest possible time. 
We would additionally ask that you keep in touch with members of your Lodge by telephone or other means where no risk is involved. Please keep your Lodge Almoner fully informed if you or your family require any assistance particularly those members who live on their own and feel it necessary to quarantine themselves. It is vital that we stay in touch to ensure that everyone is safe and well. If you hear of a Brother who is not responding to messages, it may be because they need help and appropriate action should be taken. If you feel unwell, you should seriously consider self-isolating.
We are experiencing unprecedented times and I hope that this situation will resolve itself sooner and for the better. In the meantime, I would like to encourage you all to look after yourselves and your families, and act in a way to prioritise your health and wellbeing.
Yours sincerely and fraternally
RW Bro. John Clark
Provincial Grand Master

Sent 8 Mar 2020 (09:53) via ConstantContact

IMMEDIATELY on ENTERING any Lodge centre, Visit the cloakroom and WASH YOUR HANDS for 20 seconds in Hot Water and with Soap.
AVOID Shaking Hands with others, even if wearing gloves
If you have been aboard recently or in contact with someone who has recently visited one of the affected countries (eg, China, Italy, S.Korea, Far East) DO NOT ATTEND the meeting but forward your apologies.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation in keeping all of our members safe.

Sent 7 Mar 2020 (10:28) via ConstantContact

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Dear Brother/Companion
I was at a large meeting at Great Queen Street yesterday, on entering the building, everyone was directed immediately to the bathrooms and instructed to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Brethren were discouraged from shaking hands and an army of cleaners were constantly using disinfective wipes around door handles and anything that was touched. At the investiture, collars of appointees were being worn and there was no handshaking on being appointed.
The way in which our rulers had reacted to the current situation provided an added confidence that life can continue and with some forethought situations can be dealt with.
The attachment below provides an update issued jointly yesterday by UGLE, MMH and SC. We have a duty to each other to act responsibly to minimise the risks, I therefore urge each of you to read and follow the advice being given.
To all Lodge Secretaries, you have a responsibility to ensure that your meetings are conducted in such a way as to minimise any risks and to ensure that your members are informed and reassured. Centre managers should also take heed of the advice and do whatever is necessary to maintain a safe environment for our meetings.
Please download the attachment below and act responsibly, we have an above average age profile of members within our organisation and to them the risks are higher. The table below issued by UGLE yesterday highlights the increased risk, please be careful, but continue to enjoy our fraternity and its meetings.
Yours sincerly and fraternally
V.W.Bro. Hugh Douglas-Smith
Deputy ProvGM
On behalf of the Craft and Royal Arch Executives