Surrey 2019 Festival Appeal – Gala Dinner Address RW Bro Ian Chandler ProvGM
RW Deputy Grand Master, Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren…
Sir, thank you for proposing my health and your kind words. Thank you to you all for drinking my health. On behalf of everyone here may I thank you for sparing your precious time to be with us this evening. We are truly grateful for your leadership in your role as Deputy Grand Master, a position you have held for no less than 10 years. Your leadership has inspired me and all the Brethren to work tirelessly for the future of Freemasonry. We all extend our best wishes to you for continued health and success in your role.
VW Bro Sir Paul, thank you for the lovely decanter. I will treasure this as a memory of tonight and the whole of our appeal. To you and your colleagues from the RMBI and MCF, please accept our sincere thanks for all you do in providing the amazing services of the RMBI. Everyone who has contributed to this appeal has done so in the knowledge that they were helping in providing a safe and comfortable home for the residents of all the homes, especially at James Terry Court and Shannon Court where we have all witnessed first-hand the quality of care that you provide. As you have heard, it has inspired us to do some mildly crazy things!
In preparing for this evening I have reflected on the last 5 years. The first festival committee meeting was held as long ago as 5 July 2012 – yes, nearly 7 years ago! The committee prepared a strategy which was adopted and fully supported by the President RW Bro Eric Stuart-Bamford and his executive. He made the inspirational decision to appoint me as Chair of the Appeal Committee!
We set out a number of objectives and it will be no surprise to learn that the top priority was to achieve the challenge of raising £3.25M. The achievement of reaching this milestone must be put into context. We have less members today than the last Festival, when we raised a similar amount. Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year. This means that while achieving a significantly higher per capita amount we have maintained our support for the community of Surrey. This is something you should all be very proud of.
We also set to engage with as many Chapters as we could. I am thrilled with the response from the RA donating £263,000. We originally set a bench mark of £150,000 but the RA executive had to repeatedly readjust their goal upwards, a very pleasant experience. My sincere thanks to all of the Chapters and Companions for their great support.
Another objective was to have fun while raising money for and promoting the work of the RMBI. This time around I hope you agree that we have achieved and surpassed all expectations in this area. Many members have been inspired to support the appeal in all sorts of ways. Looking back there have been sponsored walks, cycle rides, swims, underwater cycling, tractorthon, widows’ lunches, travelling maul, motorcycle rallies, BBQs, mountain climbs, real ale train and brewery trips. No matter how big or how small they have all involved the vital elements of fun and friendship, something I can feel here this evening.
I now turn to a number of people I must thank.
You have heard the names of the Festival Committee read out earlier. Every one of them has performed their allotted task in an exemplary fashion. They have worked tirelessly to do everything possible to ensure our appeal was the success it is. My sincere thanks to them all and I am looking forward to celebrating with them a little later! A great byproduct of Freemasonry is making lifelong friends.
To the Dinner Committee under the leadership of W Bro Nick Burger and his team, Deputy Chair Mark Watkins, Committee Members Les Smith, Steve Norris, Nigel Feltham and Nick Tamila. Our grateful thanks for putting on this fantastic gala dinner and I believe there is more to come!
Thank you to all of the Provincial Stewards who are on duty this evening, led by W Bro Richard Criddle. It would not be the occasion it is without a number of red collars on hand.
You all know that there were a series of sponsored provincial challenges run each year of our appeal. They were a cycle ride from JTC to Shannon Court, a walk up Mount Snowdon, a parachute jump, abseil and a zip wire, all run by the legend that is W Bro Terry Owens! Terry, thank you for everything you did in running these hugely successful events.
Two people completed all of the challenges. The first is Mrs Angela Parsons, the wife of W Bro Nick Parsons who was the previous AProvGM in charge of charity. You may be wondering why Angela did all the challenges and Nick didn’t. Well I can tell you Angela is still trying to work that out! I will let you into a little secret; Angela does not like heights! Parachute jump, abseil and zip wire are not events that someone with a fear of heights would normally run towards but that does not take into account the sheer determination of Angela. The highest award handed down during our appeal is the President’s Award and I am delighted to announce that I am awarding Angela my President’s Award.
The other person who completed all of the challenges was W Bro Paul Crockett who was also the Provincial Charity Steward and later the Chair of the Festival Committee. In summary he has been there from beginning to end and I am delighted to also present him with a President’s Award.
I now turn to the real heroes of this appeal. These are you the members and your families who have donated their hard earned cash to the RMBI. Without your generosity the work of the RMBI could not continue in the way it does. Many of you have undertaken some of the challenges run by the Province, while others have undertaken personal sponsored events. Lodge and Chapters have also run all manner of social events and donated the proceeds to our appeal. You have heard that Woking Lodge came out on top, not only from the generosity of its members but from two highly successful charity balls run by the Lodge. However money has been raised, it all boils down to this: you believed in the great work of the RMBI and went the extra mile. I am so grateful to you all for your amazing support of this appeal.
RW DGM, ladies, gentlemen and Brethren, It is a privilege to be the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent but it has been an honour to take over the reins from RW Bro Eric and become President of this appeal. Tonight has been just like the rest of our appeal, an uplifting experience for which I thank every single one of you.