Brethren, I would like to start by thanking all of you for your attendance on this historic occasion, the first time in 141 years of the Province that a Provincial Meeting has been held virtually, and whilst it may be something to be present on this historical day, I am certain, like me, you would much rather be in Portland, enjoying the company of the Brethren and Visitors.

This pandemic has changed all our lives and speaking personally as someone who is heavily committed to Freemasonry it has taken away a very large part of mine.

Brethren, we will get through this and hopefully return to somewhere near where we were before the advent of Covid-19, and I for one cannot wait to be able to meet up with you all face to face and enjoy the camaraderie and banter we all love so much.

Whilst we are not going to Lodge meetings we must all keep in touch with our Brothers, especially those who are on their own and with this in mind I am going to hold a monthly Zoom get together on the second Saturday in each month, starting in October. It will be informal and a means of seeing others and finding out how everyone is coping. Details will be circulated via your Lodge Secretaries, please find the time to attend if you are able. Whilst there may not be meetings happening the Province has not been idle, the new website has gone live, I hope you have all been and had a look.

The sale of T@3 Mugs raised £272 for the Discretionary Fund, I thank all those who purchased one or in some cases more.

A few weeks ago, the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, Graham Glazier, the Provincial Charity Steward, W.Bro. Richard Paisley and I handed over the second Blood Bike at Dorset County Hospital. Brethren it was unfortunately a very low-key affair due to the Covid-19 restrictions, but I thank you all for your tremendous support for this excellent cause. To raise £24,000 in under two years in a small Province like Dorset is unbelievable. The first Blood Bike was funded entirely by the Mark and the second received a large donation from the Provincial Grand Chapter and smaller ones from the Red Cross of Constantine and the Scarlet Cord. A wonderful example of the larger family of Freemasonry in Dorset working together because of which the second bike was sign written with the words “Donated by Dorset Freemasons”.

I would like to thank the outgoing Provincial Officers for their support over the last year, and I hope you all enjoyed your year although unfortunately shorter than we would have liked, and I make special mention of the two long serving ones who stood down today, the Treasurer, V.W.Bro. David Bale, and the Charity Steward, W.Bro. Richard Paisley.

I congratulate all those who have received appointments or promotions today and I hope it will not be too long until you can attend Lodge meetings in your new regalia.

I also congratulate those Dorset Brethren who received appointments or promotions in Grand Rank, W.Bro. Graham Glazier promoted to Grand Senior Deacon, W.Bro. Eddie Kusminoff, appointed to Grand Steward, W.Bro. Chris Munden, appointed to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies and W.Bro. Fred Cain, appointed to Past Grand Standard Bearer, all very well deserved.

Brethren now for the future, I am sure that like me you were disappointed when the new ruling about a maximum of 6 attendees came into force, just when we thought things were moving in the right direction and we now hear about total lockdowns in the North of the country, I fear it is going to be a while yet before we get back to normality.

At a recent Executive Meeting it was decided that there would be no Provincial Dues payable for next year, it is hoped that this combined with Grand Lodge not increasing theirs will help the Lodges finances, in the hope they will not have to increase their subscriptions and retain those Brethren who may be wavering with no meetings happening.

I would like all Lodges, if they cannot meet, to hold a Virtual Meeting on their regular meeting date and the Brethren meet albeit on a screen. Without meetings there have been no collections or raffles, so our Charity fundraising has taken a bit of a hit, the Discretionary Fund needs increasing after the purchase of the Blood Bikes. Brethren, whilst many would have unfortunately suffered financially during this dreadful pandemic, I am sure there are some of you like me whose bank balances have never been so healthy with no meetings to attend, so I would ask you please to consider making a donation to the Discretionary Fund to assist those in need, this can be done by bank transfer and I will ask the Provincial Secretary to provide details after this meeting.

Finally you may have noticed the rather attractive tie I am wearing today, Brethren this is the new Dorset Provincial Royal Ark Mariner tie, we had sold all of the last ones some time ago, so I thought it was time for something new. I hope you like it, and in due course our new Charity Steward, W.Bro. Trevor Barrett, will be selling you one at the very reasonable cost of £12. Brethren, I thank you for your kind attention, God willing you and your families will all keep safe until we can all get back to meetings of this wonderful Mark Degree, we all love so much.

God bless you all.

R.W.Bro. Michael James Leslie Whelan
Provincial Grand Master

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