I welcome you all here today, both members and guests, the Senior and the Junior; You are all essential to the success of this meeting. I hope you will all enjoy the whole day as we celebrate another full and successful year in this Province.
The Past Year
In the past year we had three full Provincial Team Visits. The first was to Beaumont Preceptory No 323 at Bicester in October. Then to Winslow in February for the Consecration of the William Warde Preceptory. Which was a considerable success with our Sub Prior getting very nervous when I was rather late arriving. The Consecration went well with our Prelate V.E.Kt Paul Franklin on form as always. Everyone said what a splendid day it was, but I suspect they were more interested in the carvery at the Bell afterwards. Finally, to St Hugh Preceptory at Banbury in April. In addition, the Provincial team visited Coeur de Lion Preceptory and Leslie Felgate Dring Preceptory to assist knights in taking their Malta degree.
In all this and at the Provincial Meetings I have been well supported by our Provincial Officers, my thanks to them all. Especially to those who were here early this morning to set up for our meeting, directed by our Marshal, Bob Chevin.
A special mention for our past VC E.Kt Paul Cawte, who has suffered very bad health problems over the past year and we are glad to see him here today.
New Provincial Officers
My congratulations to all the new Provincial Officers who have been invested this afternoon. These knights have deservedly been honoured for their work in the Province, but it is also true that we shall be expecting more from them in the year ahead.
To those knights - I know you will enjoy being part of the Provincial Team; and whilst it may not be possible to attend everything during your year as a Provincial Officer, make an effort to be there whenever you can. It is well worth that effort.
We have a number Provincial Team Visits planned for the year ahead. The first will be to Cygnet Preceptory No 464 at Beaconsfield on 10th Nov 2017. The final visit will be to Wellesley Preceptory No 204 for their Centenary meeting on 14th may 2018.
The other Team visits are yet to be announced.
The Provincial Church Service at St Helens Church Abingdon was held on Sunday 11th June 2017. This was once again a splendid occasion with friends and family joining in a Service of Thanksgiving. My thanks to our Prov Prelate V.E.Kt Paul Franklin for leading the Service.
We had good support for the Great Priory meeting in May despite the earlier start for the Installation of our new Grand Master. I will no doubt see the usual loyal band of knights for coffee before the Great Priory of Malta meeting.
St John Eye Hospital
Bro Kts, you all know I always like to promote the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital and encourage every Preceptory to make a donation to the Eye Hospital every year to give a continuity to the funding of the work in Jerusalem. We will present the Certificates at our Malta meeting in November to acknowledge the good charity work in the Province, but I can say that three Preceptories consistently appear on the donations list. I am pleased to tell you that Crusaders Preceptory No 258; Beaumont No 323 and Robert Loyd No 438 over recent years have made a donation every year.
Last year I reminded you that Malta Installations should have more preparation to ensure that the ceremony is performed in a fitting and proper manner. I am glad to tell you that there has been a marked improvement, but there is still a way to go before we can be satisfied. When the EP is installed as the Prior of the Malta, it is very important to carry it out correctly and that includes the investiture of the Malta Officers. So, I will be looking out during the year for a further improvement by Priories for the installation of Priors.
My usual final thought Bro Knights; do not forget that whilst we enjoy our Templar masonry, we cannot neglect our Craft Lodges or Chapters, for without them we would inevitably fade away. Undoubtedly an experienced and dedicated Brother or Companion in Lodge or Chapter who is there to lead and guide, will always create more interest for the other orders, than someone who never appears at meetings.
Thank you, Bro Knights of Oxon, Berks & Bucks for your support during the year and to everyone for their support today.
It is nearly time for us to close this meeting; so until we meet here again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
R E Kt Raymond E. Cochrane
Sindlesham, 18th September 2017