District Grand Council
Of Surrey
A Visit to the Essex Annual Meeting, 11 May 2024

It was to be an early start from South-West Surrey for our visit to the AGM of Essex Allied, necessitated by Highways England choosing this weekend to close the M25 from the A3 to Leatherhead. Well, it would have been an early start had our District SW, Barrie Selway, put the right time in his diary. Nevertheless, he and our driver, the District Secretary Trevor Sadler, arrived in time to depart from Milford at 8:10am and before long we were crossing the closed M25 and following Trevor’s satnav through leafy Oxshott (home of many Chelsea footballers*). As we waited to turn right at Chessington, the minutes of our ETA crept inexorably upwards, but eventually we were on our way on the M25 and on to Godstone to pick up our Deputy DGP, Bob Tuthill, to complete our Surrey contingent.

We reached our venue in sunny Southend, the roads just starting to get busy with day trippers, at 10:15am – just right for the 11:00am kick off. The Saxon Hall is a large building ideally adapted for Masonic use, with a vast car park. We were warmly welcomed and generously Essex provided bacon butties and coffee within the ticket price. Bob was quietly taken aside by the DGP for Essex, R.W. Bro. Jeffrey Conway, who needed a portrait photo taken – Bob’s talent as a photographer is known far and wide.

A Visit to the Essex Annual Meeting, 11 May 2024
We were able to take our seats in good time for the processions, after which the DGP opened the meeting in his inimitable style. He read the opening and then said that if you’re going to read the words at least hold the paper up so everyone can hear you!

We saluted the DGP with 7 and similarly the other R.W. brethren. The was a report and the Assistant GDC was admitted and announced that the Deputy Grand Master was outside and demanded admission. A procession was formed, and R.W. Bro Ian Bailey was received, greeted by the DGP, and briefly took the gavel, thanking the DGP for the courtesy. The brethren were called to order and the Assistant GDC invited us to salute the Deputy with 7. There was much loud muttering of 9, and the DC almost extricated himself by saying that his letter from MMH said 7 (he hadn’t read the Book of Constitutions, Reg 6!). We gave 9.

A Visit to the Essex Annual Meeting, 11 May 2024
The DGP welcomed guests and clearly demonstrated his personal knowledge of most of them, seemingly reluctant to follow the script carefully prepared by the District Secretary. The meeting proceeded in much the usual way of these events, with one notable item being the appointment of W. Bro. Richard Bowyer as Deputy DGP. However, under ‘any other business’, the Deputy Grand Master rose and requested that the retiring Deputy DGP, W. Bro. Tony Edwards be brought to him. He had been asked by the M.W. Grand Master to personally thank Tony for his service over six and a half years as Deputy DGP. Then like a rabbit from a hat he produced a field promotion to Past Grand Registrar, and congratulated now V.W. Bro. Tony, to general applause.

A Visit to the Essex Annual Meeting, 11 May 2024
Long after the rest of us had retired to the bar, Bob was detained taking the customary photos, some of which may appear with these words. There was plenty of time to catch up with a few old friends. We enjoyed a very good lunch with interesting company, and the speeches were kept short, so that we were back on the road before 3, for an uneventful trip back avoiding the M25 roadworks. Thanks to Trevor for the first-class chauffeur service.

W. Bro. Ray Seeley, DistGTreas

* Mention of Chelsea footballers slipped in to cheer our DGP, John French who sadly couldn’t make the meeting and, to complete the day, they actually won.

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