Brethren, it is good to see so many of you at this seminar. I hope that you will not just glean some information and ideas to assist you with your work as Festival Stewards but also get an understanding of how valuable and appreciated your efforts are by those of us working to make the Festival Appeal a success for the Province of Nottinghamshire.
When I was Installed as PGM on 31 July I said that I was fortunate to inherit such an excellent Festival Executive and the same applies to the Festival Stewards.
What has been achieved to date is nothing short of staggering – a total of over £2m has already been given or pledged and all of it from the pockets of the brethren and their families. We have the best part of 3 years to achieve the goal of £3m and your on-going efforts are absolutely critical because there is no doubt that the last third of the hoped for total will not be easy to acquire.
Brethren, what has been evident for some time is that most, if not all, Provinces are challenged by the need to support the 4 central masonic charities.
You may be aware through reports in the Freemasonry Today magazine of some large amounts being raised and that is a great credit to each of the Provinces and for the charities. However, what has to be recognised is that the breath-taking totals come from large Provinces and Nottinghamshire should not and will not be phased by what others achieve.
I believe that some of you continue to have tough jobs in ensuring that your lodge keeps a focus on contributing to the Festival. However, given your success so far, I have every confidence that you can deliver on the challenge. Do not forget, brethren, that you can approach the 2018 Executive for assistance if you sense inertia setting in.
It is a distinct possibility that the recent adverse publicity over the hard-sell techniques used by some of the major charities is not going to help the cause of Festival Stewards. What needs to be emphasised is that the RMTGB does wonderful work as do the other 3 central masonic charities for those who for whatever reason need the financial help and support of Freemasonry.
A great deal has been both said and written about the achievements of the RMTGB and it is hoped that the brethren of this Province fully understand what can be offered to children and their families facing difficult times. However, if there is a need to reinforce the RMTGB’s role in Freemasonry then presentations can be arranged.
Since the launch of the Appeal in April 2012, there have been numerous activities aimed at separating the brethren and their money to benefit the Appeal from a walk-through of the life of a Tommy in World War I to solving murders at Chuf Hall. Of course we also had the magnificent effort of my predecessor and his gallant band of walkers who raised some £60k. I have had the privilege of attending a number of these entertaining events and have enjoyed each one – the innovative thinking of you Festival Stewards and the brethren who support you is to be applauded.
You will be aware that there are some lodges who are struggling with their contributions to the Festival and should you be considering a social event to raise monies for the Festival and if you have contacts within one of the lodges which appear to need some help, please give some thought to inviting that lodge to participate in the fund raising.
I have already referred to the hope that we can raise £3m by the Festival Finale in June 2018. I have no doubt that the concluding event will be a very special occasion but please remember, it is only open to brethren who qualify as Stewards.
Irrespective of whatever total is announced on that day, it will reflect how much the Province has taken the Appeal to its heart and I believe the result will yet again show the generous nature of Nottinghamshire brethren.