Red Cross of Constantine, East Midlands Divisional Meeting, 12th May 2022

Worthy Knights, it's wonderful to see so many friendly and familiar faces here this afternoon and to welcome you to the East Midlands Divisional meeting in Northampton for our first face to face meeting since 2019. I extend a warm welcome to the members of our own Conclaves and to our visitors from other Divisions. This meeting provides an opportunity to extend our thanks for the reciprocal hospitality we receive as we visit other Divisions throughout the country. We have a number of Heads of Orders here today and I thank you for the support you give this Order. Thank you to my predecessor, R. Ill. Kt. Max Bayes, K.C.C., the Provincial Grand Master for Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire for allowing us to use Sheaf Close for our annual Divisional meeting.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have been instrumental in organising our Divisional Conclave meeting today. Ill. Kt. Tim Barrett has been a tower of strength and has been ably supported by our Divisional Marshal, Ill. Kt. Tim. Almond together with his Deputy, Ill. Kt. John White; all of whom have been hard at work for much of the day.

I should also mention our Captain of the Divisional Sepulchre Guard, W. Kt. Mark Meade, and his team who travel around the Division and perform to such a high standard. Your presence and input adds so much to our ceremonies and is so appreciated by all. I thank you all for your support.

We had a very enjoyable day at Leicester on 23 rd April when nine Worthy Knights (including one from the West Midlands Division) were treated to a first class Appendant Orders ceremony. Speaking to them afterwards, all, without exception were impressed by the ceremony and the delivery. Congratulations to all who took part and especially to P. Kt. Chris. Mullen who organised the team for the first time. He was ably supported by Ill. Kts. Tim. Almond and Tim. Barrett: thank you to you all.

Worthy Knights, it is now my great pleasure to congratulate all the Divisional Officers who have been appointed and promoted today and to offer my sincere thanks to the Divisional Executive and the retiring Divisional Officers for their unstinting support and commitment over what has been a very difficult two year period.

On 5 th July, Grand Imperial Conclave will be held at Great Queen Street and I'm delighted that we have been awarded a number of new appointments and one promotion. The promotion to Past Grand Chamberlain will be conferred on Ill. Kt. David Coxon, Isle of Patmos Conclave, No. 277 and first appointment to Past Grand Standard Bearer Constantine will be conferred upon P. Kt. Chris Mullen, Northampton Conclave, No. 284 the Deputy Intendant-General. P. Kt. David Painter, of John Wiclif Conclave, No. 304 and Divisional Organist for many years, will receive a first appointment to Past Grand Prefect and P. Kt. David Turner, Byzantine Conclave, No. 44 will receive a first appointment to Past Grand Warden of Regalia. (Unfortunately David is not in attendance today following recent surgery but having spoken to him yesterday he assures me he will be at Great Queen Street in July). I am sure you will join me in extending our congratulations to these Worthy Knights for the honours they are about to receive and to thank them for the contribution they have made to our Order over many years.

Our Divisional Team Visits resumed in October, when a fine turnout witnessed the Grand Sovereign and his team, attend Byzantine Conclave, No. 44 to celebrate the Conclave's Sesquicentenary. The Conclave installed two new knights who were privileged to receive their accolade from the Grand Sovereign. Some ninety Worthy Knights also experienced our former Intendant-General, R. Ill. Kt. Max Bayes receive a field promotion to the honour and dignity of Knight Commander of Constantine. Those in attendance were assured this was a most unusual occurrence: the accolade almost always being conferred at Grand Imperial Conclave. To mark the Sesquicentenary, a unique jewel was struck, which is to be worn by the members of Byzantine Conclave and during the evening a donation of £1,000, from the Division, was presented to the Grand Sovereign for his Grand Sovereign's Care for Children Fund.

A further Team Visit took place in March at which The Rushden Conclave Enthroned their new Sovereign for the year. P. Kt. John Hitchin enthroned M. P. Kt. Trevor Cook, who in turn installed his successor, E. Kt. Ron Ricker as Eminent Viceroy. The ceremony was attended by thirty five members of the Division and Sovereigns and Eminent Viceroys of sister Conclaves were able to witness and gain valuable insights into the ceremonies.

Worthy Knights, this evening's collection will be donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. I make no apology for quoting the following from their website:

£10  could provide a hygiene kit to a family of five, giving them supplies to stay healthy for a month; £20  could provide five blankets to families taking shelter; 

£30  could provide 3,600 chlorine tablets to ensure that families have access to clean, safe water; £100   could provide sleeping mats for 66 people who have been forced from their homes; £210  could provide a fully equipped first aid kit, including supplies, to a first aider treating those wounded.

Please be as generous as you are able and gift aid your donation.

We will be resuming the Sepulchre Guard Mess this year and plans are afoot for the resumption of the Red Cross of Constantine Church Service and Sunday lunch. Details will be made available when plans have been finalised.

As you are all aware, we have lost a number of Worthy Knights during the past two years and it is particularly poignant that earlier today a memorial service was held for Ill. Kt. Richard Bedells, Past Grand Chamberlain and a former Divisional Marshal and Divisional Viceroy, who departed this life on 26 th April.

Although we have recruited recently, our membership numbers are somewhat down on three years ago: please make every effort to recruit suitable candidates for this special Order which offers so much to the Christian Royal Arch freemason.

Through the lectures from South Africa, we have been given so much information about our Order: the characters involved; the history; the battles; the ornaments; the aspects of the ceremonies and so much more. Please make use of these to improve your knowledge; confidence and enthusiasm when talking about the Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of Saint John the Evangelist. All the lockdown lectures are available on our Divisional website, together with other Divisional information and all so ably maintained by Ill. Kt. Malcolm Talbot.

Worthy Knights, thank you for being here today and for your continued support and friendship. We have a challenging time before us, but I am sure we will meet that challenge and that as a result, Red Cross of Constantine Masonry will prosper both here in this Division and throughout the Order. I look forward to visiting your Conclaves in the coming months but until we meet again, may God bless you all.

R. Ill. Kt. S. John Manby

Intendant-General East Midlands Division