News 19th Dec 2022 Updated 23rd Dec 2022

The 157th Mark Benevolent Fund

President: R.W.Bro. Ian Wright PGM

Annual Festival 2025, Oxfordshire

Chairman: Bro. Mocky Khan PrGCO

Festival Update

December 2022


Address from V.W. Bro. Barry Prior

Deputy Provincial Grand Master

Onwards & Upwards!

Change of Festival Chairmanship
We are now almost halfway through our Festival. After much thought and discussion with key members of the Festival Committee I have concluded that, as by July 2025 I will be Ancient - certainly not a Modern - some new vigour is needed to see the Festival through to its successful conclusion in June 2025. I will remain Vice Chairman, but I have made it clearto assist not to interfere!
With the approval of the Provincial Grand Master, as President of the Festival, it has been agreed that Bro Mocky Khan (right) will take over the role of Festival Chairman.
Mocky is already Provincial Communications Officer and has a wealth of experience with a reputation for “getting things done”.
We all wish him well and are relying upon you, as members of the Province, to throw your weight behind him so that in 2025 we can all enjoy a fantastic Festival.
Mocky will make an excellent Chairman to lead the Province forward to the conclusion of your Festival. He has already proved to be a tower of strength on the committee and has a wealth of experience as a Mayor of Didcot and as the leader of a party on the Council. If he can hold a group of politicians together, chairing your Festival Committee should be a walk in the park.
Festival Fundraising Events
Over the last two years the groundwork has been laid for an exciting and enjoyable Festival and Banquet. We are slowly working towards achieving a respectable total but much still remains to be done. It is encouraging to see that both individuals and Lodges are beginning to engage with the Festival.
At the moment, one of the focuses of the committee is to raise the deposit for the Festival Banquet to be held at the Examination Schools.
At the moment, money raised other than by Regular Giving or Gift Aid is held in the Festival Support Fund. Once ticket sales build up, those monies will be transferred to the MBF to the credit of individuals and Lodges. In the meantime, OMMBA, your Provincial charity is match funding events organised by individuals and Lodges, to a maximum of £1,000 per event and a donation of £150 to any gift-aided individual event.
OMMBA has recently donated almost £3,000 to MBF for the following events:-

Mike Smail Golf £100 x3£300
Adrian Barlow Golf £100 x2£200
David Cumming Golf£100
Wychwood Masters Supper£600
David Cumming Golf Tournament£333
John Grout Golf Tournament£333
Thames Mark Golf Tournament£334
Thames RAM Race Night£300
University RAM Golden Hind£300
Thames RAM Lords Visit£180
The monies will be credited to the individuals and Lodges immediately and will count towards honorifics.
A number of events are in the pipeline and information about these will be found elsewhere in this newsletter; more involvement of Lodges will be greatly appreciated.
In addition, the Provincial Grand Master has set a challenge to all Lodges to raise £1,000 by any legal means by 11th May 2023. Once a Lodge has achieved that figure, he will arrange for him and the Provincial Team to attend a meeting of the Lodge to present a certificate recognising the achievement.
Festival Committee Vacancy
There is a vacancy on the committee which we would like to fill. W.Bro Grahame Lee has stepped down as Northern representative for personal reasons. The role is to encourage and advise the "northern" Lodges; Cherwell, Bowyer, Wychwood, and Weyland in organising individual or combined events during the Festival period.
If you would like to be involved either in that role or generally with organising the Festival or Banquet please get in touch with W.Bro David Cumming, Festival Committee Secretary, on secretary(at) (replace "(at)" with "@") or give him a call on 07875 501704.
Brethren, your 2025 MBF Festival is at last gathering momentum, please get involved and share some of the excitement.
Finally, may I take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and, for the Festival, a prosperous New Year.
DepPrGM signature
V.W.Bro. Barry Prior DepPrGM


MBF Honorifics Presentations in November

At the RAM Assembly in November, a number of Brethren were presented with MBF honorific collarettes by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, V.W.Bro. Barry Prior, in recognition of their financial contributions to our MBF Festival effort. Collars were presented to Adrian Barlow, John Grout, Allan Dishington and Ray Harrison.
Then, at a meeting of Cherwell Mark Lodge, Nick Walker was presented with his MBF honorific collarette by the Festival President and Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Ian Wright.
Finally, at the November meeting of Thames Mark Lodge, the Festival Chairman presented collarettes to Stan Crooks and Tony Wright.
All these Brethren are to be congratulated on gaining these honorifics. They have been achieved through a combination of one-off contributions, standing orders and organising events.


Provincial Class of Improvement

Whilst the sessions of the Class of Improvement will be of particular use to those who may be still young in their Mark Masonry and just starting out on the journey through the progressive Offices, all members of the Province (including Directors of Ceremonies and their assistants) are welcome to attend. Having a familiarity with the ritual assists in both learning, teaching, and delivery. We only get one opportunity to make a first impression which is both good and well received by the candidate. The Class of Improvement can help to supplement rehearsals as well as serving as a friendly atmosphere in which to get to know brethren from a wider circle of lodges across the province.


Provincial Assembly of Royal Ark Mariners

On Friday 4th November, Oxfordshire's Provincial Assembly of Royal Ark Mariners was held under the banner of the Abbey Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No. 225 at Cosener's House in Abingdon. All Oxfordshire lodges were well represented and the brethren had a very enjoyable evening as the below pictures attest. The brethren also raised the fantastic sum of £114.60 for the 2025 Festival through Gift Aid envelopes at the festive board.

The DepPrGM, Barry Prior together with the Worshipful Commander of Abbey Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners, Edmund Glasby

An enjoyable and well-attended Festive Board


Mark Lodge Meeting Dates


Installation Dates are displayed in bold italic.

We have been advertising Lodge meeting dates on our social media exactly one week before a meeting takes place. In order to benefit from these helpful reminders, please ensure that you are following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

University Lodge No. 55 Sat, 28
Abbey Lodge No. 225 Thu, 23Thu, 27
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed, 19
Cherwell Lodge No. 847 Tue, 31Tue, 28
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Tue, 14
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri, 20Fri, 28
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri, 3
Windrush C&M Lodge No. 1386 Fri, 7
Wychwood Lodge No. 1443 Thu, 9
Godstow Lodge No. 1546 Wed, 1
Bowyer Lodge No. 1655 Mon, 13
Menatschim Lodge No. 1838 Mon, 27


RAM Lodge Meeting Dates


Installation Dates are displayed in bold italic.

Abbey Lodge No. 225 Fri, 3
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed, 19
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Wed, 15
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri, 24
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri, 3
Windrush Lodge No. 1386 Thu, 16
Bowyer Lodge No. 1655 Thu, 6

Provincial Team Visit to
Windrush Car & Motorcycle Lodge No. 1386
Windrush Car & Motorcycle Lodge were kind enough to host a Provincial Team Visit on their fantastic Christmas White Table night, Friday 9th December. The lodge business was conducted swiftly, after a rather extensive list of fraternal salutations, such that the brethren could return downstairs to the company of their partners and (most importantly) the bar! A very informative and interesting talk was then delivered by Christine Bovingdon-Cox about her career in policing, followed by an outstanding Christmas meal at the Festive Board. The evening was concluded by traditional carol singing, with W.Bro. Peter Smith on the keyboard. All visitors had a wonderful evening and enjoyed the company of their brethren, as can be clearly seen in the pictures below.

The Worshipful Master W.Bro. Ian Lever and his lady Toni

A very busy lodge Treasurer in the background, with the raffle tickets ready to be pulled!

A wonderful rendition of classic Christmas Carols, such as Jingle Bells and Silent Night

Festival Banquet Update
It seems like a long time until we celebrate the end of the Festival in July 2025, but we're making good progress in putting together a weekend to remember and be proud of, both for members of the Province and for the hundreds of Mark Masons and partners who will come from all over the country to see what Oxfordshire Freemasonry is all about.
The culmination of the weekend will be a sumptuous banquet, with music and dancing, at the historic University Examination Schools, at the heart of the City of Oxford. But we're drawing together a range of unique activities over the weekend, that collectively will make the event a real festival of cultural events celebrating Oxford and Freemasonry (Woodstock without the mud ... or Blenheim). We will be offering tours of the city and university, punting on the river, tours of our world-leading museums, and insights from those involved in developing the COVID vaccine that has made such a mark on humanity as a whole. We hope also to offer an informal welcome event on the Friday evening.
Of course, putting up the best of the best comes at a price, and we expect the banquet will come in at around £115 per person. However, the silver lining is that we have secured an inflation-proof price.
There's lots already planned, but so much still to do. If you'd like to help, please contact me on weekend(at) (replace "(at)" with "@"). We'll be booking hotels, bands, activities, selling tickets, but enthusiasm is the only prerequisite.

A Masonic Journey: Chapter 1
From Darkness into the Light – well, not quite!
I am unsure whether one would describe my Masonic story as typical, but it certainly not been a smooth untroubled journey.
I was encouraged to become a member of The Brotherhood over a number of years by a close and very trusted friend. He could not tell me much about what was involved or what I might experience, but assured me that I "would enjoy it".
This was in the days before the internet had been well established; I could not readily 'Google' precisely what it was that would give me this enjoyment. I was in the dark and, certainly initially, reluctant to take a leap into the unknown.
After a number of years, my friend's persistence paid off; I told him that I trusted him not to get me involved in anything 'nasty' and that I was prepared to become a Freemason. My friend arranged for me to meet members of his Lodge Committee in a local pub for what he described as an "informal interview".
The evening was one of the most unpleasant I have ever experienced. I was nervous to begin with, and became even more disconcerted as the interview progressed. I was not made to feel welcome and was subjected to the third degree before I was even considered as an Entered Apprentice. My motives for joining were questioned, suggestions being made that I was looking for business opportunities via membership of the Lodge. This was untrue for two reasons. Firstly, I was working as a manager in a large multinational company and being a Mason would not have advanced my career one iota. Also, as I have mentioned above, I did not know what I was getting into; so how would I seek advantage from an organisation about which I was totally ignorant?
Most upset, I told my friend that I was no longer interested. He was himself unhappy about how things had gone and tried to assure me that he would "have a word"; I told him that he could have a word (in fact, two words) from me ... "no , thanks".
There are lessons to be learnt from this. Interviewing Committees need to be more welcoming (as I suspect most are; I was probably unlucky) and, equally importantly, must place trust in the judgement of a potential candidate's proposer.
This is just the first chapter in my journey. The next stage, the first regular step, will be included in the next edition of the newsletter.
W.Bro. David Cumming

What Festival events are coming up?
We will be doing some of this
Studley Wood Golf Day - date to be confirmed
Badgemore Park Golf Day - 22nd September 2023
Golf vouchers available for 15 courses
– contact John Grout for details
And some of this
This could be you in the Lord’s pavilion
– we are arranging two trips in 2023
We will be going to this
Newbury Races Friday 21st July 2023
And to this
Speedway at Oxford Stadium
We also plan to go to the dogs
Greyhound racing at Oxford Stadium
Perhaps a little bit of this
Clay Shooting at Oxford Gun Company
Adrian will be doing this
Adrian is climbing Scafell

Adrian Barlow's Challenges
Following Adrian's successful 'Mad March Hare' challenge in 2022, he plans to repeat this in 2023. He aims to walk 16,250 steps each day in March 2023.
As if that was not enough effort (and pain), Adrian will be climbing Scafell in May/ June 2023.
Adrian will be looking for sponsorship to raise funds for the Festival and a Just Giving page will be established to administer this. We will circulate the details in due course. Please support Adrian and, even better, see if you can think of something you could do yourself.
Look out for further details of all these events and others which will be sent to you. Then go along and support them and, even better, talk to members of your Lodge to see what you can do to organise a social event, to get our Province together and raise some money for our Festival.

How can I support the Oxfordshire Mark Festival?

A Mark Festival in support of the Mark Benevolent Fund (MBF) is hosted by a single Province for the year. The Mark Province of Oxfordshire will be hosting the celebratory dinner on Saturday 5th July 2025 being the conclusion of our current fund raising efforts. At this event we also be receiving many guests from Provinces from around England and Wales together with a deputation from Mark Grand Lodge.
Donations and fund raising in support of the Festival can be as individuals, the Lodge, and the Province. All events held should be fun and enjoyable.
As Individuals
Purchase the Oxfordshire MBF Festival Stewardship Jewel. The application form may be downloaded here.
Now that the Craft Festival has finished you may wish to this opportunity of making the regular contribution by Standing order to the MBF.
Ad-hoc single donations.
The forms may be downloaded here.
Arrange an event to raise funds.
A range of merchandise is also available, please contact your Lodge Charity Representative, your Lodge's Festival Area Representative or visit the website here.
The Lodge
Arrange an event or series of events to raise funds. Don't forget to invite other members and Lodges from around the Province.
Hold a raffle at the end of the meeting.
A number of events to be held have been planned. The exact dates will be announced in good time to enable you to reserve the timing in your diary.
Details of Lodge and Provincial events will be publicised here.
The Oxfordshire Mark Masons Benevolent Association (OMMBA)
Where funds are raised through an event either as a Lodge or by an individual, our own charity OMMBA has agreed to match the funds raised to a limit of £1,000 per event for a Lodge or £100 for an individual.
Further information
Our dedicated Festival Website.

The motto of the MBF is "Bis dat qui cito dat" – he gives twice who gives promptly


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