News 15th Jun 2023 Updated 4th Jul 2023

The 157th Mark Benevolent Fund

President: R.W.Bro. Ian Wright PGM

Annual Festival 2025, Oxfordshire

Chairman: Bro. Mocky Khan PrGCO

Festival Update

June 2023


Address from Festival Chairman
Bro. Mocky Khan
Provincial Communications Officer

Dear Brethren,

Time flies when you are having fun. I cannot believe that, when I last wrote for the Festival Newsletter, I was wishing everyone a Happy New Year!
It has been a busy but fun six months, there has been loads going on in terms of Festival events and Lodge meetings.

As I visit around the Province or speak to Brethren, I have noticed a positive view and more people engaging with the Festival. I do not like singling out any event, but I must mention the ABBA night – what a great event, brilliantly organised and, equally importantly, it got people dancing and strutting their stuff! Plus, money was raised for the Festival.
By the time you read this, we will only be two years away from our Festival Weekend at the Examination Schools; I can hear the countdown clock ticking down. There is still lots to do but we are currently on track on key milestones. I have asked the leaders of the Festival Sub-committees to provide a summary of what they have been up to; you can see their reports in this edition.
There is still time for you to get involved. Get a few of your Lodge Brethren together and arrange a curry night, quiz or go for a round of golf using our vouchers (see later on). Whether the event is big or small, it does not matter. It is all about having fun and raising money as you have a great day or night out.
You can also help by attending events that have been organised. There is nothing better than seeing Masons, their friends and families letting their hair down, enjoying a glass or three and just relaxing!
Enjoy the summer holiday. I look forward to bumping into you at Festival events – please do keep checking our website for the latest news and information.
Bro. Mocky Khan Prov.G.Stwd
Festival Chair
Provincial Communications Officer


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/ RAM 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.


Lodge MBF Honorifics So Far

Grand Patron Gold
University 55Thames 1183
Thames 1183
St. Mary's 1242
Abbey 225Abbey 225
Alfred 247Marlborough 980
Cherwell 847Menatschim 1838
Marlborough 980
Weyland 1305
Windrush Car & Motorcycle 1386
Wychwood 1443
Vice Patron
Bowyer 1655Alfred 247
Menatschim 1838


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.

Abbey Lodge No. 225 Thu 28Thu 30
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed 18
Cherwell Lodge No. 847 Tue 26Tue 28
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Tue 11Tue 10Tue 14
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri 29Fri 24
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri 20
Weyland Lodge No. 1305 Wed 20
Installed Mark Masters Lodge No. 1330 Fri 27
Windrush C&M Lodge No. 1386 Fri 10
Wychwood Lodge No. 1443 Thu 26
Godstow Lodge No. 1546 Wed 11
Bowyer Lodge No. 1655 Mon 11
Menatschim Lodge No. 1838 Mon 4
See the full calendar here.


RAM 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.

Oxford University Lodge No. 55 Sat 4
Abbey Lodge No. 225 Fri 3
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed 18
Cherwell Lodge No. 847 Tue 7
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Wed 15
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri 29
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri 8
Windrush Lodge No. 1386 Fri 10
Menatschim Lodge No. 1838 Mon 16
See the full calendar here.

Astrology? A load of nonsense!! Or is it?
Resourceful friends may be keen to involve you in plans. The bolder their suggestions, the more you'll enjoy being part of this. While they might be the driving force, your ability to organise and stay the course could be the keystone. Without your help, the outcome may suffer. - Metro newspaper 18th May 2023
The above was the Festival Secretary's horoscope on the 18th of May. He and the Festival Chairman then met Darren Coleman from Mark Mason's Hall on the 19th of May at Lord's cricket ground to discuss and make further plans for the 2025 MBF Festival.
Despite appearances in the accompanying photograph, they did work hard that day. Darren was extremely helpful and a strong working relationship was forged, which bodes well for the Festival's success.

Provincial Team Visit to Bowyer RAM No. 1655
On Wednesday 6th April, the Provincial Team made a visit to Bowyer Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners in Banbury. In addition to a warm and brotherly welcome, we were treated to an exquisite performance of the Elevation ceremony by the Worshipful Commander, Grahame Lee, and his officers, which brought Bro. Michael Barrett into our wonderful order. The brethren then retired to enjoy an excellent, and extremely well-priced, festive board complete with port and cheese!
Team Visits for 2023-4 have yet to be announced, but the Travelling Keystone will this year be handed over to Abbey Lodge 225 on Thursday 30th November 2023 and then to Godstow Lodge 1546 on Wednesday 6th March 2024.

Heaven's Above!
A man went up to Heaven and reported to St. Peter at the pearly gates. "What's your name, sir?" asked St. Peter.
"Jones," replied the man.
"Oh yes, we were expecting you. But I am afraid that you haven't done very well down on Earth. You will have to do a year's penance before you become a full member of the Heavenly Host."
"Oh dear," said Jones. "What do I have to do?"
"Well," said St. Peter. "You see that old crone over there with one tooth and no hair. I'm afraid you will have to live with her for a year."
"That’s a bit tough but, if you say so, I must do it," said Jones and went over towards the lady to introduce himself. But before he could reach her, across a cloud came a cheerful-looking Boris Johnson with Raquel Welch on his arm. He, not surprisingly, looked very happy. So Jones, in surprise, went back to St. Peter and said: "That's a bit unfair. Look at that Boris chappy with that lovely lady. Surely I wasn't a worse sinner than him?"
"No. You've got it all wrong," said St. Peter. "That's Raquel Welch doing her penance."

Provincial Annual General Meeting
On Thursday 11th May, the Provincial Annual General Meeting was held at The Bicester Hotel for the second year.
The Provincial Grand Tyler and his setup team arrived bright and early to make a few improvements to the signage and layout of the Temple. While the outgoing Provincial Grand Secretary liaised with the hotel staff and laid out the seating plans, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies cracked us into shape during the rehearsals before our guests started to arrive.
We had a number of distinguished guests from across the Provinces and Districts, who were greeted and guided to their private robing room by our wand-bearing stewards, stationed at the stairs overlooking the hotel balcony. The success of the day owed much to several Brethren who worked hard, visibly and behind the scenes; we are extremely grateful to them.
During the meeting, the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master was pleased to invest and promote Brethren in recognition of their past and continuing support of the Mark Province of Oxfordshire. The full list of appointees is available on the Provincial website, and the recipients are shown below with the Provincial Grand Master.
After the meeting, we all enjoyed a splendid festive board and were entertained by speeches including one by the Very Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master, who did well to overcome the idiosyncrasies of the hotel's sound system. It was an all-round excellent day; a celebration of our Brethren and the whole Mark Province of Oxfordshire.

The White Envelope and the Big Day Arrives!

We all get and send so many emails that we forget that we once used to send and write letters. The letters that we get nowadays tend to be brown envelopes which invariable contain bills or demands from HMRC. On this particular day, it was a pleasant surprise to see a letter in a white envelope, which was clearly the fancy type. I was intrigued seeing this letter on my mat in the hallway. I took it to the home office at the back of the house, along with a pile of brown envelopes containing bills!
I opened the letter and saw the Oxfordshire Provincial branding and logo and there in bold font was, "You have been appointed Provincial Grand Steward". This was a surprise and an honour. After the initial shock, I read about what I needed to do. I had to confirm acceptance within a certain time, and there were details about the AGM. This was going to be my first Mark collared appointment.
I am sure I did what every other Mason does, telling my Masonic friends on WhatsApp of my appointment. I am a current Provincial Grand Steward in Craft but, this being a different order, I was not sure what to expect; but I did know that I had better order my regalia.
Regalia stores have varying degrees of success when it comes to delivering your regalia. On some occasions, it arrives within days, some weeks and some never! I did a quick poll amongst friends for recommendations. I contacted the top three, and two said that it would take ten to twelve weeks to arrive; I was going to miss my big day! The third store said, "Let's see if we have the Oxfordshire badge in stock ... we do!". This was great news. "We can deliver within two weeks". It arrived in less than a week. When it did arrive, I noticed that the apron was bigger than my case; that will be my next purchase.
The big day arrived, it was 11th May. I left in plenty of time; I did not want to be late getting to The Bicester Hotel. It was a great location, I parked up and could see other Mark Masons arriving. When I went into the hotel, the first people I saw were the Stewards with their wands. They directed me to where I needed to go to sign in. Everyone was very welcoming, and all said 'congratulations'. I went to see the Provincial Grand Secretary who gave me my active jewel. Then the Provincial Director of Ceremonies gave us all instructions on where to go, where to sit, and how to hold our collars. I was sitting with others getting their first appointments, so we were all in the same boat. I bought a Festival Steward's jewel to look the part!
The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies made an announcement and then flags, banners and the procession made their grand entrance along with the Provincial Grand Master. Introductions and announcements were made and, before I knew it, I was standing up and queuing to see the Provincial Grand Master with my collar in my hand. The Provincial Grand Master gave me a smile and said a few words to make me feel at ease, the collar was put on me and I was now an Oxfordshire Provincial Grand Steward. I felt proud. After the meeting, we all gathered around for a team photo. It was a perfect way to capture the day. However, I did not have time to enjoy the festive board, as I had to drive to London for Escorting Officer duties!
Bro. Mocky Khan
Now a Provincial Grand Steward

Standards Need To Be Maintained
Nowadays, there is much debate about the need to maintain moral standards, although those in the public eye and public service seem oblivious of the need for correct behaviour.
Discussing this with friends, I was reminded of this story (I am not sure if it is true, and I don't really care).
Lord Reith, the first Director General of the BBC, was known for his puritanical outlook. He required and demanded the highest moral standards from his staff. One evening, Reith was going round the studios in Broadcasting House and went unexpectedly into one of the drama studios. There, to his horror, he found one of his top producers making love to a beautiful leading BBC actress on the table in the studio.
He closed the door quietly, rushed back to his office and summoned one of his assistants.
"I want you to get rid of the producer John Smith and the actress Betty Jones. I have found them making love on the studio table."
The assistant looked very embarrassed and said that he could not do this.
"Don't argue", roared Reith, "Get rid of them both immediately!"
"But, sir," said the assistant, "Smith is far and away our best drama producer and Jones our best actress. Furthermore, the play they are rehearsing is already billed in The Radio Times and goes out next week. It would create an awful scandal if it was cancelled now. The reason would be bound to come out."
Reith thought for a moment and then made his decision. "Very well, then. Get rid of the table."


Festival Events

The Provincial Grand Master and Festival President was keen that our MBF Festival should be fun for everyone in our Province and that events should be a way of getting Brethren together to enjoy each other's company.
Gala Night in Bicester
In March, a gala night was held in Bicester and this was a great example of what the PGM wanted. We had a brilliant evening, dancing and singing along to the Abba Girls. Ray Harrison and Nick Turner had a particularly good time and we have photographic evidence of their performances with the aforementioned ladies. Brilliantly organised by Nick Walker and Ray Harrison, the event raised a good sum towards Festival funds while giving everyone who attended a super evening. We are promised a similar event next year; I cannot wait.
Race Night in Henley
Stephen Quant ran a very enjoyable Race Night in April at The Salisbury Club in Henley and, again, great fun was had by all while we raised money for the Festival. The Provincial Grand Master subcontracted his wife, Wendy, as his "bookie's runner" for the evening, but this surprisingly brought him very little luck. There are plans to repeat the event here in September, and possibly at a venue in the north of the Province.
3rd July - Visiting Lord's Cricket Ground
John Grout and The Festival Secretary are taking twelve Brethren to Lord's to watch MCC (Marylebone CC) v MCC (Melbourne CC, Australia) from the comfort of the Lord's Pavilion on 3rd July. All tickets have now been sold, but we are trying to organise a further visit later in the year.
21st July - Newbury Races
We are visiting Newbury Racecourse for what has become an annual event. Allan Dishington and Barry Weston always organise an enjoyable day at a reasonable price, providing another chance for Brethren, their families and friends to socialise. Contact Allan ( or Barry ( for details. A flyer (see events page) has been circulated to all Brethren.
22nd September - Festival Golf at Badgemore GC
We are holding our third Golf Day at Badgemore Golf Club in aid of the Festival. Twenty-six of the available thirty-two places have already been booked, which is testimony to the popularity of this fun event. For just £35 (less than the normal green fee at Badgemore), players get a game of golf, tea/ coffee and bacon roll, the chance to win prizes and an enjoyable afternoon in pleasant company. To secure one of the remaining places, contact David Cumming (
John Grout has obtained a number of 4-ball golf vouchers from a variety of generous golf clubs throughout the Province. Contact David Cumming. Vouchers are available at less than the normal green fee for the following clubs:
Tadmarton Heath; Wychwood; Rye Hill; Kirtlington; North Oxford.
3rd-5th November Provincial Ladies Weekend in Stratford-Upon-Avon
After last year's Mark Ladies Festival were you one of those thinking, "that was a great weekend" or one of those thinking "I wish I had attended the Ladies Festival"? Now is the time to put the date and event into your diaries!
The Ladies Festival of the Mark Master Masons Province of Oxfordshire 2023 will take place over the weekend of 3rd-5th November when you will be invited to join the Provincial Grand Master's Lady, Wendy (and of course the Provincial Grand Master, Ian) for a weekend which will fully live up to our reputation of being "the friendly Degree".
We will be hopefully swapping the wind and sea mist of Bournemouth for the country views and beautiful surroundings of the Stratford Park Hotel and Golf Club at Snittersfield near Stratford-on-Avon.
All of the amenities and sights of historic Stratford will be close to hand. Look out for more information and ticket and booking details in the coming weeks.
Numbers will be limited as we anticipate taking over the whole hotel so don't miss out when the tickets become available.

Communication and Marketing Team

The Comms Team have been busy over the last few months. Our role is to keep you informed and get details of events, information, and news out to Brethren using our various communication channels.
We share news on our e-newsletter, social media, and website. Generating content is difficult but thankfully we have keen Brethren that send us articles, features, and stories to keep us occupied. Plus, I have two great team members who have worked tirelessly to deliver the comms and marketing, W.Bro Phil Harley and Bro. Steven Purnell. Ideally, we like to receive content that has copy and an image to go with the article or story. If you send it to the comms team in plenty of time before an event or the e-newsletter deadline, we can work on to get in ready for publication.
We also work very closely with the other committees, project teams and event organisers to make sure that everyone in the Province is aware of what is going on and what is happening in Oxfordshire.
We are always looking for people to help so if anyone has any copywriting or design experience then please do contact me.
Bro. Mocky Khan
Provincial Communications Officer

It Is Indeed The Very ... Er ... Steak!
Having decided on a weekend away in London free from any Masonic 'stuff', the Festival Secretary and his wife, their son and his partner stayed in an hotel in Blackheath and went to see Peter Kay perform at the O2.
Everything went according to plan; the hotel was lovely, Peter was hilarious and everyone was feeling relaxed and refreshed when they gathered for lunch at The Flat Iron restaurant on the Caledonian Road.
Looking up from his delicious meal, The Festival Secretary saw this road sign and decided that for him there is no escape from Masonry, try as he might to hide!

Fund Raising Subcommittee Report
The key focus for the team to date has been promoting the fun aspect of the festival by encouraging lodges to individually or in conjunction with other Lodges to hold localised events to get together and have fun whilst raising some funds for the festival. Advising that the Provincial charity OMMBA would fund match up to £1,000 for any Lodge based event that raises money for the festival. An excellent example of two such events are the 'Abba Evening' arranged by Marlborough Ram and Weyland lodge MMM which was a very enjoyable and a huge success. Another was the Windrush Ram 'Mad March Hare' challenge during the month of March, which when gift aid and fund matching from OMMBA is taken into account raised a tremendous £3,253.
The fund-raising co-ordinators have been presenting at individual Lodge meetings and encouraging the adoption and use of both regular and single donation giving attracting gift aid.
Also, the sale of merchandise including ties, tokens and of course wrist bands.
As we enter our new season it is encouraging to see how many candidates Mark and RAM lodges have to advance and elevate. Indeed, St Marys Lodge MMM are so encouraged they have recently purchased a further 10 tokens to present to their new advancees. Should any other Mark Lodge wish to place an order for any merchandise or want to have a presentation from us please do contact their lodge coordinator or me.
We will also be focussing on encouraging members to become Festival Stewards which has a double headed benefit, as by purchasing a Festival Jewel the individuals are registered in the Stewards register for the 2025 Festival and at the same time become life Governors of the MBF which attracts two Jewels for the price of one.
A renewed vigour and enthusiasm are in the air and the team look forward to assisting each and every lodge in whatever way they require, if they but ask!
W.Bro. Adrian Barlow Prov.G.J.W.
Fund Raising Coordinator
Tel: 01865 375180 | Email:

A Masonic Journey: Chapter 3
Bowled over by Mark Masonry
I played cricket for most of my life, not brilliantly but I enjoyed it. The game has been central to most of what I have done and a source of major changes in my life.
"Asked" to play for my company team instead of for my team in the Northants League, I eventually became captain and was able to order around the most senior members of the company, including the Managing Director. They forgave me, as we invariably won and, importantly, I only talked about cricket at matches, not company business. When a secondment to group head office was in the offing, I (a very junior employee) was recommended by the Managing Director and was offered the job. After a couple of months there (incidentally working for Eddie Izzard's dad ... which is a story in itself), I was given the job full-time and my salary doubled overnight ... I certainly had cricket to thank for opening the door to this opportunity.
You may be wondering what on earth this has to do with Masonry, but please be patient and bear with me. As you may remember from the last chapter, I had sought and joined a Lodge nearer to home to avoid the awkward journey to London, and we met at Sindlesham.
Meanwhile, back at the cricket ... our son, Charlie, was identified as a promising player when he was about 7 years old. I was playing for a team in the Berkshire League and he was expected to follow in my footsteps, albeit he was expected to make greater strides than me. The 1st XI coach at Henley CC saw him play and asked him to join his club, which he did, playing well there and for Berkshire.
I was doing some coaching at Henley CC when I was approached by a fellow coach who, when I shook his hand, said, "I have a feel that you are one of us ...". Once it was established that I was, indeed, "... one of us”, a subsequent conversation led to his explaining the fun to be had as a member of the Mark Degree, about which I knew nothing at that point.
This chap had, and indeed still has, a quiet and kind demeanour not dissimilar to my late father-in-law's. It therefore was relatively easy for him to persuade me to join Thames Mark Lodge, where I have thus far spent almost twenty enjoyable years in the Degree and in the company and friendship of John Grout, who in his time has played for Hampshire, Somerset and MCC.

Galloping Away
In 1962, the Manager of the MCC tour to Australia was the Duke of Norfolk. He was the owner of racehorses throughout the world and had a horse running at a track just outside Adelaide between Test matches.
He went down to the paddock prior to the race to have a chat with the trainer and the jockey. As he approached the trainer, he saw him take something from his pocket and feed it to the horse. The Duke, the Queen's representative at Ascot and a member of The Jockey Club, was understandably worried about dope.
"What's that you have just given the horse to eat?" he asked the trainer anxiously.
"Oh, Your Grace," replied the trainer looking rather guilty. "It was just a lump of sugar. In fact, I'm going to have one myself. Would you like one too, Your Grace?"
As he spoke, the trainer took a lump of sugar out of his pocket and ate it. He then offered one to the Duke who, very much relieved, thought he ought to humour the trainer and took the lump of sugar and put it in his mouth. He then chatted to the trainer and finally walked back to the stands.
Five minutes before the race, the jockeys came into the paddock and the Duke's jockey went up to the trainer for his riding instructions.
The trainer told him: "Listen, this is a 7-furlong race. For the first 5 furlongs keep him on the bit and keep him tucked in behind the others. Then for the last 2 furlongs let him go and give him all you've got. If anyone passes you after that, it will be either The Duke of Norfolk or myself."

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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