News 24th Mar 2024

The 157th Mark Benevolent Fund

President: R.W.Bro. Ian Wright PGM

Annual Festival 2025, Oxfordshire

Chairman: Bro. Mocky Khan PrGCO

Festival Update

March 2024


Address from The Provincial Grand Master
R.W. Bro. Ian Wright

Brethren, on 17th May 2019 I became Provincial Grand Master and my first task was to find a suitable Deputy. This was such an easy task as I already knew who it would be.
I am so pleased that I have had Barry Prior by my side over the past 5 years. He has been an inspiration and a support, and I have never felt wanting when I have been out of the country and the Province has been in his hands. Barry has carried the duties of his office with dignity and confidence and has been a great friend to all whom he encounters. Just as a Mark Master Mason should be.
Time, however, marches on and we all get older. With a heavy heart, Barry has therefore asked to stand down at the next AGM in May and, with Linda's agreement, I must sadly accept. If only I could make us all 10 years younger!
At the May AGM, I will appoint W.Bro. Adrian Barlow as Deputy Provincial Grand Master. I am confident that he will perform the duties of his office well and be a shining example to us all.
I felt it entirely appropriate to express my great thanks to Barry and to make this announcement initially at his mother RAM Lodge, Thames No.1183 on 23rd February 2024. I know that, even as he takes this step back, I can continue to rely upon his valuable counsel and dear friendship for years to come.
R.W. Bro. Ian Watson Wright
Provincial Grand Master

Provincial Grand Treasurer
At the recent meeting of Alfred Lodge of Mark Master Masons on the 20th December, the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother Ian Wright, was pleased to announce the appointment of Worshipful Brother Steven Pope as the new Provincial Grand Treasurer. Steven succeeds Paul Benham who resigned the post due to his work commitments.
We would all like to wish W.Bro. Steven every success in his new role.


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


MBF 2025

Oxfordshire Festival Spring Update

As I sit writing this update from my study, I can see through my window to my garden. The sun is out and I can see signs of Spring emerging with daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses in bloom. All the signs of new life and renewal and that analogy can also be used in relation to our Orders of Mark and RAM. A new season has sprung into life. The signs of renewal are promising and hopeful, but there is still much to do.
The Festival Weekend is almost upon us with just 18 months to go, and so my thoughts have turned to further ways by which we can raise funds for the Festival. An additional benefit is that we will also be raising awareness of our order and encourage renewal, by recruiting our friends and brothers in the Craft to our wonderful order.
The Craft Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence was last year appointed to the Mark Grand Masters Royal Ark Council, and encouraged a closer relationship between all orders, which was hugely encouraging.
I have just one idea that I will believe will hugely benefit our Festival and Province if we all take action now. Festivals both in Mark and Craft are allocated to different Provinces every 5 or 6 years or so. When a particular Province is in Festival, other Provinces from around the country support it by making Provincial donations in support of the Province in Festival. However, this support doesn't always transfer down to the individual Lodges in the Festival Province. So last year my own Craft Lodge agreed a donation of £250 to the MBF 2025 Oxfordshire Festival. At our next meeting on 14th March another proposal of a donation of £600 will be put to the Lodge members for approval. Early next year a further proposal of £250 will be made. If the two further donations are approved, the Lodge will have donated £1,100 to the MBF 2025 Oxfordshire Festival. We have 55 Craft Lodges in Oxfordshire; if just 50% or 27 of those matched my Craft Lodge's support, we would have £29,700 added to our Festival total.
I would therefore encourage all members of Mark and RAM in our Province to speak to your Craft Charity Steward and Worshipful Master to get a proposal of support on your next Craft agenda.
This will generate discussion within your Craft Lodges which gives you the opportunity of promoting and recruiting members of your Craft Lodges to become members of our wonderful order.
In the last 12 months or so simply by talking to my Craft Lodge colleagues, I have been able to place 7 new members into Mark Lodges in our Province.
It's good to talk and it works!
W.Bro. Adrian Barlow Prov.G.J.W


Mark Lodge Meeting Dates


Installation Dates are displayed in bold italic. If you have any images or news articles about lodge meetings, perhaps advertising an advancement or installation please contact us and they will be included in the Newsletter and on Social Media. In order to keep up to date with goings on in the Province, please ensure that you are following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

University Lodge No. 55 Sat 18
Abbey Lodge No. 225 Thu 25
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed 17
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Tue 9
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri 26
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri 7
Weyland Lodge No. 1305 Wed 8
Installed Mark Masters Lodge No. 1330 Fri 3
Windrush C&M Lodge No. 1386 Fri 5Fri 17
Wychwood Lodge No. 1443 Thu 16Thu 20
Godstow Lodge No. 1546 Wed 5
Bowyer Lodge No. 1655 Mon 10
See the full calendar here.


RAM Lodge Meeting Dates


Installation Dates are displayed in bold italic. If you have any images or news articles about lodge meetings, perhaps advertising an elevation or installation please contact us and they will be included in the Newsletter and on Social Media. In order to keep up to date with goings on in the Province, please ensure that you are following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Oxford University Lodge No. 55 Sat 18
Abbey Lodge No. 225 Thu 25
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed 17
Cherwell Lodge No. 847 Tue 25
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Tue 14
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri 26
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri 7
Installed Commanders Lodge No. 1330 Tue 4
Bowyer Lodge No. 1655 Thu 4
Menatschim Lodge No. 1838 Mon 17
See the full calendar here.


Thames RAM Lodge – Team Visit

On Friday 23rd February, members of the active Provincial team visited Thames Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No. 1183 for the installation of W.Bro. Tony Wright, which was performed in an excellent manner by outgoing Commander W.Bro. Stanhope Crooks. The Brethren enjoyed a jovial atmosphere both in the temple and at the festive board, where the Brethren of Thames RAM Lodge were very pleased to see a visitor 'win' their bottle of alcohol-free pink gin at the raffle. W.Bro. Alan Dishington was particularly pleased, although must have been much less so when he won it back again at Abbey Mark Lodge one week later!


Upcoming Provincial AGM & Travelling Ark

Thursday 9th May – Provincial Grand Lodge of
Mark Master Masons of Oxfordshire
The Provincial Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 9th May. Newly advanced brethren are especially welcome to attend to receive their special lapel pin. Please support the brethren of your lodge who are being promoted to Provincial Grand Rank.
Saturday 18th May – University RAM 55
The Travelling Ark will be handed over from Godstow Lodge to University Lodge on Saturday 18th May. Please book in with the Scribe if you wish to attend. 


Godstow Lodge – Travelling Keystone & Advancement

On Wednesday 6th March, Godstow Lodge of Mark Master Masons received the Travelling Keystone from the Worshipful Master, Wardens, and Brethren of the Abbey Lodge of Mark Master Masons. They then performed an exceptional ceremony of Advancement for Bro. Arron Smith, led by the impeccable ritualist and Worshipful Master VW.Bro. Philip Kavanagh.


MBF 2025 - The Wright Pathway

The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master is getting the final year of our Festival period off to an exciting, but potentially exhausting, start.
During the week Monday 8th July – Friday 12th July 2024, immediately after the completion of the Cheshire Festival, he plans to walk from Banbury to Henley in five stages along the Oxford Canal and River Thames.
The five stages of the route are:
     Stage 1 - Banbury to Tackley
     Stage 2 - Tackley to Oxford
     Stage 3 - Oxford to Cardinal House
     Stage 4 - Cardinal House to Wallingford
     Stage 5 - Wallingford to Henley
He is hoping that Brethren will accompany him on the stages closest to their Masonic Centres, to encourage and support him.
If you cannot be with the PGM, you could show your support by sponsoring him; £1 per mile is suggested. All the money he raises will go into the MBF Festival 2025.
You could also sponsor those Brethren who accompany him.
The PGM has started training for his Challenge, let us all give him our support! Details of how you may support him physically and/or financially will be circulated to all Brethren in the Province very soon.
Ian would also like us all to remember Worshipful Brother Keith Pauling, who has inspired this walk.


Jesus Is Watching You!

A burglar broke into an old Masonic Past Master's house one night. He shone his torch looking for something to steal. He found an iPad and, just as he was putting it into his sack, he heard a strange disembodied voice in the dark saying: "Jesus is watching you!"
He looked around and, seeing nothing, carried on with his search. He found a camera and again, just as he was putting it in his sack, he heard: "Jesus is watching you!"
He was now becoming more nervous and made a more diligent search for the source of the voice. But he found nothing, put it down to his imagination, and decided to go upstairs to find more loot. He was tucking some diamonds away when he heard, more loudly this time: "Jesus is watching you!"
He rushed to where he had now decided the voice was coming from and threw back a curtain and there he found a parrot saying, of course, "Jesus is watching you!"
He said to the parrot, "Who are you?" The parrot replied, "I am called Moses".
"Moses! Moses!" cried the burglar, "What sort of person would name a parrot Moses?"
"Well," said the parrot, "the sort of person who calls their 10 stone rottweiler Jesus!"


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. To that end, please find a list of upcoming events below:
10th May 2024 – A Visit to the Home of Cricket!
Eton play Harrow on 10th May and you can watch the 50 overs match from the comfort of the famous Lord's Pavilion at the Home of Cricket. Tickets at £20 each are limited and can be obtained from David Cumming, who will be your host with fellow MCC member John Grout.
Contact David on secretary(at) (replace "(at)" with "@") soon, to avoid disappointment.
This could be you!
23rd May 2024 - Festival Year Launch River Cruise
The final year of the MBF 2025 Festival will be launched with a Grand River Cruise on the New Orleans, one of the largest pleasure craft on the River Thames. Thanks to John Grout's charm and organisational skills, and the generosity of the Hobbs family, we can offer a four-hour cruise with afternoon tea for the all-inclusive price of £35 per person.
This is an opportunity to have some fun, cruising with your friends and family, while raising money for the Festival as a welcome by-product. To book your place, please contact David Cumming at secretary(at) (replace "(at)" with "@").

19th July 2024 – A Day at the Races: Newbury
Our traditional day at Newbury Races is on again this year. If you have missed out before then don't forget to book in early! Tickets are priced at only £30 per person, including free parking in the Premier Car Park. Gates open at 11:45, with the first race at 13:00.
Payment via BACS to David Cumming (Festival Secretary), A/C: 01690172, Sort Code: 11-06-30, ref: YourNameNewb. Email David on secretary(at) (replace "(at)" with "@") to confirm you have made the payment.
Payment is required before 30th June so that tickets can be purchased and circulated.


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 19th 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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