News 3rd Jul 2024

The 157th Mark Benevolent Fund

President: R.W.Bro. Ian Wright PGM

Annual Festival 2025, Oxfordshire

Chairman: Bro. Mocky Khan PrGCO

Festival Update

July 2024


Festival Launch Address from the PGM
R.W. Bro. Ian Wright

It seems only a short while ago that we launched our MBF Festival at Right Worshipful Brother Ian Alexander's beautiful home. Now we are about to enter the final year of our Festival; appropriately, the "launch" of the final year took place on the River Thames aboard the "New Orleans"; a trip brilliantly organised by Worshipful Brother John Grout.
In the week following the end of Cheshire's MBF Festival, I am embarking on "The PGM's Challenge", when I will walk from one end of the Province to the other. Please support me, by joining me on my journey and by sponsoring me to give our Festival fundraising a final boost. The planned stages of my challenge are as follows:
     Stage 1 - Banbury to King's Sutton, Kirtlington to Pigeon Lock
     Stage 2 - Kidlington to Sandford-on-Thames (King's Arms)
     Stage 3 - Sandford-on-Thames to Cliffton Hampden
     Stage 4 - Clifton Hampden to Wallingford
     Stage 5 - Reading to Henley
You may sponsor me via my Just Giving page which can be found via this link:
We have held a number of events, principally designed to get Brethren together, throughout the Festival period. On 19th July we will be spending a day at Newbury Racecourse, organised by Allan Dishington and Barry Weston; this is always great fun. Race nights are being organised in a number of Lodges. Watch out for details, support these events and, in this final year, organise events in your Lodges to get Brethren in the Province together.
Tickets for the Festival Weekend, from 18th - 20th July 2025, at The Examination Schools, Oxford University are now on sale. This is a brilliant venue; please join me for a great time as we celebrate the effort we have made during our Festival period.
Thank you, Brethren of Oxfordshire Mark Province, for your support so far for the MBF Festival. Please continue to do all you can to make this a great success.

Sincerely & Fraternally,
R.W.Bro. Ian Watson Wright, Provincial Grand Master


Festival Weekend Booking Now Open!

Even though it's still more than a year away, tickets are selling fast for the finale of the Festival, in Oxford on 18-19th July 2025. We have secured a discounted rate for the first 70 ticket for the banquet, but only a handful of these tickets remain. Please book now to ensure your place at this unique event!
The weekend starts with welcome drinks and a tour of the historic Oxford Union debating chamber on Friday 18th July. We have lined up a range of events on the Saturday including a private walking tour showing off the historical highlights and masonic connections of the City and University. The festivities culminate in the banquet and dance in the grand surroundings of the Oxford University Examination Schools on Saturday 19th July, when the details will be announced of our fundraising total. Please book and find full details on the Festival Weekend Website. You can also book hotel accommodation through the site.
The whole weekend will be enormous fun for Masons, partners, friends and family, and a chance to demonstrate to Mark Masons across the country the very special place that Oxfordshire has in the history and the present of Freemasonry. We will rely on members of our small but mighty Province to play their role in hosting our visitors and showcasing our Province.
The full ticket price for the Banquet is £115 per person. We know and understand that this is expensive, but we have secured a great price for a spectacular venue and a really excellent meal that will allow us to celebrate in style.
We would not want this cost to deter any Oxfordshire Mason from attending, and to that end have obtained a subsidy for the first tickets booked, paid for by the generous donations of members of the Province. If you would like to claim a subsidised ticket at £99 per person, please book straightaway, using the discount code in the email sent to all members of the Province.
Please note that booking is not yet open outside the Province and details of the discount code must not be shared more widely.
To claim the discount, please follow the instructions as far as selecting the number and type of tickets. On the next page you will see a link to "Do you have a promo code?". Click on this, input the code and click "Apply".
We will need a lot of members of the Province to help welcome and direct our guests over the weekend. If you would like to help please email banquet(at) (replace "(at)" with "@").


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


Celebratory Day at Bicester

A great day was enjoyed by Oxfordshire Mark Masons and their distinguished guests at the Bicester Hotel on 9th May.
The day began with recognition of the Province's donation to SERV-OBN "Blood Bikes" in the form of a vehicle to help this brilliant charity in their vital work.
Ian, Barry & Adrian with the Chairman of SERV-OBN, Kamran Irani

The main part of the day's proceedings was the Annual Provincial Meeting at which various reports were heard and the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master appointed and invested his Officers for the year.
This year had something extra. After five years as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and, before that, seven years as Provincial Grand Secretary, Very Worshipful Brother Barry Prior is going to have a well-deserved rest. In his address, the Provincial Grand Master paid tribute to the contribution Barry has made, and hopefully will continue to make, to the Province and to the personal friendship and support he has given Ian.
The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master then Installed Worshipful Brother Adrian Barlow as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, in the confidence that Adrian will continue the valuable work he has done in Mark Masonry, and Freemasonry in general, in his new role at Ian's side.
R.W.Bro. Ian Wright with his new Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. Adrian Barlow

When addressing his newly-appointed Officers, the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master reminded them that their preferment was in recognition of their work for their Lodge and for the Province. He added that, in this final year of our MBF Festival, it was his Provincial Officers' duty to support the Festival in any way they can, for example by organising and supporting events and by becoming Festival Stewards.
There was additional cause for celebration when the Provincial Grand Master presented Very Worshipful Barrie Vernon with a certificate recognising his 50th anniversary in Mark Masonry; Barrie was Advanced in St. Mary's lodge on 7th June 1974.

Presentation of a 50 Years in the Mark certificate to V.W.Bro. Barrie Vernon

After the meeting, the Brethren of Oxfordshire Mark Province and their guests enjoyed a most convivial Festive Board.


Q&A with the New
Deputy Provincial Grand Master

Mocky Khan posed the key questions to our new Deputy Provincial Grand Master. VWBro. Adrian Barlow:
How were you first attracted to Freemasonry?
My Uncle, Bro Mick Mellars, was an experienced Mason and a member of Bertie Lodge 1515. He convinced me that I would enjoy Freemasonry, and proposed me as a Candidate for Initiation. I was Initiated into Bertie Lodge on Thursday 11th December 1991 as a double. Unfortunately, Mick died before he was able to witness my Initiation; he would have led me round as JD.
What hobbies and interests do you have outside of Freemasonry?
Quite boring really, I like travelling, walking and camping, but not roughing it. I have a motorhome and travel mostly within the UK. Interestingly, I have been using the motorhome to travel to other annual Provincial Grand Lodge meetings. My first PGL was two days after I was installed as DPGM, in Newquay, Cornwall. Shirley and I stayed for a few more days exploring the delights of that beautiful county. Most recently, I went to the South Wales PGL in Cardiff. Again, Shirley came with me, and we spent time exploring the area. Shirley particularly enjoyed the shopping in Cardiff!
How did you feel when you were asked to be DPGM?
When Ian called to ask if I would consider the role of DPGM, I was totally shocked, and it was a few moments before I was able to gather my wits enough to answer him. I remember I didn't answer him at that time but asked for time to consider all of the implications. I, of course, spoke at length with Shirley who has always supported my Freemasonry. I called Ian back to accept his offer and to assure him that I was truly honoured and humbled to have been considered for such a role. The day of my Investiture was truly one of the proudest days of my Life. My proposer into Mark Masonry, VW. Bro Barrie Vernon, PGJO and holder of RAMGR, was my chain cushion bearer and my son, who had only recently been advanced, was my Patent cushion holder. What a day!, I think the chances of me being reappointed may be in doubt following my toast to the PGM at dinner!
You have attended and visited many Lodges, can you recall a memorable meeting and why?
Yes, I have attended many Lodge meetings but, without doubt, my most memorable and proudest moment was in January of this year when I Installed my son Ryan into the chair of King Solomon in Bertie Lodge 1515. The most moving moment in Mark Masonry I have experienced was at our Mark PGL meeting this year, when the PGM presented VW B Barrie Vernon with his 50-year certificate. Barrie has been one of my most revered mentors and guides throughout my Masonic career. The work Barrie has done across most orders of Freemasonry in Oxfordshire is unique. I know that Barrie was profoundly moved by the presentation, as was I, and he so richly deserved the recognition bestowed on him.
How do non-masons react when they find out that you are a Mason?
Well, all of my friends and family know that I am a Mason and support me. I talk about Freemasonry at every opportunity. Some people I speak to are sceptical and question me about our secret society! I respond by explaining how proud I am to be a Mason and, when I explain that we are not a secret society and the work we do in the community and for charity and why that is so important to me, they start to see us in a different light. My one message to every Mason is, be proud of who you are and the contribution you make to your community and society in general. One of my mentors once said to me, 'Don't be afraid to be a Tall Poppy'; that saying has remained with me, and I am not afraid any longer to be a Tall Poppy.
What is your favourite location for a Ladies (partners') weekend and why?
I have attended many over the years and I have to say, it doesn't matter where the venue is, if you are amongst friends, it's always going to be enjoyable and successful.
What three words best describe you?
Well, I think you are asking the wrong person. You should be asking those that know me best. I would like to think that I am honest, straightforward and caring. But you make up your own minds.
Who is the Oxfordshire Mark Mason that has inspired you the most and why?
I think I have already answered this question, without doubt it has to be Barrie Vernon. Barrie is the model/ mentor I try the hardest to imitate. He might be a bit of a grouch on the outside in fact I told him so when I was privileged enough to be able to present him with his Craft 50-year certificate, but not when you really get to know him. He is what I try to be - honest, straightforward and caring.
We are about to start our year in Festival, what is your role and how can others get involved?
My role in the Festival is to encourage every Mark and Royal Ark Mason to get involved and enjoy our time in Festival. It's not all about the money we raise, it's about raising our profile as a force for good in society, enjoying each other's company and celebrating who and what we are.
What advice would you give to any new Mark Mason?
My advice to all new Mark Masons is to enjoy our beautiful order, find a good mentor/ confidant and role model who can guide you. Tell your friends that you are a Mark Master Mason and why. Don't be afraid to do things differently. Do form a group of friends in your Mark Lodge and visit other Lodges together and share your enjoyment of being a Mark Master Mason.
Quick fire questions:
      Favourite food:   Balti
      Favourite drink:   Currently Doom bar.
      Favourite film:   The Godfather
      Favourite sport:   Football
      Favourite Team:   Arsenal of course, up the Goonners!
      Pet Hate:   People who talk too much
      Guilty Pleasure:   A bar of fruit and nut
      Favourite piece of ritual:   In Craft the Exhortation in the 3rd.
        In Mark the final address to the Advancee; 'In Conclusion...'
Our Deputy Provincial Grand Master's Masonic Career:
Initiated 12th December 1991, passed 8th October 1992 and raised 15 Oct 1994
I have held all offices within the Lodge except for Chaplain and Treasurer and am the current secretary.
I was WM in 1998 and 2003.
I have only ever held Active Provincial offices of;
Provincial Grand Pursuivant 2003/ 04
Provincial Grand Senior Deacon 2008/ 09
Provincial Grand Sword Bearer 2013/ 14
Provincial Grand Junior Warden 2018/ 19
Provincial Grand Almoner 2021 to present.
On 24th April 2024 I was appointed to Grand Lodge with the rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer.
I am a past MEZ of Culham College chapter 2951 having been installed as MEZ in 2004
I have held the Provincial offices of;
Provincial 1st Assistant Sojourner (Active) 2017/ 18
Promoted to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2022.
Advanced into St Marys Lodge MMM 1242 0n 6th June 1997
WM in 2005/ 06
I am the current Almoner
I have held the Provincial offices of;
PrAGChap 2013/ 14
PPrGSD 2018/ 19
PrGJO 2019/ 20
PrGJW 2022/24
DPrGM 2024.
Elevated into St Marys Lodge RAM 0n 6th March 1998
Appointed to PrRAMGR in 2009
Appointed to RAMGR in 2019
I am also a member of Windrush Lodge of RAM and hold the office of Scribe.
Installed as a knight into Stroud Preceptory of St Michael KT in the Province of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire in January 2015
Installed as Knight of Malta of the Stroud Priory of St Michael in May 2015
Was installed as Eminent Preceptor in 2022 and again in 2023
Was installed as Eminent Prior in Malta in 2023.
I have just been promoted to Provincial and hold the office of Provincial Captain of Guards.


Ahoy There!

To mark the launch (pun totally intentional) of the final year of our MBF Festival, we spent a day on a boat.
The sun shone, the boat cut a foamy bow wave, and the drinking glasses sparkled as we cruised on the River Thames on 23rd May. As these pictures show, sixty-five Oxfordshire Mark Masons, their families and friends enjoyed a relaxing afternoon aboard the "New Orleans".
We are grateful to Johnny Hobbs, one of John Grout's many friends in Henley and beyond, for lending us his beautiful boat for the afternoon. Thanks are also due to John for organising the event.
The trip, during which we had afternoon tea supplemented by a few visits to the bar, gave us an opportunity to meet and enjoy each other's company away from the Temple. In fact, it was quite tricky recognising some Brethren "out of uniform".
We were particularly pleased that Right Worshipful Brother Brian Gargett (Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Province of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) and his wife Mary were able to join us. We are seeking to foster closer relationships with neighbouring Provinces, and this was a step in the right direction.


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.

Abbey Lodge No. 225 Thu 26Thu 28
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed 16Wed 18
Cherwell Lodge No. 847 Tue 24Tue 26
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Tue 8Tue 12
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri 27Fri 29
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri 18
Weyland Lodge No. 1305 Wed 18Tue 3
Installed Mark Masters Lodge No. 1330 Fri 25
Windrush C&M Lodge No. 1386 Fri 8Fri 13
Wychwood Lodge No. 1443 Thu 24
Godstow Lodge No. 1546 Wed 9
Bowyer Lodge No. 1655 Mon 9
Menatschim Lodge No. 1838 Mon 2
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 9
Abbey Lodge No. 225 Thu 28
Alfred Lodge No. 247 Wed 16Wed 18
Cherwell Lodge No. 847 Tue 5
Marlborough Lodge No. 980 Wed 20
Thames Lodge No. 1183 Fri 27
St. Mary's Lodge No. 1242 Fri 13
Installed Commanders Lodge No. 1330 Wed 4
Windrush Lodge No. 1386 Fri 8Fri 13
Bowyer Lodge No. 1655 Thu 5
Menatschim Lodge No. 1838 Mon 21
See the full calendar here.



Steve Bowers looking very statesmanlike as his sons try to avoid him!

Our original plan was to go to Lord's to watch the Oxford University v Cambridge University match on 9th May. The Festival Secretary was relieved when this was not possible, as the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting took place that day.
Instead, we visited "Headquarters" for the Eton v Harrow match. Although this 50-overs-a-side match was one version of what the Festival Secretary refers to as "pretend cricket", we managed to avoid the University match's 20/20 format which is effectively baseball!

Smile, Gentlemen!

On a beautiful sunny day, John Grout and David Cumming invited ten Masons and their friends to join them in the Pavilion, where refreshments of a liquid and solid nature were consumed, stories shared ... and some cricket watched too.

Marcus, Peter, John and Jim partaking of refreshments in the Bowlers' Bar

As may be seen from these photographs, a good time was had by all.


Address from the Festival Chairman

Time flies when you are having fun. I cannot believe that Oxfordshire's moment in the spotlight has come around so quickly.
When I was offered the role of Chair of the Festival and asked to fill the shoes of our former Chair, VW Bro. Barry Prior, it was a daunting challenge. However, with the support of the hard-working Festival Committee, Lodges and you, our fabulous Province has stepped up and we can be proud of what we have achieved, the events we have held and have planned, and we have a Festival Weekend that everyone cannot wait to attend and experience.

Everyone has stepped up. Talking of steps, our Provincial Grand Master has literally stepped up. Our PGM is racking up the steps on his walking challenge to kick start our Festival year. I shall be joining our PGM on his Thames pathway walk and I know many of you will be taking part and cheering on the PGM.
As I have visited lodges around our Province and gone to other Provinces, I can feel the excitement and interest that Oxfordshire is holding the Festival. The rich history of Oxford, the number of tourist attractions, shopping, and the Examination Schools as the venue for our Festival Weekend are proving to be very appealing.
Our Festival booking site is now open, and I would recommend that you book early to avoid disappointment. I would love to see Oxfordshire Mark Masons attending and celebrating the Festival and being there for the reveal of what we have raised.
My focus throughout my time as Chair has been to get our Lodges, Brethren, friends, and family to come together, have fun and raise money. Thank you for attending and supporting events that we have held. I now ask you do continue to support events and bring your friends and family with you during the next 12 months.
As Chair, I am beaming with pride with what we have achieved, together we can make the next twelve months memorable, so that we can all say. 'I did my part and had fun.'
Keep visiting our website for all the latest information and book your tickets now for the Festival.

Mocky Khan

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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