by Bro. Colin T. Wyse R.W.P.G.M.
Toast by Bro. W. James Hilditch
at the 250th Anniversary Celebrations of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire
M.W.G.M.M. Bro The Right Honourable The Lord Burton, Grand Lodge Office Bearers, Provincial Colleagues, Distinguished Guests and Brethren all.
I would first of all thank you Provincial Grand Master Bro Jim Hilditch for your very eloquent and knowledgeable toast to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire. You have given us an in depth and comprehensive view of our Province and we greatly appreciate the many kind sentiments that you have expressed on our behalf.
By using water as your theme, you have reminded us all of the part that water has played in the development and prosperity of our Province.
It is interesting to note that the very hall where we sit this evening was at one time known as ‘The Island Hall’, surrounded by the water which rushed down from the Ochil Hills and supplied the power to quite a few of the woollen mills of Alva.
Many of the waterways you have mentioned today, such as the Rivers Forth, Carron, Devon, and not forgetting the Bannock Burn, have, over the years, helped shape the history, not only of Stirlingshire, but the colourful history of Scotland, which makes us very proud indeed.
As always M.W.G.M.M., and as I have already indicated earlier today, we are delighted to have you and your distinguished deputation from Grand Lodge with us here in the Province of Stirlingshire, particularly for such a memorable and celebrated occasion, and we warmly welcome you to this, our festive board.
We are of course equally happy to have our many guests and friends from the Sister Provinces along with the two representatives from Ault Wharrie here, to share with the Stirlingshire Brethren in the joy and happiness of this auspicious occasion.
Brethren - most Provinces have been transformed since their founding and the Province of Stirlingshire is no exception. Initially the four lodges under the jurisdiction of the first Provincial Master, Bro John Callender of Craigforth, were Lodges Torphichen Kilwinning No 13 in Bathgate, St John No 16 in Falkirk, Ancient Brazen No 17 in Linlithgow and Ancient Stirling No 30. Today the lodges from Stirling and Falkirk remain very much a part of Stirlingshire whilst the lodges from Bathgate and Linlithgow figure prominently in the Province of Linlithgowshire.
It is therefore most appropriate that the toast to the Province of Stirlingshire this evening be proposed by my friend and colleague, Bro Jim Hilditch, Provincial Grand Master of Linlithgowshire. May I say brethren, that the complimentary remarks and unqualified praise for our Province expressed by Bro Jim Hilditch are fully justified and well deserved. After all brethren, we generously gifted Linlithgowshire half our Province just to get them started.
Geographically speaking, being situated in Central Scotland gives the Province of Stirlingshire a very privileged position. We may have the Capital of Scotland and the home of freemasonry in the East, Glasgow the city of Architecture in the West, Perthshire and Forfarshire may be our gateway to the North and the Border Provinces our links with the South, but brethren it pleases us in Stirlingshire to know that we are the point within the circle from which all parts of the circumference are equidistant.
I once read Brethren that history is but the record of experiences, how very true, for surely the experience of this wonderful day is the history of tomorrow. In recording the first chapter of that history it may be of interest to record that the Gavel used for today’s ceremony was made from the timbers of the “Charlotte Dundas” the first steamboat built by William Symington in 1801. The gavel was presented to Provincial Grand Lodge in 1887 by Bro William Black. Brother Black was later to become Provincial Grand Master in 1903.
The obligation was taken this afternoon on the Holy Bible which was also presented to the Province in 1887 by Bro The Right Honourable the Earl of Mar and Kellie, Provincial Grand Master and the Square and Compasses were presented in 1886 by Bro Captain Middleton, Provincial Junior Warden. It seemed very appropriate to use these historical items for today’s memorable ceremony.
The Corner Stone of our Province was most assuredly laid two and a half centuries ago. Since that time we have indeed built on the achievements of our founders. I stand here today, 250 years later, as Provincial Grand Master of Stirlingshire, with a great feeling of humility and yet with tremendous pride in our heritage.
As you are aware however Brethren, my commission as Provincial Grand Master of this wonderful Province will end in a few months time. During my term in office, we, the Office Bearers of Provincial Grand Lodge have shared in many happy and celebrated occasions throughout the Province with today’s red letter day putting the icing on the cake and has given each one of us memories that we will forever treasure.
The support that I have received from my Commissioned Office Bearers, Provincial Office Bearers, both past and present, from Brethren holding Honorary Grand Rank and Honorary Provincial Grand Rank has been overwhelming.
The magnificent efforts of the various fund raising committees are worthy of special mention. Apart from the obvious aim of raising funds, the exercise gave the Provincial Office Bearers a more positive purpose than just visiting the daughter lodges. It also indicated to the lodges of the province the resolve of Provincial Grand Lodge to do something for itself and on its own behalf. The hard work and organising expertise of the co-ordinating committee are also greatly appreciated by me. Brethren I am extremely proud of you all and I take this opportunity to thank all concerned most gratefully.
We are delighted and honoured to have Bro Dr Hector Campbell, Bro Sandy Whitehead and Bro Bobby Hutchison here with us in their capacity as Past Provincial Grand Masters of Stirlingshire on this historic occasion
These brethren have served the Province with great distinction for many, many years and I value their counsel, their friendship and their support. They are true Ambassadors of Stirlingshire and we are all extremely proud of the commitment and contribution they make at the highest level of Scottish Freemasonry.
Brethren we now look forward with anticipation to the Installation of our new Provincial Grand Master in a few months time. On Thursday Grand Lodge ratified the appointment of Bro John McLeod Sneddon as Provincial Grand Master of Stirlingshire with effect from 4th May 1995. Brethren we are all extremely delighted for John, he has served this Province with great loyalty and devotion for the past 27 years and we extend to him our very best wishes for a happy and successful term in office.
Let us therefore look to the future with great confidence and on this day of rededication let us all rededicate ourselves to Freemasonry and the tasks which lie ahead. The Province of Stirlingshire has now established a 250 year foundation and the future expectations of our successors must surely be to build on that solid foundation an edifice perfect in all its parts and honourable to the builder.
Bro Jim Hilditch, I thank you once more most sincerely for the quality and content of your toast to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire and I thank you brethren for the excellent manner in which you responded to it.