Following the establishment of the Membership Marketing Team (MMT) under the leadership of Robert Wright, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master responsible for membership, the MMT held a meeting at Leyland Masonic Hall, Wellington Park, to discuss the efficacy of the Ambassador Scheme and to ask for volunteers from those Masons who wished to be considered as future Ambassadors.
The meeting, at which over 100 Masons were in attendance, was addressed by six authoritative spokespersons; Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Robert Wright, David Winder and Kevin Poynton, Provincial Mentoring Coordinator Giles Berkley, Provincial Membership Officer Michael Threlfall and Dr David Harrison academic and author. Their function was not to just discuss the role of an ambassador and how to apply, but also to impress on all present the importance of talking openly about the Craft and in so doing dispelling the myths surrounding Freemasonry.
The meeting was chaired by Martin Maynard, a member of the MMT and a member of Starkie Lodge No 1070. Martin’s introduction to the meeting set the scene for why it was felt the Ambassador Scheme was essential to the future of Freemasonry locally. The meeting was informed that the decline in Freemasonry in the Province of West Lancashire had been quite striking with the number of Freemasons within the Province falling by 15% between March 2013 and March 2017. That trend needs to be reversed and in order to do so it was essential for Masons to get out there and tell people what Freemasonry is all about and what we contribute to the local community and beyond. To that end, we need good communicators, in essence ‘Ambassadors to Freemasonry’. The ambassador programme will select people with good communication skills, people who can stand in front of an audience and promote our values of integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.
Following Martin’s introduction, the speakers making the presentations, expanded upon the strategy behind the Ambassador Scheme, highlighting some of the more salient points about Freemasonry which are worth shouting about, dispelling some of the myths surrounding Freemasonry and further highlighted some of the tools which are available to assist in promoting Masonry.
Robert Wright informed the meeting that the Ambassador Scheme was part of a strategy to increase membership by growing and encouraging enquiries, in other words we need ‘to blow our own trumpet a bit louder’. David Winder expanded upon charitable giving from within Freemasonry, noting that the Masonic Charitable Foundation has made donations to every single hospice in the country year on year, a remarkable achievement and one we all should be justifiably proud of.
Kevin Poynton emphasised the role of publicity in highlighting the beneficial effects of Masonry. Mike Threlfall discussed recruitment, observing in the process that if all current Masons could recruit just one family member we would double are membership overnight. Giles Barkley used a PowerPoint presentation to good effect to note, amongst many interesting facts, what is good about Freemasonry; including friendship, a sense of belonging, charity, caring for others and self-development – to name but a few. Finally, Dr David Harrison an academic from Liverpool University and a leading expert on the academic study of Freemasonry, brought to the audience’s attention a presentation titled ‘Ten of the top things you didn’t know about Freemasonry’.
At the end of this very worthwhile meeting those interested in applying to become an Ambassador were requested to fill in a form acknowledging their interest. All applicants will be interviewed and asked to make a short presentation of between five and 10 minutes duration.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.