For some ten years now, the annual event that is the Inter-Provincial Active Officers’ Dinner has been alternately hosted by the Provinces of Somerset and Bristol. A similar arrangement also exists separately between Bristol and Gloucestershire.
This year, being the first event since the Covid restrictions, The Provinces of Gloucestershire and Somerset were invited to attend the same event by the hosts, Bristol, making this the first Tri-Provincial event.
And what a very enjoyable and successful inauguration it was too!
Begun during their tenures as PGMs, Somerset’s Stuart Hadler and Bristol’s Alan Vaughan initiated the Bristol / Somerset annual dinner, during which they enjoyed many humorous exchanges regarding their speculative claims to each other’s Provincial ‘geographical’ territory. You can imagine the grounds cited and the comments made in defence on both sides.
The evening of Friday 2nd September saw this year’s dinner hosted at Freemasons’ Hall, Park St, by Province of Bristol PGM R.W.Bro Jonathan (Joe) Mark Walker Davis. The Brethren gathered in the bar, where old acquaintances met up and new ones were made. This lively atmosphere then continued into the main dining room, where the eighty or so guests enjoyed an excellent dinner and company.
The welcome address and Loyal Toast were made by Bristol’s PGM who then handed over to his Deputy PGM, Richard Lewis, to propose the toasts, first to the Province of Gloucestershire, to which their Dep. PGM, David Mason responded with the synonymous good humour associated with the traditions of the event.
That banter continues and shows no sign of abating any time soon. Even better, because Gloucestershire could now join in that same lively debate, perhaps discussing the history of the area now known as South Gloucester, among others!
Then came the toast made to the Province of Somerset…………….
Somerset’s Dep PGM, Ben Batley, was warmly greeted when he rose to respond to the toast made on behalf of the Somerset Brethren. He then (almost) immediately, and with great skill, delegated that duty upwards to Somerset’s PGM, David Medlock, no doubt perhaps recognising that this would be David’s last opportunity to respond as such before his appointment to Assistant Grand Master next week.
It truly was a slick move, and richly deserving of the rapturous response it received as David rose to acknowledge the fait accompli visited upon him by a skilled operative, before making his impromptu and equally good-humoured response to the toast on behalf of Somerset.
The longstanding spirit of friendship and mutual support that exists between the rulers of the three neighbouring Provinces and their respective active Provincial officers was evident for all to see and made for a very enjoyable evening.
Long may it continue…………………….
Photos by Barry Davies.
Posted by Andy Baird. PCO.