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New Provincial Grand Master Installed for Essex Freemasons

10 September 2021 ~ Published in News. Read 271 times.

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Freemasons from all over Essex travelled to a special Essex Provincial Investiture Meeting on Thursday 9th September 2021, held at Freemasons’ Hall in London, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) to see Paul William Tarrant installed as the 20th Provincial Grand Master (PGM) of Essex by the Deputy Grand Master of UGLE, Jonathan Spence.

Born in Leigh-on-Sea in 1954, Paul Tarrant became a Freemason in 1983, having been proposed by a close friend, David Badger, from the Little Theatre Club in Westcliff. He joined the Lodge of Fraternity No 5916, which now meets at Saxon Hall in Southend, and became the Master of the Lodge in 1994. Educated at Westcliff High School and Southend College of Technology, where he gained a diploma in Business, Paul has had a distinguished career working for Racal Electronics, HM Customs and Excise and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Describing his biggest personal success as meeting Jenny, his wife, with music, theatre and the arts playing an important part in their lives. Whilst at the Rug Opera in Southend they helped raise over £80,000 for charity. Paul has also been the South Essex representative of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association and served as a Trustee of the Freda Parry Scholarship Fund helping young people follow a career in singing. With a keen interest in conservation, they are also supporters of the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts and enjoy walking three to four miles each day.

The first PGM for Essex, Thomas Dunkerley, was appointed in 1776. He became a famous Freemason after having served as a gunnery instructor in the Royal Navy and fought at the Battle of Quebec under command of another Freemason, General James Wolfe. In the late eighteenth century, Dunkerley helped modernise the then ritual and developed the concept of Provincial Grand Lodges. Today there are 48 Masonic Provinces in England and Wales with over 200,000 Freemasons. Essex is one of the largest with currently 9,120 members in 331 Lodges at 27 Masonic centres across the county.

This new appointment as the twentieth PGM for Essex comes at a pivotal time as public perception has changed favourably over the last year or so towards Freemasonry.  Positive local press includes Essex Masons winning the 2020 Pride of Essex Awards and now “Engaging with the Community” in partnership with Braintree Museum is one of the most recent. Paul is determined to build on this positivity and attract more members not only to enjoy the friendship Freemasonry offers but also to help with all the charitable works and good causes in Essex which the Freemasons support.  Over £7 million has been pledged by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons charity, for Essex alone.

Paul Tarrant explained “We are all in together with a wide-range of different beliefs and religions. Since the Age of Enlightenment, Freemasonry has never become a melting-pot producing one religion, as some people think, and it never will. It is a wonderful organisation in which every member has a healthy respect for each other. Being a member of Freemasonry is the best decision made in all my years. I have never been ambitious. I simply love seeing members enjoying themselves with a focus on charity, which is a good thing”.  David Badger said “I’m sure that the Brethren of Essex will see more clearly what a great choice has been made, and that’s not just because he is my friend. I’m certain Paul Tarrant will be remembered as one of the great Provincial Grand Masters of our time”.

Tony Hales

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Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex