In taking up the reins as Magisterium Officium and UK Grand Prior of our Order, I should like to extend to all Knights and Dames my solemn and heartfelt thanks for the unique distinction you have bestowed upon me.
I have always found being a member of this society the rewarding on so many levels, but the honour that you now accord me is without parallel. It is certainly not every day that one is invited to head up an organization with a 700 year-old heritage.
Under Simon’s leadership, and through the dedicated work of the Grand Magistery, we have made great strides in recent years. We have put in position a strong structure ready for the tasks ahead, but there is still much to be done. First and foremost, we need to grow our numbers in order to better deliver our charitable aims and support the communities we exist to serve. Our revised membership structure gives us the springboard for a rapid and sustained expansion of our membership. We are also seeding new Commanderies up and down the country, joining our existing Commanderies, such as the Thistle & Rose in Scotland, which offers a sterling example of what can be achieved.
The Order has always, of course, been an international body, and this was officially recognized in 2015 when we gained Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic & Social Council. I am also delighted that in recent years we have seen the growth of a truly effective organization in the Americas, which last year became a full Grand Priory, co-equal with our UK Grand Priory.
In looking at our international role, I am sure we all reject the view that Britain and the Commonwealth should be relegated to a tame and minor role in the world. I say that not out of any chauvinistic view, but because the sort of ‘soft power’ that we in the Order epitomize can deliver real results for vulnerable communities and individuals worldwide.
These are of course challenging times, but the values of chivalry, honour, and courage that we represent have been tested before, and never found wanting. As the Psalmist urges us “we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:2)
The inspiration of St George and the code of chivalry that he embodies are the keys to our future. Let no one underrate our potential and our abiding power for good.
My best wishes to you all,
Yours Under the Banner of St. George,
Stuart A Notholt, MA(Oxon) FRGS FCIJ GCStG
Grand Prior of the Order in the United Kingdom