Among the notifications of the 2023 Grand Lodge Appointments and Promotions was news that our Past Provincial Grand Master R.W.Bro. Archibald Iain Torrance was Invested as President of the Mark Benevolent Fund (M.B.F.) at Mark Grand Lodge on Tuesday 13th June 2023.

Our national charity, the Mark Benevolent Fund, came into existence in 1868 on the suggestion of the Reverend George Raymond Portal, Grand Master of the Mark. His views on charity were far more radical and progressive than the general thinking of the time. He felt that for charity to be effective it had to be disbursed swiftly and without the bureaucratic formalities of other Masonic charities. To him it was wrong for there to be any delay in providing assistance to those in need and his own Latin tag “Bis dat qui cito dat” – he gives twice who gives promptly – became, and still is, the principal guideline of the M.B.F.  A sentiment that remains as true today as it did over 150 years ago.”

R.W.Bro. Archie Torrance With His Fellow M.B.F. Trustees At Mark Grand Lodge

We caught up with Archie not long after he was Invested, by M.W.Bro. H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO, Grand Master, to ask him about his magnificent new role and what lies ahead:

“It came as quite a surprise when I was approached to have my name added to the shortlist for the role of President of the Mark Benevolent Fund. I was previously a trustee of the M.B.F. and very much enjoyed my time with the charity but I had thought that my involvement had concluded. It is therefore a huge privilege and honour to have been appointed to lead such a prestigious body.”

“I hope to bring my own style of leadership and drive to the M.B.F. I was a police officer for 31 years, holding leadership roles for all but 3 years of that service. I was Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Province of Kent from 2013 to 2021, which included the challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was a member of the G.L.M.M.M. Working Party on Recruitment, Retention & Reinvigoration for three years and chair of the successful Regional Group – Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, London, Middlesex, Oxfordshire – which developed The Magic of the Mark work for the Mark General Board. I was President of the very successful Kent Mark 2020 Festival, which raised £2,057,000 for the M.B.F. and led to Kent becoming the very first Grand Patron Diamond Award holder in the constitution.”

When we asked him what the the future may hold, Archie commented:

“The Mark Benevolent Fund has been running for 155 years and has tried and tested systems and processes in place and I would like to hold to the old adage of: ‘Don’t mend what isn’t broken’. I’d like to build on the work of my predecessors and ensure that, during my term of office, the M.B.F. continues to flourish.”

“I do think that the profile of the M.B.F. could be enhanced and the visibility of our 12 trustees increased. I also believe that we are only scratching the surface when it comes to responding to the needs of our members and their families. The figures published by Citizen Advice recently should give us real cause for concern, the numbers of calls for help and advice having increased to new record levels in the first four months of 2023. We all have a responsibility to encourage those in need to come forward and to seek help. Our trustees are ready and waiting to help if we can.”

“I very much look forward to working with the other trustees and to ensuring that I hand over the M.B.F. in even better condition than I found it.”