Geoff Helisma | You may have seen some odd fellows in the streets of Maclean and surrounds last week – the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows held its 2018 Biennial Fraternal Conference at the Maclean Bowling Club last Friday October 19. On Saturday night, lifelong member and Chief of the Lower Clarence Scottish Association, Peter Smith, was installed as Grand Master of the Order. At the ceremony, outgoing Grand Master Str. Robyn French, congratulated Bro. Smith on his elevation to the pinnacle of Odd Fellowship. “Grand United is in good hands with Bro. Peter becoming the grand master,” she said. “I look forward to witnessing his term, having enjoyed working with him for the benefit of the Order for the last four years.” Bro. Smith said it was “a great honour” to have been chosen. He said in, layman terms, his role was like being the president. “We have a committee of management comprised of six district officers, plus the deputy grand master and the grand secretary for the jurisdiction of Australia. “It’s a friendly society; our motto is ‘friendship, love and truth’. “We used to be a medical benefits fund … but we also have a fraternal side, which is what we are now; we raise funds for charities, visit the sick and elderly, etcetera.” Previously, Bro. Smith was a district grand lodge officer, before becoming deputy grand master four years ago. Twenty representatives from the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows in New South Wales, Northern Rivers (NSW), Queensland and Victoria joined 40 Grand United members at the weekend conference. Grand United has been meeting in Australia since the early 1840s, prior to receiving a dispensation from England in 1848 to establish an Order in New South Wales. The principal objects of the Order were mutual aid and benevolent programs, prior to the introduction of social welfare benefits by state and federal governments. Today, the Order’s main activities are charitable works and an opportunity for members to meet as friends. Bro. Smith will serve a two-year term, with an option to nominate for another term. He said money raised at the conference would be donated to Maclean SES. “I’d like to thank Clarence Valley Council for supplying bags with tourist information and Botero and Sunshine Sugar for their donations – and the Masonic Lodge for the use of their centre to hold the installation ceremony,” he said. The Order’s members meet regularly in the Maclean area, for more information please contact the Grand Secretary, Bro. Nathan Gray PGM, at Nathan.Gray@live.com.au. Note: the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows is not a part of the Masonic Lodge.