Companions attending Provincial Grand Chapter in the Southport Convention Centre saw 47 companions receive their first appointments and 82 companions promoted.
After opening Provincial Grand Chapter, the Grand superintendent, Tony Harrison welcomed his distinguished guests from other Provinces – The visitors were welcomed with acclamation after Tony announced their names.
Tony then said: “Companions, before I move on to the next item of business, isn’t it a pleasure to see our Past Grand Superintendent, Peter Hosker with us looking so fit and well.
Tony confirmed the minutes of the last Convocation of Provincial Grand Chapter held at Southport on 9 April 2015.
Tony then invested Paul Hesketh as the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. Paul was appointed as Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies in the Royal Arch in 2011 after serving in that capacity for three years he was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2014. Paul received his first appointment in Supreme Grand Chapter as Past Grand Standard Bearer in 2015. He was re-appointed as Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies in the Royal Arch in 2015.
Tony then re-appointed Danny Jones the Deputy Grand Superintendent. Tony said: You have now completed almost two years as my Deputy Grand Superintendent and you continue to demonstrate your enthusiasm and determination to raise the profile of the Royal Arch, which has proved highly successful.
In conjunction with a Team of seven dedicated Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals, the team visits and enhanced exaltation demonstrations you introduced are now becoming more and more popular, which is reflected in the increase in membership of the Order.
Your many qualities are certainly bringing a new dynamism to the Order and I am delighted that you have agreed to continue in office and it gives me great pleasure to re-appoint you.
Tony said: “Companions, It is most unfortunate that the poor health of Comp Peter Elmore has not only prevented him from attending this afternoon, but has made it impossible for him to continue as Second Provincial Grand Principal, and sadly I had no option but to accept his resignation from this office.
Peter served as Second Provincial Grand Principal for three years, previous to that served as an AtoPrGPs for seven years, and prior to that as a DGDC for six years in the Craft and then the RA. His contribution to the Royal Arch and to the Province of West Lancashire has been exemplary and we all wish him a speedy recovery to enable him to enjoy a long and happy retirement with his wife Rosie.
Tony then invested Paul Renton as Second Provincial Grand Principal. Paul is a member of four Royal Arch Chapters. He was a member of Winckley Chapter No 5468 and Withy Chapter No 7733 before being appointed in 2008 as a PrGStwd and subsequently joined Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter of West Lancashire No 8516. Withy Chapter amalgamated with Cuerden Chapter where he continues his membership, and he became a member of Silver Jubilee Chapter of Installed First Principals No 8818 in 2014.
He received his first appointment in Provincial Grand Chapter as Provincial Grand Steward in 2008 and was promoted to PPrGSwdB in 2012. Paul received his first appointment in Supreme Grand Chapter as Past Grand Standard Bearer in 2015.
Paul has served for three years as Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals with responsibly for the Chorley and District, Leyland and District, Ormskirk and District and the Southport Groups.
Tony then addressed Stanley Oldfield: “Stanley ou have been Third Provincial Grand Principal for three years, before which you were an APrGM for five years and an AtoPrGP before that, and this vast wealth of experience has resulted in you making a significant contribution to the running of the Province. In fact since becoming JW of the Province in 1994 you have always held high office, so after 22 years of dedicated service, you’ve decided it’s time for a well-earned rest. Thank you for your outstanding contribution to Freemasonry, and may I wish both you and your wife Marlene a long, happy and healthy retirement.
Tony then invested Ian Higham as Third Provincial Grand Principal.
Ian was exalted into Coronation Chapter of Westhoughton No 7258 in 1991 and became its first principal in 2005.
He was appointed Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2009 an office held for four years during which he was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2012.
Ian was appointed Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies for the Royal Arch Province of West Lancashire in April 2013, he also received his first appointment in Supreme Grand Chapter as Past Grand Standard Bearer in 2013.
Tony reported that all of his assistants have indicated that they wish to continue in their important key roles within the Province. He thanked them individually and collectively for all their help and support and he said he was delighted to re-appoint them. HE then asked them to stand as he called their names. He then asked the companions to show their appreciation with applause when he had completed the list. The companions gave their acclamation as the last assistant stood.
The Grand Superintendent then invested Tony Hall as one of his Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals. Tony was exalted into Withy Chapter (now Cuerden with Withy Chapter) No 7733 meeting at Leyland, serving as its first principal in 2008. He became the chapter’s scribe ezra in 2011.
Tony received his first Provincial appointment as PrGStwd, becoming a member of Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter of West Lancashire No 8516, in the same year. He is also a member of Horwich Chapter No 2324 and is scribe Ezra of Setantia Chapter of Installed First Principals No 7755. Tony was appointed Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2015.
The Grand Superintendent then said he was “delighted to announce the grand ranks for 2016 which will take place in London at the meeting of Supreme Grand Chapter on 28 April” he read the names: First appointments to the rank of PGStdB – Colin John Rowling, Peter Michael Taylor, Arend van Duyvenbode, Robert Graham Sydney Wright, and Chad Northcott. Promotion to the rank of PAGSoj Ian Cuerden. This announcement was followed with loud applause.
Neil Latham the Provincial Grand Treasurer presented a report on the finances of the Province, which was followed by a vote of thanks proposed by Ian Cuerden to the Provincial Grand Treasurer.
Tony declared Neil Latham as Provincial Grand Treasurer and Peter Taylor as Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra for the ensuing year.
Neil then announced there will be no increase in the annual dues. Consequently, the annual dues for 2016 will remain at £3.00 plus VAT, payable in arrears in January 2017.
Tony then addressed the companions: “It has given me a great deal of pleasure to welcome all our distinguished guests here this afternoon and on behalf of all the companions of West Lancashire we really do hope that you enjoy your time with us and take back to your Provinces many happy memories.
I am delighted too to see so many of you here today to share in our Provincial Convocation. I hope you will agree with me when I say this is a wonderful facility in which to hold our Provincial meeting and from where I am – and I have the best seat in the house – it certainly is a most splendid and colourful occasion.
There are many of you who are first, second or third principals and some of you will be attending in that capacity for the first time. I extend to you all a particularly warm welcome, and I would now invite you to stand and be recognised.
To our Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, Peter Taylor, a very big thank you for the huge amount of work that you and your staff, Diana, Violet and Andrew Ridal, who I am shortly to appoint to the office of Deputy Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, have put in, to not only making this meeting such a success, but for all the work you have carried out during the year.
Companions, Arend van Duyvenbode, who has served this Province as Deputy Provincial Scribe Ezra for 12 years, has today retired from office in the Royal Arch. Arend, thank you so much for all the hard work you have done in serving three Grand Superintendents and for your efforts in preserving the well-being of this Province both in the Craft and the Royal Arch. Your contribution has simply been outstanding and the companions present will no doubt join me in showing our appreciation of your long and devoted service. Arend, all the very best for the future.
I look forward to attending the Grand Investiture, in a little over two weeks’ time, and seeing both Peter and Arend receiving their grand rank, they both so justly and rightfully deserve.
As you know, I have, this afternoon, appointed Paul Hesketh as our new PrGDC and to him and all his deputies, can I thank you so much for your contribution to today’s ceremonial and for all you have done during the past year in carrying out your many duties around the Province. To the acting officers of the past year, I hope you have thoroughly enjoyed yourself and that you have been able to attend on as many occasions as you can. Last, but by no means least, to all those excellent companions who have represented me at the many chapter installation meetings throughout the year can I pass on my personal thanks for your continued loyalty and support.
I would very much like to thank all those companions, and in particular first principals and their Ladies, who supported the recent Provincial Ball at the Macron Stadium in Bolton. It really was a most wonderful and enjoyable evening for all concerned and on behalf of Maureen and I, together with all those involved in the organising of the Ball, thank you so much for your support. For those unable to attend it this year, perhaps we will see you there next March.
During this past year the Province has undergone major changes to the care structure and I thank all those involved in its implementation, particularly the Provincial Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh and all the members of his team. I am confident that this new system will be the `Cornerstone of Care` within the Province and that our chapter almoners will now have ample time to devote to their primary duty of pastoral care.
Throughout this season, the Deputy Grand Superintendent and, the Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals, have worked extremely hard to promote our Provincial team visits. We have witnessed some excellent demonstrations of the working of the enhanced exaltation ceremony and I am delighted to report this new working is now attracting much interest throughout the Province and has already been adopted for use in a number of chapters. The team have also carried on with the ‘Talking Heads’ programme, which has been a huge success, insofar as following a presentation, there have been a number of brethren taking up membership of the Royal Arch, which can only be for the good. To that end, I will be carrying out further visits, with the Provincial team, this coming year and look forward to your continued support on these occasions.
You will know from the many visits I have made this past year, that I continue to ask you to consider yourselves as membership officers and mentors within the Craft and the Royal Arch. Those of you here today are dedicated Royal Arch Masons, however, there are many brethren in the Province who are not yet members, or are just sitting on the fence and I look to you all to assist me in increasing our membership. There is a Royal Arch representative in all lodges, throughout the Province and I trust that he will encourage brethren to join us at an appropriate time in their Masonic journey. Whilst discussing membership, at the last Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter, it was confirmed that in order to be a Royal Arch Mason, a Companion must be a subscribing Craft Mason. There are a number of Masons who are only members of the RA, this can no longer be the case but, thankfully for a small number in West Lancashire, this qualification is not retrospective!
As we come towards the end of this Masonic year I am sure that we all look forward to the next, which will see the start of our tercentenary celebrations and I look to you, the companions of West Lancashire, to support the many activities and events which are being planned across the Province. I am sure that you will offer your support as you have done on so many occasions in the past and I am truly grateful to the many chapters who have already taken on-board the request to support the celebrations by making a most generous donation of £300 to the forthcoming MCF 2021 Festival which we will be launching next year.
I shall very shortly have the privilege and the great honour to invest those companions who are to be appointed to and promoted in Provincial Grand Chapter and I would like to congratulate you all upon your preferment and in doing so remind you that you have received the honour not only for what you have done within your private chapters, your groups and even within the Province, but also for what I trust, you will continue to do in the future.
Finally may I thank those companions from the Preston Group of Lodges and Chapters who have looked after us all so well here today. Their work started early this morning preparing this building for our convocation, stewarding this meeting, taking care of security and ensuring that we have been able to enjoy our convocation. Grateful thanks also go to the Southport Group for the loan of their Masonic furniture. All these companions will I am sure be working long after we are enjoying ourselves at the bar and the banquet.
Lastly Companions, I thank all of you for your attendance here today. I do hope that you have enjoyed this meeting as much as I have and I look forward to the pleasure of your company next door.for the festive board.”
The investiture of 125 companions who have been appointed and promoted in Provincial grand rank were asked to come forward so that Tony could invest them.
Tony said: “This investiture recognises the important achievements of each celebrant, so please continue your good work in the future. I shall rely upon you to help in encouraging members of the craft to join this beautiful degree and then, once they have been exalted, to help in mentoring and supporting them through their fascinating journey as Royal Arch Masons.”
After the investiture the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra announced that the Province had received an invitation from the Chorley and District Group of Chapters to host the meeting in Southport on Monday 10 April 2017.
Provincial Grand Chapter was closed in due form.
The festive board was enjoyed by all the companions who attended it. After the meal the Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah Jim Miller gave the response on behalf of all the companions who had been appointed and promoted. Jim started by thanking Tony for conferring the respective honours upon the companions. He continued: “Companions, I have no doubt that the particular Honour bestowed upon you is richly deserved for the work and support that you have given in maintaining our Order and that you are looked upon as a credit to your Chapter.
As we are about to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry, I would venture that with the Initiatives emanating from United Grand Lodge, Supreme Grand Chapter and this Province that there may never have been a better time than the present to be a member of our Fraternity.
Gone are many of the outmoded attitudes making Masonry a much more inclusive organisation, and with such Initiatives as ‘The mentoring system’ were we ensure that new Masons are more informed and better prepared than ever before. ‘Ambassadors for Freemasonry’, showing us how to engage with non-Masons in our daily lives. Everyone of my colleagues at work know that I am a Freemason, if fact one young lady rather jokingly refers to me as “The chief wizard” little does she know that he is sitting a little further along this table!
The introduction of ‘The Light Blue Clubs’ further bonding our newer Brethren in both Masonic and non-Masonic environments. The re-branding of the organisation, fitting it for the 21st Century.
And in this digital age, what of the Holy Royal Arch?, that Lawrence Dermott referred to as the “root heart and marrow of Masonry” well, by going out and promoting the Order in Craft lodges by way of the ‘Talking Heads’ initiative, which incidentally, co-insides with the promotion of the ‘Enhanced Exaltation Ceremony’ that increases the drama for existing and new candidates alike, will I am sure, result in a positive impact in Royal Arch recruitment and enjoyment of the Order.
The Royal Arch has much to look forward to and has many good things to commend it, not least one of the most beautiful and thought provoking ceremonies in Masonry. We should be confident companions, that Royal Arch Masonry is still relevant in today’s society and will continue to prosper.”