The members and guests of Hamer Chapter No 1393 were present in force at the Liverpool Masonic Hall’s fabulous Egyptian suite to celebrate a very rare event in Royal Arch Freemasonry. This special occasion was to mark the 70 years in the Royal Arch of 100 years old James Bernard Sheridan. Although somewhat frail physically as might be expected for a man of his age, Bernard has retained a sharp intellect and a keen memory for details. It is apparent even to the casual observer that Bernard is held in high esteem by all who know him.
The proceedings commenced with the entrance into the temple of the representative of the Provincial Grand Superintendent, Paul Shepherd who is the Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals with responsibility for the Liverpool Group of Chapters. Paul’s entrance was heralded by the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Robert Wright.
The companions stood as a colourful and dignified procession of grand and acting Provincial officers entered escorting Paul Sheridan. Amongst that number were grand officers Rev Bruce Harry, Brian Jackson, David McCormick, Syd Ford, John Wreyford, Roy Pine, Howard Griffiths and Malcolm Townley. The Liverpool Group was represented by vice chairman David Kemp.
The three Principals, Aaron Banks (first principal), Ted Baxter (acting second principal) and Ray Stones (third principal) welcomed Paul to Hamer Chapter. Aaron Banks proffered the sceptre of the chapter which was accepted by Paul who assumed the chair. He requested that the celebrant be placed before him. Paul then proceeded to recount some of the many events which have occurred during Bernard’s long life time and also a brief summary of his personal history.
Bernard was born in Liverpool on 25 January 1915, and lived in the area all of his life. His profession was that of a food scientist engaged in the preparation of flavouring essences. He had fond memories of his marriage to Betty and they had two boys who went on to become successful professionals. Bernard has seven grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren with whom he keeps in touch via Skype. He travels annually to Canada to visit his eldest son who is a doctor. Bernard has also served the church in the capacity of churchwarden at Mossley Hill Parish Church for many years. He continues his interest in the church and is a weekly attender at Liverpool Cathedral.
Bernard has had a long and impressive Masonic career. He was initiated into Lodge of Sincerity No 292 in 1939 and remained a member until it closed this year. He was exalted into Royal Arch Masonry in Knowsley Chapter No 3581 in 1945. He achieved Provincial rank in the Craft in 1955 and in the Royal Arch in 1967. He achieved Grand rank in the Craft in 1971 and in Royal Arch in 1981. He served as secretary to one of the old Liverpool groups for 11 years, vice chairman for four years and chairman for another four years. He was the organiser of stewards at the Provincial Ball for 41 years!
Paul concluded by saying: “A loving husband, father grandfather and great grandfather, over 70 years a Freemason, now celebrating 70 years as a Royal Arch Mason. A man who has served his lodges, his chapters, his groups and his Province faithfully and been recognised as a man of distinction by Supreme Grand Chapter. A dedicated family man in every aspect of your life and a man always prepared to go that extra mile for family and friends.
It is my privilege to thank you for all that you have given to Royal Arch Masonry in general and to the chapters of which you have been a member, namely Knowsley Chapter No 3581, Cycling and Athletic Chapter No 2335 and Hamer Chapter No 1393 in particular.”
The assembled companions responded with applause.
Paul next asked group vice chairman David Kemp to read the 70 year certificate issued by the Provincial Grand Superintendent which he did. Paul then presented Bernard with it, again to the applause of the assembly. He also gave Bernard a full copy of the tribute to him which is a work of considerable historic research on Paul’s part. Paul then returned the sceptre to Aaron Banks who resumed his position in the first principal’s chair. Aaron then rose and presented a cheque to Paul Shepherd which is a most generous donation of £100 to the West Lancashire Freemason’s Charity from the companions of Hamer Chapter, to mark the occasion.
The companions then adjourned to a lavish festive board during which there were further numerous tributes paid to Bernard by those whom he had helped and encouraged throughout his many years of service to Freemasonry.