Wigan Chapter No 2326, not a chapter overflowing with members at the moment, was honoured by the presence of the Deputy Grand Superintendent Paul Renton as principal guest at their installation meeting at Pemberton Masonic Hall. Paul was accompanied by Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Ian Cuerden, group chairman Geoffrey Porter, group charity steward Chris Reeman, who is also Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner, Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah David Barr, together with two Provincial Grand Standard Bearers, Ron Belshaw and John Roxburgh. Completing the entourage and directing proceedings, was Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell.
It was a very happy and enjoyable evening throughout, even though Paul, and many other companions, were delayed by an accident on the motorway, which again brought traffic chaos to the surrounding roads leading to Pemberton Masonic Hall.
Paul witnessed a ceremony conducted in fine style, with Ray Hope being installed as first principal, Ian Titterington as second principal and Ron Belshaw returning as third principal to help out the chapter as well as undertaking his acting Provincial duties. The ceremony concluded with the Deputy Grand Superintendent delivering a wonderful address to the companions of the chapter.
Paul was then pleased to deliver the greetings and best wishes of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, wishing all well. He congratulated the installing principals and complemented Karl Greenall on his work as a principal of the chapter over the last three years. He also thanked Keith Halliwell for having returned to the office of director of ceremonies and overseeing the ceremony just witnessed. The first principal, Ray, thanked Paul for the greetings and presented him with two cheques; one for the hall and one for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, both in the sum of £250. Paul received the cheques with thanks and was delighted to receive such a sum of money from a chapter with such a small membership.
Ian Cuerden, in bringing his greetings, recognised the problems the chapter was experiencing but could see we had ‘a Ray of Hope’ in the chapter and urged members present to seek out likely companions amongst the brethren in their lodges.
A very enjoyable festive board followed with wine-takings and toasts under the meticulous direction of Malcolm Bell, in a very warm and happy atmosphere around the room. The Deputy Grand Superintendent, in his response, was mindful of the chapter’s low numbers and encouraged the members to have some serious discussions amongst themselves to determine their way forward. He certainly looks forward to seeing how the chapter progresses in the future. Following his response to the toast to the three principals, Ray Hope presented the Deputy Grand Superintendent with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for his wife. Paul was delighted, and thanked the companions on behalf of his wife, Wendy. Paul was delighted to have been assisted by the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies who was thanked for the manner in which he had conducted the evening. Further thanks were given to the Provincial Scribe Nehemiah and the four other acting Provincial grand officers and Paul wished all companions a happy and blessed Christmas and a healthy and happy year for 2018.
The journey home was less traumatic, not only because the problems on the road had been sorted but perhaps also because, for just a few hours, all present had put aside the concerns of the world outside and enjoyed an evening in good Masonic company in the very convivial setting of a Royal Arch chapter.