It is essential in electing a companion to take the office of first principal of a chapter that the selected nominee be an example of that moral rectitude of conduct befitting of such high office. Indeed, all three principals should fulfil the criteria of their stations. And Blackpool Chapter No 1476 scored a treble in choosing Peter Mann, Stan Hill and Terry Barlow as first, second and third principals respectively.
Local care officer Peter Mann is a Mason of merit; respected, admired and trusted. Stan Hill, the untiring genial host of many social functions at the Masonic Hall in Blackpool and all-round good egg is also a Mason of merit. Terry Barlow, notable ritualist and exemplary Mason is equal in stature to his colleagues and likewise highly respected. The credentials of all three are impeccable. Whilst many chapters would consider themselves fortunate if blessed with a mere handful of gifted ritualists, Blackpool Chapter appears to hold a plethora of talent.
Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Paul Renton, representing the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, was the principal guest of the evening at the chapter’s installation convocation and he, along with distinguished officers of Supreme Grand Chapter Bill Eardley and Geoffrey Pritchard, with the Chairman of Blackpool Group of lodges and chapters Peter Bentham, supported by acting Provincial officer John Cartwright were treated to a delightful ceremony in which many highly prominent companions took part.
A thorough risk assessment must have been conducted by the chapter members in picking the companions to execute the various components of the installation ceremony, for every element lay safely in the hands of superb performers. There was certainly no risk in selecting health and safety expert Brian Ogden as installing first principal; reliable, dedicated, conscientious and always a willing participant.
And what a list the cast composed of! Under the eagle eye of the chapter’s director of ceremonies Ray Lamb, brilliance was in abundance. A fair measure of the quality can be gleaned from the high standard first set by Sheldon Rawstrone, Geoffrey Pritchard and Ken Jones in reading the portions of scripture and delivering prayers.
The robe addresses were performed with equal aplomb; that for the scarlet robe by Bill Snell, that for the purple robe being again in the very able and safe hands of Brian Ogden and that of blue robe in a masterly performance by Bob Hogarth. Ken Jones reinforced his reputation with a faultless address to the principals, a standard that Melvyn Wainwright was quick to emulate in his address to the officers of the chapter.
But then it is recognised that the companions had to do a superb job. The competition was fierce in the knowledge that Paul Renton was to deliver the address to the companions. His reputation for excellence precedes him and he fully demonstrated that that reputation is justly earned.
Talent in the chapter is equalled by the munificence of its companions, a point that Paul focused on when presented with charitable disbursements amounting to £900 with donations of £500 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £300 to Aiming High which helps families with disabled children to enjoy every day activities and £100 to the Blackpool Masonic Hall Building Fund. Conveying the best wishes of Tony Harrison, Paul thanked the companions for their generosity saying: “It is a magnificent sum for a small chapter to raise.”
The generosity of the companions was further evident at the festive board that followed the formal ceremony when £230 was raised in a raffle. High spirits and the knowledge of a job well done ensured a genial and sociable mood during the three-course meal, delightfully concluded by a sincere rendition of the principals’ song by Harry Waggett, accompanied on the ivories by George Holden.
Excellence governed the day from commencement to closure and the companions of Blackpool Chapter demonstrated that size is not important but the manner in which one uses talent most definitely is.