At the second time of asking, David Grainger has finally been able to install Mike Benson as his successor as first principal of Baldwin Chapter No 1398 in a ceremony at Dalton-in-Furness Masonic Hall.
The installation of Mike should have taken place last year but shortly before the due date he had a serious cycling accident and was unable to attend the ceremony. To save him undue worry, it was only after Mike had turned up for the meeting that David was informed that he had just returned from a cycling tour in Majorca!
Principal guest on the evening was Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Chris Butterfield, who had followed David into that role. He was accompanied by three acting Provincial grand officers in the persons of Peter Quirk, Dennis Laird and Stephen McClintock. Adding further lustre to the occasion were Past Second Provincial Grand Principal Chris Band and fellow grand officers Rowly Saunders, Alan Jones and Barrie Crossley as well as group vice chairman Gary Rogerson
They were able to watch David install Mike in a very sincere manner and with some relief, whilst Dave Sear, after a couple of years out, headed back to the desk of Scribe Ezra after installing Steve McKellar as his successor as second principal. In turn Steve installed Darren Stainton as third principal.
As Chris later commented: “It was a delight to see three principals installed who are new to their respective chairs and have not been re-cycled. I am sure they will help take the chapter forward from strength to strength.” In fact the three principals, between them, have amassed only 24 years as Masons, an average of 8 years each.
The address to the three principals was delivered by that doyen of ritualists Brian Davey whilst Chris, in giving the address to the companions, was as equally eloquent. However, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the robe addresses. Dave Sear, Malcolm Brown and Bill Coates were brought onto the floor with the three principals stood before them.
At this point director of ceremonies Graham Slater, in his own inimitable manner, decreed that he would use his prerogative and oust Malcolm Brown from his role and replace him with a substitute. This substitute was the first principal of Henry Cook Chapter No 1021, who is Graham Benson, the brother of the newest first principal in the group.
Graham delivered the red robe address to Mike faultlessly and with obvious sincerity. It was a very poignant moment that will live long in their memories as well as of those who bore witness to it. Graham had earlier undertaken the appropriate scripture reading to Mike whilst Bob Herbert and Carl Hallows had orated those to the second and third principals.
To mark the occasion Mike presented Chris with a cheque in favour of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. Group charity steward Richard Wilcock was on hand to present a further cheque for £100 in matched-funding from the group charity account. This entitled the chapter to style itself vice patrons of the festival and Richard presented a certificate to mark this achievement.
Following the ceremonial aspect of the meeting, 60 members and their guests enjoyed a well-received meal as they continued to enjoy each other’s company.