The installation meeting of Chapter of Concord No 343 saw Mike Armstrong attain the first principal’s chair, Alan Whittle attain the second principal’s chair and Bob Erett return to the third principal’s chair in a well conducted ceremony. The principal guest, on this occasion, was Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Barry Jameson accompanied by the Vice Chairman of Preston Group Geoff Saul. They were supported by acting Provincial Grand officers, Paul Astley and Stephen Holcroft.
The chapter was opened in due form by the first principal Ray Thompson, with Andy Baker as the acting reader delivering an opening address, an address that is a feature of workings of this chapter. Following the administrative business of the chapter the director of ceremonies Bob Norris, entered the chapter to announce the presence of Barry Jameson accompanied by other Provincial grand officers. He was welcomed into the chapter by the first principal who thanked him for his attendance and wished him an enjoyable evening. Barry duly reciprocated in kind before taking his place in the chapter.
Before the commencement of the installation ceremony, Ray rose to thank the officers and companions of the chapter for their valued support and assistance during his year in office.
The visitors witnessed an excellent ceremony with Alan Whittle, installing his successor, Bob Erett, as the third principal. Mike Armstrong in turn installing Alan Whittle as his successor in the second principal’s chair and Ray Thompson installing Mike as the first principal. As the first and second principals elect had not held their impending offices before, they were both installed in full form, with Bob Erett, as third principal elect, reaffirming the obligation he had taken on a previous occasion.
The three principals were, in turn, presented for installation by the chapter DC. The scripture readings for the third principal were given by Martin Wootton, those for the second principal by Ian Grant and those for the first principal by Steve Nicholson. The associated prayers for all three principals were recited by Andy Baker.
A conclave of installed principals was declared and the three principals were then installed in their respective chairs as per accepted ritual and the conclave closed. Bob Norris then rose and proclaimed the three principals as each now holding their respective offices. As the first principal of the chapter, Mike had the pleasure of appointing and investing his officers for the ensuing year.
The scarlet robe address was given by David Barlow, the purple robe address was given by Martin Wootton and the blue robe address was given by Ian Grant. The address to the three principals was given by Warren Matts, all of whom gave commendable performances. The installation ceremony concluded with the address to the chapter companions given by the principal guest, Barry Jameson.
Barry then brought the congratulations and best wishes of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, in particular, congratulating the three principals on taking their respective offices, wishing them well for an excellent and enjoyable year in office. He congratulated the retiring first principal, Ray Thompson, for all his work, during both the evening and his year in office. He thanked director of ceremonies Bob Norris and the ADC John Sarti, for their involvement in the evenings well worked ceremony and went on to thank and congratulate all those who had taken office, wishing them an equally enjoyable year.
The first principal thanked Barry for his generous comments on behalf of the Grand Superintendent before presenting him with a cheque from the chapter to the value of £450 in support of the MCF 2021 Festival. Barry thanked the chapter for the generous donation to the 2021 Festival, commenting that it was a magnificent amount for a chapter considering that the companions will also have given generously through their Craft lodges. The donation coupled with others earlier in the year qualified the chapter for Vice-Patronage of the Festival. He then had great pleasure in presenting the chapter with a certificate noting the achievement.
The work in the chapter concluded with David Barlow presenting Ray with the Percy Goldberg Jewel as recognition of his time in the three principals’ chairs.
Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Barry brought his own congratulations to all those companions who had taken office with the responsibility it entails. He congratulated the chapter on what had been an excellent ceremony which had been well executed, in particular, mentioning the names of Ray Thompson, Bob Norris and John Sarti. He said he was pleased to have the company of Geoff Saul, who he thanked for all the work he has done and continues to do in the Province. He thanked Paul Astley and Stephen Holcroft, for their support as acting rank officers.
Turning to the 2021 Festival, Barry reminded the companions that Festival jewels are now available and urged those companions yet to make a commitment to consider supporting the Festival and join other Masons in wearing the jewel with pride. He thanked the chapter for the donation to the Festival made earlier, congratulating the chapter on achieving Vice Patronage so early in the Festival period.
He informed the companions that, currently about 60% of Craft Masons are not members of a Royal Arch chapter. The recent ‘Talking Heads’ presentations have helped cultivate interest in the Royal Arch amongst Craft Masons. To increase awareness of the exaltation ceremony Barry encouraged chapters to adapt their workings to incorporate sections of the new ‘Enhanced Ritual.’ In this way, the problem of retention is reduced as companions have a greater understanding of what is taking place before them.
Barry concluded his response by issuing an invitation from the Grand Superintendent to all companions to join with him at his meeting of Provincial Grand Chapter in October. For those who have not been before, he promised a spectacular event that is well worth attending. Barry closed by thanking the chapter for the kind welcome and generous reception he had received.