There was no need to worry about a cold February temperature inside the packed Egyptian Suite at Liverpool Masonic Hall as the companions of Everton Chapter No 823 gave an extremely warm reception to all their guests at the annual installation ceremony. This venerable chapter works a ceremony laid down many years ago as befits its beginnings in 1868 and its evolvement out of St John of Jerusalem Chapter No 203 previously.
The chapter was opened by the first principal Barry Fisher, ably assisted by his two fellow principals, Hugh O’Neill and Derek Gaskell. On opening, a dispensation was read giving permission for Hugh to take the position of first principal, for he already holds that office in another chapter. The chapter welcomed David Potts as the special representative of the Provincial Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison. David entered in a large colourful procession, accompanied by numerous companions holding office in Supreme Grand Chapter, along with David Kemp representing the Liverpool Group and current Provincial officers, Stewart Blagg, Mike Hilton, Bill Bagnall, Tom Marlow and Phil Pattulo.
For the purpose of the installation ceremony, Steve Roberts was invited to temporarily occupy the second principal’s chair and George Crawley that of the third principal, while Roy Ashley took guard at the room entrance. Graham Arnold and Bernard Ashley presented the incoming principals, Hugh O’Neill as first principal, Derek Gaskell as second principal and Bill Wenton as third principal. All three were installed as per the ancient workings still used in Everton Chapter and resplendent throughout sitting on the pedestal of Nehemiah was the famous Everton bowler hat formerly worn by a chapter patriarch, Albert Watson Ley who still towers in the chapter history.
Barry thanked the officers of the chapter for all their hard work and the support given him during his period of office, special mention being made to the participation of Bernard Ashley in preparing the companions in their proficiency for this evening.
Hugh was then installed as first principal in the correct manner and as his first duty invested Barry Fisher as the immediate past first principal. Derek Gaskell was installed as second principal and Bill Wenton as third principal, which on completion allowed the white ribboned companions to be re-admitted. Barry presented the charter, book of regulations and by-laws to Hugh, after which Hugh invested his officers for the year. This was followed by Roy Ashley giving the address to the officers in a truly exemplary manner.
David Potts brought the best wishes and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Superintendent and further extolled the extraordinary high standard of the ceremony witnessed on the evening and congratulating director of ceremonies Roy Cowley on his proficiency.
At this time Hugh presented the charitable cheques to David, the first being for £300 in favour of Liverpool Masonic Hall, one of £100 to help fight Parkinson’s disease and £100 for the British Limbless Ex-Serviceman’s Association. Such was the attendance on the evening that the companions had to use the large upstairs banqueting suite for their very enjoyable festive board.