At the beginning of an enjoyable evening at Fylde Chapter No 2758, thanks were expressed for the hard work of retiring almoner Jim Donne and the work already carried out by his successor Glen Jackson, who is also now the second principal of the chapter.
After two years in the first principal’s chair Daren Gardner could have been forgiven for sagging a bit but Daren is made of sterner stuff. He has had the pleasure of seeing several candidates exalted into the Royal Arch and it was pleasing to all to see young companions working their way through the progressive offices.
To enable the smooth transition for newer companions to work their way seamlessly into principal offices a period of just one year was required by a past principal to do another turn. No surprise therefore to see John Morris willing to step into the breach. John, who has already been the first principal of Blackpool Chapter of Integrity No 5864 and has since seen appointment in Provincial Grand Chapter, works tirelessly for several sections of Freemasonry.
The new second principal, Glen Jackson, took much more persuasion to join the Royal Arch but has surged through the ranks to join the engine room of the chapter. Glen was joined by yet another very busy man, North Fylde Group publicity officer Hugh Mett. Also noted for his dulcet tones when singing songs to masters and principals alike, Hugh has proven quite a dab hand at delegation. Being installed on the night as third principal he could hardly take pictures of himself, or sing to himself (except in the shower), so he engaged the help of South Fylde publicity officer Glenn O’Brien to take photos and Shaun Haynes (better known for tinkling the ivories) to sing the principal’s song – not to mention South Fylde group vice chairman John Robbie Porter to play the accompaniment.
Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison was represented on the occasion by Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Tony Hall. At the end of a very fine ceremony of installation he congratulated Daren and all who had taken part, adding that everything was thoroughly well done from start to finish.
Among the stars of the evening were installing principals Edwin Fisher and Ken Geddes, assisted by Shaun Haynes. Indeed, Shaun proved to be a very busy lad during the evening, adding a fine explanation of the second principal’s robe and, as mentioned above, singing for his supper.
Another busy officer on the night was director of ceremonies Alan Fairhurst. In Fylde Chapter the director of ceremonies does all of the presentation of principals and is in charge of the proceedings at the later banquet. Alan also explained the third principal’s robe and addressed the new assistant director of ceremonies John Lee, adding that in so doing he was enjoying the only possibility of not being interrupted by him, the comment bringing a wry smile to John’s face and larger smiles to those of others.
As ever, the charitable nature of Freemasonry was much in evidence with cheques presented to Tony Hall as follows: £250 for Clifton Hospital Garden Fund, £500 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, £150 for the Salvation Army Bridge project, £10 for the North Fylde Bowling Association and £10 towards the West Lancashire Clay Pigeon shooting association. Also, at the raffle held during the meal afterwards the sum of £180 was raised towards the almoners fund.
Speaking after the meal at the festive banquet Tony Hall thanked the brethren for the warmth of their welcome and hoped that they would all enjoy their coming year under the leadership of John Morris, who he was glad to see in the first principal’s chair yet again. He continued by observing how good it was to see so many members supporting the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival by wearing their new ties and jewellery.
He continued by covering subjects such as Provincial Grand Chapter, the MCF 2021 Festival, welfare, recruitment and retention and a charity parachute jump planned for chairman of the North Fylde group Duncan Smith. Tony thanked Duncan for his support at the meeting along with group vice chairman Peter Greathead. And he also thanked acting Provincial Grand Standard Bearer Richard Frazer-Bastable for his continued support at many of the visits that they had enjoyed together.
Daren Gardner proposed the toast to the new principals and was pleased to share some amusing comments about his two years as first principal. He thanked his officers for their efforts and predicted an excellent year ahead, as the new team was strengthened by a fine mixture of youth and experience. In reply, John Morris thanked all the members of the chapter for their support. He told of previous years where the membership numbers hadn’t been as strong as now. He said that he was pleased with the difference that eight new recruits and two joining members had made to the overall strength of the chapter.
A fine evening was closed by the final toast proposed by the acting janitor Barry Hage.