Companions gathering for the installation meeting of Fylde Chapter No 2758 were in for a treat of variety and perfection, served up by first principal John Lee and his installation team. The chapter having been opened by the three principals and the administration promptly dealt with, it was time to strengthen the team with three new members.
The first vote was to elect as an honorary member Harry Cox, Assistant Provincial Grand Master in the Craft and former chairman of the North Fylde group. This being successfully balloted, Harry thanked the companions for the honour and privilege that this fine old chapter had bestowed upon him.
Following this the chapter successfully elected as joining members companions Shaun Haynes of Anchorsholme Chapter No 5854 and Hugh Mett, previously of Tithebarn Chapter No 8446. Both companions pledged themselves to a faithful discharge of their new duties and were presented with copies of the Fylde chapter ritual and bye-laws. John Lee welcomed them all by assuring those present that all three new companions would add quality and depth to the chapter.
The chapter was then pleased to receive Steven Reid Past Deputy Grand Superintendent, representing the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison. Steven was accompanied by Terry Hudson, past second grand principal, Duncan Smith chairman of the North Fylde group, along with a retinue of acting Provincial officers and other distinguished companions.
The next order of business was to install the principals for the ensuing year. For this purpose Trevor Hunt was asked to occupy the chair of second principal, Alex McLeod that of third principal and Edwin Fisher was asked to act as Scribe Nehemiah. First principal elect Daren Gardner then took his obligation and was installed into his chair. John Lee then reaffirmed his previous obligation and was inducted into the chair of second principal and was followed by John Morris who reaffirmed his previous obligation and was inducted into the third principal’s chair.
Following the inner workings and the appointment and investiture of officers, an excellent address to the principals was delivered by John Chesters, that to the director of ceremonies by Duncan Smith, and that to the companions by Steven Reid in his own exceptional style. The robe addresses were delivered by Hugh Mett, Bob Bennett and Shaun Haynes in fine style.
At the conclusion of the installation ceremony cheques for £500 to the West Lancashire Freemason’s Charity and for £300 to Thornton Primary School were presented to Steven Reid.
Frank Kennedy presented the past first principal’s jewel with a short but studied address and, following on, John Lee made a presentation to Darren Shillito in recognition of his many and valuable services to the chapter. Darren will shortly be emigrating to Australia.
After closing the meeting the companions retired to enjoy a superb banquet. Following the meal, Steven Reid responding to the toast to the grand officers voiced his joy at seeing how far Fylde chapter had progressed since his last visit. With membership numbers increased and a really good spirit amongst those new members it was clear that the chapter had a wonderful future. He added that it was quite obvious that everyone was pulling in the same direction and were doing their ritual for each other. He thanked Daren Gardner for the invitation to attend his installation meeting. This followed their joint activities in demonstrating the veils’ ceremonies, for which Daren was responsible for creating and building all of the props, rendering him the principal architect thereof!
Terry Hudson, proposing the toast to the health of the three principals spoke in glowing terms of each in turn and their ability to take the chapter forward. Speaking allegorically he pronounced them as Daren Gardner being the first principal of the bowling green, of John Lee as a breath of fresh air of prodigious proportions, concluding that “John Morris was a safe pair of hands and an all round good egg”.
Proving their intention to be in the thick of the action following their earlier robe addresses, Hugh Mett accompanied by Shaun Haynes performed the principals’ song with elegance and finesse. In his reply the first principal spoke of his trepidation in having to follow John Lee, his vibrant predecessor. He paid homage to the years of hard work put in by Darren Shillito in rebuilding the chapter to its present strength and wished him good luck in his future endeavours in Australia. He thanked Steven Reid for honouring his invitation to attend the meeting as it had been a privilege to work with such a great man on the ceremony of the veils. He concluded by thanking all those who had taken office, in particular Alan Fairhurst the director of ceremonies and Derek Abbott the Scribe Ezra for their hard work, also Keith Jackson for acting as guest organist.
At the end of the evening the companions bid their farewells with that satisfaction which is derived from attendance at a really special event.