The companions of Furness Chapter No 995 were very happy to see Steve Ellershaw installed as their first principal following the long wait over the COVID periods. Les Preston echoed the sentiments of the companions, having been in the principal office for the last three years. Nevertheless, Les, despite his protracted time spent as the first principal, had obviously formed a close fraternal friendship with Steve, which was evident in their very similar sense of humour.
Les warmly welcomed Second Provincial Grand Principal Michael Threlfall as the representative of the Deputy Grand Superintendent in Charge Christopher Butterfield. Michael was accompanied by other grand officers; David Grainger, Barrie Crossley, Alan Jones, Peter Schofield and Barry Fitzgerald. Acting Provincial Grand officers Barrie Bray and Ken Needham added to the splendour, along with the members of the Furness and South Lakeland Group executive committee.
The necessary chairs were filled by past installed first principals as the ceremony began. Les installed Steve into the chair of the first principal in a confident, assured and flowing delivery. Reg Wilkinson installed Patrick John Moss into the third principal’s chair perfectly, as Steve installed Reg into the second principal’s chair in fine style.
The addresses for the red, purple and blue robes were orated by Craig McNichol, Tony Taylor and David Helm respectively. Their work was duly praised by all the companions, as they were word perfect. Having completed the ceremony, Michael brought the greetings of the Deputy Grand Superintendent in Charge Chris Butterfield, which signalled Steve to stand and present a cheque to Michael for £300 which would go to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity on behalf of all the companions of the chapter.
Michael hoped Steve would have a busy year ahead. Little did Michael know that Steve is always busy! He lives in Lancaster and not only is his Royal Arch Masonry conducted in Ulverston, but so are his Craft commitments. Steve knows every bend on the A590 as he works for a well-known paper mill in Barrow. Working shifts might not help his ‘candle’ which he admits: “I often burn at both ends”, but he manages being a farmer, husband and dad extremely well.
On his farm, Steve and his wife, Tracey, have currently 65 Alpacas – 22, of which are due to give birth next year. What began as a hobby has become a full-time business for all the family. Their busiest time of the year is from May until September when all the births are expected. Tracey and his children don’t see looking after the Alpacas as a chore, as they manage them on a rota basis due to the farm needing constant care during those months. Hence no holidays are booked or taken either! With shows to attend from Lanark to Telford their hard work has been rewarded with ‘Lythe Brow Alchemist’ being a three times champion at the BAS National Show.
Steve views the Craft and the Royal Arch Masonry as, ‘enjoyable, memorable and allows him to meet up with very good friends’. He admits that: “My visiting has curtailed post COVID lockdown, as I look to keep the vulnerable members of his family safe. But” he continued, “I hope to eventually rekindle the love for visiting, along with working shifts, running a business and being a caring family man. I just need an extra day in the week!”
Following Michael’s personal greetings, he wished the companions good health for the ensuing year at the well-received three course banquet by the visiting 45 companions. Steve, in the reply on behalf of his co-Principals, thanked everyone involved with the ceremony, as he was a little apprehensive in the days leading up to the ceremony, but as Les began in such a confident manner, all his concerns disappeared. The director of ceremonies Alan Mills was also thanked profusely by Steve, as his hard work in running such a fluent ceremony shone from beginning to end.
Before the final toast of the evening, Steve announced that in the temple the amount raised was £107.41, whilst the raffle raised a further £220. A perfect ending to a most enjoyable and fun gathering of Royal Arch Masons.