The first Royal Arch installation ceremony after the summer break was that of St John of Jerusalem Chapter No 203, which was held in the Egyptian suite of Liverpool’s magnificent Masonic hall on Hope Street. The chapter companions gave a warm welcome to David Potts, who as their principal guest was there as the direct representative of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison. David, a Past Grand Standard Bearer of Supreme Grand Chapter, was accompanied by David Kemp, Vice Chairman of Liverpool Group.
The Chapter was opened by the three principals, Steve Roberts, Mike Whitlock and Geoff Cuthill, who after proffering their welcome to the representative and group official, also welcomed Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner Ian Walton and Mike Hilton PPrGStdB, also attending in his capacity as chauffeur to Dave Potts.
After the completion of normal chapter business, the ceremony of installation began with the first principal requesting Charles Gallantry to occupy the position of Nehemiah, with the three sojourners being Steve Dovaston, Jeffrey Hodge and Bob Gibson. Mike Whitlock was pleased to assist by remaining in the chair of second principal for the ceremony, due to Dave Ullathorne being out of the country. With both the current first and second principals remaining in office they were proclaimed for the forthcoming year. Third principal elect, Steve Dovaston was then presented and obligated, after which he was anointed then entrusted with the sign and words of his position and installed into the third principal’s chair. The robe and sceptre addresses were performed with commendable skill by Steve Roberts.
Geoff Cuthill, as the new chapter’s director of ceremonies, supervised the presentation of officers for appointment and investment by the principals. On completion, Dave Potts was delighted to communicate the best wishes and congratulations of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, further adding that it was Tony’s sincerest wish that all three principals and members of the chapter should be blessed with good health to enjoy a happy and fruitful year. The chapter was formally closed with the valedictory address given by Graham Hamilton-Taylor with the companions taking station at the respective banners.
On adjournment to the banqueting suite a wholesome menu of mushrooms with garlic bread and side salad, a main course of leg of lamb accompanied by seasonal vegetables, with a light banoffee cheese cake aided the further enjoyment of the evening. In his response to the toast to his health and that of the other grand officers, David expressed his own good wishes to the newly installed principals. David also had a number of messages that he wished to pass on from the Grand Superintendent. The three ‘R’s’ of recruitment, retention and retrieval were expanded upon, the role of the membership officer and the importance for everyone to see this as a duty. Regarding the MCF 2021 Festival, it should be a matter of great pride that this, the Province of West Lancashire, was chosen as the premier Province to launch the event. The Masonic Charitable Foundation has become the ‘one stop shop’ for all our needs, and the benefits would be much enhanced by the use of the gift aid envelopes.
David next expressed how pleased he was to be amongst the companions of this historic chapter, having first visited in 2011, and a representative to it for the first time in 2013. Today the happiness of all at 203 was much in evidence. The full history of the chapter encompassed the Napoleonic wars, the civil war in the USA, Charge of the Light Brigade in Crimea, and through all major world events to now. Formed in the reign of George III and meeting continuously since then, St John of Jerusalem Chapter spans the reign of nine British monarchs. David pointed out that this year was special for the chapter in that three of its members would receive promotion at Provincial Grand Chapter, Geoffrey Cuthill to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Geoffrey Gill as Past Provincial Grand Sojourner and David Ullathorne as Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner, which was greeted with great acclamation. The evening flew by far too fast, and sadly, the janitors toast came all too soon and the companions took their leave to head home.