Any Royal Arch installation ceremony quite naturally presents its own challenges and stresses. When you add to this the presence of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison and a large contingent of very eminent companions then any feelings of trepidation will suffer a marked increase.
It is to the credit of the members of Henry Cook Chapter No 1021 that their installation meeting held under such circumstances did not prevent them delivering a ceremony that can be best described as outstanding.
Not only was Tony present at the convocation held at Barrow in Furness Masonic Hall but he was accompanied by numerous members of his Provincial team. These included his deputy Danny Jones along with Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals Paul Renton and Ian Higham.
In addition there were 13 other acting officers in attendance, local Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Chris Butterfield, many other distinguished companions and the group officers. The presence of so many senior and acting officers meant that the occasion was made even more colourful and vibrant than is usual.
Installed as first, second and third principals respectively were Graham Benson, Stuart Dickinson and Scott Deakin. They helped set the standard for proceedings when they recited their obligations in excellent fashion.
Outgoing first principal Barrie Bray installed Graham in splendid style and with great sincerity. There was also some obvious pride etched on Barrie’s face as Graham is his son-in-law. Similarly accomplished displays were in evidence as Graham and Stuart undertook the work of installing their respective successors. The rest of the ceremony continued in exemplary fashion. Ian Cottam, Dennis Laird and John Donnelly gave the robe addresses. Ken Boon gave the address to the sojourners and Danny was called into action to orate the address to the companions.
The address to the three principals lay in the very capable hands of chapter scribe Harry Chatfield; the great feeling with which he delivered this important piece of ritual being no doubt heightened by the fact that Scott is his son-in-law.
Ken and Dennis are the chapter director and assistant director of ceremonies. They can take great pride in not only the work they undertook on the floor but in having ensured that their fellow companions of Henry Cook Chapter rose to the occasion and delivered a ceremony of such high quality.
In giving his greetings to the newly installed principals, Tony commented, “It has been an exceptional and wonderful ceremony. I congratulate all who took part.” To mark the occasion Tony was presented with a donation of £250 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival and a further donation of £250 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
The recession from the chapter by Tony, the grand officers and the acting Provincial officers was every bit as impressive as had been the entrance, both being under the guidance and watchful eyes of Provincial Deputy Directors of Ceremonies Barrie Crossley and David Thomas.
Although not present, Terry Ridal added lustre to the occasion as the sword borne by Provincial Grand Sword Bearer Neil McGill positively gleamed as it reflected the many hours Terry had spent on polishing it.
The chapter shares the number of Hartington Lodge and is named in honour of its founder. A photograph of Henry Cook normally graces the chapter room. On this occasion logistics demanded that the convocation be held in the main temple. Henry’s photograph was transferred accordingly and overlooked a ceremony which will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it.
Following the ceremonial part of the evening 86 members and their guests enjoyed a celebration banquet held in the Fairfield Suite of the hall. Much to the delight of Dennis who is the hall secretary a raffle held in aid of the hall building fund raised £430. The good food and companionship proved a most fitting end to what had been a notable display of all that makes the Royal Arch so special and welcoming.