As to be expected, the companions of Everton Chapter No 823 gave an extremely warm welcome to all their guests at the annual installation ceremony held in the Egyptian Suite of Liverpool Masonic Hall. The chapter was opened by the first principal Tom McLaughlin, ably assisted by his two fellow principals Jorge Perez and Barry Kilby.
Once the initial business was concluded, director of ceremonies Roy Cowley announced that the primary guest David Anderton stood outside and requested admission. David entered in a large and colourful procession, escorted by Roy Cowley and David Brighouse. David Anderton was accompanied by David Kemp representing the Liverpool Group of chapters, and grand officers; Clive Jefferies, Mike Winterbottom and John Roberts. David was warmly received by the three principals on behalf of the chapter, to which he replied favourably, adding he had been looking forward to the visit and how lovely it was to see the room so full.
For the purpose of the installation ceremony, Dave Johnson was invited to temporarily occupy the second principal’s chair, George Crawley that of third principal, whilst Colin Svenson took the position of scribe Nehemiah. John Roberts and Roy Ashley presented the incoming principals in the west; Jorge Perez as first principal, Barry Kilby as second principal and Steve Roberts as the third principal. The readings were undertaken by John Roberts with regard to Jorge Perez, Dave Johnson for Barry Kilby and George Crowley for Steve Roberts.
Following the completion of all the obligations Tom McLaughlin took the opportunity to thank everyone for their tremendous assistance during his tenure as first principal and, to complete the year, he soon would have the pleasure of installing Jorge Perez into the chair.
Prior to the commencement of the ceremony of installation, the chapter’s director of ceremonies Roy Cowley noted that although he had no doubt that there were at least 40 or more marvellous ritualists present, that the workings still in use by Everton Chapter differed from many better known forms, so the chapter would appreciate that it be recognised and that for the evening’s proceedings, he alone would be the prompt, if needed. This venerable and historic chapter conducts a ceremony laid down many years ago as befits its beginnings and has not changed to accommodate the whims of modernism.
The ceremony began with the three principals being installed according to the ancient workings still used in Everton Chapter. Resplendent throughout, sitting on the pedestal of Nehemiah, was the famous Everton bowler hat, formerly worn by chapter patriarch Albert Watson Ley, who looms large in the history of the chapter. On the completion of his installation into the chair Jorge Perez was presented with the charter of the chapter, volume of the sacred law, minute book, by-laws and the regulations of Supreme Grand Chapter by Tom McLaughlin. Jorge invested Tom with the collar and jewel of immediate past first principal.
Jorge invested his officers for the year, after which David Anderton arose and conveyed the congratulations and best wishes of Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison to those attaining the principals’ chairs of the chapter, stating that he had witnessed an extremely fine and outstanding ceremony and everyone was to be congratulated on their dedication and hard work. David concluded by stating that it was Tony’s wish that all present should enjoy their Royal Arch Masonry. Jorge then thanked David for his kind words and presented him with three cheques; one of £400 in favour of Liverpool Masonic Hall Building Fund, £300 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and £300 the Woodlands Hospice, Aintree, for which David expressed his thanks on behalf of the future recipients.
On conclusion of the ceremony, the companions retired to the banqueting suite to toast the incoming first principal, before partaking of a delightful festive board, with a good selection of accompanying liquid refreshment. In reply to the toast to the grand officers, David once again congratulated the chapter on the very high standard of the ceremony which can only be achieved through hard work and dedication. He also took the opportunity to congratulate the three chapter companions who will be either appointed or promoted at the next Provincial Grand Chapter which will be held in Southport. A first appointment to the rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Scribe Ezra for David Yoxall and promotions for David Johnson as Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah and Hughie O’Neill to Past Provincial Grand Sojourner. Further congratulations were in order for Jorge Perez, who in Craft masonry will be appointed to the well-deserved honour of Provincial Grand Steward at the Provincial meeting in Blackpool. All these announcements met with hearty applause.
At the toast to the three principals, those present had the added delight of hearing an exuberant rendition of the scarcely performed ‘Cyrus Song’, many for the first time. The outstanding vocalist was Roy Ashley, twin brother to Bernard, with the companions heartily joining in at the chorus – a memorable moment indeed. Throughout the evening, the three principals had the use of the silver goblets presented in 1993 on the 125-year anniversary of Everton Chapter.
During the festive board, the chapter mascot ‘Bully’ made his way along the tables, gratefully collecting loose change from the generous individuals assembled. This collection is used by the chapter for any small incidentals that come along throughout the year. The proceedings of the evening were eventually brought to an end with the ‘toast of the janitor’, again done in unique style by John Hibbert.