It was a day that Kenny Hatton never thought would happen, a day on which he would be installed as first principal into Ashton Trinity Chapter No 8821. Kenny has had his difficulties over the last few years and has been in and out of hospital with some long uncertain stays, and is still receiving daily treatment, but he never lost faith, or his ambition to take his place at the head of this prestigious chapter.
It was therefore, a very special event at the Bryn Masonic Hall, not just because there were around 70 companions in attendance but also because it was a remarkable milestone for a companion who has served every office following several years as a steward. The chapter was honoured by the presence of Third Provincial Grand Principal Ian Higham as the principal guest, accompanied by fellow grand officers, two of whom, Ian Cuerden and Colin Rowling being Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals, together with Paul Hesketh, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, and chapter member Maurice Taylor. They were supported by group officers Geoffrey Porter (chairman), David Ogden (vice chairman), and John Selley (secretary), with acting Provincial Grand Steward Peter Ledder. Adding further dignity to the occasion was a visit by David Barr, Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah.
Ian witnessed a ceremony that required a few minor deviations from the norm to accommodate Kenny’s circumstances. Still very unsteady on his feet and with limited mobility, Ken Laites stepped in as second principal for the opening and reception of the distinguished guests, allowing Kenny to remain seated until his obligation and installation. This left the majority of the work to installing first principal Tony Simms, who did a tremendous job installing his successor Kenny, only then to step forward at the appropriate time to promote Geoff Shepherd to the second principal’s chair, allowing the stand-in and ever-helpful Ken Laites to step aside. Once installed, Geoff, with skill and dignity, went on to install ‘new boy’ Bill Petterson into the third principal’s chair. As is normal in Ashton Trinity Chapter, all three principals have progressed through each and every office in chapter to reach their current status and on every occasion, have performed their duties in what can only be described as an excellent manner.
Junior members of the chapter also took part in the ceremony, with readings and prayers by Fred Dickinson, Garry Rowland, Geoff Whittle, Derek Burrell, John Calder and John Tabern. The more experienced John Parrott, Arthur Robinson and Kelvin Taylor delivered the three, word perfect, robe addresses. Kelvin, who, since his own year in the chair five years ago has attended every meeting and in each and every one has assumed one or another office, again stepped in as immediate past first principal. Kenny went on to appoint and invest the officers for the ensuing year, with Tony Simms, straight out of the chair, taking the role of charity steward and festival representative, receiving useful advice and direction on his new duties from Geoffrey Porter and David Ogden respectively. This new office was due to long standing charity steward Peter Chrimes stepping aside for a truly well-deserved rest. The assembled companions showed their appreciation to Peter for his many years of dedicated service with enthusiastic acclamation.
Following the ceremony, Ian was delighted to bring greetings from the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison and commented on the excellence of the installation ceremony, especially in overcoming some of the difficulties caused by the irregular nature of the proceedings. He congratulated all those who had taken part and thanked those taking office, particularly Tony Simms for the manner in which he had installed not only his successor, but also the second principal. It is at this point that Ian was pleased to receive from Kenny charitable donations in favour of West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for £200 and the Oncology Trust for £200. At this meeting last year, the chapter made a donation to the MCF 2021 Festival, sufficient to achieve the status of patron, and were in fact the first chapter in the Province to do so. The summons, therefore, proudly bears the text ‘Patron of the MCF 2021 Festival’. It was appropriate then, continuing this support, for Ian to receive a further cheque in favour of said festival for £1,000. This made the total donations in the sum of £1,500 which, Ian said, was a remarkable amount for a chapter and gave thanks on behalf of the eventual recipients.
After the first rising and following greetings from Ian Cuerden in his usual dignified manner tinged with his respectful light-hearted humour, the distinguished guests were processed out of the chapter under the direction of Paul Hesketh. Greetings from Provincial Grand Chapter were then brought by David Ogden, a member of the chapter. David’s heartfelt response expressed his delight and pride at seeing Kenny overcome his difficulties, and with no shortage of courage and commitment, attain the elevated position he had aspired to.
A wonderful festive board followed, held in a very friendly atmosphere, with the usual wine taking and toasts. One of the traditions of the chapter is to honour the founders, two of whom, Stanley Brown and Alan Slater are still members. Stanley Brown, unfortunately, was unable to attend, but Alan Slater was present and received acclamation with enthusiasm from the companions, who had been treated to a very enjoyable evening.
At the appropriate time, Ian responded to the toast to Supreme Grand Chapter and brought his own personal congratulations to the principals and to all the officers and companions that took part. Ian spoke with a smile on his face as he expressed his gratitude for being able to witness a good ceremony totally enhanced by the happy nature of the event both in the chapter and at the festive board. He also took time to thank the scribe Ezra David Whitmore, DC and ADC Barry Dickinson and Derek Atherton, the PrGDC Paul Hesketh, and acting Provincial officers Peter Ledder and David Barr. David Barr then responded to the toast to Provincial Grand Chapter.
The companions kicked off this year’s charitable efforts with a Dutch auction for whisky and wine, raising over £200. At the end of the evening, and as the distinguished guests were about to retire, Kenny had the pleasant task of presenting Ian with a bouquet of flowers. A great time was had by all, who are looking forward to supporting Kenny Hatton in his new office, with what will be another busy year with already a list of candidates for exaltation.