Mel stays on as first principal

The installation ceremony of Chapter of Unanimity No 113 proved an unusual and what could be considered a ritually challenging ceremony. Unfortunately, due to ongoing medical problems, the first principal elect Ian Taylor was unable to take his place in the chapter for the installation meeting. As a result and at very short notice, it was agreed that the current first principal, Mel Cross, would remain in office until Ian was able to return to the chapter and for the purposes of installation, Bob Pye would initially assume Ian’s position as second principal.

The three principals.

The three principals.

Complicating matters further, Bob Pye had previously been elected to the office of third principal with the existing third principal, Gary Norris, progressing normally from third to second principal. Thus, on the night, there was the interesting and possibly unique event of Bob Pye and Gary Norris installing each other in their respective offices as second and third principal.

To witness this occasion, the chapter members were honoured by the presence of Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Ian Cuerden as their principal guest. Ian was accompanied by Preston Group Vice Chairman Geoff Saul and supported by Provincial Grand Steward David Caldecott.

The ceremony commenced with the chapter DC Gordon Singleton, presenting Bob Pye as third principal elect to Gary, who proceeded to install him in office as a previous holder of that position, with the ritual being delivered in a splendid manner The associated scripture reading was given by John Fadden.

Bob reoccupied his installation ceremony position as second principal and had the reciprocal pleasure of installing Gary as the second principal. In this case, as this would be his first time as second principal, the ceremony was performed in full in an excellent manner by Bob with the presenting officer being again Gordon Pilkington with the scripture reading being given by Martin Slater.

In both cases, the appropriate prayers were read by Jim Gibson. A conclave of installed principals was declared for the completion of the installation of the second and third principals; following which, the purple robe address was delivered by Bob Pye and the blue robe address by Jim Gibson. The officers were then appointed and invested with all remaining in their respective offices for the ensuing year.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Ian Cuerden brought the congratulations and good wishes of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, thanking Mel Cross for all his work in keeping the chapter together. He hoped that Ian would recover sufficiently to take his rightful place in the chapter and concluded by thanking Bob Pye for all his excellent work during the ceremony in successfully taking on several roles.

Mel had the pleasure of presenting Ian with a cheque to the value £113 in support of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. Ian, in receiving the cheque, commented that he ‘wondered’ how the Chapter of Unanimity No 113 had arrived at a figure of £113!

A further item of business was to present a Supreme Grand Chapter certificate to the chapter’s newest member, Kevin Ruffley. Prior to its formal presentation, Ian, as the senior person present, was invited to give an explanation of the certificate to Kevin. This he gave in an excellent and informative manner that was greatly appreciated, not only by Kevin himself, but by all the companions present.

Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Ian brought his own congratulations and good wishes to the companions of the chapter. He expressed his regret that he would be missing the installation of Ian Taylor as first principal, wishing him all the best in his continued battle with ill health.

Ian thanked Geoff Saul for his attendance and for all the work he does in support of the Preston Group and also David Caldecott for his support as an acting officer. He admitted that, in the past, formal speeches would have been conducted at length whilst today the emphasis is on being pro-active and informative. He agreed that the ceremony conducted earlier had been unusual in its format but despite the changes it had been well worked.

Continuing, Ian emphasised the need today to engage the enthusiasm of the companions by possibly enhancing the ceremonial ritual. He mentioned the various demonstrations of enhanced ritual that had taken place round the Province, enhancements that were designed to add to the understanding of the ritual and thereby instil further the confidence of the candidates. He urged the chapter to seriously consider adding some or all of the suggested enhancements to their ritual.

Grateful thanks were given to the companions by Ian for the charitable donation made earlier, a donation that would be faithfully applied in due time. He reminded the companions that donations made using gift aid envelopes increased the value of the giving at no extra cost to the chapter. He encouraged the companions to support the forthcoming charity festival at Southport.

He continued by informing the companions that Preston is to host next year’s meeting of Provincial Grand Chapter for which volunteers would be required and that there was to be a ‘Talking Heads’ presentation in September to cultivate interest among Masons in the Royal Arch. Looking further ahead there was also to be a joint convocation of the Preston chapters at which, he hoped, every chapter would have a part to play.

Ian concluded by pointing out that numbers in the Royal Arch are falling and as a result urged companions to work harder to recover numbers. To this end chapters need to develop a plan for the future. He closed with the Latin expressions; “Quo vadis” meaning, “Which way are we going?” and “Unus animus” meaning: “With one mind.”

Pictured from left to right, are: Ian Cuerden, Gary Norris, Mel Cross, Bob Pye, Geoff Saul and David Caldecott.

Pictured from left to right, are: Ian Cuerden, Gary Norris, Mel Cross, Bob Pye, Geoff Saul and David Caldecott.