Vale Chapter of Installed Principals No 5256 draws its membership from both the Lancaster Group and the Furness and South Lakeland Group. Since it became a past principals chapter each group nominates a candidate for the position of first principal alternately. This year it was the turn of the northernmost group of the Province and Nigel Higginson, a member of Grange Chapter No 1715, was elected to the position.
The installation meeting is in the first principal elect’s group with Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall being the venue chosen on this occasion. The convocation attracted no less than four Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals.
David Randerson was the principal guest as the representative of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison. He was accompanied by Barry Jameson and Ian Cuerden who were there to support one of their number in the person of Chris Butterfield, who was the outgoing first principal of the chapter.
Amongst the 65 members and guests present on the day were several grand officers including Chris Band, a Past Second Provincial Grand Principal, David Grainger, a Past Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals and Peter Mason the Deputy Grand Superintendent of the adjacent Province of Cumberland and Westmorland.
Adding further lustre to the occasion were acting Provincial grand officers in the persons of Barrie Crossley, Phil Preston, Neil McGill, Jim Richards, Mike Jenkins, Steve Jennings and David Ozanne.
Being a past principals chapter, the ceremony of installation is very much foreshortened but nonetheless the fact that it differs from the norm, and that so many peers are taking a keen interest in your performance, does create its own unique pressures. Chris, second principal Bill Edmonds and third principal Bob Durkin rose to the task and installed Nigel, Chris Larder and John Bates as their replacements in fine style. It was a brief but delightful ceremony.
As Nigel is from the Furness Group the second and third principals Chris and John were chosen from companions based in the Lancaster Group. Apart from it giving past principals an opportunity to continue to work in a chapter and attract excellent speakers, Vale also provides a setting for old and new friends from both sides of Morecambe Bay to meet.
On the day Peter Mason stood down as speaker secretary to be replaced by Peter Pemberton. Peter Mason was one of the driving forces behind the move to remodel Vale Chapter as a past principals chapter and over the years he has put his extensive address book to good use in finding many varied speakers.
Also retiring on the day was charity steward Geoff Bury who handed over the reins to Jim Hamilton. Geoff was able to report that the chapter, which only meets twice a year, had donated some £450 to Masonic charity during the previous twelve months. The collection at the meeting had generated £250 to help refill the charity pot.
Following the ceremony the installation banquet took place in the Fairfield Suite at the hall. The main course of roasted chicken, served with a potato and parsnip mash with a white wine and mushroom sauce attracted very favourable reviews from the diners.
The next meeting of Vale Chapter will be in May 2018 at a venue yet to be decided. The chapter is open to all installed principals and affords a warm welcome to those who wish to extend their range of Masonic acquaintances.