In the past, a correspondent when referring to the installation ritual of Peace and Unity Chapter No 3966, described it as, ‘ranging from unique and different’ to blow that for a laugh!’ The truth of the matter is that each installation has to place three different companions into the three principals’ chairs. Some of those chosen may have been there before and some may not. So in a rolling three year cycle the work required to install said principals is tailored accordingly. Is that clear? No? It confuses the Peace and Unity companions too!
However, the companions of this fine old chapter, consecrated in 1944 always appear to know exactly what they’re doing and their visitors always come away suitably confused but impressed. In the version of the 2023 script, Michael Tax took charge of proceedings as he was the reigning first principal.
With the opening address delivered by Richard Anderson, the usual business was dealt with and then it was time to welcome the principal guest for the evening who, on this occasion, was Christopher Butterfield, Deputy Superintendent of the Royal Arch Province of West Lancashire.
Christopher was announced by Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Gary Smith and was accompanied by Third Provincial Grand Principal Dave Barr, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals John Robbie Porter and grand officers David Harrison and John Turpin and Blackpool Group Chairman Steve Jelly. There were also no fewer than seven acting Provincial grand officers. Foremost of these was Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah Ian Stirling. Ian was joined by John Lee, David McKee, Brian Horrocks, Glenn O’Brien Jayson Jackson and Steve Willingham.
On this occasion, Richard Anderson was to be installed as first principal, David Thomas was to be second principal and David Cook was to be installed as third principal. The script for the day, prepared by Richard Anderson, was then followed to the letter.
The ceremony began with John Turpin and David Hill taking over the second and third principal’s chairs. The principals elect then took their obligations followed by the installation of each principal into his chair, with readings from scripture delivered by Drew Fraser and Jordan Potter.
Proceedings continued with the explanation of the robes, with Michael Tax explaining the crimson robe and Giles Berkley concluding with an explanation of the blue robe. The explanation of the purple robe was held over as David Thomas had been prevented from attending due to urgent family business. These parts of the ceremony were followed by an address to the principals delivered by Bob Wareham and an address to the officers by the hard working Richard Anderson. These were followed by an excellent address to the companions of the chapter, delivered in his own inimitable style by John Robbie Porter.
With the installation ceremony completed, Christopher Butterfield congratulated the chapter members on a smooth but different ceremony of installation. He particularly praised the chapter for including the younger members by encouraging them to do the scripture readings during the ceremony.
He was also presented with cheques for charity amounting to £700 and he thanked the companions on behalf of the eventual recipients for their generosity. He and the grand and acting Provincial grand officers then retired. The remainder of the chapter business was then swiftly dealt with and the chapter was closed by Richard Anderson.
The companions then retired to the bar and thence to the banqueting suite to relax and enjoy the remainder of the evening. Following a four course meal the customary toasts were proposed. In response to the toast to the grand officers, Christopher Butterfield thanked the grand officers for their support, particularly John Robbie Porter for his address to the companions. He went on to thank Steve Jelley and the acting Provincial grand officers for supporting him and the chapter with their presence.
After mentioning subjects such as charities, recruitment and retention, including the Membership Pathway, white table events, Archway, the Provincial Ball and measures to encourage master Masons to attend Provincial Grand Lodge, Christopher thanked Richard Anderson, Bob Wareham and Peter Maxwell for the work they have done to ensure the success of this meeting.
Michael Tax then proposed the toast to the new principals, particularly thanking Richard for taking the reins again (Richard was first installed in 1999) and also voiced his delight to see David Cook taking the chair of third principal. He also thanked Steve James for stepping-in for the second year running to sing the principals installation song.
In response, Richard thanked Michael for the work he had carried out during the year and for his fine work during the installation ceremony. He followed this by thanking the chapter officers for taking up their roles, particularly the newer members for their commitment. Richard continued by presenting Michael with his past first principal’s jewel. He finished by presenting Christopher Butterfield with a gift from the chapter to mark their appreciation of his attendance.
In proposing the toast to charities, Drew Fraser thanked the companions for their support of the raffle which had raised the sum of £182. He also calculated that a further sum in excess of £50 had been collected in alms but he would have a clearer picture once the yellow envelopes for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity had been checked.
With the formalities completed the janitor’s toast was proposed by Barry Hage and the companions made their way home.