The installation meeting of Salwick Chapter No 9115 saw past principals being installed as the second and third principals of the chapter. As the first principal elect was unable to attend the meeting on the designated day, it was agreed that his installation would be deferred until the following meeting of the chapter. His place as second principal was occupied by member, Frank Cook. With the third principal elect being the incumbent director of ceremonies, chapter member Peter Littlehales, assumed the role of director of ceremonies, completing the re-arrangement of companion’s positions.
The principal guest on this occasion was the Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, Ian Cuerden. He was accompanied by fellow grand officer, Colin Williams, the Vice Chairman of the Preston Group, Geoff Saul and acting rank officer, Paul Astley.
The chapter was opened by the first principal, Gowan O’Hagan, and the administrative business of the chapter completed. The acting director of ceremonies retired from the chapter to shortly return and announce the presence of the principal guest, Ian Cuerden. Ian duly entered, accompanied by grand and acting grand officers and the group vice chairman, Geoff Saul. Gowan had the pleasure of formally welcoming him into the chapter before announcing the commencement of the installation ceremony.
The incoming principals, all having occupied their respective offices on previous occasions, meant that the ceremony would be conducted in an expeditious manner. The third principal elect, Frank McHugh, was presented to the third principal, Russell Howarth, by Bernard Tagg. He reaffirmed his obligation before being seated in the chapter. The relevant scripture reading was given by Paul Shuttleworth. Gerry Graves temporarily occupied the third principal’s chair as Russell was presented to the acting second principal, Frank Cook by Bernard Tagg. Russell also reaffirmed his obligation before being seated in the chapter. The scripture reading in this case was given by Neil Clarkson. In both cases, the prayers were read by the installing principals.
A conclave of installed principals was declared and the two principals formally placed in their respective chairs. The conclave was then closed and Peter Littlehales proclaimed the second and third principals as being in office with the first principal to be installed at a future date.
The purple robe address was given by Bob Matheson and the blue robe address by Neil Clarkson. After the installation of the principals, they were addressed by Frank Cook. Following the appointment and investiture of officers, the address to the companions was given by the principal guest, Ian Cuerden.
The installation ceremony being declared as completed, Ian rose to bring the congratulations of the Grand Superintendent, Tony Harrison. On Tony’s behalf, he congratulated Gowan for his work as the first principal, in what had been an unusual ceremony and thanked him for his contribution during the year as an acting rank officer. He also passed on admiration of Russell Howarth for his powers of delegation in the duties of installing Frank McHugh in the third principal’s chair, duties that were expertly performed by Gerry Graves.
Ian concluded his comments on behalf of the Grand Superintendent by saying how nice it was to see so many representatives of other chapters present to witness the occasion.
Gowan had the pleasure of detailing the charitable donations to be made by the chapter as follows: £50 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £100 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival and a separate donation of £50 in support of the Masonic Hall.
Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Ian said how pleased he was to have the company of Colin Williams, Geoff Saul and acting rank officers Paul Astley and Gowan O’Hagan. He commended Peter Littlehales for standing in as director of ceremonies for the meeting. He was pleased to see so many Festival jewels being worn by the companions. Although it is the Craft that benefit from these Festival donations Ian reminded everyone that the Craft is the source of all recruits to the Royal Arch. He was also pleased to see the return to the chapter of Alan Jackson and also Peter Robinson who recently attended his mother chapter to celebrate 50 years in the Royal Arch.
He went on to inform the companions that membership of the Royal Arch is increasing as it becomes more proactive in seeking new members. Assisting in that direction was the creation of Royal Arch contacts within Craft lodges, the ‘Talking Heads’ presentations made in Craft lodges that helps to raise awareness of the Royal Arch and the introduction of the enhanced exaltation ceremony to add further character to the ceremony. The purpose of these additions and changes is to make the Royal Arch the first port of call after the third degree. He stressed the importance of getting new members involved in the workings of the chapter but, at the same time not to overburden them with work.
Recognising that there are many chapters with less than ideal membership numbers, Ian concluded by asking the companions to look inwards at their own chapters and ask themselves where the chapter is going and what are the next steps. This examination should be both in terms of the possibility of increasing the membership of chapters or accepting the inevitable and looking to the future steps the companions can take.