When a lodge or chapter has a relatively small number of members it often turns out that it is the same few stalwarts who carry most of the workload. However, Scorton Chapter No 5791 showed that this could sometimes be the exception rather than the rule when just about every member present had a role to play at their installation convocation. In fact, the inclusiveness of the ceremony attracted praise for the multi-tasking that it demanded of the participants.
Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Chris Butterfield was the representative of the Grand Superintendent at the installation held at Wyrebank, Garstang and he welcomed the support of grand officers Tom Holroyd, Peter Mason, Lancaster Group Chairman Jim Wilson and Keith Jackson. A trio of acting Provincial officers, namely Phil Preston Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer and Stephen Fox and Bob Stafford whom are both Provincial Grand Stewards also attended.
Due to absences, past first principals Frank Hogarth and Brian Clark were called upon to share the role of the installing first principal, a task they carried out with great distinction. Following the necessary presentations and appropriate obligations, Frank Hogarth installed Arthur Ashcroft into the chair of first principal for a second time. The chair of second principal was taken by John Helme following an excellent address by Arthur and in due turn John installed his successor, Alan Gardner into the office of third principal in a sincere manner.
The robe addresses provided opportunity for additional members of the chapter to prove their worth and skill with fine performances rendered by Russell Hudson, Peter Grisdale and Harry Parker to the first, second and third principals respectively. The officers of the chapter were then appointed with not a single member present escaping being ‘collared’, even if a little confusion was evident in matching collars to offices!
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Chris Butterfield rose to give the traditional greetings and congratulations of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison. He stated that he was certain that had Tony been present he would have expressed his delight at the performances of all who took part and wished the chapter every success for the coming year. At this point, Frank Hogarth presented Chris with a number of cheques on behalf of the chapter members for distribution to the following worthy causes; to Garstang Masonic Fellowship £100, to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £200, to Lancaster Masonic Group sport sections £45 and to Garstang Masonic Hall Company £40. Chris thanked the chapter for its generosity.
A very enjoyable festive meal followed in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite and as usual, the quality of the food was perfectly matched by the quality of the company and level of enjoyment. Chris replied to the toast to the grand officers by adding his own congratulations to those that he had brought from Tony Harrison earlier. He praised the chapter members for their work and the entertainment it had provided in showing how ritual can be quite individualistic and unique. The teamwork seen in the installation also drew praise from Chris.
He drew the attention of his audience to four main topics which were deserving of their attention: the need to encourage lodge members to join Royal Arch Masonry at an appropriate time and the staging of the ‘Talking Heads’ initiative within the Province in the next Masonic year were his initial items. He then gave details of the imminent circulation of a booklet that would provide suggestions to enable the enhancement of the exaltation ceremony and made mention of the forthcoming merger of the Masonic grand charities into a single organisation. Prior to resuming his seat, he expressed his gratitude to the grand officers and acting Provincial grand officers for their support.
Carrying on the theme of multi-tasking, Brian Clark proposed the toast to the principals that was honoured with sincerity by the assembly. In his response to the toast, the first principal Arthur Ashcroft thanked everyone for their support in attending and expressed the fervent hope that the chapter would have a successful and enjoyable year – hopefully with some candidates for exaltation. The announcement that the raffle had raised the very respectable sum of £230 was met with loud applause.
As the principal guests took their leave, it afforded a moment to reflect that as in many instances in life, the sum of the parts can often prove greater than the whole. Scorton Chapter can confidently attest to that.