The highly successful Furness and South Lakeland Group concert featured the group Full Benefit along with the Fawcett Sisters. Much of the credit for ensuring that everyone knew their part in delivering such a high standard of performance can be laid at the door of keyboard player and musical director Dean Fawcett.
The skills he used in putting on the show proved to be readily transferrable in Dean’s other guise as director of ceremonies of Semper Sursum Chapter No 5622. This was readily evinced when he conducted proceedings at the installation meeting held at Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall.
It was an installation ceremony which proved to be warm, friendly and dignified. There was scarcely a wrong note throughout the ceremony which proceeded with great harmony. On hand to witness the excellent work was Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Ian Cuerden, accompanied by six other grand officers and Furness and South Lakeland Group Vice Chairman Gary Rogerson.
In addition, there was a plethora of acting Provincial grand officers in attendance. Local acting officers Jim Richards, Mike Jenkins, David Ozanne and Barrie Crossley were joined by Steve Jennings who had made the trip round Morecambe Bay from the neighbouring Lancaster Group. In addition, Alan Jones of the St Helens and Prescott Group, along with Gowan O’Hagan and Paul Astley of the Preston Group had ventured north in support of Ian.
Outgoing first principal Keith Halligan, (the drummer with Full Benefit), set a very high benchmark as he installed Stuart Collins in his stead. Not only was his work accurate and delivered at a nice rhythm it was also performed with great feeling; something that can also be said of Stuart as he installed Alan Hilton as second principal and Alan in turn as he installed Keith Jones as third principal. Keith is a joining member of the chapter, having previously seen service in a chapter in Warwickshire, and there were therefore only two scripture readings. Receiving great plaudits for the manner in which they discharged this responsibility were junior members Stuart Braithwaite and Steve Harris, the latter being the bass player in Full Benefit.
The robe and sceptre addresses were superbly orated by Dean, Guy Brocklebank and Mike Jenkins. Chapter treasurer Bill Edmonds was called into action to give the address to the three principals whilst Ian was made to sing for his supper in delivering that to the companions. The delivery of the two addresses mirrored the excellent ritual which had preceded them.
To mark the occasion, Stuart presented Ian with two cheques. The first was in favour of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival for the sum of £300. The other was in aid of the hall building fund to the tune of £337. On accepting the cheques Ian not only expressed his thanks but also took the opportunity to remark upon the wonderful work which had been undertaken in rejuvenating the building since his last visit. He paid tribute to those responsible for bringing the facilities into line with what is expected in the present day.
As well as congratulating the three new principals and congratulating all who had taken part Ian also expressed his thanks to scribe Ezra Alistair Davidson for all the work he had undertaken.
The 70 members and their guests had been treated to a wonderful evening of accurate yet friendly ritual delivered under the quiet direction of Dean. Following the ceremony, a splendid meal was enjoyed in the Fairfield Dining Room, with the main course being a much-enjoyed mixed meat salad. The harmony of the chapter continued in the dining room with the buzz of friendly conversion accompanying the sounds of cutlery and glasses that were being put to good use.
Ian’s response to the toast to the grand officers was very well received as in doing so he got across the messages he wanted to whilst, at the same time, injecting some much appreciated humour. It was a splendid end to what had been an excellent installation meeting.