The opening of the installation meeting of Semper Fidelis Chapter No 4428 was perfection itself as acting first principal Tony Berry assisted by second principal Steven Carr and third principal Steven Jepson showed how an opening should be done. The only concern for director of ceremonies Roger Walker was “where was the principal guest?” When last heard from, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, Paul Shepherd, representing the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison was in danger of being swallowed by that devouring beast of modern society, the British motorway system!
Fortunately, on retiring from the chapter to form the procession, Roger was relieved to find that the Grand Superintendent’s representative had extricated himself from the trucker’s nightmare and was nearly ready to enter the chapter. With the usual formalities Paul entered the chapter accompanied by Steven Reid Past Deputy Grand Superintendent, Ian Ward Chairman of the South Fylde group of lodges and chapters, acting provincial grand officers Neil MacSymons and Dave Barr, along with other distinguished companions.
What followed was a ceremony perfect in its accuracy and beautiful in its simplicity. Steven Carr was expertly installed into the first principal’s chair by Tony Berry, Steven Jepson was equally well installed as second principal by Steven Carr and Steven Reid, having affirmed his previous obligation, was inducted into the third principal’s chair by Steven Jepson. The three principal’s robes were then explained by these same companions.
Before moving on to complete the chapter business Steven Carr presented four cheques to Paul. They consisted of £400 for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £250 for Trinity Hospice, £250 for the North West Air Ambulance and £250 for Talking Books. Having read these cheques to the companions, Paul stated that he was quite pleasantly astounded by the generosity of the chapter, adding that he had never been presented with such a large donation from any chapter before.
Following the meeting the companions sat down to a tasty repast of chicken liver pate, steak and mushroom pie and a choice or trifle or cheese and biscuits. In his response to the toast to the grand officers, Paul described the installation ceremony as warm and sincere. He again congratulated the companions for their generosity to several charities, describing it as: “‘a magnificent amount.” He urged members to go out and encourage others to join the Royal Arch enthusing: “we know it’s good, tell the others and get them along.” He concluded by extending an invitation from the Grand Superintendent for all to attend Provincial Grand Chapter, to be held at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre on 7 April 2015.
A raffle ensued raising the sum of £105 for masonic and non-Masonic charities. The toast to the principals was then proposed by Tony Berry, in which he congratulated them all on their preferment but said their installation would cause some confusion as they were all called Steven. He also alluded to the fact that they all had a medical connection, so the title of doctor wouldn’t help either. He suggested that, ‘…maybe Steven one, two and three may help.’ Following the toast, the song to the principals was sung by Hugh Mett accompanied by Phil Bolton.
In his response, Steven Carr thanked everyone for their attendance, particularly Paul and the other distinguished guests. He also thanked Hugh and Phil for the rousing principal’s song. He particularly thanked the multi-tasking Trevor Underwood who had acted as treasurer, assistant director of ceremonies, reader during the ceremony and had finally been appointed as charity steward. He concluded by thanking the installing first Principal Tony Berry, praising him as being the companion who also could always be relied upon to step in at the last minute.