The Second Provincial Grand Principal Peter Elmore received a very hearty and sincere welcome when he attended as the guest of honour at the installation convocation of Vale Chapter of Installed Principals No 5256. Accompanying Peter were Chris Butterfield Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, Chris Band Past Provincial Second Grand Principal, Jim Wilson Chairman of Lancaster and District Group, Alan Jones Chairman of Furness and South Lakeland Group together with numerous other grand officers who were all pleased to support him. Leading the contingent of acting Provincial officers on duty was Tony Hall PrGSN, together with Barrie Crossley PrDGDC, Phil Preston PrDGSwdB, Stephen Fox PrGStwd and Bob Stafford PrGStwd.
John Heaton, the retiring and installing first principal opened the chapter and deftly dispensed with the early business including the ballot for two distinguished joining members, namely Peter Pemberton Vice Chairman of Lancaster Group and Barrie Crossley who was still at this point outside the door of the temple organising the imminent entry of the processional group. John made a grateful and sincere valedictory address to the officers and companions of the chapter and especially thanked the director of ceremonies Trevor Barber who was stepping down at the end of his three year tenure of the office.
Following the announcement of Peter Elmore’s demand for admission proclaimed by Barrie Crossley, the distinguished group of grand and Provincial grand officers made there entrance into the chapter. Following the formal welcome, John Heaton offered Peter the sceptre of the chapter, which he gratefully received but promptly returned together with a wry observation that he was there to enjoy the evening and that end would best be served by him allowing John to continue with the ceremony.
The three principals were then, as is traditional in this chapter, obligated and installed with a minimum of ceremony but a maximum of sincerity and dignity. Rowley Saunders took the red robe of first principal, Mike Walling the purple robe of second principal and Bernard Snape was duly invested with the blue robe of third principal. The officers of the chapter were then appointed and invested with, as is again traditional in this chapter that spans two Masonic groups, sincerity and dignity, the roles being equally divided between companions from both sides of Morecambe Bay.
On the completion of the appointments, Peter Elmore was effusive in his praise for the efficient and commendable manner in which each participant had carried out his duties. He congratulated all three principals on the honour which had been conferred on them by their appointments and assured everyone that the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison would have been equally impressed by the ceremony and had in fact asked Peter to communicate his personal best wishes to all in attendance. Before he resumed his seat, he was presented with an envelope that contained details of the charitable contributions made by the chapter to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity in the preceding 12 months. He was delighted to announce that a total of £931 inclusive of gift aid would be dispersed to beneficiaries, further commenting on the generosity shown by the members who were undoubtedly making additional contributions to their other chapters and lodges.
In response to the expressions of gratitude and commendation, the newly installed first principal Rowley Saunders reciprocated the good wishes and assured Peter that the chapter was in safe and experienced hands. Following the first rising, the grand and acting Provincial grand officers retired in processional form. The remaining business of the day was duly completed before the chapter was closed and the members and guests adjourned to the dining room upstairs.
Over 70 companions attended the festive board that was superbly presented by the catering team at Ulverston Masonic Hall. A delicious and very filling 4-course repast of soup, roast beef, Peach Melba and cheese board soon put shirt and trouser buttons to new levels of stress testing! A steady stream of beverages from the bar area assured that the victuals would be adequately assisted in their digestive sojourns and ensured that all the diners were in receptive mood for the speeches that were to follow.
In his response to the toast to the grand officers, Peter Elmore once more expressed his admiration for the work carried out earlier in the temple. He described the ceremony as ‘minimalist’, humorously remarking that had the ceremony been ‘pared any closer to the bone, parts of the bone would have been included’! However, he continued by confirming that all the essential elements had been included and that as the chapter was one of ‘installed principals’ the brevity was both appropriate and understandable. He also was at pains to pay particular tribute to those senior Masons who had played an important role in transforming Vale Chapter from a struggling entity into the healthy and successful chapter it had become, especially by fulfilling the very evident need for an installed principals chapter in the north of the Province.
He invited his audience to reflect on the various words used to describe the Royal Arch order and proceeded to make an eloquent and convincing justification for the use of each word in terms of its relevance and application. In conclusion he made mention of the need to continue with appropriately encouraging new master Masons to join the order and reaffirmed the need for continued support of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity in view of potentially imminent festival demands on members charitable contributions. Peter retook his seat to warm applause.
The toast to the newly installed principals was proposed by John Heaton, who suggested that all three were sufficiently well known and experienced that there need be no concern regarding their management of the chapter. In response, Rowley Saunders thanked all who had contributed to the success of the day and asked that everyone should give a special thought and prayer for one of his illustrious predecessors, Mike Davies who was suffering ill health. In true Masonic style, the companions all spontaneously rose to wish Mike a speedy recovery, prior to the evening reaching its conclusion.