The installation meeting of Empire Chapter No 3257 at Liverpool Masonic Hall saw Graham Benson proclaimed as first principal, in an excellent and well directed ceremony. The principal guest on the evening was Third Provincial Grand Principal Ian Higham, accompanied by Assistant to the Grand Principals Sam Robinson. Also in attendance were the Liverpool Group Chairman Mark Matthews, together with the group Royal Arch vice chairman and secretary David Kemp and Tim Burgess respectively, all supported by acting Provincial grand officers David Barr, Christopher Walls and Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barrie Crossley.
Prior to opening the chapter, the first principal Graham Benson welcomed the visitors for the evening, before requesting everyone stand as a mark of respect to departed merit for John Hawkins. John, who had been elected some time ago to honorary membership after suffering ill-health, was installed as first principal in 1996 and will be a sad loss to the chapter. After resuming the administrative business of the chapter, including a ballot for membership which proved affirmative, Barrie Crossley was admitted and announced the presence of the evening’s principal guest, Ian Higham.
Ian duly entered the chapter, accompanied by grand and acting Provincial grand officers, to be formally welcomed by the three principals. Prior to the start of the installation ceremony, Graham Benson stood and warmly thanked the officers and companions of the chapter for their support and assistance during his year in office. For installation purposes, John Jackson was requested to take the chair of third principal, while son John Jackson junior occupied the position of scribe Nehemiah. The DC started the installation proceedings by presenting the third principal elect Ken Jones and following the reaffirmation of his obligation, the reading was delivered in a commendable manner by David Kemp.
With John Jackson in temporary occupation of the third principal’s chair, this allowed Terry Forsyth to be presented as second principal elect, with the appropriate reading again given by David Kemp. Those below the rank of an installed principal were requested to retire from the chapter for a short period, whilst the three principals were installed in their respective chairs in an excellent manner by their predecessors. The companions were invited to return to the chapter to hear the DC declare the three principals in their respective offices.
As both Graham and Ken had been installed in all three chairs on previous occasions, only the purple robe address was necessary and that was presented by John Jackson, while the presentation of the charter, Royal Arch regulations and by-laws were presented to Graham by the DC Geoffrey Bell. The address to the charity steward was delivered in an exemplary manner by Tim Burgess and the address to the companions of the chapter in an equally commendable manner by the principal guest, Ian Higham.
At the conclusion of the installation ceremony, Ian brought the congratulations of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, wishing the three principals well during their coming year in office. He continued by also congratulating those who had taken part in the ceremony. Ian appreciated the fact that Graham was continuing for another term as first principal and so thanks were due to him for all the work he had done for the chapter and the Royal Arch during his previous year in office. He concluded the good wishes of the Grand Superintendent by congratulating Geoffrey Bell as the chapter director of ceremonies.
Graham then had the pleasure of presenting Ian with a cheque to the value of £200 in support of the MCF 2021 Festival. Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Ian brought his own congratulations and good wishes to the three principals and to the companions of the chapter.
Turning to charitable donations, he thanked the chapter for their very generous contribution made earlier in the evening, which was a magnificent amount for a small chapter, especially as the companions are already making donations through their Craft lodges. He asked those who had not yet signed up to the MCF 2021 Festival to consider doing so as such donations make a real difference. He reminded the companions that although the Province gives magnificent support to the grand charities, it can be just as important to provide support by taking time out to spend time with a brother and engaging in a friendly chat. With the evening coming to a close, John Jackson brought the proceedings to a halt with the janitor’s toast.