The Corinthian Suite at Liverpool Masonic Hall was the venue for the annual installation ceremony of the Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter of West Lancashire No 8516. The chapter was established in 1979 to provide an opportunity for Provincial Grand Stewards of the Royal Arch to meet together and continue to cement friendships formed during their year in office. It also has a dual role, in that it can promote the knowledge of Royal Arch Masonry by way of lectures and demonstrations as well as carrying out duties for the Province, as the Grand Superintendent may desire or direct.
As is usual for this meeting, a large number of the stewards and guests were in attendance, with well over 100 booked in for the festive board. The chapter was opened in due form by first principal Roy Cowley, ably assisted by second and third principals Barry Robinson and Chris Gleave respectively, with the three sojourners situated in the west, namely Dave Newland, Mike Harding and Timothy Burgess. Chris, who was the third principal two year previous, stood in for Joe Williams, who unfortunately was unable to attend.
The three principals were pleased to welcome everyone to the evening’s proceedings and after completing the standard business, the next item on the agenda was a ballot. This was to approve, or otherwise, the membership of the chapter for a number of the currently serving PrGstwds’. Once approved, they were admitted into the room.
On being warmly received by Roy Cowley and the companions, Roy reiterated the thoughts of all in hoping that their membership was the start of a long and fruitful journey within the chapter. In response and on behalf of the joining members, John Selley thanked the companions for inviting them to join and that they would do all in their power to uphold the high standard laid down by their predecessors.
The installation proceedings then commenced, with the entrance into the room of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, which was heralded by the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Mark Barton. The companions stood, as a colourful and dignified procession of grand and acting Provincial grand officers entered escorting Tony. Accompanying Tony, were Deputy Grand Superintendent Paul Renton, Second Provincial Grand Principal Barry Jameson, Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals Chris Butterfield, Duncan Smith, Colin Rowling and Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah David Case. Also included amongst that number, was Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Sam Robinson who has responsibility for the Liverpool Group of Chapters and the Liverpool Group Chairman Mark Matthews.
The three principals welcomed Tony to the chapter and proffered him the sceptre. Initially accepting, Tony thanked Roy Cowley for his kind words of welcome and then returned it with a smile, thanking the principals and the companions for their tremendous gesture in bestowing honorary membership of the chapter upon him. Roy now took the opportunity to introduce fellow companions representing the Provincial Grand Stewards Chapters of East Lancashire and Cheshire. Representing East Lancashire, first principal David Cowen, second principal Michael Williams and scribe Ezra Aubrey Oldham and for Cheshire, second principal Anthony Lynch along with their scribe Ezra Neil McCrone.
Roy thanked all the officers for the tremendous support given to him and his co-principals during the previous 12 months, with a special mention for the chapter demonstration team, who had travelled the length and breadth of the Province at their own expense, bringing enlightenment and extending the depth of Masonic knowledge wherever they visited. Roy also made special mention of two unsung heroes of the chapter, organist David Tattersall and the janitor Paul Broadley. Sadly, Dave Tattersall was unable to be in attendance for the ceremony and at short notice Derek Hughson had been able to step in and was much appreciated by all.
As was only to be expected, the ceremony of installation was performed in exemplary manner, with Kevin Poynton being installed as first principal, Geoffrey Cuthill second principal and Eric Kos third principal. Kevin’s first role was the investiture of Roy Cowley as immediate past first principal, before continuing in appointing his officers for the coming year. Kevin had the pleasure of also investing Malcolm Warren as ‘The Steward’ of the Chapter, who will, as dictated by tradition, be installed as first principal at the 2019 installation ceremony.
On completion of the ceremony, Tony took the opportunity of extending his good wishes and congratulations and wished fraternal greetings to each and every one gathered in Liverpool. As first principal, Kevin Poynton then had the pleasurable task of presenting, on behalf of the chapter members, a number of charitable donations. The first for £1,000 in favour of the MCF 2021 Festival, then four others of £250 each to the Liverpool Masonic Hall Building Fund, Friends of Tithebarn, Riding for the Disabled and the Derian House Children’s Hospice.
On adjournment to the banqueting suite, a wholesome menu of soup, chicken chasseur with seasonal vegetables and a cheese board, aided further enjoyment of the whole occasion. During the evening, Barry Jameson responded to the toast on behalf of grand officers. Barry mentioned that on the previous evening, the Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter demonstration team had been at Widnes, giving an explanation on the ‘Harris’ Royal Arch tracing board to Loyalty Chapter No 897. Other dates for this demonstration include, University Chapter of Liverpool No 4274, on 28 January, at the Liverpool Medical Institute and at Temple Chapter No 1094 on 18 February, at the Liverpool Masonic Hall. Barry also thanked Rob Fitzsimmons as the DC for the demonstration team, for all his endeavours over the year. After expressing good wishes to the three principals, Barry gave the toast to the Grand Superintendent.
In his response to the toast to his health, Tony again expressed his own good wishes to the newly installed principals. Thanks and appreciation were also proffered to Malcolm Alexander for his devoted work, in not only making the arrangements for this evening, but also with the assistance of his team, for organizing Provincial Grand Chapter at Southport a few weeks earlier.
Tony again thanked the companions for their vote to make him an honorary member of the chapter, a moment to treasure. He then thanked Malcolm Bell for taking on the role of Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies within the Craft, due to the promotion of Keith Kemp. After congratulating both the outgoing and incoming principals, he extended this to ‘The Steward’ Malcolm Warren.
He also had a number of messages that he wished to pass on with regard to recruitment into Royal Arch Masonry and the importance for everyone to see this as a duty. It was always a delight to attend Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter and the warmth of the reception given to the visitors and himself was an absolute delight, which coupled with the enthusiasm of the companion’s present, had made for an outstanding event. All Craft Masons should be encouraged to join the Royal Arch, when they felt ready, it being the completion of the journey through the whole of Craft Freemasonry.
Tony next mentioned a few upcoming events, including the first game for the Provincial rugby team, to be held on 9 February at Wigan. On 17 February, the Provincial Scribe Ezra Peter Taylor, starts his sponsored trilogy by running, cycling, and swimming, with the aim of raising money for the MCF 2021 Festival and ‘Meningitis now’. The Grand Ball will be held at Bolton on 15 March, while ‘A night with the stars’ will be held at Blackpool Opera House on the 6 April, further details to all can be accessed on the Provincial website. Tony finished the response by thanking the chapter for their tremendous charitable contributions earlier in the evening.
Responding to the toast by Roy Cowley to the three newly installed principals, Kevin Poynton thanked Roy for his kind words and then had the pleasure of presenting him, on behalf of the chapter, with the past first principal jewel. The evening flew past and in the blink of an eye Paul Broadley was on his feet with the final part of the evening, the janitor’s toast.