A typically warm welcome was extended by the companions of Scorton Chapter No 5791 to all their guests at their installation convocation but none was warmer that given to Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Ian Cuerden who was attending as the representative of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison. The meeting held at Wyrebank, Garstang proved to be one of the most enjoyable of the year for a number of reasons, not least in that Scorton Chapter practices a ritual that is unfamiliar to many of its visitors and therefore the ‘ears of their guests are kept at a state of constant attention’ lest they miss any of the distinctive differences. A further boost to the day’s celebrations was provided by the news that the chapter was celebrating its 70th anniversary.
The first principal Arthur Ashcroft opened the chapter assisted by his fellow principals and deftly guided by director of ceremonies Peter Grisdale. Regular business was swiftly despatched and followed by the entry into the chapter of Ian Cuerden accompanied by fellow grand officers Peter Mason, Tom Holroyd and Jim Wilson group chairman. Another grand officer Keith Jackson kindly provided the musical accompaniment. The acting Provincial grand officers on parade were Jim Richards Provincial Grand Standard Bearer, Mike Jenkins Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies and Steve Jennings Provincial Grand Steward.
Following the valedictory address from Arthur to his officers, the three principals elect were duly obligated and then installed. Arthur installed John Helme into the first principal’s chair with great dignity, whilst John in due turn transacted the elevation of Alan Gardner from the third to second principal’s office with admirable sincerity. Alan then effected the due installation of John Eccles into the chair of third principal in a pleasing manner.
At the completion of these progressions, the robe addresses were given by three companions in a very commendable manner. The explanation of the red robe was given by David Partington, that of the purple robe by Paul Humphries and the blue robe address was performed by Richard Alford. The work done by these relatively new companions was much admired by all present.
In rising at the completion of the ceremony to bring the greetings of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, Ian noted that Tony would have been delighted to see such a unique and practical installation. He congratulated the companions on Tony’s behalf for achieving its ‘70th installation’ and wished everyone health and happiness in the forthcoming year. Newly installed first principal John Helme thanked him for the greetings and then asked Arthur to make a presentation to Ian on behalf of the chapter.
Ian expressed both gratitude and admiration for the generosity of the charitable donations being made. The sums he related were £150 to the West Lancashire 2021 MCF Festival, £100 to Garstang Masonic Fellowship, £150 to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, £150 to WLFC, £45 to Masonic sporting societies and £50 to the Garstang Children’s Festival. A grand total of £645.
At the festive board held in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite another happy occasion was enjoyed by the diners. In his response to the toast to the grand officers, Ian made his audience smile with his wit and listen attentively to the succinct manner in which he conveyed the essential messages from the Province. He made a special mention of the generosity of the Masons of West Lancashire and highlighted the proactive stance taken by the Province that was regularly both commented on and emulated by both Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter. He wryly commented; ”What West Lancashire does today, Grand Lodge will copy tomorrow.”
In his closing remarks, Ian made mention of the success that new initiatives were having in the revival of interest in Royal Arch Freemasonry but cautioned that an increase in numbers was secondary to ensuring that the right calibre of men were being recruited. He also thanked all the officers of the chapter for their assistance in making his visit such a smooth and enjoyable experience.
A very complimentary toast was made to the three principals by Arthur Ashcroft and responded to on behalf of the recipients by John Helme who thanked his predecessor for the energetic and positive way in which he had promoted the chapter during his year in office. Before calling for the final toast of the evening, John announced that a total of £301 had been raised in aid of charitable causes.