“It is a pleasure to be able to represent the Grand Superintendent and witness such a first-class ceremony.” These remarks were made by former Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Rowly Saunders who was representing the Grand Superintendent at the installation meeting of Henry Cook Chapter No 1021 held at Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall.
It had indeed been a ceremony delivered in splendid style which was thoroughly enjoyed by the 65 companions and their guests who witnessed proceedings. Included among their number were acting Provincial grand officers Phil Preston, Peter Quirk, Dennis Laird, Paul Thompson and Steve McClintock; the latter two having made the journey around Morecambe Bay from the Lancaster Group. As director of ceremonies of the chapter, Dennis’s acting role had to take a back seat on this occasion.
Installing first principal Graham Benson set the standard with a highly polished performance as he ensconced Stuart Dickinson into the primary chair of the chapter in his stead. Stuart in turn installed Scot Deakin as his successor as second principal with Scott then placing Chris Gray into the chair of third principal. The three new principals set the tone by each faultlessly reciting their obligations.
It was not just the pressure of a full room and the presence of eight visiting first principals watching on, with which the participants had to contend. Graham had the added stress of being under the watchful eye of chapter member and father-in-law Barrie Bray, as well as his brother Mike Benson who is the first principal of Baldwin Chapter No 1398.
Taking a keen interest in the work of Scott Deakin from the chair of scribe Ezra, and no doubt inadvertently adding to the tension he was under, was his father-in-law Harry Chatfield.
Barry, Mike and Harry, together with all the members of Henry Cook Chapter, can reflect with pride on the work of Graham, Stuart and Scott. Others too played their part in ensuring that standards were maintained.
The robe and sceptre addresses were delivered accurately and pleasingly by Graham Benson, Bill Joughin and John Donnelly. In Bill’s case it was even more noteworthy as he was a late replacement for the task.
The addresses to the three principals, the sojourners and companions were delivered, respectively by Harry Chatfield, Ken Boon and Roly Parker. The work of this trio of experienced Royal Arch Masons was a delight to observe.
To mark the occasion, Rowley was presented with a cheque for £500 in favour of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. This entitled the chapter to be able to claim Vice Patron status and group charity steward Richard Wilcock was on hand to deliver a certificate confirming this fact. He also match funded the first £200 with a cheque from the group charity account in acknowledgement of the support given by the members of the chapter to the group fund-raising events.
The formalities of the ceremony being concluded, the assembled throng retired to the Fairfield Suite in the hall where they enjoyed a tasty three course meal.
During the evening Rowley revealed that this was in fact the second occasion on which he had been the principal guest when Stuart had ascended to a chair. On that occasion, Stuart had become master of Piel Castle Lodge No 6099, the designated representative had been forced to withdraw and Rowley was called upon to act in his stead.
The camaraderie and bonhomie of the dining room proved a fitting finale to what had been a first-class installation meeting.