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Provincial Grand Chapter is always a wonderful and colourful affair. There is a buzz about King George’s Hall in Blackburn (aren’t we so lucky to have such a venue?) from 10 in the morning until late into the evening.
This year was no exception.
David Bristol (ProvGDC), a stage manager and memory man without equal, was already well into his rehearsal for DCs and Stewards when I arrived at 11am. There was action and inaction, activity and loitering, and lots and lots of discussion, gossip and greeting of old and new friends. The whole scene was more than vaguely reminiscent of a Hogarth print (http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/beresiner11.html). It was wonderful, it was everything Freemasonry stands for.
I took up little of David’s time, my part was easily rehearsed. Then I tagged on to the back of a small group of masons some of whom I knew, and the rest who were about to become friends I didn’t know I had until that moment, and we wandered through Blackburn’s streets to our lunch venue. I was slightly worried about being part of a group of men almost parading through Blackburn at lunch time in morning dress, but to my surprise and pleasure all I saw were admiring stares.
The Postal Order is a JD Weatherspoon establishment where I had the best and cheapest pint of beer and omelette on earth and which was transformed by 50+ masons into a scene straight out of Rumpole of the Bailey.
Arriving back at KGH, we went our own ways to get regaled (if that is the verb that comes from regalia). When I re-entered the Hall it was transformed from a concert venue to a very special Chapter Room. This doesn’t happen by accident or divine whim, but by very hard work by guys you don’t see, but need, and who deserve our gratitude and admiration.
The ceremony, the honoured guests, the newly appointed and promoted companions, the reports, even the accounts, were all part of the greatest masonic show on earth. Ringmaster David (B), our 3 Provincial Grand principals: the ultimate leader; the ever thinking and thoughtful manager; and the kindest man in England, were perfect. Sir David’s address was more than inspiring and the whole thing made me, and I suspect many others, feel very proud of our Order and our Province.
But the most significant thing for me was the sight of the companions on the balcony. Zs, Hs, Js, EComps and Comps, it felt as if every Chapter in the province was represented, as indeed it was.
The social board was a sell out as it should be for the ceremonial set piece of our Royal Arch year. The food, the company, the banter and the floor show finished off a great Royal Arch Masonic day.
If any of you have pictures from PGC you would like to see put on the website next to this report , then just send them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a short caption.
Tony Freemont (APGP, Manchester and Salford with overall responsibility for the RA website and Communications)
Companions, I repeat my sincere thanks to you all for supporting our Province on this special day.
In this annual address, I always extend my genuine thanks to all the members of the Royal Arch Cabinet who have rendered outstanding service to this Province and I do so again today.
I yield to no one in my admiration for their significant contribution to the success of the Holy Royal Arch in East Lancashire. I complement them all for their dedication and leadership.
Earlier in this meeting, I referred to the tragedy of my dear friend ECompanion Paul Rose, joining the Grand Lodge above, after facing a significant deterioration in his health and his unfailing courage in dealing with his serious illness.
It is however of significance that Paul played an important role in recommending that EComp Martin Roche should succeed him as Deputy Grand Superintendent in the certain knowledge that in passing the torch to his successor,Martin would build on the solid foundations which Paul had laid down.
As you have already heard ECompanion David Basger retires today as an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals and I wish to thank him for his unfailing support, enthusiasm and good humour whilst in that role. I also wish to thank his wife Michelle for her constant support of David throughout his Masonic career. We wish them both every success in the future.
My thanks also go to all the Royal Arch District Officers for all their hard work and enthusiasm.
The success we have enjoyed over the last twelve months owes a great deal to our Provincial Secretariat at Ashday Lea. The professional staff and the volunteers who work there are quite often the unsung heroes and yet they are the backbone of this Province.
Since our last Annual Meeting in March 2018 we have seen a further increase in the number of exaltations in our Chapters. The largest number we have seen for years.
Given that we have seen a significant increase in the number of new Initiates joining the Craft and an introduction to the Royal Arch included in the Members Pathway, this success in the Royal Arch should not surprise us. Long may this upturn continue!
Companions, if I am allowed to come out with a commercial for our Provincial Dinner and Dance; could I remind you that the venue is the Bolton Wanderers Football Ground, formerly the Macron on Saturday, 29thJune 2019.
It is essential that I should now turn to a number of new initiatives we have taken over the last year.
First, we have launched an increased number of presentations and lectures on our website which are online with hard copies sent to all Scribe Es and DC’s. This complements the launch of the online resource, ‘Solomon’ which also provides a range of materials. When combined it means that no Chapter should have an occasion when it simply transacts business. We need to ensure all meetings are engaging and interesting and these vital tools support just that. Put simply Companions, if Chapters do not have an Exaltation Ceremony to perform, I would ask that they consider delivering one of those presentations.
Secondly, we have rolled out a new version of “Talking Heads” which has been well received and which will continue throughout the Districts.
Thirdly, we have continued to run workshops for Royal Arch Representatives in our Craft Lodges.
Let me say something on that very point. As most of you know, I am privileged to sit on the General Purposes Committee of Supreme Grand Chapter and in that capacity, I made a request that the Pro Grand Master, the Most Worshipful Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, should emphasise the vital importance of selecting the right person to be the Royal Arch Representative in our Lodges.
This he did at the Quarterly Meeting of Grand Lodge in December. It was enormously helpful and straight to the point. As he knew full well that it was me who had a “bee in his bonnet” about this subject, after the meeting he asked me if I was happy with what he had said. I told him that I was very grateful that he had addressed the matter and was ecstatic about the words he had used. I find it’s always useful to use words like ecstatic when I am speaking to the Pro Grand Master.
You don’t get where I have got without being a professional “creep”.
Whilst it is acknowledged that this is a Lodge appointment it can be influenced through the Area Cabinets and the feedback provided by the Royal Arch District Officer and the Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals.
In addition to those initiative we have others.
In conjunction with our sister Province of West Lancashire, we have formed a University Scheme Chapter named Palatine Chapter and the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent in West Lancashire, Tony Harrison and I are delighted to support it, now and in the future. Sir David Wootton who is responsible for the University Scheme will be visiting the next meeting on the 1stApril.
Many of you, if not all of you will have seen our new Royal Arch Newsletter which has been very well received. It is important that as many Brethren who are not yet Companions read this interesting and informative Newsletter.
As you have now heard, this has been a very busy year.
No one in this Province has a monopoly of good ideas and new initiatives and that certainly includes me.
However, ….. there are some initiatives which I will now share with you for you all to consider and implement.
To identify those members of a Craft Lodges who are Royal Arch Masons by a simple symbol after their name on the Lodge Summons.
By encouraging Royal Arch materials in the form of papers on our website to be used for education in Craft Lodges.
Identifying Royal Arch Representatives on all Craft Summonses.
Providing all Royal Arch representatives with a platform in a Lodge meeting at least once a year.
That providing the Worshipful Master is in agreement taking wine at Installations with those Brethren that are in the Royal Arch
Inviting possible future Exaltees to attend the Social Board of Chapters.
Many Lodges and Chapters do many of these things already, but quite a number don’t. Its over to you!!
Companions, my thanks go to all those who are retiring from their acting Ranks in the Province and those who are continuing in office. Thank you for your dedication and support.
I now wish to congratulate all those who will shortly be appointed as Acting Provincial Officers, Past Provincial Officers, those to be promoted in this Royal Arch Province and those that are continuing in Office.
This is a very important day for you and I know that you will continue to carry out the excellent work you do in East Lancashire on behalf of the Order.
Finally, can I thank allthe Companions here for your kindness to me as well as your friendship. Your constant support and enthusiasm is something which I treasure and always appreciate.
I wish every one of you, continued success in the year that lies ahead.
I joined Prince Edwin’s Chapter as I was keen to learn about the Royal Arch. I have found the history and tradition of the order absolutely captivating, my exaltation was incredible, so much colour, drama and historical ritual, which has left me feeling utterly privileged to be a part of something very special.
At the age of 28 and just over a month of becoming a master mason, I was exalted into the Royal Arch. That is something I haven’t regretted. Having gone through my craft ceremonies, I felt a piece of the jigsaw was missing, and wanted to complete my final step to becoming a “complete Freemason”.
Chapter has brought with it new experiences, new insights and new Companions, all of which add to our pleasure and enjoyment of Freemasonry.
I planned to pass through the chair before joining Chapter but newly exalted companions from my lodge recommended that I join because it would complete my masonic journey. After 4 years in craft I decided to join chapter and have enjoyed the experience ever since.
Andrew Matvi Korolczuk
As I spent more time in my lodge I was keen to further my Masonic journey. Everyone suggested the Royal Arch to complete the Third Degree. The new appearance of a chapter was a surprise. The story was enlightening and put a new perspective on my Masonic understanding.
Christopher Noel Hegarty
I became a member of the Chapter following in the steps of my brother Warren who died at 39. I really enjoy the diversity between the Craft and Royal Arch the banners, candles, and robes etc,. I would recommend all Brethren to join the Royal Arch.
I decided to expand my Masonic knowledge. By joining a chapter where a number of my lodge brethren were members. My Exaltation was a wonderful experience for me being full of colour. I would recommend the Royal Arch to any Master Mason.