“One of the finest ceremonies I have been able to witness for a few years”, was the verdict of the Deputy Grand Superintendent George Daniel (Danny) Jones on the occasion of his visit to the installation convocation of Sandylands Chapter No 5702 at Morecambe Masonic Hall. An impressive array of grand officers accompanied Danny on this noteworthy occasion, including Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Christopher (Chris) Butterfield, Tom Holroyd, Christopher Hamilton, Lancaster group chairman Jim Wilson, John Robson and Keith Kemp. In addition, a number of acting Provincial officers were in attendance, including Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah Jim Miller, Neil McGill, Jim Richards, David Tattersall and Stephen Jennings. Also present was Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Neil MacSymons who choreographed events splendidly both in the chapter and at the festive board.
The first principal David Liptrott opened the chapter assisted by his fellow principals and once regular business had been despatched, Neil MacSymons entered the chapter to announce that the Deputy Grand Superintendent stood without and demanded admission. David welcomed Danny to the chapter and hoped he had an enjoyable evening. As is traditional David offered Danny the sceptre, which he declined, replying “I can tell by the glint in your eye you wish me to keep it, however I must return it”.
Following the valedictory address from David to his officers, in which he thanked them for all their efforts, the ceremony saw Donald Polson installed as first principal by David in, what can only be described as, a sublime example of ritual. Taking the purple and blue robes of the second and third principals were past first principals Raymond Griffiths and Alan Finney respectively. The robe addresses to the first, second and third principals which followed were eloquently and sincerely rendered by Steve Nutter, Mike Craddock and David Shaw respectively and were a fine testimony to the effort and industry that had been employed throughout the ceremony.
Rising to bring the congratulations and best wishes of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, Danny was quick to praise the standard of the ceremony and, on behalf of Tony, offered congratulation on a job well done. At installation convocations Danny is often in the company of acting Provincial officers and in an innovative move asked each of them in turn to introduce themselves – a gesture that was very much appreciated by the companions. The new first principal Donald Polson thanked Danny on behalf of the three principals for the kind words and then asked David to make a presentation on behalf of the chapter. Danny was delighted to receive notification of charitable giving of £1,596. The sums he related to were £1,101 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £45 to the Masonic sporting charities and £450 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival.
The contribution to the MCF 2021 Festival brought the sum donated to the festival to an impressive £1500, which enabled Danny to present to the chapter a certificate acknowledging their status as a vice patron of the festival, thus allowing the chapter to record on their precept ‘Vice Patron of the MCF 2021 Festival’. Danny congratulated the chapter on their outstanding contribution to charity.
At the banquet which followed Danny gave his own greetings and sincere thanks for the welcome he had received and wished the chapter a happy and successful year. He took a moment to pay tribute to Chris Butterfield and wanted to thank him publicly for all his work and enthusiasm in promoting the Royal Arch. Thanks were then proffered to the grand and acting Provincial officers who had supported him on the occasion as well as the group publicity officer for his efforts in recording the special event. Danny also made special mention of David Liptrott for the excellent work he had done in installing Donald as first principal. Danny then progressed to expand upon the topic of recruitment, in particular the need for all companions to urge fellow Masons who are not in the Royal Arch to join. Pop-up posters promoting the Royal Arch are being placed in all Masonic halls within the Province which will certainly assist in this endeavour. It will however still need companions to consider themselves membership officers and point out what they are missing. Encourage debate by relating to the strapline in the poster ‘The Royal Arch, enjoyable, vibrant, stimulating, the complete degree’.
In his closing remarks, Danny made mention of the need to “never tire in telling people what a great organisation Masonry is. Please have fun and enjoyment whilst attending on your Masonic duties as it will no doubt give further opportunity to show others how we enjoy ourselves”.
In his reply to the toast to the Provincial officers, Jim Miller reiterated Danny’s comments on witnessing an excellent ceremony which left no doubt that a considerable amount of time and effort had been put in to it. In conclusion Jim wished the three principals good heath for their year in office and hoped they had fond memories of it.
A very complimentary toast was made to the three principals by David Liptrott in which he expressed his belief that the new principals will make a great team and that the chapter was in good hands. In his response to the toast to his health and that of his co-principals Donald paid tribute to all who had contributed to such a successful and enjoyable day, adding that he had no doubt that “he will remember it for the rest of his life”’.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.