Companions and guests of Chapter of Fortitude No 281 gathered at Lancaster Masonic Hall for the induction of Nigel Parrish as the chapter’s first principal, having already occupied the first principal’s chair in 2012. The companions were delighted to welcome Frank Philip (Phil) Gardner as the representative of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison to their installation convocation. Phil was accompanied by Lancaster and District Group Vice Chairman Neil McGill and acting Provincial grand officers Paul Thompson and Stephen McClintock.
The chapter was opened by first principal Steven Stanley and as soon as the normal business of the chapter had been completed the director of ceremonies Dave Moss entered the room to announce the arrival of Phil and his attendant companions. Phil was warmly welcomed by the first principal who expressed his wish, on behalf of the companions present, that he would have a splendid evening. In response, Phil thanked Steven for the warmth of his greeting and assured him that he was confident that the installation would go well and that he would definitely have a good evening.
Due to the sudden illness of the second principal elect Stewart Aimson, first principal elect Nigel, in what was to be a busy evening for him, installed Paul Dent into the third principal’s chair in exemplary fashion. For ceremonial purposes the second principal’s chair was occupied by past first principal David Grant, with the installation of the second principal to take place at a later date. Progression to the chair of first principal by Nigel was then facilitated by Steven in an excellent manner. Bob Skelly presented the scarlet robe address and Trevor Barber the blue robe address, all in a very clear and self-assured manner.
Following the appointment of the chapter officers, Phil delivered the congratulations and best wishes of the Grand Superintendent and felt sure that had he been present, Tony would have thanked all the participants for their contributions. The ceremony had gone particularly well and given Stewart’s sudden illness, the companions of the chapter should be praised for pulling together at short notice. Past first principal Steven then presented Phil with two cheques for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival.
At the festive board held in the Rowley Court banqueting suite, Phil, in response to the toast to the grand officers, was able to convey his own best wishes and congratulations to the chapter. Phil was expansive in his remarks, stating that the standard of ritual witnessed at the installation convocation was fantastic and then exclaimed: “Wow, it was good!”.
The body of Phil’s address concentrated on the Royal Arch. He was always being asked what should be the degree one should join after becoming a master Mason and for Phil he had no doubt it should be the Royal Arch, as it is the completion of a Mason’s journey through Craft Masonry. In concluding his address, Phil noted that the visit was his first outing as a representative in the Royal Arch for 11 years and thanked Neil and the acting Provincial grand officers for their much-valued support.
Steven Stanley proposed the toast to the health of the three principals and gave a brief resume of each of their personal and Masonic credentials, which was well received. The ‘principals’ song’ which followed was performed marvellously by Fred Fox, with excellent accompaniment from David Tattersall. Nigel, on behalf of the three principals, thanked all those who had taken part in the ceremony.
A wonderful evening was rounded off by the announcement that the raffle at the festive board had raised £157.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.