If you asked the average Freemason to list what were the most memorable highlights in his Masonic career, no doubt taking the first principal’s chair of his chapter would be near to the top. For Craig Simson, reaching that pinnacle was a very memorable event as he took that chair at Morecambe Chapter No 1561 at Derby Street.
The representative of the Grand Superintendent on this occasion was Tony Hall, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principal’s who had the company of fellow grand officer Tom Holroyd, Lancaster and District Group Chairman Neil McGill and acting Provincial grand officers Peter Quirk, Brian Griffiths and Mike Silver.
A warm welcome was firstly extended to Tony and his accompanying entourage by Steve Plevey the installing and outgoing first principal, before the important business of the evening was embarked upon under the deft direction of chapter DC Barry Robinson. As all three incumbent principals were progressing through and out of their respective chairs, it was a familiar and pleasing flow of ritual that saw Craig duly obligated and installed as first principal by Steve. This was followed by Craig expertly elevating Peter Jackson from the third to the second chair, whilst as a fitting finale, Peter sincerely handled the installation of Stewart Bateson into the office of third principal.
It transpired that Tony Hall wasn’t just attending as a spectator as he was delighted to be invited to participate in the proceedings by reading the passages of scripture, specifically selected for the installation of a first principal. No such thing as a free lunch then! The robe addresses were delivered in fine style to the first, second and third chair incumbents by John Bateson, Steve Plevey and Geoffrey Wilman.
Following the appointment and investiture of the chapter officers, Craig had a pleasant task to perform as he presented Steve with a past first principal’s jewel on behalf of the chapter. This was swiftly followed by Tony Hall, rising to bring the congratulations and best wishes of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, which he did in a very personal manner by congratulating each of the participants individually.
Before resuming his seat, Tony was presented with details of the charity support that the chapter had dispersed during the year. He expressed appreciation and gratitude in learning that a diverse number of recipients had benefited from a total of £568 in donations.
The well attended festive board was a happy and noisome event that provided a relaxing atmosphere in which to reflect on the success of the evenings ceremony. Tony responded to the third toast in fine style, understandably concentrating his remarks on the unique opportunity the Royal Arch offers Craft Freemasons in completing and fully understanding their experience in the third degree. He ended his response with a reminder to all present that it would be wonderful if they could all accept the invitation of the Grand Superintendent to visit him at his chapter, at Southport later in the year.
The toast to the principals was proposed by Steve Plevey, whose words of praise and encouragement were followed by a vocal tribute in the form of the ‘Principals song’ rendered by John Bateson, accompanied by John Heaton.
A raffle draw elicited some good-natured ribbing as it appeared, to some, that only chapter members tickets had been entered into the draw! However the real winner was as usual, charity, as £200 was raised by the draw.
Story and photos by George Fox.