Regular Convocation 

12 November 2014 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes 

Companions, the Second Grand Principal has just completed a series of meetings with Grand Superintendents. One of the topics of conversation was the relationship between the Royal Arch and the Craft – specifically covering two issues. First, the selection of Royal Arch representatives in Craft Lodges and secondly, the taking of wine with Royal Arch members at Craft Festive Boards.

The appointment and monitoring of the Royal Arch Representative in a Craft Lodge needs careful consideration. There has been debate as to who is responsible for this important appointment. In Provinces where the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent are the same, there should be no issue. However, where the heads of the two orders are different I believe it essential that the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent liaise. The appointment should never be a ‘tick in the box’ exercise.

As a member of the Royal Arch, the Representative will need to know sufficient about the merits of joining the Order and be able to work closely with the Lodge Mentor. In many instances it could be best judged that a member should be approached at the same time that he receives his Grand Lodge Certificate. I know from experience that there is a balance between judging whether someone will enjoy the Royal Arch with the right time for that individual to join. This timing is also pressurised by the concern that an individual will be approached to join one of the side orders first if there is any delay in recruitment. I continue to believe that there is a good stage to brief Master Masons on the merits of the Royal Arch, but that the actual timing of joining should be linked to each individual’s appetite for Masonic advancement and personal circumstances.

For those of you who are very involved with the side orders, please do not think that I am in any way against Craft members joining them, far from it. However I do firmly believe that the Royal Arch should be the first priority. 

As for wine taking with Royal Arch members at Craft Festive Boards – I believe that this custom should be treated sensitively – if ever used. I will also be mentioning this at the Craft Quarterly Communication in December. In any event the decision should lie in the hands of each Provincial Grand Master. I can see a case for this where a Chapter is linked to a Craft Lodge – but, even so, it is recommended that this wine taking is conducted with everyone sitting down so that those who are not members of the Order are not embarrassed or – worst still – pounced on with a joining form!

Companions you will have read in the last issue of Freemasonry Today about the Membership Focus Group and their mission to stop the bleed in membership. It is clearly of the greatest importance to Royal Arch recruitment that this bleed is halted whilst recruiting and retaining men of quality and integrity. You will have read that members were asked to participate in a series of short surveys so that the Membership Focus Group could seek grass roots’ ideas about the future of Freemasonry. I would ask as many of you as possible to take this opportunity and register and so be able to give your views.


Published in Speeches

Surgeon support from Devon Royal Arch

At the Riviera International Centre in Torquay, Second Grand Principal George Francis attended the Holy Royal Arch Masons of Devonshire Annual Provincial Grand Chapter. To a packed auditorium including more than 100 distinguished guests from the Provinces, Grand Superintendent Simon Rowe announced that Provincial Grand Chapter had contributed more than £75,000 to the Supreme Grand Chapter Royal College of Surgeons 2013 Appeal.

The Royal Arch Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight has taken an innovative approach to its fundraising for the Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons Research Fellowship

The Province invited chapters to nominate an individual who has undergone major surgery, showing exceptional fortitude and bravery, to qualify for a Badge of Courage Award (BOCA). 

Chapters were invited to sponsor individuals by pledging a donation of £1,000, of which £500 would be donated to the appeal with the £500 balance going to a non-masonic charity nominated by the award recipient. A gala BOCA ball was held at HMS Collingwood in Gosport, at which Grand Superintendent Alan Berman presented Second Grand Principal George Francis (pictured above) with a cheque for £80,000 for the appeal.

Eight donations of £500 each were also made to the charities nominated by the BOCA winners.

The members of Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals No. 8966 had been looking forward to receiving members of the East Lancashire Demonstration Team who were delivering a demonstration entitled ‘The rise and fall of the twelve tribes of Israel’. Little did they know that the meeting would be the venue for the investiture of the Second Provincial Grand Principal and an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals

Following the appointment and investiture of John Hutton as the 91st Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire at a meeting of his mother lodge, Peter Elmore was asked to succeed him as the Second Provincial Grand Principal, with David Randerson being asked to take the position of Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals left vacant by Peter’s promotion.

The meeting date of Senatores Chapter made it the obvious meeting for the Provincial Scribe Ezra to request permission from the three principals of the chapter to host Provincial Grand Chapter in order to hold the investiture of two companions who are members of Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals. 

After the chapter was opened Ian Higham the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies announced that the Grand Superintendent Peter Hosker, demanded admission.

The first principal Derek Parkinson said he and his fellow principals would be delighted to receive him. Ian then announced the arrival of the Grand Superintendent accompanied by the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra Peter Taylor, the Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah Stephen Brereton along with 13 grand officers entered the chapter in a very colourful procession.

After Ian introduced Peter to Derek Peter accepted the sceptre from him and occupied the first principals chair.

Peter then appointed his officers and opened Provincial Grand Chapter. Peter then explained to all the companions the reason for the meeting, saying: 'John Hutton has recently retired as my Second Provincial Grand Principal and was recently been invested as one of my Craft Assistant Provincial Grand Masters.

'Since 2007 John Hutton has served the Royal Arch Province of West Lancashire. He has occupied these offices with much credit to himself and advantage to the Province. Indeed, he has enhanced these offices with his kind and generous demeanour and his enthusiasm and dedication for the Royal Arch. I publicly express my sincere thanks for all his good work. In his place, I have invited Comp Peter George Elmore to become my Second Provincial Grand Principal.'

Peter then addressed Peter Elmore, saying: 'You became a Freemason in 1978 when you were initiated into Kirkham Lodge No. 6615, becoming its WM in 1986. In 1992, you were appointed in Provincial Grand Lodge to the acting rank of ProvGStwd, and in 1996 you were promoted to PProvDepGSuptWks. In 2001 you were promoted to be an acting ProvDGDC, an office you held with distinction for three years until 2004. In 2004, you were promoted to PProvJGW. In Grand Lodge, you hold the rank of PAGDC, which you were appointed to in 2005.

'In 1986, you were exalted into the Blackpool Chapter of Fellowship No. 7692, becoming its first principal in 1992. You are a founder of Tithebarn Chapter No. 8446. You are a joining member of Provincial Grand Stewards' Chapter No. 8516 and a joining member of Vale Chapter No. 5256. You are also a joining member of this Chapter, Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals, becoming its first principal in 2010.

'In 1999, you were appointed in Provincial Grand Chapter to the acting rank of ProvGStwd, and in 2003 you were promoted to PProvGSwdB. In 2004 you were promoted to be an acting ProvDGDC, an office you held with distinction for three years until 2007. In 2006, you were appointed as the vice chairman of the South Fylde Group. You were vice chairman for just one year because in 2007, and you were appointed by my predecessor as AtoPrGPs, with responsibility for the North and South Fylde Groups and the Blackpool Group.

'I re-appointed you in 2008. In Supreme Grand Chapter, you hold the Grand Rank of PGStdB, which you were appointed to in 2008. During your six and half years as a Royal Arch Assistant, you have contributed much to this wonderful Order, you have been a role model for others to follow and you have been a popular leader.

'You are well qualified and experienced to become my Second Provincial Grand Principal.'

Peter Elmore then confirmed he was willing to accept the office. Peter asked the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra to read the patent of appointment.

Peter Elmore recited the obligation, after which Peter Hosker invested Peter as his Second Provincial Grand Principal, to which the companions gave acclamation.

Peter’s Father died when he was only six years old, he attended the masonic school for boys in Bushy from 1955 to 1963. Leaving school he started work in the NHS where he worked for 37 years. When he retired he was the Deputy CEO for Corporate Affairs at Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is a Justice of the Peace, an office he has held for 13 years.

Peter married Rosie in 1970 and they have been happily married for 43 years. Rosie was a head teacher and enjoyed her teaching career until she was forced to retire 10 years early as she suffers from MS.

Peter hobbies and interests are varied and include: reading, gardening, cooking and entertaining and, of course, football. Peter is a Shrewsbury Football Club supporter and shareholder. He also goes to Manchester United as Rosie is an ardent supporter - she has even named her mobility scooter Fergie!

Peter says he is excited by the new appointment and looking forward to his time in office but he knows it will be challenging. Rosie said he has been floating in mid-air since he was asked if he would accept the office by Peter Hosker.

Peter then asked Ian if David Randerson was in attendance. Ian said he was and Peter asked him to place David before him, so that he could invest him.

Peter then addressed David: 'You became a Freemason in 1989, when you were initiated into Quadrant Lodge No. 8044, becoming its WM in 1998. You are a joining member of five other lodges. In 2002, you were appointed as an acting Provincial Steward, and in 2005, you were promoted by my predecessor to be acting Provincial Junior Grand Warden. In Grand Lodge you hold the rank of PAGDC.

'You were exalted into Quadrant Chapter No. 8044 in 1993, becoming its first principal in 2006. You are a joining member of this chapter, Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals. You were appointed by my predecessor as vice chairman of the South Fylde Group in 2007, and then reappointed by me the following year. You were appointed by me as Group Chairman in 2009. You have therefore held Group Office for six and half years. Having been a group chairman myself for five years, I am well aware of the work and demands involved in this office. On the other hand, the experience of being a group chairman is extensive. I have enjoyed working with you, and your thoughtful and challenging approach to your work have made you an excellent group chairman.

'In Provincial Grand Chapter, in 2010, you were appointed to acting Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, and in 2012, you were promoted Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah.

'You are well qualified and experienced to become an AtoPrGPs but I must ask you in the Provincial Grand Chapter whether or not you are ready and willing to take on the duties and responsibilities of that office.' David confirmed he was willing to accept the office. Peter then invested him.

David went to Barnsley Grammar school. He then studied at Manchester University where he attained a first class honours and Master’s degrees in graphic design. Leaving University he started his own graphic design business with Manchester Business School as his first customer.

He has been married to his wife Anne for 30 years. Anne works in the family business as does Anne’s daughter Julie who is one of David’s two step children. The other is Stuart who works in a printing company based in Blackpool. They have four grandchildren and four great grandchildren which the both love to spend time with.

David enjoys caravanning and walking Bailey his black Labrador other hobbies include watching most sports although he no longer plays football he supports his home town club Barnsley and Bolton FC.

David says he is looking forward to his new role, but most of all he hopes he will have fun with the new companions he meets while doing it.

Peter then closed Provincial Grand Chapter and asked Derek if he would return to his chair and take the sceptre back. Ian formed the recession and the Grand Superintendent accompanied by his officers recessed from the chapter.

Derek carried out the rest of the chapter business which included a ballot for two joining members. He then asked John Cavanagh the East Lancashire Demonstration Team narrator to introduce the team and conduct the demonstration entitled ‘The rise and fall of the twelve tribes of Israel’.

The team then enthralled the companions with their demonstration which was delivered in a sincere but light hearted manner. Following the demonstration which lasted around 30 minutes Derek thanked the team for the skilful demonstration. He said he had learned a few things he had not known, as he was sure many other companions had as well. The temple was filled with acclamation as over 100 companions showed their thanks to the team for their wonderful demonstration.

The companions assembled in the main dining room in Cleveleys Masonic Hall for the festive board which was enjoyed by all.

Following the normal toasts after the meal Derek thanked the East Lancashire Demonstration Team again for their magnificent demonstration, saying that they undertook the work without payment and travelled to many Provinces each year to deliver demonstrations in both lodges and chapters. Derek concluded by presenting a cheque to John Cavanagh for £100. Derek also thanked the two AtoTGPs from West Lancashire - Norman Clarke and David Thornton who had travelled to Cleveleys to support the team.

In his response John thanked Derek and his co principals and companions for their hospitality and the donation, which would go towards the donations to charity made by Chapter of Friendship No 44 of which all the demonstration team are members of in East Lancashire.

John said the team had greatly enjoyed their visit to Cleveleys as it had been: 'A game of two halves, with the first half comprising the two investitures – at this point the score was two – nil to West Lancs' He continued 'the temple was full and was the largest audience the team have delivered their demonstration to and we hope they enjoyed it as we certainly did – you could say the companions got three for the price of one!'

John concluded by thanking all the companions for their kind comments and acclamation.

He said the team were giving another demonstration at Cleveleys Park Lodge No 7540 on 14 March 2014 entitled ‘The crafty Companion’. 

It was horses for courses when Cambridgeshire masons attended a banquet to mark the bicentenary of the Holy Royal Arch in the Millennium Suite overlooking the Rowley Mile at Newmarket racecourse

The climax of the evening was when Grand Superintendent Rodney Wolverson presented a £40,000 cheque to Helen Fernandes, consultant neurosurgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, representing the Royal College of Surgeons.

Fernandes talked of the work of the Royal College of Surgeons, specifically the support for the young surgeons with ideas for research that had the potential to lead to major advances in medicine. She expressed her delight and thanks for the magnificent sum raised by Cambridgeshire Royal Arch Masons.

Royal College support from Northumberland

At the annual meeting of the Northumberland Provincial Grand Chapter, Grand Superintendent Peter Magnay welcomed representatives from the Royal College of Surgeons and presented them with a cheque for £50,000 towards financing their research in Newcastle. Professor Robert Pickard and two of his research fellows, Peter Kullar and Raveen Sander, all based at Newcastle hospitals, outlined the nature of their various research projects.

At the Annual Convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, the ME Grand Superintendent, E Comp Wayne Williams, had a surprise up his sleeve for the eldest companion present

This was 92 years old E Comp Frederick (Vic) Bashford, a member of St Ivo Chapter No. 2684, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire Chapter of First Principals No. 3422 and Ailwyn Chapter No. 3535, who is one of the few surviving WWII veterans who were recently awarded the Arctic Star campaign medal.

During the Second World Cpl Vic Bashford, as a young Royal Air Force Electrical Fitter, was involved in Force Benedict, a secret mission to protect the northern Russia port of Murmansk, that was a crucial lifeline to the Soviets. The aircraft, the first 39 of nearly 3,000 Hurricanes supplied, were transported in August 1941 by the Aircraft Carrier HMS Argos and SS Llanstephen Castle in the first Arctic convoy between the UK and Russia.

Throughout the War 104 merchant ships and 20 Royal Navy ships were lost in the Arctic Convoy duties but fortunately, E Comp Bashford survived this ordeal and was able to be present at the meeting and enjoy the presentation by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent of his Certificate of Meritorious Service for unstinting service over many years to the Holy Royal Arch.

Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

125 years young for Cherwell Chapter

Cherwell Chapter, No. 599, has celebrated its 125th anniversary at Banbury in Oxfordshire, in the presence of Grand Superintendent Stephen Dunning. Provincial Officers were also in attendance for a demonstration of the history and meaning of the various offices and artefacts of a Royal Arch Chapter. Companions received a copy of a 110-page commemorative book, which contained the history of the chapter and the text of the anniversary ceremony.

Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

Socking it to the Wigton chapter

The special Bicentennial Convocation of the Chapter of St John, No. 327, which meets at Wigton, Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, was attended by the Second Grand Principal, George Francis, and a deputation from the Supreme Grand Chapter in celebration of its 200th year.

Bob Aird gave a brief history of the chapter’s origins in the town as well as a flavour of the local industry and notable people of the time, John Hamill read the bicentenary charter, and Third Provincial Grand Principal, the Reverend Robert Roeschlaub, gave an oration.

At the Festive Board, George Francis had special gifts for Grand Superintendent Norman Thompson and the Principals of the Chapter. The Second Grand Principal is renowned for wearing red socks to chapter convocations and so presented the Grand Superintendent and Principals with their own stylish pairs.

Wiltshire Grand Superintendent David Blanchard has received strong backing for the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal in support of the Royal College of Surgeons, improved by a further £500 donated at the First Principals Chapter.

There were presentations by a number of college representatives, including head of research Martyn Coomer; Priyan Landham, who specialises in orthopaedic (trauma) surgery; and Nishith Patel, a heart surgeon who is researching kidney failure after cardiac surgery.

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