Voices and Companionship in Perfect Harmony

On St George’s Day, on behalf of Essex Provincial Grand Chapter, the Deputy Grand Superintendent (DepGSupt) Elliott Chevin presented a 50th Certificate for Royal Arch service to a trusty and well-beloved companion, Jeremy Davenport, at Nore Chapter No. 3610 which meets at Southend Masonic Centre, Saxon Hall.

Excellent Companion (E Comp) Jeremy was Exalted in Nore Chapter in April 1972, whilst in his 20s, and since then has been an enthusiastic member of the Royal Arch which he loves. As the longest serving Past First Principal of Nore Chapter, Jeremy was Most Excellent Zerubbabel (MEZ) forty-one years ago in 1981 and again in 2017.

With a vibrant subscribing membership today of 32, Jeremy’s contribution over the last fifty years is greatly appreciated by his fellow Companions who presented him with lovely glassware gifts on behalf of Nore Chapter in recognition of his fifty years’ service. 

The DepGSupt also presented a personal letter from the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (MEGS), Paul Tarrant.  Jeremy was first appointed as Provincial Grand Registrar (ProvGReg) in 1987 and promoted to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah (PPGSN) in 1998.

For a Companion who loves his Royal Arch with its friendship and colourful ceremony, Jeremy is very pleased to be one of the 40% plus of all Essex Freemasons to have joined the Royal Arch.   

As one who is held in such high esteem by his fellows, Jeremy was absolutely delighted to receive his Certificate, personal letter from the MEGS and the glassware gifts. The occasion was made even more special for him with a wonderful St. George’s Day Chapter Banquet afterwards where the voices and companionship were together in ‘Perfect Harmony’ for Jeremy Davenport.

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Harlow Meets Harlow and another First for Essex

As news-stories about ‘meeting for the first time since before lockdown’ have run their course, some fine accounts are emerging of Essex Companions whose enjoyment and enthusiasm for Royal Arch Masonry has gained momentum. They give inspiration and remind us how special the Royal Arch is with over 40% of Craft Freemasons being members. Most Excellent Zerubbabel (MEZ) Keith Wood of Monkhams Chapter No. 4161, which meets at Harlow Masonic Hall, merits special attention.

Firstly, when Keith was Installed as MEZ in October 2019 by Excellent Companion (E Comp) Tim Holland, Keith demonstrated to all present that he was going to be a remarkable First Principal. He invested his Officers in an exemplary manner, each one was given encouragement with a rarely seen and well delivered explanation of the duties of their Office.

Secondly, one of the benefits Keith likes about being a Royal Arch Mason is that Companions are welcome to attend Royal Arch convocations around the world. So, next he visited Shannon Chapter No.1, in St John’s Newfoundland, Canada, part of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Newfoundland and Labrador, just before the first lockdown.

Being part of bringing two jurisdictions together and discovering similarities as well as differences is a great experience. Keith was warmly welcomed at Mount Pearl Masonic Centre by the Most Excellent High Priest Harlow Snippen (MEHP is their equivalent to our MEZ) and a new inter-continental Royal Arch companionship between Essex and Newfoundland was firmly established.

Thirdly, the Companions of Monkhams Chapter were getting ready for their 75th Anniversary in February 2021 but the celebratory convocation was postponed until April 2022. Nevertheless, Keith wanted to do all he could to make the event a memorable occasion, so he compiled a 31-page ‘Short History of Monkhams Chapter 1946 – 2021’.

In this first-class piece of work, which is an outstanding example to all Chapters of what can be done to commemorate a special anniversary or event, there are three outstanding features:

  1. It is easy and interesting to read, well researched, clearly referenced and nicely laid out with many good photos and scanned images of people, medals, documents, summonses, items and a feature article from The Essex Mason.
  2. There is a first-rate account of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Essex Freemasonry. The contents can be saved by all Chapters and Essex Royal Arch historians to use as a reference or template for future publications and histories covering this period.
  3. The memory of the loss of E Comp Paul Thomason, a Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah (PPGSN), is recorded with sadness. The late Paul is the son of Peter, a Past Provincial Grand Registrar (PPGReg), and the father of Ben, the Scribe N of Monkhams Chapter. This conveys one family’s ardour, appreciation and love for the Royal Arch in Essex across three generations.

Finally, MEZ Keith Wood then followed through with a news-story about the 75th Anniversary convocation which was published on the Provincial Grand Chapter News site, Freemasonry Today (FMT) online and social media. FMT also published the link to the book making this yet another Royal Arch ‘First for Essex’. Click to download the PDF.

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Mistley RA Chapter...25 and counting

 

Mistley Chapter recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a visit from our APGP, E Comp John Crudgington PGStB, skilfully escorted by E Comp Ralph Ankers ProvDepGDC. It was our installation meeting, at which E Comp Jerry Watsham, Acting MEZ, installed E Comp Keith Ralph PPGReg into the Chair of Zerubbabel for the second time. E Comp John Parker and E Comp Brian Hamilton PAGDC were installed as Haggai and Joshua respectively.

E Comp David Branch PGStB PAPGP, the only remaining subscribing Founder, presented a brief history of the Chapter. He paid tribute to the persistence and foresight of E Comp Frank Wheatley, the founding MEZ and then Scribe E until his untimely death less than two years after the consecration.

The Consecration was a splendid affair, attended by 90 Companions (a number which our Health and Safety Laws do not now permit!) and graced by the ME Grand Superintendent, Sir Neil Thorne, E Comp C W Key, Second Provincial Grand Principal, E Comp A E Simons, Third Provincial Grand Principal and the Deputy Grand Superintendent, E Comp Peter Nievens, a great friend of the Chapter.

All the Founders and some of the early Exaltees were presented with an engraved goblet by E Comp John Carrington and a distinctive pair of cufflinks by Comp Don Candy.
The Festive Board was a joyous affair, comprising a five-course dinner costing £20 inclusive of pre-dinner drinks, wines, liqueurs and afternoon tea.

E Comp Branch recalled some of the other outstanding characters of the first 25 years: E Comp Tony Lingard, a wonderful ritualist, E Comp John Tritton, who obtained second-hand the Chapter’s furniture, E Comp Peter Gosling, the only other surviving Founder, now an Honorary Member, whose ability to create some of the Chapter furniture saved money and gave the Chapter the character it has today. We hope to carry on those traditions for many years to come!

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75th Anniversary Meeting for Monkhams Chapter No 4161

On the 7th April 2022, Monkhams Chapter No 4161 celebrated its 75th Anniversary Meeting at the Harlow Masonic Centre, which had been delayed a year, due to the COVID pandemic.

The Principals of the Chapter were delighted to greet John Hubbard, Third Provincial Grand Principal, John Crudgington, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals and Ralph Ankers, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

Also present, visiting as guests, were Phillip Lovelock, Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, and Past Second Provincial Grand Principal, Cliff Thoms.

Highlights of the meeting, were the presentation to the Chapter Principals of the Festival 2022 Vice Patron Certificate by John Hubbard and a short presentation by Keith Wood, the First Principal of the Chapter, giving the background of the 75th Anniversary Booklet he had written, tracing the history of Monkhams Chapter, which every Companion received at the Festive Board.

A total of 31 Companions enjoyed a very pleasurable evening.

*****

Click to download a copy of ‘Monkhams Chapter No. 4161 - A Short History’

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Abbots Hall Move to the Next Chapter.

The April Installation meeting of Abbots Hall Chapter No. 6205 saw the Companions put the Lockdown period of their history behind them and move into the next chapter of their history.
The outgoing 1st Principal, Enda Greensmith, who like other MEZs in the Province has been in Office three years, installed his successor Glyn Davies with great sincerity and notable relief.

Enda has been awarded a Celebratory Rank by the Province which he will recieve at Essex First Principals. The Companions congratulated him warmly for this and all his efforts over the last three years.
David Seymour and Barry Shepherd were then installed as 2nd and 3rd Principals respectively. The Address to the Officers was given by John Crudgington and it was a pleasure to see Frank Sharp back at Masonic meetings and giving the Address to the Companions in his usual impeccable style.

Another change in personnel saw Bruce Mapson stand down as Scribe E with John Mansfield as his replacement. Bruce was thanked by the 1st Principal for all his hard work. In reply Bruce said he had enjoyed his time but now it was appropriate for another to take the Chapter forward. He thanked the Companions for all their efforts but cautioned the new Scribe E that they were not good at replying to emails!

The Companions also approved a significant amount from their Chapter Relief Chest for the Ukraine Appeal.
At the Chapter closure the Companions dined on a fabulous Festive Board which resulted in the Companions leaving at the end of the evening ‘Happy to have Met and Sorry to depart, but Happy to meet Again’.

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The Armed Forces Covenant

In the presence of the Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, the Provincial Grand Master (PGM), Paul Tarrant, signed the Armed Forces Covenant at the Annual Meeting on 24th March 2022 with the Deputy Chief of Staff for Colchester Garrison, Major Kevin Fitchett MBE.

What is the Armed Forces Covenant?

It is a Government policy to help the Armed Forces community, which includes veterans, bereaved families and service personnel with adaptive needs, in areas such as healthcare, education, accommodation and employment. It is an obligation on the whole of society including voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations and individuals, all of whom are asked to recognise our Armed Forces and offer respect, support and fair treatment. 

What does it mean to Essex Freemasons?

In the Provincial Mission Statement, the PGM stated “We support our local communities through our charitable endeavours”. The Province of Essex has built up an exceptional track record of helping local communities and this is now officially recognised by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).  Such high-profile recognition by the MoD adds credibility in the public eye to all we do and our values of integrity, friendship, charity and respect.

What can Essex Freemasons do?

There are many ways we can help. Our ‘charitable endeavours’ for the Armed Forces community should be no different to those for other local communities. There are many Essex Freemasons who have served in the Armed Forces. They can explain how important our support is to help bridge the gap from that provided by the MoD and service charities to wounded, injured and sick personnel when making the transition into the community and civilian life.

One Essex Freemason who served for 27 years is the Provincial Membership Pathway Officer for Colchester Masonic Centre, Brian Chenier. He said “As an Army veteran it made me feel incredibly proud of my military service and my masonic endeavours. The fact that the PGM, on behalf of Essex Freemasons, has formally recognised the sacrifice of so many and the selfless commitment of the Armed Forces is fantastic. The Armed Forces community give so much during and after service. I hope that by signing the covenant it will help raise the profile of our Military and their families and the value we add to society”.

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Meet The New Provincial Grand Charity Steward

From his beginnings in Dagenham, Chris Hicks left university as a scientist after studying biology with microbiology, with the aim of curing people. But he soon realised he was better at selling the drugs rather than discovering them! This led to a 40-plus-year career in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industry.

Chris was initiated into Thomas Ralling Lodge 2508 in May 1995, the first candidate following the Lodge’s Centenary, by his uncle, Bill Emmerson. He has yet to miss a meeting, having notched up 107.

He was Worshipful Master in 2001 and again in 2019, the Lodge’s 125th Anniversary, and due to Covid suspensions, he remained in the Chair until this year. He was appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in 2003 and received the Grand Rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC) in 2016.

In the Royal Arch, Chris was Exalted into Thomas Ralling Chapter 2508 in March 1999 and was 1st Principal in the Chapter’s Centenary Year of 2007 when he was appointed as a Provincial Grand Steward. He was appointed to Grand Rank as PAGDC in 2020.

In other orders, Chris was Advanced and Elevated in Boleyn Castle 998 Mark and Royal Ark Mariners (RAM) Lodges in 2003. He was appointed ADC in Grand Mark in 2020 and received RAM Grand Rank in 2016. In Royal and Select Masters, he was Chosen as a Select Master in Langdon Hills Council 208 in 2009 and became a Grand Manciple in 2019. He also holds 30th Degree in Rose Croix via De Vere Chapter 831, and is in the Royal Order of Scotland, Province of North Thames.

As a side note, Chris is involved in the “Ancient and Noble Order of the Mystic Shrine”, more commonly known as the Shriners and was the UK Shine Club Recorder. This order is also all about charity, and the Shriners run 27 hospitals free for children in the US, Canada and Philippines.       

In his “spare time”, Chris is a qualified cricket umpire and an average club cricketer.

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Charity work does not stop once a Festival ends

A Message from Essex’s New Provincial Grand Charity Steward, Chris Hicks

As we come to the end of the very successful Festival 2022, it is time to look at where we are going; what we in Essex will be doing on the Charity front, going forward.

Colin Felton and the team have done a fantastic job in achieving a wonderful total for the Festival and we will have a very successful evening on 18th June, when we celebrate this. I hope you will all enjoy this celebration.

However, Charity work does not stop once a Festival ends and we need to prepare for the next big event and Festival, as well as supporting our local charities and working with the MCF to support Essex-based charities. These may well have suffered badly over the past two years of the pandemic, seeing donations reduce and calls on their services increase.

I know Lodges and Chapters have given some support alongside supporting the Festival, and this is highly commendable and I thank you all. Now you will be able to increase that support and also your financial help for other good causes.

To help you there will be a series of Charity Steward Training Sessions, from September. The plan is to run one a month, each at a different centre around the Province. They will enable new and experienced Charity Stewards to learn or refresh their duties and responsibilities, and about activities that can be carried out.

These sessions will be held in the evenings and, while open to anyone, will be targeted at Charity Stewards in both Lodge and Chapter. Details will be circulated soon.    

In addition, the creation of the new Charity Stewards’ Lodge, Burntwood Lodge 8016, means another opportunity to learn the “tips and tricks” of being a Charity Steward, as well as hearing from Charities themselves about how we can help them, and from the MCF and other interesting and relevant organisations. The Lodge will become Burntwood Lodge 8016 (the Charity Stewards Travelling Lodge) at the Installation meeting on 5th April, when 14 joining members will swell its numbers. The meeting after that will be at Hutton on 7th June. Details of these meetings will be posted on the usual platforms.

The next two milestones for the future are: the Essex 250 celebrations in 2026, when we will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the creation of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex; and Festival 2033 – yes, I appreciate we have just finished one, but the Festival process goes on – which will be launched in 2027.

These two events may be a while away, but the new Charity Team will be planning for them in the background to ensure that they can be launched efficiently and effectively at the appropriate times.

In the meantime, celebrate what we have achieved for Festival 2022, continue to support your local charities, of which the MCF is one, and plan for the future!  

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HRH The Earl of Wessex and HRH The Duke of Kent to celebrate The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award donation at Freemasons’ Hall

More than 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs (SEND) will be able to do their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, thanks to a three-year strategic partnership, which will donate a total of £300,000 from the Freemasons. To make this partnership with the DofE possible, the UGLE has teamed up with the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).

 The MCF became a strategic partner of the DofE in 2021 and has funded a new national programme to upskill its team and volunteers. The programme also helps enroll more schools and clubs which support young people with SEND, to ensure all young people have access to the DofE.

 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip), who founded the DofE in 1956, was himself a Freemason and was initiated into Navy Lodge, No 2612 on 5 December 1952.

 The ambition is to use the funds to increase the number of centres, such as schools and youth groups, offering DofE to young people with SEND and to train hundreds of Leaders who can support groups of young people through their DofE journeys.

 Dr David Staples, UGLE's Chief Executive, said: “Freemasons are enormously proud to have counted His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, as a member of the Navy Lodge since 1952. Their fondness and respect were abundantly clear from the response to the launch of this appeal, and we are delighted that the funds raised will be put to such good use.”

 Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the MCF, added: “Charity is in our DNA and something we practise every time we meet. In just a few years, we have already awarded grants totalling £100 million and supported over 3,000 charities; with grants ranging from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of pounds, including the grant we are celebrating today.”

 Caroline Glen, Director of Fundraising for the DofE, said: “We’re very grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for their generous grant, which will give many thousands of young people with disabilities and special educational needs the chance to take part in the DofE and gain its life-changing benefits. This is a wonderful and very practical way to continue The Duke’s amazing legacy and to spread the benefits of the DofE further than ever before.”

 The programme has been designed to make DofE participation possible for young people with additional needs. It will help young people build crucial life skills, develop employability skills and become more independent.

 The impact of achieving a DofE Award is remarkable and often life-changing for young people with additional needs, who can be excluded from adventurous activities due to a lack of accessible equipment, facilities, trained support staff and funding.

Pictured: (left to right) HRH The Duke of Kent and HRH The Earl of Wessex

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Truly Stedfast and United

The February meeting of the Chapter of Stedfast Unity really did live up to their name. Despite some Officers being unavailable the Principals exalted Robert Daisley into the Order.
Stanley Lewis, at a sprightly 93, and with 24 hours notice sat in as Scribe Nehemiah to much acclaim by those present. The 1st Principal and the Principal Sojourner excelled in their work and treated the candidate with a superb and colourful Exaltation ceremony

David Wilson, the Chapter's APGP, was also delighted to present a Platinum Patron certificate for the Festival 2022. He remarked that. "The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent is acutely aware that Companions are also likely to be donating through their Craft Lodges. So achievements such as this are a wonderful example of the Chapter's generosity, for which he is extremely grateful".

The explanations of the signs were given in a very informative manner by David Chambers and the Convocation was treated to the Symbolical Lecture faultlessly delivered by a guest Bob Baldwin, who is a member of the Provincial Demonstration team.

In the picture can be seen from left to right: Albert Summers 2nd Principal, Robert Daisley Exaltee, Colin Frazer 1st Principal, Stanley Lewis Scribe N., Michael Poole 3rd Principal, David Chambers Charity Steward

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A Year Late, but Worth the Wait!

Le Soken Royal Arch Chapter, which meets at Kirby Cross, had been planning to celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2021. Unfortunately the pandemic put paid to that. But undaunted, on the 22nd February 2022, they celebrated their 75th anniversary plus 1!
The Companions marked  this special anniversary with the dedication of a new banner, for which the Dep. Grand Superintendent, Elliott Chevin, and a number of Provincial Executive, past & present were in attendance.

Due to the significance of the meeting, the DepGSupt, took the 1st Principal's Chair and requested that E.Comp. John Crudgington APGP act as 2nd Principal and E.Comp. John Hubbard 3rdPGP to assist at 3rd Principal.
The Chapter Officers then paraded in the new banner where it was dedicated and uncovered by the DepGSupt. who then proceeded to explain the significance of such an event for the Chapter and Freemasons in general, bearing in mind the importance of banners in the Royal Arch.

The 3rd Provincial Grand Principal then gave an absorbing oration on the importance of banners through out history and and explanation of the various parts within the Le Soken Banner. Here is an extract:
In the centre is the familiar design to us all of one side of the jewel of the Order, save that in the middle the rays and compass are replaced with the triple tau within a triangle. The Tau, the symbol of our Order, represents the completion of a Candidate’s spiritual journey in Freemasonry.

The triangle, as we know, symbolises the Deity. Moving outwards, we come to two more triangles interlaced, again symbolising our material and spiritual existence. On one of these triangles is written ‘Wisdom’, ‘Strength’ and ‘Beauty’, symbolising the characteristics of King Solomon, King Hiram and Hiram Abiff, as well as God’s omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. On the other triangle is written ‘Concord’, ‘Truth’ and ‘Peace’, attributes we are all to aspire to in both our masonic and non-masonic lives.

Outside these triangles are two circles, symbolising the Deity and Eternity and within another circle is a double triad of Latin words, ‘Deo, Regi, Fratribus’ and ‘Honor, Fidelitas, Benevolentia’. The first word in each triad read together translates as: ‘Deo Honor’ – To God, Honour, ‘Regi Fidelitas’ – To the King, Fidelity, ‘Fratribus Benevolentia’ – To the Brethren, Love.
In addition the Chapter were delighted to present a cheque for the Festival 2022 to make them Patrons.

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Tabula Rotunda call in the 'A' team!

Having not had any Exaltees for a few years, and like buses, Tabula Rotunda Chapter found themselves in the happy position of having two for their February meeting. Despite the valiant efforts of some to take part, and due to illness, the Chapter had no option but to call on the services of the Provincial Support 'A' team to perform the ceremony. The Stewards eagerly accepted and filled every Office with current and past Stewards.

The candidates, Gary Andrews and David Ripo were treated to a masterclass of ritual with Bradley Thurgood as the 1st Principal and Colin Crombie as the Principal Sojourner.
Mike Hall who was acting as 2nd Principal delivered the Mystical Lecture with great aplomb and Barry Broyd, 3rd Principal treated us to a perfect rendition of the Historical Lecture.

David Wilson, the APGP for Tabula Rotunda, commented that, "We were treated to an excellent display of ritual. It is not a sign of weakness that a Chapter after consideration decides that it can not give a candidate the ceremony they deserve after a two-year wait. Rather that it is a sign of strength. The support team is there to do just that, to support any or many Offices and to assist in a Chapter giving the Candidate the Exaltation which they will remember."

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