Tony Hales

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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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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