E. Comp David Pearson PAGDC Past Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra provides this report of the proceedings.
“In 2018, E Comp Peter Baker succeeded to the Office of ME Grand Superintendent in and over the Province of Middlesex. In the same year the annual convocation of Provincial Grand Chapter moved to The Twickenham Stoop, the home of Harlequins RFC. That might have been close to E Comp Peter’s heart as a life-long follower and former player of Rugby Union, albeit more closely aligned to an equally age-old competitor to Harlequins.
Five years on and we now know that E Comp Peter will retire as RW Pro-Provincial Grand Master and ME Grand Superintendent on 1 October this year and it was somehow fitting that he should have presided over his final Provincial Grand Chapter Annual Convocation at a rugby stadium. And what a fine occasion it was as some 200 Royal Arch Companions gathered to celebrate another year of RA achievements and welcome the newly appointed and promoted officers of the Province for the ensuing year.
These occasions are always noted for their colourful and well-arranged ceremonial splendour and this was no exception. The majority of Companions attending arrived during the early afternoon to be seated in the Chris Robshaw Bar by 15:15, ready to be briefed by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, E Comp Mark Millard, prior to the procession of senior members of the Province and the opening of the convocation at 16:00.
But for many the day started much earlier. The Provincial Grand Janitor, E Comp Tom James, was on the road by 05:30 from his home in Aylesbury en route to Cole Court to gather together all the accoutrements for the Convocation and his team to transfer everything needed to The Twickenham Stoop to set up the Temple.
The small army of Provincial Stewards also gathered early to prepare all the reception accommodation for Companions, Provincial Executive members and invited guests, so that by early afternoon all was ready to receive the first arrivals. In parallel with this the Provincial Secretariat under the leadership of the Provincial Grand Secretary, E Comp Andy Wright, was busily engaged in preparing all the administrative detail in liaison with the ProvGDC to make sure that all seats were correctly labelled and all the essential paperwork and seating plans were available.
The time leading up to the formal business of the day was a great opportunity for catching up with old friends and making new ones with a convivial refreshment and enjoying a reasonably sunny afternoon without the searing heat and humidity of recent years’ convocations. At least that was the pleasure for those who were not assiduously rehearsing for all the ceremonial of the afternoon. The team of Provincial Assistant Grand Directors of Ceremonies and Provincial Grand Stewards were all put through their paces to ensure that every one of them was absolutely clear of his duties. The fruits of that labour were clearly evident in the splendid ceremonial work performed throughout the convocation. Middlesex could again be proud of its ceremonial team.
The Convocation opened on time with all due reverence and splendour and the early business of the agenda was executed with admirable dispatch.
The appointments of the senior members of the Provincial Executive were confirmed. Then followed the appointments of the Active Provincial Officers, the first appointments of Companions of the Province and the promotions being awarded in Past Provincial Grand rank. These were proud moments for all concerned and investitures were performed with due pleasure and solemnity.
Notable among these were the formal appointments of three new RA Provincial offices, those of Provincial Grand Mentor, Provincial Grand Communications Officer and Provincial Grand Membership Officer to mirror those established appointments in the Craft.
The ME Grand Superintendent then paid special attention to the roles of RA Representatives in Lodges and RA Visiting Officers. He stressed the vital importance of both these roles in the light of the Membership Challenge set by Supreme Grand Chapter of England in accordance with the Strategy for Freemasonry: 2022 and Beyond, which was launched by the MW ProGM and ME ProFirstGPrin at the end of last year. To emphasise the importance of the roles E. Comp Peter Baker invited all current RA Representatives and RA Visiting Officers to stand for formal acknowledgement and applause from the rest of the Companions present.
The Final Address
The ME Grand Superintendent then delivered his final address to the Companions of Provincial Grand Chapter before his retirement on 1 October 2023. His address was sincere and moving and he wished every success to his nominated successor as Pro Provincial Grand Master and ME Grand Superintendent, W Bro and E Comp David Allan, who was present.
Provincial Grand Chapter was closed in due form and the Companions withdrew in companionship and good heart to a splendid and convivial festive board to round off the day – or at least most of them did. The early birds that had gathered together all that was required to make the day work, then had to return the accoutrements to store before ending their undoubtedly weary way home. I feel sure, however, that the weariness was largely offset by the satisfaction of a job well done”.
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