The Companions of Ark & Menorah along with many visitors opened the Chapter in anticipation of celebrating 50 years in the Royal Arch of EComp Leslie Kay.  Leslie had already entertained all present to a sumptuous reception of canapés and drinks and so everyone entered the Chapter with a smile on their face.
The AProvGP, EComp Stuart Hughes was received into the Chapter accompanied by a Provincial Delegation. Stuart introduced both his delegation and also the numerous District Officers in the Chapter.  Numbered amongst the delegation where EComp Stephen Blank APGM for Manchester and both District Chairman, Len Hayes & David Hudson. He thanked Stephen Blank for the support he had given him during his tenure as the AProvGP for Manchester and also EComp Martin Caller when he was the APGM and all the District Officers for their work and support for the Royal Arch.  He commented that is was marvellous that his last duty as an AProvGP was at a Chapter where so many of his friends and colleagues were present.
Before proceeding, the main business of the evening there was a moment of solemnity when a Eulogy was delivered with great emotion by EComp Martin Caller in tribute to EComp Jack (Jackie) Levene, PProvGSoj who had passed away since the last meeting of the Chapter.
The Provincial Deputy Grand DC Malcolm Hearsey, placed Leslie Kay in a chair and Stuart congratulated Leslie on such a wonderful milestone and told the Companions that Leslie had been Exalted into Ark Chapter on 22nd February 1965 and he set the scene for that year.
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The music scene was marked by recordings including ‘Love Potion Number 9’ by the Searchers and “Mr Tambourine Man” by The Byrds with “Hello Dolly” winning the Academy Award for the Best Picture.  Other notable events were the deaths of Sir Winston Churchill, Nat King Cole and T S Elliot and Ronnie Biggs ‘removed himself’ to Brazil.
The Masonic world saw Rt Hon. Earl of Derby as PGM and Grand Superintendent having served as the Deputy Grand Master from 1951-1960.
Turning to the ‘Birthday Boy’ Stuart ran through his impressive Masonic CV as follows:
Leslie was Initiated into Zion Lodge 1798 (now Zion Menorah) on 8th January 1958 ages 24, was Passed on 2nd September 1958 and then Raised on 11th March 1959.  He was made WM on 11th December 1974 ages 41. He was appointed PProvSGD in 1984 and promoted in 1994 to PProvGSwdB and then to PProvJGW in 2006.
In the Royal Arch he was Exalted into Ark Chapter aged 31 on 22nd February 1965 and became 1st Principal on 10th April 1979.  He was appointed PProvGStB in 1987 and promoted to PProvGSoj in 1995.  Stuart told the meeting that in 3 days’ time he would be promoted to PProvGSwdB by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent.
Stuart made reference to the recent meeting of Ark & Menorah in 2014 that had marked its’ Chapter’s 50th Anniversary and the marvellous history that Leslie had presented at that meeting.
Leslie was then presented with an Illuminated Certificate and personal letter from the Provincial Grand Superintendent and David Hudson the Chairman for the Derby District congratulated him and presented a lapel pin to acknowledge his 50 years in the Royal Arch.  Leslie was then conducted around the Chapter by the Provincial Deputy Grand DC and received sincere and warm applause from everyone present.
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EComp Stuart Hughes and EComp Leslie Kay

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The Three Principals and Leslie

The Chapter was then closed and the Companions moved into the Social Board to continue the evening and to a sumptuous dinner with wine.  EComp Martin Caller, Leslie’s lifelong friend began his toast by comparing him to men of similar medium stature and great achievement including Charlie Chaplin, Lionel Messi, Al Pacino and Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery”.  Martin then proclaimed Leslie a giant among men and among masons.”
Continuing Martin said “although Leslie is, how can I delicately put it, nearly a generation or so older than me, we have been friends for as long as I can remember.”
“You can tell a man by the friends that he keeps, but actually, it is often said that you can really tell the character of a man by looking at who his enemies are.  That would give you a real problem with Leslie for he does not have any.  Indeed I challenge you to find anybody who knows him who has a bad word to say about him.  He is just one of nature’s gentlemen.”
Relating their numerous encounters over the past 40 years in Freemasonry and in business Martin said Leslie had risen to the top and he is universally admired by all of the Members.”
Likewise in business Leslie showed the highest integrity in all his business dealings and was well loved and respected by all his employees as well as his customers.
Having scaled the heights in the commercial world, Leslie gave of himself in so many other ways, particularly in his charitable work and indeed introduced Martin to the Heathlands Committee. “Leslie’s name is synonymous with Heathlands having held every position on that committee over so many years, being a past president and a life president.  I think it is fair to say that Heathlands would not be the magnificent village and provider of wonderful services to the elderly of our community in North Manchester it is today if it had not been for Leslie Kay.”
“On the Golf Course, he is a past Captain and President of Dunham Forrest and as I am a past Captain and President of Whitefield and we have spent many happy hours on the courses together. We have also sat on the Executive of the UK and Ireland wide Committee of the Association of Jewish Golf Clubs and Societies with Leslie always been a calming voice of reason!”
Martin mentioned their common interest in Manchester United and that again his calm demeanour had often been a great help to him during tense games as they sat next to each other.
He said “I have known Leslie in good times and in troubled times (and he has had his fair share of those troubled times) and whether things are going well or badly,  he is always the same consistent person, a delight to be with, a delight to know, plain and simple a delightful, gentle man.”
Martin in closing said “Leslie, what I want you to know is that you have the utmost respect from every single Companion in this room tonight.  I am proud to have you as my Brother, I am proud to have you as my Companion and I am proud to have you as a friend. You are a man committed to everything you undertake and I have no doubt that you are worthy and well deserving of all the congratulations and good wishes that have come your way and will continue to come your way this evening.”  He then presented Leslie with a signed menu card from all present and quoted his late and beloved father in law EComp Ted Haldane saying “you should only be well” and we all hope that you continue to be well and enjoy many years of good health so please God we can all assemble here in 10 years’ time to celebrate your 60 years in the Royal Arch.
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In responding Leslie thanked EComp Stuart Hughes and his colleagues at Provincial Grand Chapter for giving their blessing for this Special Meeting and how delighted he felt both in the Chapter and the Social Board.  He also thanked him for conducting the ceremony and said how memorable it was and that it will remain with him as was his 50th celebration in the Craft 7 years ago. He thanked Martin Caller for his warm and generous toast acknowledging their close friendship over many years and across a Freemasonry, Charitable work and of course Golf. He also thanked him for his tribute on behalf of everyone on the moving tribute to Jack Levene so sadly missed this evening.
He said that he found it difficult that 50 years have passed since his Exaltation into Ark Chapter after his late father Danny Kay, one of the founders, proposed him and the ceremony was 13 months after the consecration of the Chapter.  It was a very impressive ceremony delivered by EComp Michael Fidler who was a ‘Larger than Life’ character and a ritualist ‘Par Excellence’ with a voice and presence to match.  He added that thoughts of The Mikado came to mind when he was granted the benefit of light.  Leslie mentioned the many notable ritualists from those early days and that how proud he felt as he knew they would with the continuation of the high standards today in the Chapter.
He also mentioned how proud they would be, as we all are, that our members Stephen Blank and David Basger are to become Deputy Grand Superintendent and an AProvGP respectively wishing them good health and every success to enjoy their offices for many years to come.
Turning to golf he explained how important the close involvement with the Merton Davis Masonic competition had been.  Merton one of the founders had passed away tragically passed away shortly after the consecration and that had prompted the formation of the competition in his name.  This year’s event is on June 4th at Whitefield Golf Club and Leslie encouraged its support.
Leslie said how honoured he is to be the first Companion of Ark Chapter and possibly the original Menorah Chapter to celebrate a 50th Anniversary.  He explained he was the 4th exaltee and preceded by Anthony Goldstone who unfortunately has been unwell for some time and how upset he was that Anthony was unable to be present.
Leslie ended his response by saying “As I look round this evening and see so many friends of long standing, I also remember those who were not spared to be with us.  The most important lesson that Freemasonry teaches us is humility and I am indeed fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to participate in our unique and wonderful fraternal community for many years.