The Deputy Grand Superintendent, EComp William J Porter PGSwdB,
together with EComp Norman Clarke PGStB, the APGP for the Southern Area

On Tuesday, 25th February more than eighty companions of the Royal Arch came together for two distinctly different, but equally worthy, causes. First of all they came together for the purpose of holding a Joint Convocation. These are events that take place from time to time where representatives from as many Chapters as possible across the Area come together to celebrate all that is good in our Order.

On this occasion the Convocation was hosted by 3 Shires Chapter at Mossley Masonic Hall. It took the form of a presentation of a special piece of ritual called “The Royal Arch Banners”. This involved 18 Companions of the Order, representing Chapters from Ashton, Audenshaw and Mossley, including all three DORAs, presenting pieces of varying lengths describing each of the 12 lesser and four greater Banners. It also included the presentation of the rarely heard Opening Address as well as the more commonly heard Valedictory.

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The Provincial Delegation together with the members of the Joint Convocation Team

It is important to say that the quality of the work done by these 18 Companions was of an exceedingly high standard, a fact that was commented upon by the principal guest at the evening’s presentation. For it is also important to point out that the work was done in front of a most distinguished group of visitors. The Provincial Team was led by EComp William J Porter PGSwdB, the Deputy Grand Superintendent, ably supported as ever by EComps David H Thompson PGStB, and Donald K Pryce PGStB, the Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals. They, in their turn, were equally well supported by four Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals in the form of EComps Ed Cheadle, David Thornton and Paul Aspinall, (all PGStBs), two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters from the Craft (EComps John Pearson and Martin Roche) together with EComp Allan Bennion PGSwdB, the Past Deputy Grand Superintendent and EComp Mike Williams the Acting Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah. Finally, the whole group were kept in order by EComps Gerry Hodson who was acting as Provincial Grand DC and was assisted by Stephen Boyle and Malcolm Hearsey the Provincial Deputy Grand DCs.

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The Provincial Delegation

Now you would be forgiven for thinking that this represents an awfully imposing group of the Provinces top echelon from the Royal Arch. There was a clue, a few lines ago, when the text of this article referred to four APGPs, but only named three. (Did you notice?) For there was a second reason for holding this special meeting just twenty three days before the Provincial Grand Chapter meets in Blackburn, and that reason has a great deal to do with that missing fourth APGP. On March 20th, at Provincial Grand Chapter, EComp Norman Clarke PGStB, the Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals for the Southern Area will stand down after serving five years in that position. The meeting on the 25th February gave the Southern Area an opportunity to do something special for Norman, to try, however poorly, to show him in what high regard he has been held by the Royal Arch Masons of the Southern Area over that period of time.

Norman Clarke, as ever, took a very active part in the evening’s proceedings. I am sure that we have all had the distinct honour to be present at a meeting, somewhere in Southern Area, where Norman has done a significant piece of ritual almost at the drop of a hat, or where the esteemed APGP has eschewed his position to act as DC, or Principal, of a Chapter that needed a bit of help on the night. Norman has always taken an active part and long may he continue to do so. This night, Norman took over from EComp Jim Mayall and wore the First Principal’s gown and acted as“Ringmaster” for the ceremony. There is nothing strange about that. On this occasion Norman was the perfect First Principal, and carried out his part of the proceedings in an excellent manner.

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The Provincial and Chapter Principals together with some members of 3 Shires Chapter

Afterwards, at the Social Board, and after enjoying an excellent repast, EComp William Porter, the Deputy Grand Superintendent, addressed himself to both aspects of the meeting. Addressing the work done by the Chapter Representatives in the Joint Convocation, he said, “This has been a very special night. Seeing so many gifted ritualists working together to produce so splendid a piece of work made me realise how rich an area this is.” Later, referring to the part played by EComp Norman Clarke, he said, “I agreed with all the very nice things that were said about Norman, upstairs in the Chapter Room when you made a presentation to him. Norman is a quiet but very hard working leader who has done a great deal for the Royal Arch in the Southern Area. It has been a great joy to have worked with him in the last few years.”

In his response, EComp Norman Clarke began by thanking the First Principal of 3 Shires Chapter. “I was greatly honoured that you allowed me to take the meeting tonight. I would especially like to thank all of those who took part and made this such a splendid meeting. Finally, I would like to thank all of the Companions who have supported me in my years as your APGP.”

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You will find copies of all of the photographs taken on the night, and you can download any that you might want to keep, by following the link below.