The Danish contingent, at the back, surrounded by a couple of local Companions. The front row features (l to r) EComps Mike Williams, Harvey Basger (2ndProvincial Grand Principal), John Cavanagh, Rev’d David Halford (3rdProvincial Grand Principal), David Basger (APGP for Manchester) and Graham Rawlinson

There was one of the most enjoyable evenings in Freemasonry at Chapter of Friendship on Friday 26thOctober. It was the 250thRegular Convocation of the Chapter, but that wasn’t what made it so special. Nor was it the fact that they were graced with the presence of EComps Harvey Basger and the Rev’d David Halford, the Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals. The Deputy Grand Master of Denmark and his Grand Director of Ceremonies were also present, not there officially, but rather as members of the Chapter in their own right. In a way it wasn’t even that they exalted ‘three and a half’ Brothers into the Chapter, though that actually has a lot to do with it. No, it was a lot more indefinable than that.

The three and a half exaltees. On the left is Companion John, who was halfway exalted in Egerton Chapter a week or two ago, then  on the right are Carsten, Jesper and Lars (But not necessarily in that order)

For some time now, certainly for several years, the Chapter of Friendship has been attracting exaltees from the Grand Lodge of Denmark. This evening was no exception as there were at least nine members of the Chapter present who hailed from that blessed country. That group was extended by exalting another three Danish Brethren, Carsten, Jesper and Lars into this sublime degree. (By the way, the extra half of an exaltee was Comp John Gilmore of Egerton Chapter who was already half exalted, but that is another story.)
Chapter of Friendship is the “spiritual” home of the East Lancashire Royal Arch Presentation Team. Not all of the members of ELRAPT belong to the Chapter, but it is acknowledged that there exists a special connection between the two. So, it was not unusual that the Team were invited to work the exaltation. Exalting three, and later four, brethren at the same time imposes certain strains on the ceremony. Sometimes the strict adherence to the Provincial Agreed Ritual goes a little awry, especially during the Second Assistant Sojourner’s piece, but he was exceptional on the night. However, the key to all of ELRAPT’s pieces of work is contained in their unofficial motto, “Freemasonry Must Be Fun” and even when they don’t get every word right, they have fun and share that sense of fun with those for whom they perform.

Here, on the left is (I hope) Comp Jan Crister Bjarne Beck Eriksson (The Very Worshipful Grand Director of Ceremonies in the Danish Order) who presented EComp John Cavanagh (ELRAPT Bookings Clerk) with a pair of cufflinks on behalf of the Deputy Grand Master of the Danish Order and the rest of the Danish Companions

Finally, all enjoyed a superb Social Board. The food was excellent and varied, the wine and port flowed freely for those who were able to imbibe and the company sealed bonds of fraternal affection that are so strong in this Chapter. No greater example of this was the one serious item during the evening. Four months ago, both the Chapter and the ELRAPT lost the services of one of their Companions. Alan Baxendale was called to Higher Service and his camaraderie and friendship will be truly missed as will his choice of fine wines. The First Principal of the Chapter, John Cavanagh, who is very much their heart and soul, proposed a very moving toast to absent companions, with Alan very much in mind. He was fondly remembered by his old friends who raised a glass of not too expensive wine in his memory!

Why “one of the most enjoyable evenings in Freemasonry”? The reason is simply that the Chapter of Friendship, “being numbered 44”, is one of the most aptly named Chapters that one can ever have the pleasure to visit.
Words and Photographs are ©Kevin Hall – Communications Officer for the ELRAPT
All the photographs that were taken on the night, including those that illustrate this article, can be found in a Photo Gallery located on the EL Provincial Cloud Server. Please go to the following address
Friendship Gallery
Photographs may be downloaded freely for personal use but may not be used for commercial purposes without the express written permission of the copyright holder.