The annual Provincial Chapter Convocation was held at Margate on Thursday 21st May 2015 when the weather was as good as it gets for Kent. The sun was shining brightly and its warmth was reflected in the companionship enjoyed by everyone in the Winter Gardens. It was a good opportunity for the Companions to re-acquaint themselves with old friends, to get to know colleagues from other parts of the Province and to put a face to the names of those they may have read about but not yet come across.
Some 450 Companions were assembled when the annual Convocation was opened in due form by the Grand Superintendent and his Principals, supported by the Provincial Choir.
The Grand Superintendent extended a warm welcome to the Distinguished Visitors and Guests from other Provinces, including the Heads of other Masonic Orders. Representatives of our immediate neighbour West Kent were there in strength, this being the last visit of Excellent Companion Jonathan Winpenny in his capacity as Grand Superintendent.
The Minutes of the 2014 Provincial Grand Convocation, the Provincial Grand Scribe E’s Report and the 2014 Audited Accounts together with the Treasurer’s Report, were all received and approved. EComp William Roger Daniels, being the only nominee for Provincial Treasurer, was declared to be re-elected and the Auditors were reappointed.
The Grand Superintendent then began to appoint and promote distinguished and worthy Companions with their well-earned Honours. Excellent Companions David Kershaw, Neil Johnstone, and Roger Croucher were re-appointed respectively to the senior offices of Deputy Grand Superintendent and Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals.
The Grand Superintendent announced a new office of Assistant to the Principals, in the person of Excellent Companion Clive Manual, who was then invested with the collar of this new office.
Two other changes to the Chapter Executive were the appointments of Excellent Companion Paul Murton to the office of Provincial Grand Almoner, replacing Excellent Companion Martin Ransom, who was thanked for his services over the past four years. Companion Terry Smith was appointed to Deputy Grand Scribe E, replacing Excellent Companion Ray Venness, who was also thanked for his services over the past five years.
The Grand Superintendent then proceeded to appoint and promote other worthy Companions with their well-earned Honours. Included amongst these was Excellent Companion Thomas (Tony) Lewis who was promoted to the office of Scribe N.
The Grand Superintendent then announced and presented his personal award for meritorious service to Excellent Companion Rodney Marsh, of the Bertha Chapter No 31. Rodney had spent 23 years in one senior office or another in his Chapter and, in addition, 30 years as a member of the Canterbury Centre Committee, the last 8 of which he has been its Chairman.
The Grand Superintendent addressed all Companions with emphasis on maintaining and if possible increasing membership of the HRA.
In his Address, the Grand Superintendent thanked everyone present for their attendance and said what a pleasure it was to appoint and promote the Provincial Grand Chapter Officers. It recognised their services in the past and was an anticipation of their future efforts.
He spoke of the importance of membership and his aim for 40% of Master Masons to take this fourth step into the Royal Arch.
He said that we were just two or three percent short of this target and stressed the importance of the Chapter Liaison Officer in the Craft and the Almoner in the Chapter, respectively, in attracting and retaining members.
He spoke of the success of Talking Heads in helping to raise interest, and the “Ceremonies of the Veils”, the “Prologues” and the breaking down of ceremonies, for which a visiting team is available, to improve retention.
Since this was the first Provincial Chapter Convocation since the closing of the 2014 Festival, he thanked the Companions for their contribution of some 12-13% of the total. He stressed that the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity was “Your charity” and urged lodges and chapters to channel their charitable giving through it. By way of an example he mentioned the “It’s a Knockout” competition, being held by the Pilgrims Hospice on 31st May, for which there had been a terrific response, almost doubling the target of £10,000 to fund the training of a Palliative Nurse.
He reminded everyone of the Service of Thanksgiving at Canterbury Cathedral on 21st June and the Carol Service on 11th December. Finally he thanked the “A-Team”, the provincial office volunteers and the Director of Ceremonies and his team for their efforts in producing another successful Festival and thanked everyone for attending and urged them to continue to enjoy their Freemasonry.
There being no further business, apart from apologies for absence, the Convocation was closed in due form.
The meeting went extremely well and congratulations must particularly go to the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Excellent Companion Pat King and his Deputies, for their excellent work in preparing and rehearsing all parties for their various roles which were very well performed on the day. Having witnessed some Companions with two left feet it was an exercise in patience and Masonic fortitude!
The occasion was rounded off with an excellent Festive Board with almost 200 Companions dining. The choir entertained with one of their well-chosen songs to the delight of all and, after the formal Toasts, the evening concluded at about 8.30pm.