A Diamond Celebration in the Royal Arch for Excellent Companion Keith Sharp
Excellent Companion Keith Sharp recently completed 60 years in the Holy Royal Arch and has now joined that rare group of Companions to have received a certificate celebrating his Diamond Anniversary in the Chapter.
His long service certificate was presented on 16th January 2015 by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, Geoffrey Dearing, on a visit to The Duke of Kent Chapter No 5818 – Keith’s Mother Chapter. The Grand Superintendent was accompanied by a retinue of Active Provincial Grand Chapter Officers and there was a large gathering of other guests to witness this rare event.
At the appropriate time, Keith – a spritely 91 year-old – rose from his seat at the chapter organ to receive his long service certificate. On presenting it, Geoffrey recalled some of the historic events of 1954 when, in November of that year, Keith was exalted into the Duke of Kent Chapter. Geoffrey went on to recount some of Keith’s personal and Masonic history in an interesting, informative and humorous manner.
Keith was born in Maidstone in 1923 where he attended the Grammar School for Boys and sung in the choir at All Saints Church. He left school in 1940 and joined the police service as a civilian clerk before being called up for National Service with the Royal Marines in 1942. He served in Egypt then eastward to Colombo before, in 1944, crossing the Channel a few days after “D” Day, finishing up in Hamburg as a Corporal in the Royal Marines Provost Corps.
On being demobbed in 1946 he joined Kent County Police and served in both Ramsgate and at headquarters. In 1949 he married Margaret Farmer, daughter of a well-known local Freemason, and they remained together until Margaret sadly passed away 1988. Keith left the police in 1958 to pursue a number of other interesting careers at Rochester Cathedral, Kentish Church Builders, King’s School Rochester and an Estate Agency, before retiring in 1986.
Keith’s other interests include membership of the Maidstone Choral Union, Maidstone Probus and the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men – in all of which he held positions of responsibility. He also continues to serve as a steward at All Saint’s Church where he helps with the magazine. Keith also discovered a passion for cruising.
Keith was initiated into the Duke of Kent Lodge No 5818 in November 1948, was its Master in 1966, and was appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in 1967. Further promotions followed including his appointment to Past Grand Standard Bearer in 1991. He attended the installation of H.R.H. The Duke of Kent as Grand Master at the Royal Albert Hall in June 1967. Over the years he joined the Kent Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge and Mid Kent Masters Lodge No 3173. He was a Founder of the Watch and Ward Lodge No 8809 and has served as Master of each of these lodges. He was also a Founder and first Senior Warden of the Sir Edward Elgar Lodge No 9837.
In the Holy Royal Arch Keith served as First Principal of Duke of Kent Chapter in 1974 and has held several offices since then, including Organist, in which office he still serves. He is a Founding Member and Organist of Monckton Chapter No 9236. He was appointed Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 1981, promoted in 1990 and presented with the Grand Superintendent’s Award in 2006.
Keith continues as Guest or Honorary Organist of several lodges and chapters and, since the 1960s, has been a member of the Provincial Choir. Keith has also been very active in other Masonic Orders, achieving Grand Rank in the Mark and the Royal Ark Mariner.
A very enjoyable Festive Board followed the meeting and everyone left knowing they had witnessed a rare and historic event.