Sun, Sea & Ceremony

Provincial Grand Convocation 17th May 2019

The 17th May was a sunny, clear spring day for the journey to the Margate seaside and the Provincial Grand Convocation. Companions and guests were arriving and the business of converting the Winter Gardens hall into a Chapter meeting room was well under way from earlier in the morning.

All the banners were already set over the stage and the choir was practicing for the main event later in the afternoon. The bar was beginning to hum with the sound of Companions arriving, chatting and discussing the forth coming meeting. The Provincial Sword and Standard Bearers were ready to go early and lounging in the bar relaxing before the big event.

As the time neared for the opening of the Provincial Grand Chapter , VIP’s were taken to the East Balcony room to prepare while the companions began to fill the hall, finding their seats and joining the general hub-hub of the noise, which began to increase , bristling with anticipation for the main meeting of the year. Outside the sea beat a progressive retreat unaware of the Ceremony that was about to start.

It was now 2.45 pm, the Companions were beginning to take their seats, when the booming voice of the Provincial Grand DC, E,Comp Ian White was heard. He instructed the Companions to take their seats, that there would be 4 processions, concluding with the Province Grand Superintendent ME.Comp Neil Hamilton Johnstone . The choir sang while the VIPs and the Provincial Executive took their seats. The Provincial Grand Superintendent entered and was then assisted by the 2nd and 3rd Grand Principals to open the Chapter and take their seats on the stage.

Both minutes of the last meeting were presented, the audited accounts and various other business took place. A notice of motion was given to enable Provincial Chapter to pass a resolution next year to donate £7,500 to the 2025 festival.

The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent then appointed his officers, firstly re-appointing the 2nd and 3rd Principals and his deputy E.Comp David Kershaw,  then the Assistant to the Principals. He then announced that it had been decided to ease the workload on the Principals by appointing a Second Assistant to the Principals. E.Comp Terry McGlone was duly appointed and welcomed by the Grand Superintendent, who then moved on to appointment the new Scribe N for the year, E.Comp Tony Eldridge. The efficient Provincial team then moved swiftly into action to enable the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent to continue with the balance of appointments and promotions for some 60 Companions.

The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent then addressed the meeting. He informed the Companions of the success of the launch of the 2025 Festival at the Provincial Craft meeting and the huge amount of work that the Festival Committee had already done, and he looked forward to meeting us all at the myriad of events coming up. He reported that our efforts to improve Chapter membership were now beginning to show improvement. In 2019 the membership had at last ceased to reduce; we are in a break-even position; but we have yet to move into a position of increasing the membership. He also praised both the Membership Team and the Communication Team for their active assistance during the year.

The meeting was then closed by the Principals and the choir sang as the procession left the meeting.

From L-R
Deputy Grand Superintendent E.Comp David Kershaw, 3rd Provincial Grand Principle, John Baker.
The Grand Superintendant, Neil Johnstone.
2nd Provincial Grand Principle, Clive Manuel
Our 3rd and 2nd Provincial Grand Principles.
John Baker and Clive Manuel
Dinner followed in the same spectacular way. The choir sang again, and an excellent dinner was served with copious amounts of wine. The Deputy Grand Superintendent proposed the toast to the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent with his normal flair including a poem which summed up to the whole celebration of the evening.
Once every year,

We congregate here,

To honour, to praise, and applaud.


In this Edwardian Ghost,

on the North Kent coast,

Many come to receive their reward.


Pairing in twos,

in meandering queues,

awaiting receipt of their prize.


From our leader resplendent

Our Grand Superintendent

Whom tonight we shall eulogise


But he is the only man here

debarred from such cheer

As he gets no honours at Margate


So we give him a toast

Cause that is the most

The Most Excellent is likely to get.

The response from the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent was no less eloquent and full of wit and included a presentation of a stick of rock to the Deputy Grand Superintendent of Essex who would be retiring from his post in September.
The Provincial Grand Superintendent then wished us a safe journey home. Before leaving the Provincial DC gave us some extremely complex advice  on how to get around the road closures in Birchington.  I am sure we all got home regardless.

The Grand Superintendent left the dinner!

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