Somerset Royal Arch Annual Convocation 2019.

Thursday 16th May 2019 saw cars wending their way from all directions through winding country lanes to get to the Webbington Country Club and Spa, Loxton, where Somerset Royal Arch Annual Convocation was being held.

Arriving just after noon I found a variety of other early arrivals gathering in the reception area and on the decking outside. Bar snacks were ordered, to help the beers and spirits down, so that they would be able to get through the afternoon’s meeting ready for the evening meal. Fish finger sandwiches accompanied by chips seemed to be this year’s favourite.

The Devon contingent
E Comps Alan Perks and Andy Clapp PrGTreas
Barry catching up
More Somerset Companions enjoying the lunch break

Meanwhile, in the main hall, a temple had been laid out with furniture transported in from Bridgwater, by E Comp John Griffin’s team, where a variety of rehearsals were being made and the Provincial Scribe E and Registrar booked in those who were to receive first appointments and promotions and checked their papers for the meeting. Those who were to be active officers were instructed to don their regalia and report to the photographer on the end patio to have their mug shots taken and recorded.

E Comp David Dixon as 3rd PrGPrin and harassed PrGScrE Tony Beaumont sorting out the collar jewels
E Comps Tel Hayes, PrGTreas, Neil Hurcum, Pr3rdPrins, and Clive Lambert, DepGS, thirsty work at rehearsals.
W Bro William Allen behind the lens

Eventually, just after 3.00pm, the processions of Grand Officers and other Dignitaries were formed up and taken into their appropriate seats. Procession 3 was a very short one with a very important visitor, the ME

Comp Gareth Jones Third Grand Principal. Later in the meeting M E Comp Barry Woodside, Somerset’s Grand Superintendent, observed that as M E Comp Gareth had been unable to attend his Investiture the previous year it was a great pleasure to see him at this convocation.

ME Comp Gareth Jones, 3rdGPrins, E Comps: Ray Beckingham, 2nd PrGPrins, Barry Woodside, MEGS, David Dixon 3rdPrGPrins and Clive Lambert, DepGS

The meeting proceeded smoothly as such gatherings do. M E Comp Barry Woodside gave a quite long and very personal welcome to all the Dignitaries in attendance. The main business of the afternoon being the appointment of the new team and other appointments and promotions was carried out very smoothly much to the pleasure, I’m sure, of the Provincial DC, who I know had been extremely concerned that all should run without problems. The only minor hiccup was late on when the Provincial Scribe E lost his place with the list and re-announced a name that had gone through two previously. None of us are perfect!

PGM David Medlock and Barry Woodside, MEGS

Under AOB the MEGS commanded his DC to bring the Somerset PGM, W Bro David Medlock, forward. He then presented him with a large cheque from the Royal Arch to add to the Province’s 2020 Appeal. He also intimated that he hoped to give an even greater sum in the final year. The Chapter’s final business was then completed and the Provincial Chapter closed in due form.

ME Comp Gareth Jones with Barry Woodside, MEGS

At this point I had to make a rapid departure with my son-in-law as we had to get back to Sidmouth for a regular meeting of Perseverance Chapter. Traffic delays getting onto the motorway and then tractors from Taunton Racecourse through Corfe and up onto the Blackdowns delayed us somewhat but we arrived just in time for the main business of the evening. I’m therefore unable to report on proceedings during the evening meal at Loxton but am assured by an authoritative source that it all went very well. I close with two pictures provided by Bro William Allen of the Third Grand Principal with the MEGS.

Arthur W Rowe PAGDC

Postscript: Thanks to Arthur for his report above and here are some more bits and bobs from the day:

At 0900 the Provincial Team, assembled for the rehearsal under the guidance of E Comp Chris Moore, PrGDC, which was brought forward so that the Provincial Executive could have a meeting with the Third Grand Principal, ME Comp Gareth Jones OBE at 1100 in the Library.This meeting went well and involved looking at Somerset’s plans for the future and ways to recruit more Masons into the HRA, which is the natural next step for all Masons to complete their Third Degree.

After a brief respite the Team had a further rehearsal with 3rd Grand Principal M E Companion Gareth Jones OBE and his acting DC, E Comp Mark Hall.

At 1530 the Chapter was opened by MEGS, E Comp Barry K Woodside, then the Third Grand Principal, ME Comp Gareth Jones, was welcomed, accompanied by Grand Superintendents of other Provinces.

The Chapter was then presented with the Somerset Sceptre by MEZ of the Tyntesfield Chapter, E Comp Dale Sherman, which was to be passed on to the Parrett and Axe Chapter later in the ceremony to start another circuit of the Province.

The roll call of the Chapters of the Province was called with the usual responses of the Chapter’s members, followed by a report of the Grand Officers in attendance. The Minutes of the last Annual Convocation were confirmed and the adoption of the Accounts were also passed.

Grand Scribe Ezra then gave his report, click here to view it, after which the Treasurer , E comp Terry Hayes, was re-elected with the Account Examiner.

MEGS then re-appointed E Comp Clive Lambert as Deputy GS, E Comp Ray Beckingham as 2nd Pr G Principal, then he appointed, obligated and invested E Comp David Dixon as 3rd Pr G Principal. E Comp Barry then appointed and invested his Provincial Team and then those receiving honours for the first time and those being promoted.

MEGS rose to address the Companions, click here to view. He then presented the Somerset Sceptre to E Comp Steve Ablon MEZ of Parrett and Axe Chapter for onward delivery to Royal Cyrus Chapter on 26th June.

The Provincial Convocation was closed in peace and harmony followed by the first two verses of the National Anthem. The Companions then took a break before being seated at 1745 ready for the festive board.

ME Comp Gareth Jones with his goody bag from MEGS

At the Festive Board toasts were given to the Queen and Royal Arch and also the First Grand Principal followed by the ME 3rd Grand Principal proposed the toast to Barry, MEGS, who responded to it and presented ME Comp Gareth Jones with a bag of goodies including a bottle of Somerset Cider Brandy.

The companions having wined and dined made there way home, both near and far and no doubt talking about the wonderful Convocation.

Adrian Halliwell
Provincial Liaison Officer