On Saturday 11th November a group of Somerset Companions, headed by their Grand Superintendent, E Comp John Bennett, made their way south to attend Devonshire’s Annual Provincial Convocation. This is held in the Riviera Centre, Torquay. All of them made an early arrival, which is a necessity to get a good parking space. They made their way to the Invited Visitors and Grand Officers robing hall and were soon among friends from both Devonshire and other Provinces.
Over coffee, tea and biscuits old friendships were renewed and new ones started. Eventually everyone moved to the dining hall, where Lunch was to be served, and joined the large number of Devonshire Companions who had also arrived. Once the DC had assembled the masses he announced the Provincial Grand Superintendent, E Comp Simon Rowe, who was accompanied by E Comp Gareth Jones OBE, the Third Grand Principal no less, who were processed to table. Grace was given and then everyone settled down to enjoy the meal. The members of the Somerset contingent were seated on various tables each with Companions of similar rank from other Provinces. There are a collection of photos of most of them at the foot of this report. A small number of Toasts were taken during the meal which was very efficiently served to around 400 Companions.
At the end of the meal, top table were processed out and everyone followed to find and don their regalia. The visiting Dignitaries, Grand Officers and the ruling Devonshire MEZs were formed up into their processions while the rest of the Companions made their way directly into the main Conference room. Here a Temple had been laid out and was ready for the meeting. The DC and his team then brought the processions in and the visiting Dignitaries were placed in serried ranks on the dais behind the Principals’ chairs ready for the final procession of the Grand Superintendent with his Officers and the Grand Officers.
With the opening proceedings completed E Comp Simon Rowe formally welcomed E Comp Gareth Jones thanking him profusely for making this visit from Supreme Grand Chapter. The Third Grand Principal gave an interesting and succinct response. The Grand Superintendent also, in his normal fashion, turned and announced and greeted, in a very friendly manner, each of the visiting parties. The meeting and Investiture of Officers then proceeded steadily. More details on this, for those with an interest, will I’m sure appear on Devonshire’s web-site, if it isn’t already there.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Companions were faced with a simple choice. They could either leave the centre immediately or return to the dining area for tea, coffee, biscuits and banter with other Companions. Those who know the Riviera Centre are aware that leaving the car park is the main downside of events held there. Having wound your way out of the car parking to the solitary exit one joins a short road to traffic lights. These are on a rather confusing five-way junction and only allow about half a dozen cars across before going back to red. It does not take long before the bottleneck spreads back around the parking area.
I don’t know how the members of the Somerset contingent fared with their return home but, with my Devonshire hat on, I trust they had an enjoyable visit and a safe return.
Arthur W Rowe PAGDC