Each year, starting around the later weeks of September, there is a great deal of high-spiritedness and elation amongst Royal Arch companions as the Provincial Grand Chapter meeting in Southport draws ever closer.
This year, in coming to the decision to give their patronage to the full, many companions had been actuated by a diverse range of reasons. To those who had been listed for Provincial honours, be they first appointments or promotions, the decision was easy. It would be a fantastically proud day for them. The decision by others to give their custom was, however, less clear-cut. To some, the sheer pleasure of witnessing the spectacle was enough. To others, the resolution to attend came from a combination of that same enjoyment of the spectacle, the meeting of old friends and acquaintances and from a desire to support colleagues who were to receive due recognition for their contribution to Royal Arch Masonry.
Amongst the latter band was a sizeable contingent of companions from the Blackpool Group. There was a coachload of merry fans, dressed up to the nines and determined to make the most of the day and exercise their tonsils to the full in support of their fellow Royal Arch companions. Certainly the spectacle of the event was a key attraction. The camaraderie of the gathering was a huge consideration. And the company of the Provincial Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison and other leading personalities in Royal Arch Masonry was a major draw.
All these considerations counted with the party of revellers from Blackpool, but what really drew them to Southport like a magnet was the knowledge that some of their colleagues were to receive Provincial honours, some as first appointments and some as promotions.
Whilst the select coachload of ardent cheerleaders were celebrating the fortunes of all the recipients, they were particularly focused on two of their closest friends, Jack Monks and Melvyn Wainwright. And it was to execute a fitting tribute to Mel and Jack that the companions had gathered in Southport to support them on the occasion of receiving their Royal Arch promotions.
Mel Wainwright, a Mason to the core if ever there was, was being promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, an honour that could not adorn the chest of a more deserving man. One thing that can be stated categorically about Mel is that he has no shortage of chirpiness at meetings or during relaxation in the bar. Cheeriness and good humoured banter are in abundance in his presence. He definitely fulfils the wishes of the Provincial Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison when he encourages enjoyment in Freemasonry. Presently in the chair of King Solomon in his craft lodge, 2017 has been a big year for Mel and his fans heartily greeted his promotion.
No doubt readers of these chronicles who are regular visitors to the Masonic Hall in Blackpool will be fully aware of the workings of Jack Monks, but this report will give the readers the strength of them once again, just to keep the records straight. He is the dedicated fellow who, if one remembers, is largely responsible for the superb modernisation and decoration of the lounge bar, dining areas and other facilities in the building. As vice president of the Masonic Club, Jack has worked tirelessly to provide the members with the opulence and comfort that the club now enjoys.
No rank could have been more appropriate than the one with which Jack was awarded. It ranks him amongst the highest-ranking Provincial officers in the Province of West Lancashire. He is placed amongst the most elite of Royal Arch companions. Past Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra is a rank reserved for only the best of the best – a position which those who know Jack Monks will endorse as truly worthy of the man. None could be more deserving of the honour.
It was a proud occasion for Jack and Mel and a joy for all those who accompanied them on their special day. It was an occasion on which all celebrated these two most deserving of recipients.
But, typically of Jack Monks, once he had received his honour from the Grand Superintendent, he couldn’t wait to get back to his beloved club. Recharged and buoyant, Jack and Mel, along with their jolly boys’ supportive fans, embarked their coach and headed back to Blackpool. It was there that they continued the day’s celebrations. Chirpy revelry over an A-class meal, repartee of high order between companions and cheery chitchat made for a perfect ending to a memorable and highly gratifying day. There was little doubt that Jack Monks and Mel Wainwright were the men of the moment during the festivities.
But, by this juncture, the casual reader may have wrongly assumed, because these writings have, so far, concentrated their contents on Jack and Mel, that the jolly boys’ outing was only about celebrating the promotions of the aforementioned. This would be a total misconception. Yes, the party was especially enthusiastic in its celebrations of its closest friends but was equally delighted that others in the Blackpool Group had also received due recognition. The following paragraphs will therefore paint a fuller picture and pay tribute to all the companions of the Blackpool Group who were honoured by the Province. For clarity and preciseness, a comprehensive list now follows:
David Thomas, Peace and Unity Chapter No 3966 PrDGDC
Peter Maxwell, Peace and Unity Chapter No 3966 PrGJan
Juan Topping, Bispham with Norbreck Chapter No 4731 PrGStwd
Malcolm Woods, Peace and Unity Chapter No 3966 PPrGStdB
John Herdman, Bispham with Norbreck Chapter No 4731 PPrAGDC
Jack Monks, Blackpool Chapter No 1476 PPrGSE
Bryan Houghton, Blackpool Chapter of Integrity No5864 PPrGSN
Gordon Thomson, Peace and Unity Chapter No 3966 PPrGSN
Mel Wainwright, Blackpool Chapter No 1476 PPrGSwdB
Gordon Ivett, Blackpool Chapter of Integrity No5864 PPrGSwdB
Rodney Gee, Peace and Unity Chapter No 3966 PPrDGSwdB
Fred Vickers, Bispham with Norbreck Chapter No 4731 PPrGStdB
Barrie Hage, Peace and Unity Chapter No 3966 PPrGSoj
Steve Smith a member of Bispham with Norbreck Chapter No 4731 has previously received the rank of PPrGSwdB in East Lancashire.
An impressive list it makes and all are truly worthy of their honours. The ‘jolly boys’ outing featured in these chronicles formed only a portion of the total number of companions from the Blackpool Group who lent their support to the recipients. Some went as individuals, some in smaller groups and some in parties with companions from other groups. They all had one thing in common though; they enthusiastically applauded all the companions who were rewarded by the Grand Superintendent. There is little doubt many jolly boys are already planning next year’s outing.