A week before Perseverance’s Installation meeting Companions gathered at Sidmouth Masonic Hall for a rehearsal. Suddenly E Comp Stan Nevill, the ruling MEZ, blacked out and hit the stone floor with a thud. Fortunately there were several Companions immediately to hand who could give first aid and he was soon upright again and nursing a sore patch on the back of his head where it had hit the floor. Despite pleadings that he ought to have a medical check he insisted he was OK and wanted the rehearsal to proceed. A little later it did but rather than practise his work as Installing MEZ, he sat out to rest while the others improvised around him. After the meeting he was safely returned home.
The next day, a Friday, he went to his Doctors for a previously arranged appointment. Once he had recounted the previous evening’s happenings the Doctor made some special checks. He then announced that because of his low heart rate he would be immediately sent to the main hospital in Exeter. On arrival more tests were made and his heart was found to be beating at less than half the normal rate. It was decided that he would be kept there under observation and arrangements made for a pacemaker to be fitted during the following week. Following another crisis early that week he was rushed to surgery and a pace-maker fitted. As he recovered it was found that not quite enough blood was being pumped so further medication was given and he was kept under observation.
perseverance installationOn the Thursday the Companions met for the Chapter’s meeting with a plan B to be followed. For some considerable while previously E Comp Jeff Bailey had been endeavouring to get E Comp John Bennett, Somerset’s MEGS, to visit Perseverance. He had achieved this for this meeting so two MEGSs were to be in attendance. To cover Stan’s absence it had been decided that Jeff would take the role as Installing MEZ for the early part of the meeting. However, he was also H elect for the coming year. Those of you who know the Installation ceremony well will realise that this would entail some judicious chair and role swopping as well as temporary seat occupation by the acting IPZ, E Comp Patrick Cleaver. However, this is getting a little ahead of the evening’s story.
As Companions gathered the main topic of conversation was Stan’s demise. Thanks to the excellent efforts of W Bro Ian Taylor, the Almoner of 164 Lodge, there was plenty of support to Stan and his wife Joan and Sidmouth Brethren/Companions were all being kept up to date with developments. E Comp Jeff Bailey led the opening of the Chapter and immediately afterwards E Comps Simon Rowe and John Bennett, the two MEGSs, were received into the Chapter supported by a large number of active Provincial Officers and Grand Officers. This was very smoothly achieved under the supervision of E Comp Simon Wills, PDGDC.
Here, at the end of the meeting we see the two Grand Superintendents with the Chapter’s newly installed Principals. Left to right – E Comps Simon Rowe Devonshire, Jeff Bailey H, Chris Taylor MEZ, Brian Ludford J and John Bennett Somerset.
With the entourage properly received and seated, though some elements of Bailey relaxed workings were creeping in instead of Perseverance, the ceremony could proceed. A very fine presentation of the opening address was given by Comp Keith Vest.
After the previous minutes had been approved it was time for the main event. As I mentioned earlier, at the start it became almost a game of musical chairs. However, all this was completed quite smoothly and soon E Comp Chris Taylor had become MEZ and with the assistance of E Comps Jeff Bailey and Brian Ludford, as H and J respectively, their Officers were being Invested. Later E Comp Chris Roach, DGSupt., presented a Supreme Grand Chapter certificate to Comp S Bennett. The closing address was given in his normal excellent manner by Comp Jeff Millar. Just before the final domestic items were completed and the Chapter closed, the Grand Superintendents accompanied by the array of dignitaries present retired. Despite all the revisions that had had to be made in the final week before the meeting all the ritual had been very smoothly and timely performed.
In time honoured manner as regalia was packed away and around 70 Companions gathered in the bar/dining room the volume of conversation rose dramatically. When everyone was finally assembled at or near to their places at table the Principals were announced, received, grace taken and the serious business of consuming the food addressed. Whilst one or two of the evening’s toasts and responses were quite long, the 5.30pm start meant the finish was achieved by around 9.30pm. This meant those with distance to travel, and there was quite a large percentage in that group, could get a reasonable start.
During the Festive Board the Companions present added their names and messages to a large get well card that was to be delivered to Stan Nevill.
As a postscript to the report on the evening, the next morning I was surprised and delighted to receive a phone call from Stan to tell me he was home, feeling fit and keen to get back into the Masonic circuit. It seemed that W Bro Ian Taylor, to whom we must be very grateful, had expedited his return home as soon as the Hospital had sounded the all clear.