Essex Royal Arch Masons SUPPORT OUR PARAS

Col (ret’d) Andrew Jackson lands solid support at the Colchester Combined Chapters Convocation

On Friday 30th June 2023 at St Giles Masonic Centre with Deputy Grand Superintendent (DepGSupt), Elliott Chevin, second Provincial Grand Pricipal (2ndProvGP), David Wilson, third Provincial Grand Principal (3rdProvGP), John Hubbard and members of the Provincial Executive in attendance, the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (MEGS), Paul Tarrant, congratulated Arthur Cooke, as the Royal Arch Secretary (Scribe E) of the hosting Chapter for all his hard work organising the Combined Chapters Convocation – and what a fantastic event it was.

There was a buzz ‘in the air’ as the Provincial Executive joined the Companions from the eight Chapters based at Colchester and Wivenhoe who met for their first combined convocation in over 10 years.  It was one of those special occasions where everything just ‘gelled’ to make the journey worthwhile.

Col (ret’d) Andrew Jackson, the former Deputy Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade and guest speaker was welcomed by Paul Tarrant and Elliott Chevin. Known throughout the Airborne Forces as ‘Jacko’, he gave an insight into the role of the Paras and the work of ‘SUPPORT OUR PARAS’ - the Parachute Regiment & Airborne Forces Charity of which he is the CEO. 

Paul Tarrant gave his best wishes to Dave Clayton and Len Wright as First and Second Principals of Abbeygate Chapter for 2023/24 and wished them both every success

The MEGS also thanked Paul Humphrey, the Abbeygate and combined convocation Almoner, who knew every one of the Companions who had passed to Grand Chapter Above in the last year.

Paul ‘living-legend’ Humphrey, said “For over 50 years we had good times and happy times and they all enjoyed the Royal Arch”. The Companions stood in remembrance as the Last Post was played on the bugle by Ingrid from the Royal British Legion following ‘We will remember them’ poignantly delivered by Nick Savin.

Terry Norris, the Abbeygate Chapter and the combined convocation DC is delighted with his promotion to Past Provincial Grand Sojourner (PPGSoj). We all join the MEGS with our congratulations. Arthur Cooke said “We all believe it is thoroughly deserved for the amount of work he puts in the background before each meeting and for the way he runs our meetings. "Our congratulations also go to John Print on his promotion to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer (PPDepGswdB).

Peter Ashton was welcomed by the MEGS to Essex Royal Arch as a new joiner to Abbeygate. In May, Peter volunteered a day with the Masonic Trout & Salmon Fishing Charity (MTFSC), showing disabled youngsters how to fish for trout at Chigboro’ Fisheries.

Going home with the book ‘The Paras’ inscribed by Colonel Jackson, former firefighter and Patriotic Chapter Scibe E, Tony Terry, was thanked by the MEGS for helping Abbeygate organise the combined convocation. You can read Tony’s candid, enthusiastic and inspirational view of the meeting at;  Why did I join the Royal Arch? – A personal view by Tony Terry (

Eddy Garty, PGM of Mark Master Masons of Middlesex, was welcomed by the MEGS. Eddy said “I served in 2 Para so this was a ‘must attend’ event and my thanks go to Arthur for arranging it.”

In his talk, Col Jackson described how the Paras are deployed, often alone in hostile surroundings with no guarantee of relief, and the long-term effect this can have on survivors. His presentation was informative, entertaining and eye-opening. As they listened, everyone gained a greater understanding of the resilience needed by airborne soldiers and the job they are trained to do.

Tony Ackers, as Charity Steward for the Combined Chapters, presented ‘Jacko’ with cheques for £800, plus £300 from Abbeygate, for the Charity. After rapid endorsement by the Executive, Paul Tarrant also congratulated Col Jackson and said the Province would be delighted to double the total to £2,200. 

Very few Abbeygate Chapter banquets are held without Mrs Anne Pearce, the wife of Immediate Past First Principal Geoff, and her friends providing the flower displays for each table. These are given to a Companion on each table for their partners at the end of proceedings. Thank you, Mrs Pearce and team. It is very kind and always much appreciated by those fortunate enough to take a display home with them.

James and Jenny Goldsmith (J&J Catering) are responsible for many hugely successful festive boards at St Giles as well as at Kirby Cross. With both their twenty years plus catering experience nothing on the day was too much trouble. Thank you so much J&J and team. Evereyone was delighted and as Arthur said "Thanks for making our meeting so special."

The Combined Chapter convocation and banquet were presided over by the three Principals Vishnu Ramoutar (MEZ) of Abbeygate, Dave Boylan (H) of Grey friars and Nick Savin (J) of Pyefleet.

The Loyal Toast to The King and Royal Arch Masonry had additional relevance as HM The King is also the Colonel in Chief of the Parachute Regiment.

Replying to the toast to him by the Companions, Paul Tarrant thanked everyone involved in organising a most successful Colchester Combined Chapter Convocation. The MEGS then:

Applauded the 46% of more than 8,000 brethren in Essex who are Royal Arch Masons but asked us all to engage with every new initiate so that each one clearly understands that the Royal Arch is their goal. 

Referred to the Most Excellent Pro First Grand Principal, Jonathan Spence, who said that the Craft and Royal Arch are one and that members are more likely to stay and never leave if they join the Royal Arch.

Reminded us that we are all Almoners and where possible to reach out to one or two we may not have seen for a while to make sure they are ok, and

Urged that we encourage all new Companions to come along to the Welcome Seminars.

Friday 30 June 2023 will be long remembered by all who attended as a most memorable occasion at which all the Combined Chapter Officers plus Martin Cartwright ProvGDC, Bob Baldwin ProvGSwdB and the rest of the Provincial escorting Officers gave a first-class ceremonial display worthy of any military event. 

Gwen Appleton of SUPPORT OUR PARAS Charity said “These are very generous donations and will be used to support serving and retired Airborne soldiers and their families in need.”  Col Jackson added “I am glad the talk hit the mark for such a distinguished Masonic audience. It was a great pleasure to be at the event and I very much enjoyed all aspects of my time with everyone there”  

David Wilson, the Second Provincial Grand Principal, said “We owe a debt to those who have and are serving. Experiences, which are good or bad, can affect for many years. Nobody who has not served on front-line live duties will ever understand or should be able to judge those who have.”

The Loyal Toast at the event to ‘The King and Royal Arch Masonry’ had particular relevance as HM The King is also the Colonel in Chief of the Parachute Regiment which was founded by Freemason, and Prime Minister, Winston Churchill in 1942.

Pyefleet Chapter No. 8913 will host the next Colchester Chapters Combined Convocation on 28 June 2024.