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Excellent Companion John Sermon
50 years in the Holy Royal Arch

JB Sermon

Back Row: The three Principles of the Duke of Portland Chapter
Front Row (L to R): E. Comp Graham Aitken; E. Comp John Sermon receiving his 50 years' certificate from the Grand Superintendent

At the meeting of the Duke of Portland Chapter on the 20th September, the Grand Superintendent Richard Gutteridge presented a certificate to celebrate Excellent Companion John Sermon completing fifty years in Royal Arch Masonry.

John was accompanied by his long term friend Excellent Companion Graham Aitken.

The ceremony, which also included the Exaltation of a new Companion, and the festive board was enjoyed by all.

The presentation was preceded by the following address to the Chapter by the Grand Superintendent (a copy of which is available for download at the end of this item):

"Companions, it is my pleasure this evening to present a Certificate to celebrate Excellent Companion John Sermon completing fifty years in Royal Arch masonry.

John Barnett Sermon was born in 1931 into a strong local family. His chosen occupation was that of a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and these skills were of great benefit to the province when he became a Director of this Hall Company.

John was initiated into the Duke of Portland Lodge on the 25th October 1956 but almost ten years elapsed before being Exalted into the Royal Arch, entering the Marquis of Titchfield Chapter on 11th July 1966. To put this date in context, this was just a couple of weeks before the England football team last won the World Cup. So began fifty years of Royal Arch Masonry and membership of four Nottinghamshire Royal Arch Chapters.

John became a founding member of the De Vere Chapter as it first Principal Sojourner and four years later he progressed to be its Zerubbabel for two years from the 5th May 1977. Only nine days later he also reached the same office in his mother Chapter the Marquis of Titchfield. Being in the chair of two Chapters during the 1977/78 season must have proved a demanding time.

It was on the 17th April 1984 John became a founder member of this the Duke of Portland Chapter as the first Haggai and progressed to be its Zerubbabel in 1985. The Chapter records show what an active First Principal he was. For example, his first meeting after being installed carried out two complete ceremonies and four new Companions were exalted. Regular requests were made to province for dispensations to cope with the volume of new members. John along with Excellent Companions Bill Bradbury and Mike Jeffrey are the last surviving founders of this Chapter.

John became a joining member of the Notts First Principals Chapter in 1984 and became Zerubbabel in 2001. Again he doubled this up by coinciding it with a second spell as First Principal of the Duke of Portland Chapter.

If you place John’s membership of these four Chapters end-to-end, you arrive at a total membership of some one hundred and twenty-two years and he has been a Most Excellent Zerubbabel six times.

John’s contribution to Provincial Grand Chapter was recognised by appointment to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 1987 and he was appointed a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies of Supreme Grand Chapter in 1998.

John was elected an honorary member of the Duke of Portland Chapter in 2010. Even after relocating to Devon he has continued to regularly correspond with the Chapter expressing his encouragement to the members and he has attended whenever it was possible. I am told of a lovely letter from January 2009 when he apologised to the then Scribe Ezra for his non-attendance, but advising them against contacting his sponsors regarding his enforced absence as they had long passed to the Grand Chapter above.

John has now completed fifty years of Royal Arch masonry with great distinction, a wonderful achievement and one of which he should feel rightly proud. On behalf of the Province, the members of your Chapters and the other companions present this evening, I congratulate you and thank you for your contribution.

Excellent Companion John I have much pleasure in presenting you with this fifty years’ certificate."