Tobacco Pipe Makers' January Dinner

Wednesday 23rd January 2019

For the members of our Company, the January Dinner is always a special occasion. Historically linked to a trade fair, the event still holds on to its industry roots with many attending from the world of tobacco not just from the UK, but also Europe and America. This year was no exception as the assembled party filled out the wonderful Goldsmiths' Hall. Amongst the honoured guests was the Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths' Company, Michael Prideaux, who also happens to be both a former Board executive at BAT and a Past Master Tobacco Pipe Maker. The evening could not have been more auspicious!

At the Court Meeting earlier that day, it was my great pleasure to admit four new Freemen to the Company. They were Mario Cescutti, Robert Fox, William Rasmussen and Susan Stocker. At the dinner each was presented to the Company and guests in customary fashion.

We were very fortunate to have as Principal Guest Air Vice-Marshal Nick Kurth. Having retired from a distinguished career in the RAF, Nick has enjoyed a busy retirement first leading the British Mountaineering Council and currently as Chairman of The Ulysses Trust. It was about this last role that Nick spoke during his speech. The mission of the Ulysses Trust is to provide encouragement, advice and financial support for challenging expeditions planned and undertaken by our Volunteer Reserve and Cadet Forces. Since 1992, the Trust has provided over £2.8 million, to help over 34,000 young people from all backgrounds to participate in over 2,650 expeditions around the world. Under Nick's leadership, the charity continues to grow with the support of its Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales.

Whilst the Company is modern in Livery terms having been formed in 1954, it is, in fact, the third incarnation of the Tobacco Pipe Makers. The First Company was formed in 1619 in the reign of James I so this year we are celebrating four hundred years of history. Bringing together the formation of the First Company and the role of the Goldsmiths' Company in the plantation of Virginia, I took the opportunity to present a clay church warden pipe to the Prime Warden Goldsmith as a token of fellowship and thanks. The Company will mark the quatercentenary with a special church service and reception in the summer which will be led by my inestimable successor!