Plaisterers' Company Masters & Clerks Dinner

Tuesday 8th January 2019

For most Masters and Clerks, the annual Dinner with the Plaisterers' Company is the first Livery event in a given year. In 2019, it was certainly the case for this Master although, sadly, unaccompanied as our learned Clerk was indisposed.

The event was the first occasion that I have been to Plaisterers' Hall and it was quite a surprise. The exterior is all modern concrete, steel and glass. However, within, the Hall is a rich, intricately decorated marvel that reflects Robert Adam's 18th Century neoclassical designs for the historic pre-War building. It must be seen to appreciate it as photographs do not do it justice.

The Great Hall is great in all senses! Not only is it magnificently decorated and fitted but it is very large, seating three hundred and sixty easily with much room to spare. I understand that only Guildhall has a greater capacity. As such, it affords the Plaisterers' Company the luxury of gathering over fifty Livery Company Masters and Clerks. It is a most generous display of hospitality that is appreciated by all the guests.

We enjoyed speeches from both the Master Plaisterer, Timothy Cooke, and his Clerk, Nigel Bamping, that included many topical matters concerning the Livery Companies interlaced with warm-hearted rivalry between the speakers about the preeminence of their respective historial heroes, The Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelson. Like the heroes themselves, neither advocate gave an inch and, in the end, it was agreed that they disagree. The Guest Speaker was the Master Draper, Philip Ogden, who provided a thought provoking speech that reflected on the challenges and opportunities for the Livery Companies in the modern day. With its origins in the 14th Century, the Drapers know a thing or two about survival and prosperity. The Master's words were well heeded.

The final delight of the evening was music. This was provided Nicholas McCarthy, an accomplished and celebrated one handed pianist. Born in 1989 without a right hand, he was encouraged to develop his musical gift seeking left-handed classical pieces to play. Attending The Royal College of Music, Nicholas is the only left-handed painist to graduate in that instituion's 130 year history and in 2018 he was awarded honorary membership by its President, HRH The Prince of Wales. Needless to say, the audience was rapt, all were inspired by the wonder and achievement of this remarkable young man.