Installation of Master

On an overcast and stormy 4th June, I had the honour of being installed as the 66th Master of our Modern Company. However, we are not just a Modern Company. Indeed, our Company has ties to an illustrious history and 2019 marks the 400th Anniversary of the foundation of the first tobacco company – the Tobacco-Pipe Makers of Westminster. I hope that in the year ahead we will celebrate suitably this proud connection.

The Installation Court was held at the wonderful Vintners’ Hall and expertly conducted by Immediate Past Master Roger Brookes. It is a great privilege for me to follow in the footsteps of such an accomplished Master. Beyond the wisdom of our Past Masters, I am also lucky to be surrounded by an excellent team and to have, in Sandra Stocker, the support of an outstanding Clerk.

At the Installation ceremony, I had great pleasure in appointing the new Wardens. They all bring long-standing service and a blend of backgrounds with them. Our new Senior Warden is Adam Bennett, the Renter Warden Jerry Merton, the Third Warden Paul Taberer and the Fourth Warden, Elise Rasmussen. May I thank you all for stepping up to the bench - our Company is lucky to have you!

My wife Kate also accepted the role of Mistress and, at the Installation ceremony, I was delighted to present her with her badge. Kate has taken on her new responsibility with gusto and already has established herself with the City Consorts - so this promises to be a very busy and social year!

For me, my Installation also marked a very personal milestone because it represented the culmination of a long association with the Company. Indeed, it all started when I was 17 years old and a pupil of Sevenoaks School in Kent. Unfortunately, my parents were then experiencing some financial difficulties and were uncertain if I could remain at the School.

At this point, however, a Pipe Makers Scholarship was made available to me, albeit my family had no connection to the Company nor to the trade. As a result, I was able to remain at Sevenoaks. I am exceedingly grateful to the Company for this. Some 40 years later it is my pleasure to now represent it as Master and am proud that the Company maintains its strong links to the School.

Post Installation, we proceeded to a fine and well-attended luncheon with all the excellent hospitality which Vintners can provide. During the speeches, Elise Rasmussen gave a most poetic introduction to our senior guests, which involved a clever weaving of shared connections.

It was a special delight for me to welcome the Master of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers, Mr Richard Parsons and Mr Stuart Geddes, the General Manager of The Goring Hotel.

Stuart, as Guest Speaker, gave an excellent and amusing speech about the history, connections and experiences of my favourite Hotel, which remains such a unique place of quality, service and welcome under his strong leadership. I should also mention that the Hotel has a rather nice cigar terrace!

The Mistress and I now look forward very much to representing the Company for the next 12 months. We thank you all for putting your faith in us.