Jerry Merton 2021

  • Smoking Club – James J Fox, St James’s
    Smoking Club – James J Fox, St James’s

    Wednesday 1st December 2021

    A few hours after Rolf’s birthday lunch, I returned to St James’s for the latest Smoking Club evening, held at James J Fox. This was great fun – organised by Assistants Stephan von Schilling and Rob Fox and run by Rob’s excellent staff. We were presented with a Hoya de Monterrey Double Corona which, at 7 5/8”, is an enormous cigar – far too big for me. We also sampled some Drambuie, both the regular one and a rare and distinctive 15 year-old with a base of Speyside malts. There was a good mixture of old hands, new members of the Company, and a number of potential new recruits, all of whom seemed to be enjoying themselves; a number of our newer friends went out of their way to let me know how much fun they had had and how keen they would be to join us. That, after all, is the purpose of these events, and so congratulations, and thanks, to the Membership Committee.

  • Past Master Rolf Christophersen’s 100th Birthday Lunch – The In & Out Club
    Past Master Rolf Christophersen’s 100th Birthday Lunch – The In & Out Club

    Wednesday 1st December 2021

    It is a truly remarkable achievement to have reached such a milestone, and we were delighted that Rolf, and his wife Angela, were able to accept our invitation to a lunch held in his honour. Rolf and Angela were joined by 19 Past Masters, Wardens and the Clerk, the Treasurer (and the Master!). The lunch was held in the Astor Room at the Naval & Military Club; Rolf told me that in this very room a few years ago, he had met and chatted with the King of Norway and the Queen of England – both of whom had sent him birthday greetings. PM Derek Harris proposed Rolf’s health, and Rolf responded in his own inimitable style. It was a lovely afternoon, and it was lovely to be able to honour such a gentleman. I must, however, repeat my apology to Angela, who (unfortunately for her) found herself sandwiched between two Mertons for the duration

  • Drinks with the New Assistants – Le Coq D’Argent
    Drinks with the New Assistants – Le Coq D’Argent

    Monday 29th November 2021

    What fool organises an outdoor drinks evening on the coldest day of the year?

    Ordinarily, when a new Assistant joins the Court, they will have several early opportunities to meet and get to know the Wardens and the other Assistants. During lockdown, however, this has simply not been possible, and so we organised an informal drinks evening for our newer Assistants on the roof terrace of Le Coq d’Argent, courtesy of Liveryman Sean Gavin. It was a really pleasant evening, despite us all having to huddle under the various heat lamps, and it was a great opportunity to get to know some of our newer colleagues better.

  • Irish Guards Association (London Branch) Annual Dinner – Wellington Barracks
    Irish Guards Association (London Branch) Annual Dinner – Wellington Barracks

    Saturday 20th November 2021

    The Irish Guards Association is one of our more recent affiliations and the Mistress and I, together with the Clerk and PM Andrew Golding, were delighted to be invited to their annual dinner in the Garrison Sergeants’ Mess at Wellington Barracks. Catherine and I were honoured to be placed at the top table, with many very distinguished current and former officers, including the Principal Guest, Major General Christopher Ghika who is the Major-General Commanding the Household Division. Captain Giles Bromley-Martin spoke eloquently of what the Regiment has been up to over the last couple of years, and General Ghika talked of what it means to him to be a “mick”, the qualities of an Irish Guardsman and how those qualities will help them endure in whatever challenges lay ahead. What was particularly apparent to me was the genuine affection in which the old soldiers held their officers, and vice versa. That camaraderie was more than evident in the bar afterwards … Many thanks to our Clerk’s Assistant, Alan Beggs who, as Honorary Secretary of the IGA, organised the whole splendid evening.

  • Festival of St Cecilia – St Paul’s Cathedral
    Festival of St Cecilia – St Paul’s Cathedral

    Wednesday 17th November 2021

    St Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians, and each year the charity Help Musicians organises a “Celebration of Music” at St Paul’s Cathedral to raise funds to support musicians in need. Given the events of the last 18-months or so, and the devastating effect that Covid has had on the livelihoods of many musicians, their efforts are now especially important. This was my first Festival, and it was an unforgettable experience. The music included specially commissioned pieces, including one written and performed by Dame Evelyn Glennie; the combined voices of the three choirs from St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral were beautiful. The Address was given by Reverend Lucy Winkett, rector of St James’s Piccadilly, who drew on the words of Maya Angelou’s poem Caged Bird - “… the caged bird sings of freedom.” (With apologies, but the attached team photo appears to have been photo-bombed by the Immediate Past Master Chartered Accountant)

  • Lord Mayor's Show
    Lord Mayor's Show

    Saturday 13th November 2021

    It is a truth self-evident that it always pours with rain on the day of the Lord Mayor’s show, but this year the Senior Warden, Immediate Past Master and I thankfully stayed dry throughout. We paraded from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice and back again alongside many other representatives of the Modern Livery Companies (with a stop off to be fed and “watered” on HQS Wellington, and our traditional team photo outside Globe House). It was a highly enjoyable (if slightly tiring) day with the streets of London lined, not with gold, but with many hundreds of supporters, including a large pack of cub scouts who had, unfortunately, each been given a very loud whistle to blow! We three made it through, however, fuelled by pipes, cigars and snuff.

  • Reception for Supporters – Guildhall School of Music & Drama
    Reception for Supporters – Guildhall School of Music & Drama

    Thursday 11th November 2021

    Our Company currently supports four students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama who, but for our support, would not otherwise have been able to pursue their studies. Our current students are Andrew Garrido (Piano), Lucy Walsh (Flute), Amy Holyland (Singer) and Gabriel Francis-Dehqani (Cello), and Catherine and I had a delightful few hours meeting them and listening to them speaking with such passion, confidence and positivity about their careers to date, their experiences at GSMD, and their futures. They are all extremely grateful for our support, and were at pains to explain how important it was to them; it was heartening to understand that a relatively small contribution from us can have a transformative effect their lives. As the acting principal of GSMD said, “a very little key will open a very heavy door”. (Amy had to rush off to perform at a Livery dinner so, unfortunately, did not make the attached photograph. All four, however, intend to come to our Carol Service, so those who are interested can meet them there.)

  • Service of Thanksgiving of the Lord Mayor – St Stephen Walbrook
    Service of Thanksgiving of the Lord Mayor – St Stephen Walbrook

    Monday 8th November 2021

    St Stephen Walbrook is one of the City’s hidden gems – I am sure that I would have walked past it hundreds of times, but have never stepped inside. It is a beautiful church, designed by Christopher Wren, with a monumental altar by Henry Moore; it was also the birthplace of the Samaritans, started in 1953 by the then rector, Chad Varah. It is the Lord Mayor’s parish church and one of the final events of his term in office was a service of thanksgiving for all that he, and the Lady Mayoress, have done over the last two years. The service was followed by a drinks reception, which rounded off the evening.

  • Garden of Remembrance Service – St Paul’s
    Garden of Remembrance Service – St Paul’s

    Monday 8th November 2021

    The Masters of most of the City Livery Companies gathered outside St Paul’s Cathedral for a service of remembrance of our service men and women who had died in conflict and, indeed, for all those whose lives have been affected by war or terror. We were joined by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs and representatives of the Royal British Legion; the band of the Grenadier Guards played. It was an incredibly moving and poignant service, at the end of which we all planted a cross of remembrance in the garden. (I had the pleasure of meeting the new Master Scientific Instrument Maker, Charles Holroyd, who told me that two of our Past Masters, Walter Kahn and Rolf Christophersen, were guests at his wedding. He was delighted to hear that Rolf was still going strong …)

  • Worshipful Company of Horners – 24th Horners’ Ralph Anderson Lecture
    Worshipful Company of Horners – 24th Horners’ Ralph Anderson Lecture

    Thursday 4th November 2021

    Royal Society of Medicine

    Professor John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth delivered a lecture entitled “Creating a Circular Plastics Economy with Engineered Enzymes”. The Senior Warden and I were, it’s fair to say, slightly concerned about our ability to grasp anything of what we were to be told. However, Professor McGeehan’s enthusiasm for his subject, and the clarity of his delivery, meant that the hour was engrossing. If I understood it correctly, Professor McGeehan and his team are researching ways in which PET (as used in, amongst other things, single-use plastic bottles and textiles) can be broken down by enzymes back into their original component parts, which can then be re-used to re-create new bottles, textiles, etc without having to resort to fossil derived components. It seems there are real and encouraging opportunities to use this technology to not only recycle PET more effectively and efficiently, but also to reduce our carbon footprint. It was a stimulating lecture, followed by a buffet supper, which all made for a fun evening.

  • Reception to mark the retirement of Rev Canon David Parrott
    Reception to mark the retirement of Rev Canon David Parrott

    Wednesday 27th October 2021

    As many of you will know, our Honorary Chaplain, David Parrott is retiring as Guild Vicar of St Lawrence Jewry, after 12 years’ service, and he and his wife, Sue, will shortly be moving down to Lydd in Kent. We are fortunate that David has agreed to stay on as our Chaplain after his retirement, but the City of London Corporation, to whom he also serves as Chaplain, organised a well-deserved reception to thank David and Sue for all that they have done. The great and the good of the City were in attendance, and tributes were paid by, amongst others, the Chief Commoner, Brian Mooney, and by Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley, former Lord Mayor, who, as well as his own tribute, read a suitably generous appreciation of David and Sue by the Bishop of London. David replied in his own inimitable style, giving particular thanks to the support that Sue has given to him and his work over the years. The City will really miss David, and we are very lucky that he is staying with us. You will all, of course, have the joy of hearing him preach at our own Carol Service at St Lawrence Jewry on 7 December

  • Chartered Surveyors Installation Dinner – Plaisterers’ Hall
    Chartered Surveyors Installation Dinner – Plaisterers’ Hall

    Wednesday 20th October 2021

    I first met Ken Morgan, the Master Chartered Surveyor, at my very first City engagement where, in the absence of our respective Beadles, we helped each other get Gowned and Badged. Since then, I have lined up next to, or near, him as we parade in Order of Precedence at various events around the City. I was thrilled to be invited to his re-installation dinner at Plaisterers’ Hall (Ken is one of several Masters who are serving two terms as a result of Covid), where I was sat with, amongst others, the daughter of a tobacco trader from Virginia, who told tales of how her father used to charm the buyers from the North. The principal guest was Alastair Martin, the Secretary ad Keeper of Records of the Duchy of Cornwall – essentially the Duchy’s CEO. He told us of the steps that his organisation has been taking to be more sustainable, and their journey to becoming Net Zero. He also explained that they no longer make biscuits – having licenced the brand to Waitrose several years ago.

  • Annual Banquet – Plaisterers’ Hall
    Annual Banquet – Plaisterers’ Hall

    Monday 18th October 2021

    Catherine and I were delighted to welcome over 140 people to our annual banquet at Plaisterers’ Hall. After so long apart, it was great to see so many gathered together, in lively conversation, having fun, despite the torrential downpour that greeted guests on their arrival.

    The toast to the Guests was proposed by Assistant Jacqueline Burrows, who did a great job. My principal guest was Stefan Bomhard, CEO of Imperial Brands. He has been in post for just over a year, and he spoke eloquently of his background, and of the challenges that his company, and the wider industry, face. He also paid tribute to the work that our Benevolent Fund does in supporting those in very real need, work that I was very happy to draw attention to. I was also pleased to present Major Dominic Masters, Company Commander, The London Irish Rifles, with a cheque to recognise the huge contribution that the men and women under his command make to this country.

    The musical entertainment was provided by Laurence Williams, who provided a light and amusing book-end to a thoroughly enjoyable evening. It was a tired, but exhilarated, Master and Mistress, who made their way back to the Thameslink …

  • Fan Makers Selection Court Dinner – Saddlers Hall
    Fan Makers Selection Court Dinner – Saddlers Hall

    Thursday 14th October 2021

    The Fan Makers Company have only very recently moved their base from Skinners to Saddlers Hall, and the Immediate Past Master and I were delighted to have been invited to attend their first dinner at their new home. The IPM was especially delighted to see the Fan Makers’ Chaplain who, it appears, married him and Samantha some 25 years ago. My dining companions included 2 Past Masters and an Assistant, from whom I learned that (i) The Pipe Makers are not the only Company where sons follow their fathers, and (ii) not all retired policemen open pubs – some develop a second career as Livery Company Clerks.

    An amusing speech by Assistant Gary Blaker welcoming the guests, in which much was made of the presence of two Tobacco Pipe Makers (BOGOF), was followed by a reply from the Principal Guest, Judge Richard Scarratt. HHJ Scarratt sits in the Family Court, and shared some of his experiences with us. These tales were both upsetting and uplifting, and reflect the incredibly difficult job that he, and others who work in the Family Division, do. A stirrup cup rounded off a lovely evening – many thanks Master Fan Maker.

  • Wizardry in Wood – Carpenters Hall
    Wizardry in Wood – Carpenters Hall

    Tuesday 12th October 2021

    The Turners Company have been organizing this exhibition for several years, showcasing the work of some of the finest wood turners in the country. They hosted a reception, attended by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, and the great and the good of the City (including our Clerk, and the Clerk's Assistant). It provided a fascinating insight into the craft and skills of these talented people, and also provided an opportunity for a little bit of shopping …

  • Evening with the London Regiment – Tower of London
    Evening with the London Regiment – Tower of London

    Monday 11th October 2021

    The Mistress and I were delighted to spend Monday evening at the Tower of London, courtesy of the London Regiment. We were given a very animated and entertaining guided tour by Sean, one of the Tower’s Yeoman Warders. He took us through a potted history of the Tower, and some of the personalities who have passed through its gates. A welcome drink followed at the Yeoman Warders Club (“The Keys”), before we were allowed to witness the historic Ceremony of the Keys. A very special evening, with thanks to Lt Col Stephen Lowe, and to Majors Dominic Masters and Garth Millar.

  • Musicians Company Evensong – St Paul’s Cathedral
    Musicians Company Evensong – St Paul’s Cathedral

    Wednesday 6th October 2021

    I had the pleasure of meeting the Master Musician, John Nichols, at the Unmuteables lunch earlier in the day, and to hear about all the great work that he and his Company have been doing to support young musicians – especially during the past 18 months. The Musicians Company Evensong is a beautiful service, which is held in St Paul’s Cathedral each year and which starts, and ends, with a procession of gowned and badged Masters and Wardens of (most of) the City Livery Companies. In between we were treated to some evocative signing by the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, and by the Royal College of Music String Orchestra, who played Elgar’s Elegy for Strings, which he had written especially for the Musician’s Company. After the service we all retired to the Crypt, where I was please to be able to catch up with the 3rd and 4th Warden.

  • Past Masters Association Lunch – HQS Wellington
    Past Masters Association Lunch – HQS Wellington

    Wednesday 6th October 2021

    As previously reported, my Past Masters Association is called the Unmuteables, and 40-odd of us gathered on the Wellington, in glorious sunshine, for our first official event. Our Committee had decided that the lunch would be a stand-up affair, which enabled there to be a great deal more circulating than would otherwise have been possible, and gave us all a better opportunity to meet and chat to friends, old and new. A most enjoyable afternoon.

  • Furniture Makers Masters & Clerks Lunch
    Furniture Makers Masters & Clerks Lunch

    Tuesday 5th October 2021

    The Clerk and I were delighted to attend the Furniture Makers Company’s Masters’ and Clerks’ lunch, courtesy of their Master, David Woodward. David and I often seem to find ourselves in close proximity, as our Companies are 82nd and 83rd in the order of precedence. It was a fine lunch; I was seated between two Past Masters of the Furniture Makers – Charles Vernon and Dids Macdonald, who proved to be lively and entertaining company. David was looking forward to his formal Installation the following week, some 18 months after he had taken over as Master, which must be some sort of record.

  • Plumbers Lecture – Royal College of Physicians
    Plumbers Lecture – Royal College of Physicians

    Monday 4th October 2021

    And so to The Royal College of Physicians for the Worshipful Company of Plumbers 36th Annual Lecture, delivered by their Master, Dr Peter Rumley. Dr Rumley is an archaeologist and conservationist of historic buildings, and is currently acting as a consultant to the Royal Household, engaged in a history of Buckingham Palace. The lecture provided a fascinating insight into the history of our City’s plumbing, and sewerage, and the benefits gravity…

  • Sirrah Trophy
    Sirrah Trophy

    Sunday 3rd October 2021

    Shoot with The London Irish Rifles and the Irish Guards Association

    A group of 12 crack shots from the Pipe Makers Company (or, in my case, not-so-crack shot) gathered at Wellington Barracks on a clear Sunday morning to compete for the Sirrah Trophy. This year's shoot with the London Irish Rifles took a slightly different format to usual in that we were joined by the Irish Guards Association, with whom we have recently struck up an affiliation, and by the Founders Company who, like us, have supported the London Irish Rifles for some time. Ably organised by Major Robbie Wilmont, we spent the morning not just shooting but also learning a little about the Irish Guards and their traditions, their treasures and their uniforms. We then travelled to the home of the London Irish Rifles in Flodden Road for the prizes, presented by Major Dominic Masters of the London Irish Rifles. I am delighted to say that the Pipe Makers ‘A’ Team (comprising Charles Miller, Archie Smith, Paul Taberer, Adam Philips, Colin Ritchie and Lt Col Geoffrey Strickland) retained the Sirrah Trophy; Geoffrey also won the trophy for the day’s best shot after scoring a perfect 30 out of 30 - well done all. I am also delighted to say that, despite my own abysmal performance, I was not the day’s worst shot! We then enjoyed Irish Stew, Guinness and live music, a fun and relaxing end to a lovely day. Many thanks to Robbie and his team.

  • Common Hall – Election of The Lord Mayor
    Common Hall – Election of The Lord Mayor

    Wednesday 29th September 2021


    The Livery gather in The Guildhall at this time each year in order to elect the new Lord Mayor, and to bid farewell to the current incumbent and his Sheriffs. The current Lord Mayor, William Russell, is (almost) unique in having served for two consecutive years – the first time this has happened since 1860. His Sheriffs, Michael Mainelli and Christopher Hayward, have also served two consecutive terms, but for them the most recent precedent goes back even further – to the 13th Century.

    The Masters of all of the Livery Companies gathered and robed in the Guildhall crypts, before processing (in reverse order of precedence) into the Great Hall. Once there, with due pomp and ceremony, we voted for two candidates to be considered by the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen - who had at this stage retired from the proceedings. The outcome of all of this is that Vincent Keaveny was elected Lord Mayor, and will take up office in November

    Whilst the Lord Mayor and Aldermen had been considering the outcome of the election, we were addressed by Angela Roach, the Assistant Town Clerk, who spoke eloquently about the historic, and present-day, part that women have played in the City of London, and by Caroline Al-Beyerty, the first woman to hold the office of Chamberlain, who spoke a little about her role, and about the problems of walking backwards in high heels and a skirt.

    The main players then returned to the stage, and tributes were paid to, and thanks given by, the Lord Mayor and each of the Sheriffs.

    Following the formalities, I was delighted that the Renter, Third and Fourth Wardens were able to join me for a fine lunch a Butchers’ Hall. I was only sorry to have to leave early for a work call, just as the port and cheese was produced.

  • Presentation of the Shrieval Chain & Badge to Sheriff-Elect Alderman Alison Gowman
    Presentation of the Shrieval Chain & Badge to Sheriff-Elect Alderman Alison Gowman

    Thursday 23rd September 2021

    Plaisterers’ Hall

    Following hot on the heels of the event for Alderman Nicholas Lyons was a similar event for the other new Sheriff-Elect, Alison Gowman. Her Chain and Badge is a beautiful design, featuring a Mobius strip and, as is traditional, representations of her many Livery Companies and other interests and connections. Her badge was presented to her by the chairman of her Chain Appeal Committee, Alderman Sir David Wootton. A couple of particular points to note: as an unmarried woman Alison’s coat of arms must be displayed on a lozenge – neither shield nor crest are allowed; also, the reverse of her badge features a representation of Iron Man’s Palladium Arc Reactor!

  • Autumn Court Meeting & Dinner
    Autumn Court Meeting & Dinner

    Wednesday 22nd September 2021

    HQS Wellington

    It had been over 600 days since our last in-person meeting, so I was delighted that so many members of the Court were able to attend this meeting, on board our traditional home for the Autumn Court – HQS Wellington. The meeting was preceded by the formal Installation of me, and three of my wardens, supplementing the virtual installations that had taken place in June. At the meeting we were delighted to welcome a new Freeman, Ian Narbeth, a new Freeman and Liveryman, Judith Donovan and three new Honorary Freemen, Sheila Harris, Hilary Walter and Samantha Bennett. It was so nice to be able to do these face-to-face, rather than the rather impersonal experience of a virtual event, and they are all very welcome.

    Following the Court meeting, nearly 40 of us moved up to the deck for a fine meal provided by Lee and his team from Seahorse Hospitality, and in the company of the Master Mariner, Les Chapman, and his clerk, Scott Hanlon. We enjoyed a lovely evening, rounded off by port, brandy and cigars – and, I am told, for some of our number, a (very) late night-cap with the Master Mariner

  • The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch Reception - Mansion House
    The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch Reception - Mansion House

    Tuesday 21st September 2021

    The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch has been running since 2008, to raise money for the three National Service Charities, supporting the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Army and the Royal Air Force. Since it started, well over £2.6 million has been contributed to help support members of our armed forces. (This year, without even being able to hold a “real” lunch, an incredible £205,000 was raised.) The event’s current focus is on helping veterans through the Pain Management Programme at the King Edward VII Hospital, and into the world of work. Our Company and our Benevolent Fund have supported the event for many years, and so I, along with our Immediate Past Master and the Chairman of our Benevolent Fund were invited to a Reception to thank all supporters, held in Mansion House and attended by, inter alia, HRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. We heard from the Co-Chairman, Michael Hockney, of all of the fine work that has been possible as a result of the funds raised, and from The Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Nicholas Carter, of the importance of that work to our service men and women. A date for the diary – the 2022 event is to be held on 7 April next year, Covid restrictions permitted.

  • Presentation of the Shrieval Chain and Badge to Sheriff-Elect Alderman Nicholas Lyons
    Presentation of the Shrieval Chain and Badge to Sheriff-Elect Alderman Nicholas Lyons

    Monday 20th September 2021

    Merchant Taylors Hall

    Each year, following their election in Common Hall as Sheriff, the Sheriffs-Elect commission their own Badge and Chain of Office, which is funded by their supporters and presented to them before they take office at the end of September. Today was the turn of Nicholas Lyons, who hosted a reception at Merchant Taylors Hall. The chairman of his Chain Appeal Committee was Sir Charles Bowman (who took over the role following the untimely death of Sir Roger Gifford in May), and Sir Charles delivered an amusing speech about the life and times of Alderman Lyons, and of his consort, Felicity. As is customary, the new badge represents many facets of their life, including school, university, Livery Companies, and other interests (golf, books, Ireland …). It is a truly impressive example of the silversmith’s craft.

  • Modern Companies Dinner - Butchers' Hall
    Modern Companies Dinner - Butchers' Hall

    Monday 13th September 2021

    Livery Companies who were established after 1926 are together categorised as Modern Livery Companies, the “oldest” of which is the Master Mariners, formed in 1926 and ranking 78th in the Order of Precedence. Despite our 17th century roots, our reformation in 1954 means that we, too, are a Modern Livery Company. Every 6 months a dinner is arranged for the Masters and Senior Wardens of the (currently) 33 Modern Companies, organised in rotation by each company. This time it was the turn of the Tax Advisers; in fact this was their 3rd attempt to organise this dinner, given the disruption over the last 18 months. The Senior Warden and I, together with over 60 others, assembled at Butchers' Hall for a dinner of cured salmon and guinea fowl, and a speech by Adrian Waddingham, CBE, Actuary and former Sheriff, who commended the Modern Companies for their very significant charitable giving, and for their forward thinking and modern outlook, which he said benefited the Livery movement as a whole. With many thanks to the Tax Advisers for their perseverance in organising a very enjoyable evening.

  • Past Masters' Dinner - In & Out Club
    Past Masters' Dinner - In & Out Club

    Thursday 9th September 2021

    As fine a body of Past Masters as you could ever hope to meet gathered in the Astor Room of the Naval & Military Club in St James’s Square for dinner with this shiny, newly appointed Master. This dinner is one of our newer traditions, started by PM Chris Allen, and is an opportunity for ideas to be exchanged and guidance to be given. I am particularly grateful for the dogged determination that our Senior PM, Rolf Christophersen, displayed in making it to the dinner at all, after his journey was marred by non-appearing taxis and awful traffic, and for his “Takk for maten” at the end of the meal. A few of us then retired to the courtyard for cigars and (a little too much) port, to round off a lovely evening

  • The Worshipful Company of Fletchers 650th Anniversary Service
    The Worshipful Company of Fletchers 650th Anniversary Service

    Tuesday 7th September 2021

    Church of St Vedast-alias-Foster

    To commemorate their 650th anniversary, the Fletchers Company held a service at the Parish Church of St Vedast-alias-Foster, to which the Clerk and I were invited. It was a lovely, intimate, service, attended by the Masters, Prime Wardens, Upper Bailiff and Clerks of some 65 Companies, and was followed by a drinks reception in the shaded courtyard of the church – a welcome respite from the heat of the day. Many thanks to the Master Fletcher for allowing us to share in this very special occasion.

  • Smoking Club at the Hippodrome
    Smoking Club at the Hippodrome

    Monday 6th September 2021

    Our previous Smoking Club evening in July was marked by torrential downpours, so it was inevitable that the September event would be held on the warmest evening we have had for some time. With thanks, again, to Elise and the rest of her Membership Committee a significant group enjoyed drinks and canapes and cigars in the balmy surroundings of the Hippodrome’s new roof terrace. We were delighted that one of our newer Freemen, Sarah Saunders, was able to bring along two of the top three competitors from the UK round of the Slow Smoke (the World Cigar Smoking Championships) and to tell us a little about the competition. I was astounded to hear that the world record for smoking a single cigar (keeping it constantly lit) is well over 3 hours, and that the gentleman who finished 2nd in the UK championship had only ever smoked 3 cigars previously. I would encourage everyone to come along to these Smoking Club evenings – they really are a great way for us to get together in a less formal environment, to enjoy a cigar (and each other’s company) and to introduce potential new members to the Company. Look out for the next event, to be held towards the end of the year.

  • The Lord Mayor’s COVID19 Livery Awards
    The Lord Mayor’s COVID19 Livery Awards

    Monday 19th July 2021

    In December last year, The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor, William Russell, launched an award to recognise the outstanding contribution that individual Liverymen and staff have made in support of the City and communities impacted by the pandemic. We were pleased to nominate our Honorary Chaplain, The Reverend Canon David Parrott, for all that he has done to support our Livery Company, and the wider City, over the period, and we were delighted that David was chosen to receive one of the awards. The awards ceremony was held at Mansion House, at which the Lord Mayor presented awards to 26 individuals and 4 organisations (including the amazing NHS Livery Kitchen Initiative, which has delivered over 160,000 meals to Bart's Health NHS hospitals and East London communities) who had all done so much during the pandemic. It was inspiring, and a little humbling, to hear what they had all achieved to support their communities, and society at large, in such trying times. I’m clearly more than a little biased, but it seemed to me that The Lord Mayor was especially pleased to present David with his award. The Lord Mayor made the point that so much of what the Livery does goes unnoticed; in addition to all the contributions recognised here, there were many more individuals who have worked tirelessly with little public acknowledgement. He also pointed out that, last year, the Livery donated a record £72 million to good causes, which is a phenomenal amount of money and, taken as a whole, would make them the 5th largest philanthropic organisation in the country.

  • Smoking Club at The Caledonian Club
    Smoking Club at The Caledonian Club

    Monday 12th July 2021

    Last March, the Membership Committee had organised a Smoking Club evening at the Caledonian Club which, for obvious reasons, had to be cancelled. I was delighted that they were able to reschedule the event, albeit some 15 months later. Thirty intrepid souls braved torrential downpours to huddle on the Terrace under awnings, drink whisky, eat haggis and smoke Havana cigars. It was a fun evening, despite the rain, and it was lovely to see so many old friends, and to meet so many new ones. Many thanks to Elise, Stephan and the rest of the Membership Committee.

  • The London Regiment Anzio Dinner
    The London Regiment Anzio Dinner

    Thursday 8th July 2021

    The Cavalry and Guards Club

    I was delighted to have been invited by Major Dominic Masters, Officer Commanding D (London Irish Rifles) Company of the London Regiment, to a dinner, commemorating the battle at Anzio in northern Italy, when Allied Forces broke through enemy lines and linked up with the US 5th Army. The battle involved many Battalions which now go to make up the London Regiment, which is why Anzio Day (14 May) was chosen as the London Regiment's Regimental Day. The dinner (which is traditionally held on the Thursday closest to Anzio Day, but which was postponed for obvious reasons) was held at the beautiful Cavalry and Guards Club, and it was a rare treat to have been invited. Before dinner we were read a moving first-hand account of the battle; after dinner the former Commanding Officer of the London Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Strickland (who has recently become a Liveryman of our Company) presented the Regiment with a magnificent silver model of their Headquarters on St Johns Hill, Battersea. There were also bagpipes, lots of bagpipes …

    It was a pleasure to hear from Dominic of the great work that he and his colleagues have been doing, particularly in establishing the COVID testing regime at the start of the pandemic. The massive contribution that our reserve forces make to our country is, to a great extent, untold, which is a travesty.

    D Company is also supported by the Worshipful Company of Founders, as well as by us, and it was lovely to meet their Master, David Robinson, and his wife Claire.

    Foolishly, I neglected to take any photos of the evening, but on my way to the dinner I did spot this herd of elephants in Green Park

  • Common Hall for the Election of the Sheriffs
    Common Hall for the Election of the Sheriffs

    Thursday 24th June 2021

    You wait (well, my predecessors waited) 16 months for an official event, and then two come along in one week. My second outing of the week was to Common Hall on Midsummers Day to elect the two Sheriffs. Alison Gowman and Nick Lyons were standing unopposed, and were duly elected by the assembled, much reduced, throng – restrictions meaning that only Masters were allowed to attend. Importantly, we also elected the Auditors and Bridgemasters; even more importantly, the Ale Conners were voted in too. The Chartered Accountants had arranged a lunch in the Guildhall Members’ Dining Room for those attending Common Hall. Although the lunch was delayed by a fire alarm in Guildhall, it was a very enjoyable affair, with the Master Arts Scholar, Master Broderer and the Clerk to the Chartered Accountants all providing entertaining, real-life conversation. On my way back to the office, I managed to pick up a snippet of the Band of the Coldstream Guards as they played in Guildhall Yard as part of the Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony.

  • The Lord Mayor's Service of Reflection of Hope
    The Lord Mayor's Service of Reflection of Hope

    Tuesday 22nd June 2021

    My first outing in the City as Master was to St Paul’s Cathedral, for a service organised by the Lord Mayor. As the Dean of St Paul’s said in his welcome, the intention was to “remember those who have lost their lives as a result of the pandemic; to give thanks for the sacrificial efforts of those who have risen to meet the needs of the many throughout the last year; and to look forward in hope to the future.” The service did just that: the music and readings, and the Address by the Bishop of London, The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally, were spot on. Perhaps most poignant of all was the Testimony of a Consultant Chest Physician from Barts, Dr Will Ricketts, who gave a moving, yet hopeful, account of what life was really like for him and his colleagues on the front line during the worst of the second wave. What they were able to do, and how they were able to carry on, in the most horrific circumstances, was truly remarkable. We are in their debt, and the debt of all of the key workers and volunteers who have helped us through this crisis.

    Many thanks to the Master Apothecary, who allowed a great number of Masters to use his hall to Gown ourselves, and to process together up to St Paul’s. Also, it was lovely to be able to meet up after the service with Renter Warden Elise Rasmussen, and Past Master Mark Gower-Smith, for a drink and a chat, before the office drew me back.

  • Company Golf Day at Tandridge
    Company Golf Day at Tandridge

    Thursday 17th June 2021

    This was the first official event of my year as Master, and how lucky that it was our own Company Golf Day. The Mistress and I ventured half-way around the M25 to Tandridge, arriving just in time for a drink and to watch the golfers slowly making their way back to the clubhouse. This event has been ably organised by Past Master Derek Harris for the last 26 years, and he has produced a great formula which has much to offer for the golfer and non-golfer alike. The weather, which was forecast to be biblical, turned out, thankfully, to be fine and dry; the presence of our Honorary Chaplain was purely coincidental in that, I’m sure. With golfers all safely returned (and a large cohort who were only there to be fed and watered) we moved into the dining room for a very fine lunch which included, as promised by Derek, the famous Tandridge Pudding – a treat not to be missed. The prize-giving followed, with the Charles Rich Trophy for the best Company golfer again going to Senior Warden Paul Taberer – congratulations Paul but, surely, there must be someone in the Company who can beat him?. Past Master Charles Miller ran an auction of McLaren FI luggage, kindly donated by BAT, which raised £200 for the Benevolent Fund. Many thanks to Derek for yet another triumph! A great way to start my year.

  • Fletchers Company 650th Anniversary Lecture
    Fletchers Company 650th Anniversary Lecture

    Tuesday 15th June 2021

    Having been founded in 1371, the Fletchers Company is 650 years’ old this year, and to mark that occasion they organised a [virtual] lecture about the momentous events that occurred some 10 years later:- “London and the Peasants Revolt: The people of 1381”. Professor Anne Curry, the Master Fletcher, is a medieval historian and she, and her several colleagues who participated in the lecture, led us through the genesis of the rebellion, the people involved (on both sides) and the social and political context of late 14th century England, all the way through to the death of Wat Tyler and the aftermath of the Revolt. Parallels were drawn with more modern events, such as the Poll Tax riots in 1990 and the recent storming of the Capitol in Washington. It was a lively and entertaining canter through the events of June 1381; many thanks are due to the Fletchers, and many congratulations to them on their anniversary.

  • Installation Ceremony
    Installation Ceremony

    Thursday 3rd June 2021

    And so to my Installation as Master. Having been on the Court since 1999, I’ve certainly taken my time to prepare myself, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting – especially following in the footsteps of my grandfather, father and brother-in-law. The ceremony was, as is the custom nowadays, a Virtual one, but I hope that that will become more of a rarity as society starts to open up. I was honoured that Past Master Rolf Christophersen was able to formally confirm my nomination – 99 years old and still going strong – particularly because my grandfather was one of Rolf’s Wardens during Rolf’s year as Master. I was also delighted to install my crack team of Wardens – Paul Taberer, Elise Rasmussen, Henry Tuck and Tony Scanlan, who I know will provide me with wisdom, guidance and support during my term of office. As I said at the ceremony, great credit must go to my two immediate predecessors, Andrew Golding and Adam Bennett, whose years were unkindly impacted by the pandemic, but who nonetheless have led the Company through a difficult 15-months or so. The continued support and hard work of the Clerk and the Treasurer has been essential during that period, and is much appreciated by me, and the other members of the Court and, indeed, the Company. I now face a year where my diary is beginning to fill up with real (as opposed to virtual) events, and Catherine and I very much look forward to representing this Company across the City. I say that in expectation rather than hope, but with my fingers and toes firmly crossed.

  • Past Masters’ Association Meeting
    Past Masters’ Association Meeting

    Wednesday 26th May 2021

    On Wednesday 26 May, I attended a (virtual) meeting of my Past Masters’ Association 2020-21, which was led by the Lord Mayor, William Russell. I have to say that it seemed somewhat surreal attending a Past Masters’ Association meeting before I had actually been installed as Master, but these are surreal times. (In a “normal” year, this meeting would have taken place at Ironbridge in June but, alas, that weekend was yet another victim of COVID.) Anyway, there were over 80 of us on the call. Having duly constituted the Association, we then had to decide on a name. We were presented with a choice of one from a list of 55 (!) suggestions and, but for the assured presence of the Sword Bearer, Tim Rolph, I am sure that chaos would have ensued. In the event, “The Unmutables” was the clear favourite, and so we move on – immutable and un-muteable.