Wednesday 8th June 2022
It is a lovely tradition of our Company that the Wardens and their other halves take the outgoing Master and Mistress out for dinner to send them on their way. That dinner usually happens before the new Master is installed but this year, due to diary clashes and Covid, the dinner happened in the week following the Installation. Unfortunately, Catherine was unwell and so had to pull out at the last minute, but my Wardens and I, together with Sharon, Carolyn and Maggie, had a fabulous evening at St Jacques in St James’s. Many thanks to them for the dinner, and for all of the help and support that they have given me, and Catherine, over the last year. The future of the Company is in safe hands…
Wednesday 1st June 2022
My final act as Master was to chair the Installation Court, held at the impressive Armourers’ Hall. During the meeting, we welcomed a new Court Assistant, Susan Curran; we also voted to admit a new Freeman, we installed two Freeman, gowned two Liverymen, and installed one new Honorary Freeman, the (soon to be Immediate Past) Mistress, Catherine. We have a strong pipeline of new members coming through, who have much to offer the Company and we have many reasons to be optimistic for the future. Following the Court meeting, it gave me very great pleasure to install Paul Taberer as our new Master. I am sure that he and his wife, Sharon, will have a fabulous year, ably supported by his Wardens (now bolstered by the addition of our newest Warden, Jacqueline Burrows). It was with mixed emotions that I handed over the Master’s Badge – sad that my year is over, it having seemingly flown by in an instant, but also pleased to be handing over to such a strong team and to be able to get a little bit of my life back …
Saturday 28th May 2022
It was a great honour for the Irish Guards to be the Regiment trooping their colours in this, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year. With thanks to our Assistant to the Clerk, Alan Beggs, formerly Secretary of the Irish Guards Association, a number of us gathered in Horseguards Parade for the final rehearsal (The Colonel’s Review) before the official Queen’s Birthday Parade. The fact that this was a rehearsal did not detract at all from the pomp and ceremony of the occasion, nor from the magnificent performances from all of the soldiers (and their horses) on parade. Special mention, as always, must go to Seamus, the Irish Guards’ mascot Irish wolfhound, who led the procession down the Mall into Horseguards. After the parade, we de-camped to Wellington Barracks, for a barbeque and some liquid refreshments – a marvellous day.
Thursday 26th May 2022
The Third Warden, Henry Tuck, has been our point-person developing our relationship with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and the Broseley Pipe Works, which is part of it. He organised a trip for a few of us to meet with Oliver Meeson, who is a young man looking to develop his skills as a clay pipe maker. We were given a guided tour of the pipe works by Kate Cadman, Curator of the Coalport China Museum, and given a demonstration of his skills by Oliver. In the museum, we were able to see, in situ, the historic prints which the Company has loaned to the museum, (and which we restored and reframed in 2018). It was a most interesting morning, rounded off by lunch with Nick Ralls, who is the Chief Executive of the Trust, who shared with us his plans for the summer and his strategy for developing the offering in Ironbridge. The future there certainly looks bright.
Tuesday 24th May 2022
Two years ago, PM Andrew Golding had the idea that his Masters Reception should be a tour of the oldest church in the City, All Hallows by the Tower, followed by a drinks reception in the adjoining restaurant. Unfortunately, Covid put paid to that, and so I was delighted that Andrew allowed me to steal his idea and organise the evening that he would have had. 30 of us enjoyed the company of two very informative guides, Anne Marie and Rob, who gave us a tour of the church and the crypt; it was a shame that the Renter Warden was unable to make the evening as she would, I am sure, have revelled in the church’s American connections. The other major connection of the church is with Toc H, which was founded by Rev Tubby Clayton who served as vicar at All Hallows; Tubby was also an inveterate pipe-smoker. We rounded off the evening with drinks and canapes in (a now dry) garden next door.
Friday 20th May 2022
Following the works visit in Sheffield, the Mistress and I set off south to Bristol for that evening’s Spring Banquet with the Merchant Venturers of Bristol. This was a far more intimate affair than the Cutlers Feast, with only 70 or so of us gathered in the lovely Merchant Venturers Hall in Clifton. We were greeted by the Master Merchant Venturer, David Freeth, and looked after by Sir David Wills, formerly of this parish, who introduced us to many of his fellow Merchants, who were all most welcoming. Dinner, wine and conversation flowed, and we were entertained by a most amusing speech by HH Judge Richard Marks QC, who is an old school friend of the Master. We enjoyed ourselves enormously, to the extent that we had to be dragged to the minibus that was taking us back to our hotel.
Friday 20th May 2022
The following morning, feeling a little green around the gills, a number of us set off on a tour of the Master Cutler’s own family business. It turns out that the Master Cutler, James Tear, is not actually a cutler at all. His business, Thessco, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of precious metal alloys for use in industry, and we were shown the entire process of the manufacture, and testing, of silver brazing rods and wires. James’s sister, however, is a cutler, and we were also shown around her factory where hand forged silver cutlery is made. An increasing part of her business, however, is the production of (mainly sporting) trophies and medals, and we were privileged to see a number of highly recognisable items. A most enjoyable morning.
Thursday 19th May 2022
Many Past Masters had told me that one of the highlights of any Master’s year is the Cutlers’ Feast, in Sheffield, and they were not wrong. The Mistress and I (and about 350 others) gathered in the beautifully grand Cutlers’ Hall, along with the great and the good of South Yorkshire and the City for the 385th edition of the Feast. The speakers included the Senior Warden, Dame Julie Kenny, who challenged the keynote speaker, Lee Rowley MP (Minister for Manufacturing), to fix the problems faced by manufacturers in the region, and to set a new, bold, industrial strategy; it’s fair to say that the minister did not stand a chance… More personal speeches were provided by the Master Cutler himself, and by his old friend Steven Mercer. It was a fabulous evening of fine food, wine, and good company and (at the Master’s invitation) a very nice cleansing ale rounded off the night.
Tuesday 17th May 2022
We have only had an connection with the Irish Guards Association for a few years, but we have been blessed to have been able to be involved in many of the important events in their calendar. This time it was the presentation of new Colours to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, at Windsor Castle, by the Colonel of the Regiment, the Duke of Cambridge. Courtesy of our Clerks’ Assistant, Alan Beggs, a good number of us were able to enjoy the bright sunshine in the Castle Courtyard and watch as the soldiers and band (and Seamus, the Irish Wolfhound mascot) marched by. Prayers were said, and the new Colours were presented by the Duke. The heat unfortunately proved too much for a couple of Guardsmen, but for the rest of us it was very special to be part of such a momentous day. The afternoon was rounded off with afternoon tea, champagne and Guinness (naturally) at the Windsor Castle Cricket Club.
Thursday 12th May 2022
The Gold Medal, is the Guildhall School’s most prestigious award for musicians, and was originally endowed in 1915. The competition for the Medal alternates each year between singers and musicians, and this year it was the turn of the musicians. There were three finalists – two pianists (William Bracken and Stephanie Tang) and a violinist, Krystof Kohout. I confess to a complete lack of appreciation of classical music, but I was fortunate to be guided in these things by the Mistress, the Master-Elect, and his wife Sharon, and by PM Charles Miller. All three musicians, and the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra which supported them, were outstanding. It was clear that the violin concerto by Alban Berg was especially challenging, but (to my untrained ears) the Brahms Piano Concerto played by Stephanie Tang was the most enjoyable, and it was Stephanie to whom the judges awarded the Gold Medal. Congratulations to all of the musicians, and many thanks to the Acting Principal of GSMD, Jonathan Vaughan, for hosting us.
Tuesday 10th May 2022
Each year, the Chartered Accountants’ Company host a dinner for those Masters who also happen to be Chartered Accountants. It will come as a surprise to many with whom I work, but I am a qualified Chartered Accountant, and so I was delighted to attend this dinner. It was held in the Old Council Chamber, which is a simply stunning room and which has recently been refurbished. The speakers were the current Master Chartered Account, Alderman Sir Peter Estlin (former Lord Mayor) and Andrew Warchope, the Master Ironmonger. It was a lovely evening, and great to catch up with friends old and new.
Tuesday 3rd May 2022
The fourth (and final) Smoking Club evening of my year in office was held in the lovely courtyard of the In and Out (Naval and Military Club). The weather stayed dry, and 25 or so of us enjoyed wine, cigars and Welsh Rarebit and, most importantly, good company. We were joined by a number of potential new members, who we hope will take the next step with us before too long. When I left, a number of current and future members seemed to be settled in for what threatened to be a long night. Many thanks to the Membership Committee for another successful evening.
Tuesday 26th April 2022
The Clerk and I were delighted to attend the Watermen and Lightermen’s St George’s Day lunch, along with the Masters and Clerks of 36 other Companies. We were greeted at the door by the most recent winner of the prestigious Doggett’s Coat and Badge race who, this year, happens to be the nephew of the current Master, Derek Mann. Talking of family connections, I was particularly pleased to meet Elizabeth Garner, recently installed Master Poulter, who is the sixth generation of her family to hold that office, and who is the niece of our own PM Julian Keevil. I was sat next to the Prime Warden of the Shipwrights, Laura Bugden, who was 10 days into her term of office, and opposite Sarah Murname, the new Clerk of the Fruiterers, who was only four weeks into her new role. I felt like quite an old hand. We were all given a red rose to mark the occasion, and (naturally) fed roast beef. It was a lovely afternoon, marred only by my need to be back in the Office for a meeting …
Thursday 7th April 2022
This was the fifteenth iteration of the Big Curry Lunch – an event that raises funds of the three main armed forces’ charities- The RAF Benevolent Fund, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. So far they have raised over £2.5 million for these great causes and have in recent years focussed on supporting the Pain Management Programme at the King Edward VII Hospital, and LifeWorks – a charity that runs courses to help veterans prepare for employment outside of the military. The Clerk and I attended on behalf of the Company and the Benevolent Fund, who have supported the Big Curry Lunch for many years. We heard first hand from a representative from LifeWorks of one of their clients who had fallen on hard times after leaving the forces, but who now had a successful career with BAT. We were joined by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who provided some Royal glamour, by the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers, and by loads and loads of supporters, who formed a (very long) queue for lunch, which was (unsurprisingly) curry. A few Livery Companies had stalls selling their wares – the Clerk returned home with some socks from the Framework Knitters.
Friday 1st April 2022
Another annual event that had fallen victim to Covid, St Paul’s was packed to the rafters for a service celebrating the City and the Livery. The service also reflected on other cities, particularly in Ukraine, where there is currently little to celebrate. Many of the attendees had been at the Mansion House the night before, and some were therefore looking a little jaded. Our row was full, with 3 out of 4 Wardens, the Clerk and two Past Masters (Miller and Gower-Smith). After the service, we all de-camped to Plaisterers Hall for a fine lunch. I am pleased to say that the Tobacco Pipe Makers’ table was the last to leave, and we were therefore joined by the Master Plaisterer herself, and her Consort, hopefully for our good company but, on reflection perhaps, to chivvy us along and out the door …
Thursday 31st March 2022
This evening, when the Lord Mayor hosts the Masters of all of the Livery has been an annual fixture in the Livery calendar for many years but, like so many other events, it fell victim to Covid for the last two years. For its return, well 300 of the great and the good assembled, under the watchful eye of the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers. It was an evening full of City pomp and ceremony, but also full of meaning, with the Lord Mayor making particular reference in his speech to his themes of People and Purpose, and to the benevolence of the wider Livery which gives over £72 million each year in support of good causes and, in the last few weeks alone, has (together with the Corporation) donated nearly £1 million in support of Ukraine. This all brought home to me the fact that the Livery is an amazing community that can do, and does do, so much to help and support those who are in need. However, it can do, and must do, much more to share those good works with a wider audience. The Toast to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress was a two-handed affair, by the Master Mercer and the Master Grocer; the latter spoke about the psychological difficulties of always coming second!
Tuesday 29th March 2022
It is several years since I last attended a function at Painters Hall – as a Company we regularly used to hold meetings and dinners there – so I was very pleased to accept the invitation from the Master Painter-Stainer, Lewis Cohen, to their Court and Livery dinner. I was joined by five other Masters for what turned out to be a highly enjoyable evening. In his welcome speech, the Master mentioned that he had completed a 4-week internship at my law firm in the 1990s, but that his application for a training contract had subsequently been rejected … He holds no grudge as he has had a very successful legal career despite (or perhaps, because of) that rejection. James Scroggs, entrepreneur and philanthropist and Chair of the Campaign Against Living Miserably, gave a thought-provoking speech about the importance of empathy and purpose, particularly in modern corporate life, and how the priorities of Gen Z are very different to those of previous generations. The musical entertainment was provided by Chris Maloney, a talented young man with a guitar who gave us rousing renditions of popular songs from the 1950s to the 1980s. It was the first time I had heard Oasis, Neil Diamond and John Denver (inter alia) performed at a Livery function, and it was refreshing indeed – so refreshing, in fact, that several guests got up to dance! Another first for me.
Wednesday 23rd March 2022
In recent years, the Tax Advisers have organised a quiz night for Livery Companies and this was, I think, our second year entering a team. The Clerk had assembled a crack team comprising Past Masters Charles Miller and Ralph Edmondson and Assistant Fran Morrison, and me. It became clear early on in the proceedings that we were destined for a “Top 10” finish, as only 9 teams were entered. In the end, we came a respectable mid-table, but only one point or so off the medals – if only I had had more faith in Fran’s knowledge of Ed Sheeran’s back catalogue! In any event, although the trophy was carted off by the Information Technologists a fun evening was had by all.
Tuesday 22nd March 2022
This was my third (and penultimate) Court meeting as Master, and I was delighted that we were able to install Professor Mallory Factor as a new Court Assistant, and to approve the appointment of Sue Curran who will, hopefully, join the Court at our next meeting. We also installed 4 new Freemen – Shem Baldeosingh, Richard Gray and Meena and Tom Heath, who became the first mother and son to be installed on the same day. However, as I pointed out at lunch, and with a nod to my own mother who has been a Liveryman since 2009, they are not the first mother and son to be members of the Company. I was thrilled to also install Hilary Adler as an Honorary Freeman – the Adler family runs through the DNA of our Company, and we are pleased to recognise formally Hilary’s contribution. Importantly, we elected our new Master and Wardens – Paul Taberer will be an excellent Master, taking over the role on 1 June, and I’m sure that Elise, Henry, Tony, and our newest Warden, Jacqueline, will provide him with all of the support that he needs. Finally, and even more importantly, we approved the appointment of the Company Officials for the coming year. The whole team do a fantastic job running the Company and supporting the Master throughout the year, and we are extremely grateful that they have each agreed to continue in their roles; thank you to Sandra, Ian, Mark, Alan and David.
At the lunch that followed, we were joined by the Master Watermen and Lightermen, Derek Mann, who was great company. Past Master Richard Tranter presented pipes, hand-made by him, to four of our Past Masters and to our Honorary Chaplain. These really were Tours de Force – fantastic examples of the Pipemakers craft, and each one uniquely designed for their recipient – many thanks Richard. Catherine, the Mistress, had earlier organised a tour of the Mithraeum for the Court spouses. At lunch she spoke eloquently of her (nearly) one year in office, and her gratitude to the Court for allowing her the honour of representing the Company. A few of us retired to a local hostelry for a “cleansing ale” to round off a lovely day.
Monday 14th March 2022
It fell to the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, and their Master Stephen Emmins, to host the second Modern Companies Dinner of the year. The honour of hosting this event is rotated around the Modern Companies according to the Order of Precedence. The Security Professionals are number 108 and, in a year or so, the rotation will pass back up to the Master Mariners. This means that, by my calculation, it will fall to our current 4th Warden, Tony Scanlan, to host in four years’ time. I was joined by Senior Warden, Paul Taberer, and our speaker was Murray Craig, Clerk (at least until the end of the month) to the Chamberlain’s Court. Murray spoke amusingly about his job, and the diverse cast of characters to whom he has bestowed the Freedom of the City – from Rupert Murdoch (who insisted on “no publicity” but who then brought along the editors of all of his UK newspapers and TV channels), to Desmond Tutu, to Joanna Lumley, whose name was mis-spelt on her Freedom certificate. If Murray ever writes his memoirs, you can be sure it will be a good read!
Thursday 10th March 2022
One of the relatively few events of my year so far that fell victim to Covid is the annual Magical Taxi Tour, where a convoy of Hackney Carriage Drivers take over 200 children with serious illnesses to Disneyland Paris for 3 days of fun. I had been so looking forward to witnessing “Le Grand Depart”, and was gutted that it had to be cancelled. However, I was most pleased to be able to accept the invitation of Mick Cullen, Master Hackney Carriage Driver, to their Spring Court Dinner at Drapers Hall. It was a hugely entertaining evening, in excellent company, and with the added bonus that PM Fiona Adler was present as Consort to Alderman Tim Hailes, the Principal Guest. Tim knows his audience, and his speech lambasting the traffic restrictions around Bank, and the impact on taxi drivers’ livelihoods and on the ability of City workers and residents to travel safely, was very well received – one member describing it as “awe-inspiring”!
Tuesday 8th March 2022
Catherine and I were delighted to attend, along with Catherine’s mother, the Basketmakers Basketry showcase, which really showcased the skills of their craft. The range of products on display showed how broad and varied, and thriving, the craft is. One of the exhibitors turned out to be an old friend of Catherine’s brother, Alex – it really is a small world. Catherine can be seen proudly displaying her latest acquisition – a Royal Sussex Trug
Wednesday 2nd March 2022
It is always a treat to be on board HQS Wellington, and I was therefore delighted to have been invited by the Master Mariner, Commander Les Chapman, to attend their annual Court Livery Luncheon. The invitation had been extended to the Masters and Clerks of many other Companies, and it was lovely to spend an enjoyable afternoon in their company. The Principal Guest was Jon Ryder, Principal of George Green’s School in Tower Hamlets, who spoke of the challenges of running a school in one of the most deprived areas of the country, the positive outcomes that they have been able to achieve, and the support that they receive from various Livery Companies – the Shipwrights and Master Mariners amongst others.
Tuesday 1st March 2022
The Worshipful Company of Poulters have been organising this event for many years and, historically, the Pipemakers have performed creditably well. This year, our Clerk had pulled together a crack team to launch our bid for glory – the Master, the Mistress, the Third Warden and Freeman Sarah Saunders. Unfortunately, inclement weather meant that the slippery flagstones of Guildhall Yard were deemed to be too much of a risk and the racing was abandoned, before it had even started. However, Sarah, our entry in the Novelty race, was still subject to the scrutiny of the judges – to our eyes, her costume representing the Duke of Edinburgh Awards (one of the Lord Mayor’s nominated charities) was a clear winner; sadly, for reasons best known to themselves, the judges concluded that others were more worthy.
Thursday 24th February 2022
The Worshipful Company of World Traders have been organising the annual Tacitus Lecture since 1988, giving a platform to prestigious speakers to stimulate and encourage discussion about important issues affecting world trade. This year’s speaker was Professor David Olusoga, author, broadcaster and historian, who took as his subject: “Finance and the City in the Age of Reckoning”. His subject touched upon the historic role of the City in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and in particular the parts played by Edward Colston, John Cass and William Beckford; the fate of Colston’s statue in Bristol is well-known; less well known, perhaps, is the presence of statues of Cass and Beckford in the Guildhall itself. Professor Olusoga also noted that the Guildhall was the location for the first Zong trial in 1783, which became a catalyst for the abolitionist movement. It was a thought-provoking lecture, tying in the historic narrative with the very real issues at play in the world today.
Wednesday 9th February 2022
If you had ever wondered where in the world you would have seen gathered in the same room the following assorted luminaries:- Joe Worsley, former England rugby international; Sheriff and Alderman Nicholas Lyons, Sheriff of the City of London and likely to be our next Lord Mayor; Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Covid Hero and Boston United fan; Jordan North, Radio 1 DJ and survivor of I’m a Celebrity ... and the Master of the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders, I can tell you that the answer is at the 33rd Annual Dinner of the Body of Yeoman Warders. I was honoured to have been invited by our Beadle, Mark Anderson, to attend this very special event. The evening started with champagne at the exclusive Benson’s Bar, and ended (far too late) with Gin, cheese and cigars at the Yeoman Warders’ bar – The Keys. In between, there was a fine dinner, plenty to drink, and a drill display from the RAF, with illuminated rifles. A great night was had by all, and, inevitably, a very sore head followed.
Wednesday 19th January 2022
And so to my first event of 2022 … At our January Court meeting, we sadly marked the passing of Past Master Dr Isidore Redstone, who served as Master in 1991. In happier news, I was delighted that we were able to approve the applications of 6 new members of the Company, to install two new Freemen (Thomas Zussman and Andrew Pinto), gown one new Liveryman (Darius Namdar) and to agree the appointment of Professor Mallory Factor as a Court Assistant. It is of great credit to our Membership Committee that we continue to have a strong flow of new members, keen to join us.
At our January Dinner that followed, my Principal Guest was to have been Aaron Barbour, Director of the Katherine Low Settlement. The KLS is a charity that has been supported by our Benevolent Fund for several years, in particular their Love to Learn programme. Sadly, Aaron had to pull out at short notice, but he was ably replaced by Paula Robertson, who is the Head of the Love to Learn programme. Paula spoke in very moving terms about the work that they do, and the real people, with very real problems, that they help and support. Assistant Martine Petetin did a fine job introducing all of our guests. I was delighted to present a cheque to Major Niall Hall of the Irish Guards Association to support their fine work; I was even more delighted that Major Hall had brought along Seamus, the Irish Guards’ mascot, to meet and greet our guests. The evening ended with stunning musical performances from two of the students who we support at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama – Amy Holyland and Andrew Garrido; they clearly have very bright futures ahead of them. Drapers Hall is a stunning venue – even more so now that they have completed their refurbishment project – and we are grateful to the Master Draper for allowing us to use it, and for dining with us. It was a stupendous evening, one that Catherine and I will remember into our dotage.
Tuesday 14th December 2021
My final event of 2021 was the London Regiment Association's annual carol service in the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks. The guests, which included the Master Merchant Taylor and the Master Ironmaker, were hosted for a drink beforehand by Major Robbie Wilmont, and we were greeted at the door of the Chapel by Seamus, the Irish Guards mascot (who I had met at the recent Irish Guards Association dinner). The interior of the Chapel is simply stunning, and the service was a fitting end to the year. As I walked towards St James’s Park tube, I was humming Ding Dong! Merrily on High, and beginning to feel distinctly Christmas-y.
I hope you all have a happy, and safe, Christmas, and that 2022 turns out better than 2021 (and 2020!)
Tuesday 7th December 2021
This year there was a certain degree of trepidation as we approached the date for our Carol Service, given that St Lawrence Jewry is currently undergoing a major facelift, and is covered in scaffolding (both external and internal). That trepidation was not helped by the fact we were advised shortly before the event that the church's boiler had packed up, and temporary heating arrangements had been put in place. We need not have worried - we were blessed with a record turnout of hardy, well-wrapped souls, which included representatives from many of the organisations and individuals that are supported by our Benevolent Fund, and it was lovely to hear about the work that they have been doing, and the very real difference that our funding and support makes to them. We were incredibly lucky to have our music led by the excellent Sevenoaks School Choir, and their Director of Music, Christopher Dyer, and to have the service officiated by our Honorary Chaplain, the Reverend Canon David Parrott, formerly Guild Vicar at St Lawrence Jewry. With many thanks to Past Master Mark Gower-Smith for all of his hard work in pulling the Service together.
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 Assistant 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.
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
Monday 29th November 2021
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.)
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.
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 …)
Thursday 4th November 2021
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.
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
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.
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 …
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Sunday 3rd October 2021
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.
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.
Thursday 23rd September 2021
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!
Wednesday 22nd September 2021
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
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.
Monday 20th September 2021
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.
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.
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
Tuesday 7th September 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday 8th July 2021
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.