What an exciting and interesting period this has proved to be. It all started on May 3rd when a group of 10 Needlemakers attended the Lord Mayor's Ascot Race Day. The event was in aid of the Lord Mayor's appeal to educate, support and inspire young people. It was a first for me, I’ve never been to a race meeting before let alone Ascot and I have never placed a bet before let alone won not once but twice! The following day I attended together with the Clerk and 700 others the 25th Anniversary Banquet of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists at the Guildhall. The Lady Mayoress is their current Junior Warden. It was an amazing experience as you can tell from the photograph outside the Guildhall.
On Friday 5th May I attended along with a number of other Liverymen the service of thanksgiving for the life of Margaret Floyd. The large number of people in the church and afterwards demonstrated the high regard and affection in which Margaret and her family are held.
The 363rd Festival of Sons and friends of the Clergy took place on May 9th. The sermon was given by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu – Archbishop of York. As always the music was wonderful. Supper afterwards was at Taberna Etrusca in Bow Churchyard together with the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers. It was a successful and enjoyable evening although a little cramped in the small dining room downstairs.
Our first Livery Holiday took place in Nottingham 18th May – 22nd May – see separate account (and photos) written by a number of Liverymen who attended the weekend.
The month began with a visit to Buckingham Palace on June 1st. It was a boiling hot day but a wonderful experience, made all the more enjoyable for me because Simon accompanied me. Whilst wandering around the extensive grounds we bumped into Bishop Christopher and his sister, who were able to tell us where we could get a cooling ice cream. Unfortunately we didn’t see John and Ros Mill who were, unbeknown to us also there. At the end of the afternoon we managed to place ourselves in an excellent spot under the shade of trees which gave us a first rate view of Her Majesty the Queen as she left the garden while she stopped to talk to guests in wheel chairs. The Nomination Committee quickly brought me down to earth the next day!
A day of Committees on June 7th was followed the next day with a visit to St James Palace for the City and Guild Awards Ceremony together with the Clerk and Liveryman Michael Lee. I am grateful to Liveryman Michael Lee who is our link to City and Guilds for the work he does on our behalf, he has excellent relationships with key individuals in the organisation and I was grateful for his introductions. It was an honour to be on the stage when the Princess Royal presented the Needlemakers prize to Victor Walsh, a lecturer in Fabrication and Welding Technology at Coleg Cambria, and to be with him afterwards when the Princess met guests during the reception.
On Friday 9th June was the Iron Bridge weekend. Iron Bridge are celebrating 50 years this year and the City of London and the Livery Companies at Iron Bridge were celebrating 34 years of this very special weekend taking place . Most of the Masters of other Liveries were there, together with the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs. It is this weekend when the Past Masters group and Consorts groups are named and the organising committee members agreed. I look forward to spending time with the Masters and their consorts I have met during the year, hopefully for many years to come.
It was a lovely to be able to attend the Glass Sellers dinner on June 15th not least because the Master Peter Rawlinson is the husband of one of our own Liverymen Gwyn Rhys, who kindly looked after me on arrival. It took place in the lovely Painters Hall and was a most enjoyable occasion. Once again I was struck by the similarity of Livery events but also the small differences which make each Livery unique.
On a boiling hot day of over 30 degrees, 30 Liverymen joined the Livery City Walk – “What the Zeppelins missed”. Vic Flitham and his Colleague Peter Warren ably guided us through narrow passages and busy streets stopping at small churches, shady gardens and St Johns Museum. We had a relaxing lunch at a pub near Smithfield market, after which the group were noticeably less enthusiastic to walk and gradually the numbers dwindled until at the last stopping place we were just 8 in number. We were running a little late as the afternoon progressed, the excessive heat meant no one felt like rushing and some of the party got lost, others needed to catch booked trains. In spite of the heat the walk was enjoyed and many who missed the last bit intend to return on a cooler day to complete the trail.
June 26th was Common Hall at the Guildhall for the election of Sheriffs and other Offices. As always it was a colourful, entertaining and not altogether democratic occasion! Great speeches were delivered by the two new Sheriffs in particular Timothy Hailes JP who covered very similar ground to the speech I delivered at our February Mansion House Banquet. Later that day I attended the Merchant Taylors Billesden Dinner at Merchant Taylors Hall. This was for me one of the most interesting events I have attended. I sat next to an international mediator on one side and on the other an ex HR Director of PWC, opposite the wine adviser for the Company. I had a great evening preceded by lovely champagne, which always helps.
One of the most unusual events I have attended this year was the City Pickwick Club dinner as a guest of Andrew Whitton our Junior Warden elect. It took place on July 4th at the Barber –Surgeons Hall. Andrew: Mr Augustus Snodgrass MPC is the Hon Secretary and had the important role of carrying the Pickwick Papers from his place at the end of a sprig to the President: Mr Samuel Pickwick GC MPC at the top table at the beginning of the dinner and back again at the end. He also proposed the toast to the guests. One of the unusual elements of this event was the singing of Auld Lang Syne at the end of the evening.
Our Court meeting on July 5th followed by the annual Awards dinner at Stationers hall was held on another boiling hot day, but this was not the only problem to contend with. The key to the Vault had been lost (not an item that is in our keeping) so we were unable to access our gowns or our gift boxes for the new Liverymen being admitted or our treasure for the tables. To be honest it was a relief not to have to wear a gown on such a hot day but it was disappointing for our new Liverymen not to be correctly clothed or for our guests to enjoy our lovely treasure which our archivist is working so hard to catalogue. Without the use of dynamite the vault was eventually opened just before 10 pm so we were able to present the new Liverymen with their gift box at the end of dinner. It was great to have both Andy Betts - Commanding Officer 3 PWRR and Dr Susan Kay Williams CEO the Royal School of Needlework to read the citations for the award winners.
The following Monday – July 10 I attended together with, Pamela Goldberg - Chair of the Charity Committee, Angie Lewis our link to the Royal School of Needlework the private view of "Embroidered at the Palace”, an exhibition by the Royal School of Needlework in honour of their 30 years at Hampton Court. As we know the RSN students work is exquisite, we see samples of it each year at our Awards dinner, but to have such a comprehensive display of so many different techniques was both fascinating and frankly awe inspiring.
Sheriff William Russell invited me at the beginning of the year to visit one of the Academies that has the charity “Place2be” well established. I was unfortunately unable to attend on the first two occasions he invited me, but was able to join him on July 13th when he visited the new North London Academy. William is deputy chair of “Place2be” a charity which provides safe places for children to talk and act out their concerns and fears through play and the use of volunteer counsellors. It was a truly inspirational visit. I shall be following up the work of the charity in Nottingham after I finish my year as Master.
I am grateful to Liveryman Gill Loftus and Pamela Goldberg for arranging such an interesting and enjoyable Lady Liverymen event on 18th July. We went to the recently reopened Design Centre in Kensington High Street. It was originally on the South Bank. I loved the “Cartier in motion exhibition” which traced Cartier’s interest in; aircraft, cars and boats inspired by many of his classic designs. The exhibition marked the birth of the men’s wrist watch as we know it today. I loved the fact that the last DVD in the exhibition finished with a description of Cartier’s approach to his work as being “concerned with motion and simple elegance reflecting craftsmanship passed on from the Middle Ages through the Guilds”. Overall the exhibition reflected the craft tradition of “skill, passion, judgement and patience “.
The following day I joined a number of other Masters on the annual City of London Church Walk organised by the Worshipful Companies of Plumbers and Constructors. It was another fascinating day. We visited 11 churches starting at 9.30 for breakfast at St Paul's , lunch at St Lawrence Jewry during which we were entertained by a piano recital and finishing with tea at All Hallows by the Tower. The tour was brilliantly conducted by two specialist guides from the Friends of the City Churches. My last task in July was to chair the Nomination Committee which makes recommendations to the Court regarding the appointment of Liverymen into key positions in the Livery. It is a task we all take very seriously because it is in these individuals that the future of the Company rests. I’m ready for a break and look forward to resuming my duties after catching breath during August.