A kind invitation from Nigel Kempner to join the Paviors at Carpenters’Hall for a livery Dinner.The hall was full of the company’s liverymen and guests which made for a most enjoyable evening.
The former BBC newscaster, Martyn Lewis regaled us with stories from his days at the news desk and spoke passionately about his charitable involvements. He is currently Chairman of the National Council of Volunteering Organisations.
Assistant Neil Sandberg proposed a very witty toast to the guests and musical entertainment was provided by Guildhall School of Music.
A most intimate and convivial lunch at Wax Chandlers Hall, by kind invitation of Nick Gale, Master Plumber. I was looked after by several Past Masters and conversation ranged from the Scottish independence vote, to pipes ( lead ones ) and Rock music. The speeches were jolly and Murray Craig, Clerk of the chamberlain’s Court gave a wonderful expose of the Freedom of the City, including his top 5 Freedom ceremonies. The best one was some years ago, when Rupert Murdoch received his Freedom. Apparently, he was obsessed by confidentiality and despite that, his entire entourage turned up, including Rebekah Brooke and Andy Coulson.
Quite ironic, really.
A return to the Mansion House less than 24 hours later, however this time in the company of Michael, for the Actuaries’ annual banquet. This was a delightful, friendly evening and I spent a most enjoyable time in the company of Past Master Ken Ayers. Master Charles Cowling was an excellent host. Sheriff Adrian Waddingham replied to the Lord Mayor’s Toast. Guest speaker was Johnny Ball who was extremely witty and talked about the importance of children learning Mathematics as well as anecdotes from his time as a BBC presenter; he is an honorary Actuary too. Junior Warden Nick Salter welcomed the Guests. Music was provided throughout the evening by the Militaire Orchestra .
Fantastic hospitality together with delicious food and wine.
A magnificent evening at the Mansion House, by kind invitation of the Lord Mayor who is Chancellor of City University, London. The Mansion House was packed to capacity and Masters rubbed shoulders with a number of the City’s top academics and students for a celebration of all the City has to offer.
Guest speaker, the Right Honourable Margaret Hodge, gave the keynote speech on the importance of Higher Education and how it is being challenged by the current fee system. We then heard speeches by the Vice-chancellor of City University, Professor Paul Curran and Camilla Mills, Journalism Alumna, who spoke passionately about her route to the BBC .
A delightfully sunny day welcomed me and Amanda to Watermen’s Hall for their annual Masters and Clerks luncheon. We were given a red rose buttonhole to wear, which was a thoughtful gesture and is still blooming atthe time of typing this note.
The Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames was formed by an Act of Parliament in 1555 to maintain a standard of navigation amongst Watermen plying for hire on the tidal Thames above Gravesend. The Company continues to provide education for apprentices and mature trainees to this day, The Lightermen, are the good carriers and joined the Watermen who are the passenger carriers, in 1700. Interestingly, the Lightermen were responsible for offloading all goods entering the Port of London until the late 1960s and as a young child, I remember the Thames clustered with barges carrying goods up the river from Woolwich. I had never seen anything like it, having spent my early years in Malaysia and it was a sight to behold.
A wonderful blend of Masters ( is that the collective noun perhaps?) filled the Georgian Hall for a delicious lunch of roast rib of beef treacle tart followed by extrememly jolly speeches by the Master Waterman, Robert Prentice and Master Mercer, Simon Wathen.
An early start on Sunday morning for many liverymen, many of whom had never visited Hastings before! Rain threatened, but cleared by early afternoon as we gathered for our tour of the building and gallery, followed by a sumptuous tea with copious amounts of tea, sandwiches and cake!
The Jerwood Gallery was opened three years ago and run by the trustees of the Jerwood charity, specifically to showcase English artists. Its permanent collection contains a wonderful collection of late 19th and 20th century English artists as well as temporary exhibitions in a building that is highly energy efficient and is located on ‘The Stade’, a plot of land located on the foreshore, close to the famous fishermans’ huts and boats, in the heart of the old town. The construction caused a furore when Planning was first submitted, it was seen to be a carbuncle as many locals feared undue change to the fishermans’ beach which had been untouched since the 19th century. The building is relatively simple from the outside, comprising a block structure clad in glazed tiles that appear dark blue/black depending upon the light. Large rectangular areas of glazing both let in light and allow the visitor some wonderful views of the beach and of the town.
A delightful afternoon with friends and family. I would strongly recommend a visit to the Jerwood: it is as good as anything found in London.
Breaking from tradition, our Spring Court meeting and dinner was held at the Royal College of Surgeons. The reason for our relocation out of the City was primarily because my first speaker, the Rt Hon. the Lord Ribeiro of Achimota and Ovington, is currently President of the Royal College of Surgeons and it therefore seemed correct to entertain him “at home”. Lord Achimota is modest about his achievements, but he pioneered keyhole surgery in the field of urology and colorectal surgery. He is now a Life Peer and incredibly active in the Lords, but still finds time for one of his other passions, which is fly fishing. My second speaker, David Reade QC is one of the country’s leading silks in commercial litigation and employment law. He gave us an insight into his career which was both enlightening and very funny.
It was delightful to dine with so many liverymen, other halves and friends, enjoying the good food and not forgetting, drinks in the Hunterian Museum. The latter came as a bit of a surprise to many guests, who had not imagined sipping wine whilst gazing at spinal cord or bottles containing brains!
David Reynolds and I had the honour of representing the Company at the Big Curry, which raises funds for ABF, the Soldiers’ Charity. Our own Company has donated to this worthy cause for a number of years now.
Following a reception and presentation to the Duke of Gloucester, we went into the Guildhall for lunch; it had been transformed with trestle tables and benches for lunch. I find a good curry hard to resist at any time and it was especially difficult as we had our own Court Dinner that same evening. Therefore it was with great restraint that I forwent second helpings. David is much more restrained than me!
A delightful evening at Mansion House, by kind invitation of Bish Lis the Master Chartered Secretary and his wife Yvonne. Bish and I have got to know each other well during the year because we always seem to be standing next to each other in the line up ( they are No 86) and therefore have plenty of time for conversation! Guests included the Polish Ambassador to London, Sheriff and Alderman Sir Paul Judge and Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley.
A fantastic rendition of the Post Horn Gallop together with a trumpet fanfare, filled the Eqyptian Hall after dinner, much to the delight of everyone.
The end of a busy week witnessed the annual United Guilds Service at St Pauls’. This is the most stunning service, with all the Companies, resplendent in their gowns, filling the Cathedral. I must admit, we were all in good mood, fuelled by the previous evening’s banquet and everyone was in fine voice.
The service is a relatively modern event, established by the Twelve Great Companies on 1st February 1943. the idea behind it was to help lift the spirits of the City following the Blitz during the Second World War. The service was to be held on the first day of the year, based on the Julian Calendar. as far as records who, this was the first time that all the Livery Companies and Guilds of the Company combined to hold a religious service. Since then, it has become an annual event and really feels like a major family event.
After the service, we all repaired to Stationers Hall for a celebratory lunch.
A great way to end the week!
A spectacular dinner at the Mansion House for all Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff of the Livery Companies. This was an evening to remember, with beautiful music played by the Orchestra of the Honourable Artillery Company.
Originally, the dinner was held solely for the heads of the Great Twelve Livery Company but fortunately for all the other companies, it was extended at the end of the 19th Century to include everyone.
Mike and I enjoyed a stunningly memorable evening, with fantastic company and of course, wonderful food and wine. The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf spoke eloquently urging the livery movement to do all it can to support young people to make a difference. Supporting toasts were give by the Master Mercer and Master Grocer who very cleverly managed to sway his brief speech onto chemical elements and finished his toast with several loud bangs!
And so to the Royal Albert Hall for Coram’s major charity event for the second “City Rocks” event. The first concert was held during former Lord Mayor Michael Bear’s year at the Guildhall and it was such a great success that a second, larger one was planned three years’ later.
Sophie Ellis Bextor, Lily Allen, the Feeling as well as the fabulous Brian May performed together with some new soloists, hugely well attended by the property industry. It was fun to have been a part of it andspecial mention must be made to Liveryman Neil Murray, who was Vice Chairman of the event and worked tirelessly over the last 6 months to ensure its success!
An interesting and scholarly evening at the Vintners’ to hear Professor Charles Hope talk about the history of the Venetian Scuole, which emerged during the late 12th century and developed into guilds which bear similarities to our own City Livery Companies. The talk was illustrated with slides evoking the wonderful history and culture of the Republic .