Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Worshipful Company of Masons Banquet Mansion House, Tuesday 24 March 2015

The Mansion house is a magical building which is awe inspiring and humbling on every visit even if that includes two white tie dinners in less than a week.

The Master Mason, Mr Bob Morrow, put on a splendid event which did not disappoint and which included the pageantry and colour of the Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress, the two Sheriffs and a visiting Malaysian Prince and his Consort.

Central to the Ceremony was our very own Liveryman and leader of the RICS Singers Bill Gloyn who as Upper Warden for the Masons and proposed the toast of the guests of which there were many, far outnumbering the Masons present.

Bill was most gracious in his delivery covering all the guest Masters and others including referring to me as his “other boss” as the Master Chartered Surveyor. His Clerk clearly allows him more time to deliver his speech as he was able to throw in a couple of jokes but perhaps our Clerk is a wise judge! What is interesting is that Bill is an organist as is the Sheriff Dr Andrew Parmley and indeed the Sheriff played the Organ at Bill Gloyn’s wedding. The information you can pick up at these events is phenomenal.

The only real difficulty with white tie events is wardrobe malfunctions as the various connecting bits tend to come undone. Fortunately my wife Fiona was with me and kept me patched up throughout the event.

Another fabulous evening which only London and the Livery Companies coupled with the Mayorality appears able to achieve with such distinction.

Graham F. Chase Master

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Sustainable City Awards Mansion House, Monday 23 March 2015

The City of London Corporation in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Building hosts these prestigious awards annually. There are 14 categories with the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors sponsors of the Sustainable Building Award which was won by Willmott Dixon and runner up was Kier construction.

The most unusually named contender was “Norman Loves Soup” who came highly placed in several categories but were pipped at the post by others.

The real star of the show was Argent who won the Sir Peter Parker Award as well as securing the Overall Winner spot.

Sheriff Fiona Adler lead the proceedings which was compared by Dr Loyd Grossman the well known broadcaster and entrepreneur who has an impressive heritage of dealing with buildings and sustainability issues. He is passionate about London, regarding it as the greatest City on earth  securing its influence on a global stage by its ability to adapt and accept change.

The backdrop of the Mansion House always helps when considering heritage, buildings and London but it was a proud moment to see the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors as official Partners of this event and amongst a very impressive array of contributors.

Graham F. Chase Master

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Mess Dinner 135 Geographic Squadron Royal Engineers Ewell, Saturday 21 March 2015

Having to leave home at 5pm just as England were kicking off their match against France at Twickenham in the crucial 6 Nations Championship decider match seemed a bit harsh but as the minutes slipped away and England failed to reach their target I was pleased I was listening on the radio rather than watching the TV. Anyway I had been in my couch potato armchair since 1pm watching Ireland beat Scotland and Wales beat Italy. How on earth did that Scottish winger drop the ball over the try line rather than grounding it?

The uncertainties of sport are one of the ingredients that make it great and why it plays a part in so many lives. Now contrast that with the armed forces who also play an important and significant role in our lives and the profile of our country. They cannot allow for oversights which can mean human losses but operate on certainties of action and outcomes. In turn we depend on that professionalism for our defence and well being as a Nation.

It was therefore a happy task for me to arrive at 135 Geographic Squadron HQ in Ewell to join in a very grand affair of the annual Mess dinner. With everyone kitted out in full dress uniform it was a colourful event and very well attended. Included in the lineup was Brigadier Rob MacGowan, the Commanding Officer Lt Colonel Richard Blunt, the Honorary Lt. Colonel Vanessa Lawrence and Officer Commanding Major Charles Wasilewski.

Both Vanessa Lawrence and Charlie Wasilsewski had attended our Spring Livery dinner just a few nights earlier so this was indeed a quick return and one that was most rewarding and enjoyable.

The army do things differently but they have certain approaches which would be recognisable in any City of London Livery Company. However one of the principle differences is that the Officer Commanding is organiser, host, toastmaster, speaker for the Squadron and in reply, raconteur and Master of Ceremonies.

We sat down to dinner at 1845 hours sharp and arose precisely on time at 2000 hours with time for a catch up with a number of our friends in the Bar and main drill hall. The drill hall was excellently disguised with camouflage netting, spotlights in certain strategic positions and a large number of Candelabras on the table. Together with the silverware and other mementoes of the Squadron set out on perfectly organised tables the setting was magical if not quite romantic and would have done justice to any Livery Hall. Well done to 135 Squadron on their efforts to make it a special occasion.

Because yours truly was driving I did not take part in the drinking which was a shame as the wines and port looked excellent but given the England Rugby result I didn’t feel like celebrating although as the evening went on I realised that was my loss!.

Thanks to Liveryman David Reynolds and his lovely wife Ita, who made all the arrangements for me and looked after me at the event. I really had a marvellous time and was pleased to forget about England losing the 6 Nations Championship so very quickly and in great company.

Graham F. Chase Master

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The Lord and Lady Mayoress Banquet for Masters, Prime Warden and Upper Bailiff at the Mansion House, Thursday 19 March 2015

A full white tie Banquet at the Mansion House is a pretty spectacular event. Add the colour and pageantry of the Lord Mayor, sheriffs, HAC Pikeman and Musketeers Bodyguard, the official trumpeters and the Countess of Essex’s String Orchestra in full mess kit in the musicians Gallery and you have something very special.

The Lord Mayor despite this pomp and circumstance was quite candid and brutally honest when he made it clear that the profile of the City of London following a number off banking scandals has taken something of a bashing. There is therefore a real need for the business of the City and the tremendous strength and depth of the Livery Companies to demonstrate how strong the City is with its activities and positive achievements which should help us rise above these setbacks. Indeed it is critical that we do and make sure we shout out our successes from the roof tops.

Alan Yarrow only entered the Livery “movement” some 8 years ago and has risen rapidly through the ranks to become Lord Mayor. He is first and foremost a business man and I suspect for much of his professional life in the City gave little attention to the Livery Companies. However it is clear that as soon he became exposed to the work of the City of London Corporation and the Livery Companies he has not been slow in recognising both their strength and potential. At a time of crisis for the profile and standing of the City of London’s business he sees the Livery Companies as an important part of the solution for the City to maintain it’s pre-eminence in commerce and financial services on a global stage.

With London one of the World’s most popular international centres with a population mix which makes it the equivalent of the sixth largest French City and fourth largest Greek City there will be no excuses for not building on this but our ethics, transparency and natural business acumen must shine through.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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The Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Annual Rivers Lecture Sadler’s Hall Gutter Lane EC2, Wednesday 18 March 2015

This was a well-attended event and not surprising given that the speaker was Peter Montagnon, an Associate Director of the Institute of Business Ethics and a member of the Corporate Governance Advisory Board of Norjes Bank, Investment Manager and a member of the board of Hakamah Institute, Dubai.   He previously held senior positions at the Financial Reporting Council, Association of British Insurers and was a journalist at the Financial Times. In his spare time he serves on the Council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and a visiting Professor and Corporate Governance at the Cass Business School at the City University, London.

He presented his case on the current position of business ethics and the interplay of regulation. I found his approach refreshing and only wish that more in both industry and government would listen to this type of practical advice. He made it very clear that the more regulation you promote and require, the more you suggest that you do not trust those who are dealing with a particular area of business or in a marketplace.   Further, more regulation simply becomes counter-productive especially as it then requires more involvement from a greater number of bureaucrats who have no understanding of the nature of the businesses they are dealing with.

There is also the perception, often justified that regulators go for easy options and fine or ban individuals who have failed on the edges or in administrative matters, rather than punish the more significant failures and unsavoury excesses where greed predominates but hides behind profit.   He argued it was interesting that Aviva felt that they had covered business ethics by explaining how they deal with sustainability and investment in areas which do not pollute, yet failed to make any comment about how they comply with ethics in business and the honesty of those who undertake their investment activity.   Given that Aviva’s environmental footprint on a global scale is tiny yet is significant when dealing with investment on a truly global scale, the emphasis and focus was clearly wrong.   Yet this is a mistake made by many companies who do not understand where their efforts on business ethics really should be focussed.

Sadler’s Hall in Gutter Lane is quite an oasis in the maelstrom of the City just off Cheapside with a very pleasing hall and appropriately sized reception area where the caterers were able to provide an excellent buffet.   Yet again my waistline took some punishment but I am pleased to say it was only equal to the assault on my brain and thought processes relating to ethics and the activities of business in dealing with honesty, integrity and an appropriate approach to regulation. A most fulfilling evening in every sense.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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Spring Dinner at Carpenters Hall, Monday 16 March 2014

The final formal dinner in my year as Master was held in the splendid surroundings of Carpenters Hall. The event was particularly colourful as we celebrated our relationship with our armed forces and their representatives in full mess dress supported by a troop of the Honourable Artillery Company Pikemen and Musketeers in full civil war regalia. Just look at the pictures on http://sharpphoto.co.uk/p1006427986 to see for yourself.

The theme for this dinner was charitable giving coupled with our armed forces associations. This follows on from the theme of the first dinner of businesses and the rule of law in the City and the second on the subject of education.

Our first speaker was Dr Vanessa Lawrence Honorary Lt Colonel of 135 Geographic Squadron, previously Director General of the Ordnance Survey and now Chairing a department at the United Nations. Her message was the need to provide opportunities to those with the talent but not the means and further that challenges tend to produce the best out of those with ability.

Our second guest speaker was Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, known to some of us as the wife of RICS Past President Christopher Jonas but to most as a hugely successful business woman and leader. Her latest role is promoting the Imperial War Museum with her first success being the new WWI exhibition which has resulted in 50 million visitors a year. New plans look set to take this figure further into the stratosphere and on a par with the British Museum. Her message was to ensure facilities are developed with the young in mind with the most successful element of the WWI exhibition being its interactive section allowing families to link up with their past and add information to the records held.

My thanks as ever to our clerk Amanda Jackson who masterminded the dinner with her usual precision and eye for detail. The result has been a spectacular 700 Liverymen and guests over the 3 formal dinners which must be something of a record. If nothing else it shows the popularity of what we do and how we do it.

Also special thanks to our Beadle “Jimmy James”, Assistant Beadle Alec Robertson who bring a sense of calm and well being to the panic. In this vein my thanks also goes to our regular Toastmaster  Jamie Wallace who kept us to time as best he could given the numbers and most importantly kept me on track.

A marvellous event which makes me very proud to be Master of this prestigious and enthusiastic Livery Company. Many thanks to all who attended.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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Visit to Treloars School, Wednesday 11 March 2015

A day out in the countryside always appeals and setting off from Waterloo Station on a Sunny Spring day presented an idyllic backdrop to my visit to Treloars School in Alton Hampshire.

As I walked the mile or so from the station I passed the rugby pitches and great Victorian edifice buildings of the local school and watched a class taking advantage of an outdoor lesson in the bright sunshine under clear blue skies with all the laughter and shouting that only a group of school children is capable of making.

A short distance further on and I turned left between two residential gatehouses into the Treloar’s School Estate. Already I could see the difference with the local school I had just passed. The main building is of a modern low rise industrial design and construction but laid out for a clear purpose with a long line of Treloar’s minibuses to the front and a large, light and airy reception area behind incorporating a cafe, seating area and reception desk with a sense of business efficiency and purpose to its arrangement.

I was immediately met by a raft of welcoming Governors and staff provided with my coffee and ushered into the main hall where various stalls offered a variety of goods for sale all made within the School. The ubiquitous tea towel was swiftly purchased but this was alongside a garden bird box, several cards and pens, posters and pictures which filled a couple of large bags to weigh me down on my journey home.

On arrival of the Lord Mayor and his party we were formerly introduced to the School and our programme for the day by Jon Coleville who I have known for a number of years as the Director responsible for Treloars fundraising. This crucial activity requires over £1.5 million a year just to cover the shortfall on annual running costs. This was followed by Tony Reid the CEO, who gave a very moving description of what Treloars School does for the most severely handicapped children in the UK who otherwise would have a more limited life. The Lord Mayor, Alan Yarrow then stepped forward and it was only then that I fully understood his own family’s exposure to disability with his son Max requiring special needs and support all of his life and now aged 33.

We were fragmented into colour coded groups with me in blue reflecting just a little how I was feeling as I had been apprehensive about the visit and how sad I may feel. To say I could not have been more wrong was an understatement as it was truly a happy and uplifting experience. The children aged from 11 to 18 were simply at school and we’re all smiles and enthusiasm. Despite their disabilities, which are severe and in the extreme, it was a happy place and simply recognisable as a wonderful place of learning, albeit with a distinct character.

To give you some idea as to how special Treloar’s is I was staggered by the statistic that there are 160 students with 555 teachers. Now that is what I call a solid student to teacher ratio! It soon became apparent to me during my visit to the classrooms why such a ratio is appropriate and makes Treloar’s so special and a world leader in what it does. I do not believe there can be any other place like it on this planet although it is clear to me there should be.

Joshua is 11 but is measured in terms of his development as a baby of about 6 months. He is profoundly deaf and they are not sure how much he can see. He is fed by a tube and has 24 hr Oxygen supply to counter his lung disease. He was strapped into a horizontal movable platform in which he attends lessons. It was then that I began to appreciate the magic of what happens at Treloars. He was smiling, laughing and fully participating in his sensor programme where they bring him to life through touch and senses. To Joshua and staff this was about education and schooling and to all of them it was fun.

Dan was in an upright platform to give him the sense of standing and seeing everyone on the same level. He was working with his tutor on the issue of bullying and how to deal with it. Despite his difficulty in speaking I was impressed with his clarity of thought and how quickly he got to grips with what bullying is and how to deal with it. He enjoys sport and plays wheelchair basketball and swims.

In the afternoon the 60 or so Livery Company Masters and guests with the Lord Mayor were entertained to a concert with a solo drum player, percussion bells, singing and music displays. Alfonso from Portugal had only been with the school for 6 months and is unable to speak or move but he has sufficient movement in his right leg to operate a special computer programme which helps him write and speak through a voice box. How remarkable that a severely disabled Portuguese 14 year old can understand two languages and can communicate in almost perfect English provided the equipment is there. Again that was not thorough therapy but schooling and education. A very bright boy with a brain keen to extend itself and only hindered by a body that prevents expression. Treloar’s helps overcome these challenges.

I left Treloars with the Lord Mayor and shared the train back to London with him and Neil Chrimes, the Lord Mayor’s Head of Programmes. I have known Neil for many years. He organised the Lord Mayor John Stoddard’s visit to India in 2006 which I attended as RICS President when we secured RICS recognition in India the only external qualification to achieve such status in that country at that time. We therefore had a lot to talk about on the importance of the City of London and its achievements but in my mind the outcome that I will remember most is that of a former Lord Mayor of London, Sir William Purdie Treloar who in 1906 set up Treloar’s School so as to educate the disabled of London who up to then had just been abandoned on the streets. That is special, uplifting and significant, making a real difference in this very tough world. In the end i did not cry but I was laughing alongside some very special and incredibly brave but determined and special students.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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Worshipful Company of Builder’s Merchants City and Award Luncheon, Vintners Hall, Tuesday 10 March 2015

The Worshipful Company of Builder’s Merchants are not only an allied livery to the Chartered Surveyors but at 88th in the order of precedence, followed our lead with their grant of livery approved by the Alderman of the City of London on 19 July 1977.   However, arguably they were well ahead of us in their thinking as a committee had been put together by the building industry distributors in 1958 for the formation of a City of London Livery Company.   The inaugural meeting of the Company was held on 29 March 1961 and the first meeting of the Court of Assistants was on 17 May of that year. The first 60 members joined the company on 20 October and was granted recognition as a City Company without a granted livery on 12 September 1972.

That history reflects on the commitment of the Builder’s Merchants to develop “…. educational works  …. and the dignity of a Livery Company in the City of London.” How fitting therefore that I should be invited as a guest to their City and Awards Luncheon reflecting upon the standards and profile that this modern Livery Company has sought to achieve.

With over 60 attendees, this was a strong turnout and the guest of honour was Alderman and Chair, Dr Andrew Parmley, another Yorkshireman, who clearly wished to add his strength of support for this organisation and their awards.

Like us, the Builder’s Merchants have strong relationships with the armed services and had awards for two members of the 3rd Battalion, The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment as well as a cadet at the Beckenham and Penge Sea Cadets. This has inspired me to ask the Newham Sea Cadets that we sponsor to put forward an Award for our support.

In addition, the Builder’s Merchants support the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Ginah Shim, a piano student, securing a well-deserved award for her abilities and growing stature in the music and entertainment industry.

The Master, Gill Moore, spent many years in the builder’s merchants trade working with her husband David, who was sat next to me throughout the lunch and kept me amused and entertained with a number of stories from his family and business which is based in Manchester.   They are a husband and wife team able to lead and support a City of London livery from Manchester demonstrating the strength, depth and reach of Livery Companies throughout the UK.

The food was excellent, the company was first class, the event demonstrated real strength and purpose. I therefore left another City of London Livery event a better and brighter person with yet again a full stomach.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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The Modern Livery Company’s Spring Dinner hosted by The Worshipful Company of Lightmongers at Cutlers Hall, Monday 9 March 2015

I have been advised that there is no such thing as a “Livery Company movement” and that in any event each company operates independently, none more so than the great 12. That maybe correct but the Modern Livery Company’s Spring Dinner gives life to the importance of the City of London with not just an eye on tradition but with a very real feeling that this group of Liveries is both representative of how the City operates in a modern world and how modern Livery Companies ensure that the traditions are maintained in a relevant, constructive and proactive manner.

The term “modern livery company” came about in 1926 with the arrival of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners which was the first new Livery Company to be formed since 1746 and  78th in the order of precedence. After this date, all new livery companies are regarded as “modern”. The City of London Solicitor’s Company, Worshipful Company of Farmers, Air Pilots, Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders, Furniture Makers and Scientific Instrument Makers were all constituted before we come to our own livery at No.85. However, it was in 1975 when the government of the day led by Prime-minster Harrold Wilson considered splitting off the City to three neighbouring boroughs, disbanding the Corporation of London and dissolving the City Livery Companies.   The Lord Mayor at the time asked the professional bodies of the Chartered Surveyors, Chartered Accountants and Chartered Secretaries if they would consider forming new Livery Companies and demonstrate that the movement was alive and well and could promote a modern image which would benefit both London and the rest of the United Kingdom.   The rest as they say is history as we have now reached 110 livery companies, the last being The Worshipful Company of Arts and Scholars which was constituted on 11 February 2014.

Every year a different Livery Company hosts The Modern Livery Company’s Dinner and this year it was the turn of the Lightmongers who chose the magnificent Cutlers Hall to host an event attended by nearly all the Modern Companies and with Sheriff Fiona Adler giving the key note address.

I was fortunate enough to sit next to The Lord Mayor of 2012, Alderman Sir David Wootton, currently Senior Warden of The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and a proud Yorkshireman.   This geographical reference, with Bradford being Sir David Wootton’s place of birth, was a central theme to the Sheriff’s speech which laid bare all the guarded secrets and guilty pleasures of every Master present.   Chatham House Rules forbids me for making any reference to them but I was exposed and our Clerk, Amanda Jackson, who was present was able to have quite a chuckle given that I suspect it was her who released the sensitive information for sharing with my follow Modern Livery Company Masters.

My thanks to the Master Lightmonger Mr Rodney Bennion OBE who is a Chartered Surveyor (quantity surveyor) as is the Lightmonger’s Senior Warden, Mr John Rowsell.   That made me feel quite at home and if nothing else demonstrates the sway of chartered surveyors in the modern world of the City of London and its formidable “Livery Company movement”.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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