Category Archives: 2011/12 Mickola Wilson

Meeting of the Court of Assistants – Installation Court

This is my final sign off as Master of the WCCS; I would like to thank everyone who has helped to make this a very special year for me and my Family. It has been a most stimulating mix of traditional events and new events and I hope you have all enjoyed the fruits of some very hard labour by members of our Committees.

Within the City I have met many new friends amongst the Masters of other Livery Companies and learnt what a generous and good hearted place the City can be.

The roots of the Livery movement lies in the training of young people to a trade or craft and in this spirit the additional support for the CSTT, should be seen as the major achievement of the year. I am certain this will grow and flourish under the stewardship of those who will come after me.

I would like to wish Roger every success in his year ahead – which promises to be exciting.  It is with some relief I hand over to him the task of writing this BLOG and look forward to reading of his activates in the coming year  –  no doubt conducted in his own  flamboyant style.

And as always I must give my heartfelt thanks to Amanda for her support and guidance – I could not have done it without her.

Best wishes to you all

Mickola Wilson
Master Chartered Surveyor 2011/2012


The Tin Plate Workers Alias the Wire Workers Court Dinner

On Wednesday 10 October I attended the court dinner for the Tinplate Workers alias the Wire Workers Livery at the Haberdashers Hall, a modern hall which is beautifully decorated and atmospheric.

The Tin plate trade is ancient craft going back to before Roman times and the Wireworkers have also been existence for many centenaries going back to the time of Henry VIII when they were part of the Girdlers Company. Their joint Royal Charter was granted in 1670 and the Livery is ranked number 67 in the City of London.

For reasons lost in the mists of time, there are a large number of Chartered Surveyors in this company and their new Master Andrew Balcolme is a surveyor a Director of Balcolme Associates and a consultant to Vail Williams. Andrews’s life has been steeped in the Livery with his Father and Grandfather both being former Masters of the Tinplate Workers.

At the dinner his principle guests included John Edgecombe formerly of Hillier Parker, and Torquil Gyngell FRICS MCIArb who is a Director and Head of the Landlord and Tenant Department at HNG, a multi-disciplined firm of Chartered Surveyors based in the West End of London.  Who spoke enthusiastically of the Masters provenance including Philip and Margaret Balcolme, the Master’s parents.

The dinner was a very friendly occasion, with a light hearted ribbing between the two crafts including the Master’s joke

“Last  year it was reported in Der Speigal that at the beginning of 2011 German Archeologists at a site just outside Berlin had dug to a depth of 3m and found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years. They claimed this was irrefutable proof that Germany had telephones 100 years before it was invented. However the Americans did not take kindly to this and 3 months later it was reported by the New York Times that American Archaeologists had dug down 20 ft and found traces of 250 year old copper wire which suggested the native Indians may have been more technologically advanced than the European as this was 50 years before the date of the German wiring.

Last month it was reported in the Sheffield Star that a team of amateur Archaeologists had made a stunning discovery in the site of a former steel works in the City, I quote after digging down a depth of 30 ft said Jack Ludlow, ‘ we found sod all, thereby proving that 250 years ago Britain had already gone wireless…”

A fine end to a lovely evening and a fitting conclusion to my official engagements as Master.


Central School of Ballet

The visit to the Central School of Ballet on 3 October was the most delightful and fitting end to my Master’s year. The school put on the most amazing exhibition of their wonderful ballet dancing, beautifully executed and explained by their tutors as we watched. The pieces included dances from Giselle and Swan Lake and finally a routine to Pulp’s ‘Common people’ given by the young performer Tom Edwards who had recently danced as introduction to the gymnastics at the Olympic games.

We were delighted to award Tom the bursary from the WCCS, organised by Past Master Johnstone, and to wish him every success in the future – I am sure this in not the last time we will be seeing this talented and charming young man.


Getting to know you Drinks

Monday 17th September 2012 at the East India Club St James

Special Guest the Original STIG from Top Gear

Racing Driver and entertainer Perry McCarthy, the original Black Stig from Top gear, regaled the assembled company with stories of the racing world, using his range of accents to give extra colour as he mimicked the top racing drivers and recounted their exploits both on and off the race track.

Asked what he thought of Jeremy Clarkson, he replied that he thought he was a very good presenter – dammed with faint praise, as it was clear that his heart is really on the circuit rather than being on the BBC. Perry has driven formula one, formula 3, F3000 and Le Mons circuits and described his fellow drivers as almost all crazy, to sit in a box designed to kill you and then driving to the limit.

Some lucky guests were able to buy a copy of his autobiography Flat out – Flat Broke – signed by the author. Those who missed out can find it on Amazon.

Our grateful thanks to Perry, who attended the party as a charitable gesture and to both Colin Peacock and Julian Smith for organising the occasion.


Livery Ladies Lunch, 6 September 2012

The annual outing for wives and partners of members of the Livery and their friends was held on a glorious autumn day, starting at No I London, Aspley House Hyde Park Corner the former home of the Duke of Wellington. Many of you will have driven past this grand house on the corner of Hyde Park and Park Lane and wondered what it is? Inside is a treasure trove of paintings and beautiful furniture which forms a collection open to the pubic although part of the house is still used by the current Duke of Wellington and the Wellesley Family. Designed to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the dazzling interiors are magnificent examples of the Regency style. They provided the perfect backdrop for entertaining, particularly at the annual Waterloo Banquets which commemorated the great victory.

Afterwards, the 35 ladies went to lunch at the Athenaeum Hotel on Piccadilly, which was a lovely occasion, an extremely good lunch and such a good opportunity to meet with the other halves, when you learn more about our fellow Livery men in 5 mins than in many years from the men.

The guests included Past Master Rob Bould wife Jenna, Past Master Gillett’s wife Patricia, Lady Bear and The Junior Warden but my special thanks goes Lady Jenna Davies who organised the tour and the lunch for us and to Janie Strage who helped her. Well done girls!


Installation Lunch at the Carpenters Hall

The Carpenters Company is one of the oldest of the Liveries having been established in 1429 and is one of the wealthiest companies, owning property around the Hall in Throgmorton Avenue just off London Wall. The Hall was re built in 1960, following the destruction of the previous hall in the Second World War; it is in the style of a Georgian building.

The Carpenters’ Company has its own Trades’ Training Scholl located in Stratford which trains apprentices in the woodworking crafts and the Company also supports the Carpenters Primary School  in Stratford.

The lunch on 14 August was to celebrate the installation of Martin Samuel as Master, although not a carpenter by trade – being at Lloyds, he comes from a long line of Liverymen and his grandfather was a Master of the company.

Very late to the joys of mixed company, the Carpenters only started to admit women in 2004, and I have to say sitting as I was surrounded by eminent Past Masters I did feel something of a novelty, as always the company and the food and wine were superb and almost made up for being in London in the middle of summer.


Leonard Eppel in Memoriam

It is with great sadness that I am writing to inform you of the death of Mr Eppel at home on Sunday 12th August following a short illness.

I am sure we would all like to send our condolences to his widow Barbara and we will miss him from our fold.


Archbishop Tenison Careers Day

John Fenner once again organised a most successful day at Archbishop Tenison School. On 17 July over 30 volunteers from WCCS, Tesco’s, Barclays Bank and Mitre were at the school to provide interview practice to year 10 (15 year olds). There were over 80 boys, who were given 4 job specifications to choose from ranging from working in a bar at Kings Cross to being a shop assistant in a big store – maybe Tesco.

The interviews were carried out in pairs and the boys were asked to prepare a person swot analysis and were put through a mock interview, with the interviewers giving feedback and asking the boys what their plans are for the future.

It was quite a challenge to bridge the age gap for some of us and find points of common interest – not being a football fan myself and knowing even less about rap music – and to explain the working world to such inexperienced young people. But the boys are aspirational and the most charming part of the day is to listen to their ideas and realise that in spite of all the hurdles ahead of them – their still view the world as their oyster.

John and my thanks go to all those who attended on the day, including The Junior Warden, the Clerk, Clwyd Roberts, Duncan Moss, Michael Soames, William Wilson (my son) and all those others who helped on the day.


Livery Music Concert

On Sunday the 15th July the Clerk, the Junior Warden and her husband and I attended the Livery Music Concert at the Barbican to hear the London Symphony Orchestra. The Concert was organised by the Musicians company and was attended by many of the Livery Masters and the Lord Mayor.

The concert, conducted by Valery Geriev, included music by Debussy and Stravinsky and Le temps l’horloge (Time and the clock), composed by  Dutilleux for the soprano  Renée Fleming, who sang at the Diamond Jubilee BBC Concert .

A wonderful evening of music and song.


Company Sailing Day

Livery Sailing Day
On Monday the 2nd July, lead by John Woodman a group of intrepid sailors took to the high seas for the Livery sailing day, the weather was in keeping with the rest of this summer, high winds, pouring rain and rough seas. The company had chartered two Sunsail F40 yachts, which are streamlined for racing, the competitive spirit was in evidence from the out set, with the Masters boat challenging Past Master Johnston’s crew to a whisk around the Solent .
The first hour out was marked by the Masters boat losing the spinnaker in the water and a man over board exercise that required the combined skills of Richard Wilson and John Woodman hanging over the side to capture the sail before it sank to the bottom.
After 3 hotly contested races, the Masters boat was declared the winner due to some crafty tactics and a lot of shouting about ‘Water’.

The crews included
Boat 1 Past Masters Boat
Laurence Johnstone
Mark Lacey
Brian Lamden
Rick Lewis
Robert Stiles
Trevor Saunders
Chris Thwaites
John Townsend
Howard Woollaston
Vanessa Clarke

Boat 2 The Masters Boat
James Dunlop
Ann Heywood
Walter Love
Bill Mellstrom
Howard Roddis
Julian Smith
Mickola Wilson
Richard Wilson
John Woodman
Simon Wooller


The Innholders Dinner

The dinner was held on 3 July at the ancient Innholders Hall, just near Cannon Street Station, a truly traditional dinner with beautiful singing from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The Master Ian White is a Chartered Surveyor and described the evening as his nemesis as it completed a long and happy career in the City.


PMA Awards Evening

Co hosted with the Estates Gazette this was the 20th year of the Property Marketing Awards, which seeks to raise the standard of marketing material within the property industry. The net proceeds go to the Livery Charitable Trust and this year the event was held at the swish Soho Hotel and the prizes were given by Jason Leonard, the many capped international rugby prop forward. Sponsors included GVA, Malcom Hollis and Tricorn.

The entries were of a very high standard, but the out and out winners were the Candy and Candy team, who won the Victor Ludorum as well as four other classes with their stunning entries, although a special mention must also be made of the Shard web site — have a look for yourselves at this amazing peice of marketing material.

The Candy and Candy team with the Master and rugby international Jason Leonard -the skinny one on the right


Visit to Stratford upon Avon to see Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Last week a group of 40 Liverymen and friends visited the Royal Shakespeare theatre at Stratford on Avon to see Julius Caesar in the newly redeveloped theatre. It was a stunning production, with an all black caste. Set in an unnamed African country, in modern times, with the battle between a Dictator and his enemies, resonating with the story of a power struggle which spans the centuries.
Seated in the stalls, almost under the actors, gave us a really close up view of the intensity of the acting and meant we ran the risk of a shower of invective as Cassio and Brutus played out their tragedy.
We had dinner beforehand in the Alverston Manor hotel, which set us up for the production and then we walked across the bridge to the stunning new theatre and for once the weather was kind and we made it in the dry.
It was a pleasure to see some of our Liverymen who are local to the area join us including Michael Hodges David Marsh and Ian McRae and their wives, the party adjourned to the bar in the hotel afterwards where Roger Kallman and Brian Shepherd regaled Past Master Bould and others with stories of the olden days of the property  industry until the early hours.

Gregory Doran’s Julius Caesar

Paterson Joseph as Brutus and Ray Fearon as Mark Antony… “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”


Ladies Dinner, 11 June 2012

Last night we dined at the Tallow Chandlers Hall, it was the Ladies dinner and the Livery and their ladies, partners and escorts made a wonderful array of colour as we sat down to a splendid meal and were entertained by the Guild Hall School of Music singing operatic love songs with their magnificent voices echoing across this beautiful and intimate Hall.

My Guests were Kevin McCabe, property entrepreneur and Chairman of Sheffield United Football Club, who talked about football and surprised me and others by presenting me with a glass football and a football shirt – number 9. My other speaker was the well known celebrity – secret millionaire – Nick Leslau, who also talked about football – and his first love rugby as he is a part owner of the Saracens rugby club. His acceptance of the toast to the guests was most insightful and poignant, reflecting on the woes of those who own sports clubs and how the heart rules the head – even of the most successful business man when it comes to sport.

Our other guests included Sir Christopher the Master Tallow Chandler and his wife Lady Marilyn Pryke, Peter Faulkner Master Farmer and his wife Alison Faulkner, The Master Loriner Nick Fraser  and his wife Marilyn, the Master Mason Derek Sayer and Alderman Sir Michael Bear (Master Pavior & Court Assistant) and his wife Lady Barbara Bear.

Mickola Wilson


The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Luncheon

On Tuesday 5th June, The Wardens and I had a wonderful time at the Queen’s Jubilee lunch at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament. The Lunch was hosted by The Livery Companies and the City of London and included some 700 guests representing the companies’ abundant trades and professions. The National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain performed as the Queen arrived at Westminster Hall.

The grand setting for the Diamond Jubilee banquet

Master Mercer Thomas Sheldon welcomed the Queen, praising her ‘unstinting’ devotion to duty. ‘Much has changed in the last six decades. But it has been the age of Elizabeth,’ he told the guests. ‘You embody the very best of our national values. You are our constant in a changing world.’

The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry also attended the meal.

At the request of the Lord Great Chamberlain, our guests on the Surveyors table included representatives from Society, and we invited guests from the affiliates of the armed forces, our schools and the CSTT apprentices and Ironbridge.

From left to right: Major Michael James RE(V), Squadron Leader Stuart Talton RAuxAF, Roger Southam (Senior Warden), Mickola Wilson (Master), Anna Brennand (Ironbridge), Liz Edwards (Junior Warden), Major Michael James RE(V), Azaan Akbar (Robert Clack student), Lt Mark Rowbotham RN (representing HMS Echo), Junaid Oughradar (apprentice representing CSTT), Elizabeth Sims (headmistress, Archbishop Tenison's School)

The luncheon was absolutely splendid occasion, with most of the immediate Royal Family there who sat on individual tables rather than just a top table, we were next to Prince Charles and were able to admire the outfits of the ladies, The Queen, Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge as they came into the Hall and processed out of the North Door at the end of the luncheon – promptly at 2.30.

The menu included Cornish crab, Cambrian Mountain Lamb and a Sympathy of Desserts and was delicious. The wines, which I have been asked to give you details included:

•    Sancerre Jean-Paul Picard, Bue, Loire Valley France 2011
•    Chateau Cap de Faugeres, Cotes de Castillion Bordeaux France 2007 – which I am told were exceptionally good.

The Junior Warden and I wore hats and the Senior Warden, looking very dashing in his morning suit, compromised and wore his WCCS bowtie.

This occasion was definitely the highlight of my year as Master and it was a great pleasure to invite our guests, who also appreciated this once in a lifetime event.

The Master, Liz Sims head mistress of Archbishop Tennison School and The Junior Warden

The Senior Warden

Azaan Akbar and Junaid Oughradar

Major Michael James RE(V) Lt Mark Rowbotham, RN (representing HMS Echo), Squadron Leader Stuart Talton, RAuxAF


Garden Party at Buckingham Palace

After weeks of rain, the 22nd May was a perfect day – beautiful blue skies and temperatures of over 20 degrees in London and my Family and I were fortunate to have been invited to the Queens garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Decked out in the full regalia of morning suits, summer dresses and hats for both ladies and gentlemen, we walked the length of the Mall, which is already dressed in union jacks ready for the Queen’s jubilee, on entering  the Palace through the main gates we  were quickly swept past the tourists and into the stately rooms which lead to the gardens.

Those who have been before will know that the royal gardens form a wonderful oasis of peace in the centre of London, with  immaculate lawns and flower beds leading to an avenue of lime trees and a series of paths around the lakes and areas of rhododendrons.

The Queen arrived with Prince Philip and Princess Ann, promptly at 4.0 pm, to a round of applause and the national anthem played by the two military bands .There were about 6,000 people there and we stood in groups to see the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, who were meeting and greeting people before they stepped into the Royal Tent for tea.

We retreated to some welcome shade under the trees and listened to the military bands playing and enjoyed a traditional English tea party style, cups of tea, lemonade, cucumber sandwiches and mini scones and chocolate cake and then ice cream.

The other guests came from all parts of the Empire and we were treated to wonderful show of costumes and outfits as we sat and people watched as they perambulated around the gardens. I saw a number of Masters and their families from other Livery companies, as this was a Livery day.

At six the Queen departed and although photographs of the Royal Family is forbidden, one generous soldier from the Household cavalry was kind enough to pose for a photo with my children in the grand courtyard that is just behind the grand facade to the Palace.

Mickola Wilson


Guildhall School of Music and Drama Percussion Competition

Since 1991 the Company has supported the Guildhall School of Music and Drama by providing a prize for the top pupil in one of their competitions, and for the second year running the prize this year was for the top student in the percussion section.

The school had held heats before the evening, and there were 3 final competitors – Emma King, George Barton and Felicity Hindle – who each played for about half an hour. The winner was judged by the adjudicator and renowned percussionist Colin Curry, who chose George Barton for his innovation and originality.

The instruments played by the students differed from a usual drum and cymbals kit, and included a marimba and kettle drums. The winning piece was entitled  “? Corporel” by the French avant-garde composer Vinko Globokar.

The music was to say the least ‘alternative’ and George’s main piece involved no instruments, but he beat out the rhythms on his bared chest and laid on the floor and moaned – in the style of a student having to get up in the morning – about 6 feet from the assembled company – you can see below, which included the Clerk, the Senior and Junior wardens and the Master, past Master Stuart Hibberdine and Assistant Duncan Moss.

After this rather shocking experience the members of the Livery party retreated to a delightful Italian restaurant with the competitors and their tutors for a fortifying glass of wine and plate of  pasta.

Mickola Wilson


The 358th Festival of the Sons of the Clergy

St Pauls CathedralOn the 15th May I attended the service at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy, which is charitable organisation founded in 1655, funnily enough by  the sons of a group of distressed clergyman.

The service is attended by the Lord Mayor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Sheriffs and the Bishop of London and many other representatives of the Church.

The preacher was the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church the Most Reverend David Chillingworth – who gave a heartfelt sermon on the role of the church and in particular the clergy in the community- he made them sound very human and caring – a bit of a contrast to the rather terrifying and impressive array of clergymen and dignitaries at the service.

The music was sublime, obviously some of the best choral pieces one is going to ever hear as we heard from the choir of St Pauls, and Bristol Cathedral and the Choir of Southwell Minster and the trumpeters from the Bands of the Blues and Royals. Perhaps the most beautiful of all was the Anthem to Psalm 48, set to music by Elgar – check your iTunes if you want a really fine listen.

Mickola Wilson


The Company of the Waterman and Lighterman of the River Thames

On the 23rd April  the Clerk and I attended a most delightful lunch as guests of the Waterman and Lighterman, it was held at the Waterman’s Hall which is just off lower Thames Street, almost on the water’s edge. This is where we are holding our lunch in July. The Waterman and Lighterman are not strictly a Livery company but they were granted their Arms in 1585 and the double dolphin supporting their shield is testimony to their watery heritage.

Their Master Paul Ludwig, is also her majesty’ s boat  master and will be performing a vital role in the Jubilee celebrations.

Mickola Wilson


135 Squadron Endeavour Award

Court assistant Mark Larard represented the master at 135 Squadron’s annual Endeavor Award dinner at Ewell. There were over 80 members of the unit present (past and current) to celebrate the award that WCCS makes each year.

This year’s recipient Sgt Neil Watkins was on fine form, and although he received the award from the master in November, this was his opportunity to speak. Sgt Watkins spoke to thank the company for the award, and then talked about what he does with the T.A. and why it means so much to him.

I was also asked to say a few words (always nice to have some notice!) and it gave me the opportunity to talk about why we have the affiliation, what it means to us, and our aim of giving recognition to those who serve on a voluntary basis. It also gave me a chance to thank all the wives and girlfriends who support those serving, and who are left holding the fort at weekends, or during annual camps, or mobilised tours when members go away to train and serve. I was then asked to present flowers to Mrs Liz Watkins to thank her for all the support she provides to Neil so he can continue to serve.

It was lovely to be back in Ewell with 135 and to be able to see the whole squadron on such good form.

Mark Larard


Getting to know you

This year instead of a forth dinner, we decided to have a “getting to know you drinks party” which was aimed at enabling Liverymen to meet the Court and each other on a more informal basis and providing an opportunity to introduce potential new members to the Livery.

Many thanks to Julian Smith, Colin Peacock and Simon Camamile for organising this event. Held on 17 April, it was as a great success, so much so that it has been suggested we might repeat the idea in the autumn. The party was hosted at the East India club in St James Square, a very splendid setting and convenient for those based in the West End. It was exceptionally well attended with over 100 people accepting – and even better most of them attended, in spite of the April showers outside. My special thanks to the Wardens and the Court who helped host the evening.

Colin had arranged for Chris Moon to speak at the event, Chris is an inspiration and entertained us from the rather precarious position standing on a table!

Chris Moon MBE is a motivational speaker who walks the talk. He was blown up in Africa clearing landmines and lost his lower arm and leg. Less than a year after leaving hospital he completed the London Marathon and now runs the world’s toughest ultra-marathons. He is one of the worlds few long distance (50 miles plus) amputee marathon runners and his motto is “you can do it”.


Lynn Painters and Stainers Awards

Evening Sun Old Harry by Deborah Walker RI

Tuesday was a busy day as, following lunch at the Masons, I attended the Prize Exhibition of the Lynn Painters and Stainers held at the Mall Galleries. My daughter Tori came along as she is currently is doing an internship at the Royal Academy, who provided most of the judges for the prize winners. The winners were announced by Ken Howard of the RA. The Mall Galleries – on The Mall – are lovely and worth a visit if you have not been, but that night they were packed out with an eclectic mix of Masters from the Livery, artists and what I can only describe as lovvies from the art world.

Tori and I were a little underwhelmed by the final winners, although I am sure they were technically good, so I have a attached a copy the picture we liked best.

Mickola Wilson


Masons Company Court Lunch

Derek Sayer

Master Derek Sayer, whose sombre photo belies his cheeky character

On Tuesday 27 March I was a guest of the Masons company at their Court lunch held, as always, at the Mercers Hall. The current Master is Derek Sayer, a Chartered Surveyor and member of our Livery, and the guests included our Past Master Michael Coats. The lunch was described as an informal affair – and it was extremely cosy and friendly with only 30 guests. But I was still required to sing for my supper by saying a few words at the end – mostly to make sure the Master was cut down to size – which was not too difficult as I have known Derek for over 30 years and he was a little slimmer in those days. However it was one of the most convivial and welcoming occasions – and I did not begrudge passing up their excellent wines (pearls to swine some might say) in return for being one of their number that day.

The Masons Company, ranked no 30, was formed with the object of regulating the craft of stonemasonry so that standards could be properly maintained and rewarded. The earliest available records of regulation are dated 1356 and were issued by the Court of Aldermen of the City of London.


United Guilds Service

St Pauls CathedralThe United Guilds service is held every year at St Paul’s Cathedral in celebration and thanks for the Livery companies. Many of you who have attended this wonderful  service  will know that it is a wonderful occasion – with a high degree of pageantry and pomp and circumstance.

The setting is magnificent and the music sublime, the little choir boys from St Paul’s choir school filed past looking the picture of innocence followed by the great and the good of the City and the Church. The Sermon was given by the Bishop of London and there was a reading by the Lord Mayor, followed by hymns and blessings – it was such a beautiful day we all felt blessed and grateful to be part of such a happy occasion.

The Chartered Surveyors were well represented – once I found them all tucked into aisle 43 – apart from myself and the Wardens and Clerk, there were Past Masters Lamden and Hartill, Simon Camamile, Janie Strange, William Nicol- Gent and others. After the service we adjourned to the Plaisterers hall for lunch and I left the party in full swing at 3.00 pm – Retirement is a wonderful thing.

Mickola Wilson


Mansion House Dinner

The Egyptian HallOn Thursday 22 March I represented the Company at the Lord Mayor’s dinner for Masters and Prime Wardens of the City Livery Companies at the Mansion House. This is the highlight of the Master’s year and a very splendid occasion with all the gentlemen in evening dress and the mistresses and escorts in their finery.

The Lord Mayor, David Wootten and the Lady Mayoress were heralded in by the Yeoman of the Guard and the musicians for the evening where from the HAC, who  played an eclectic mix of music including a selection of Beatles songs and the theme to phantom of the Opera.  The food was magnificent – how do they manage to cater for so many people at once – fillet of Yorkshire beef cooked to perfection and a pudding to die for!

The Master Mercer spoke on behalf of the guests, a most eloquent and charming speech on the philanthropy of the Livery.

I am gradually getting to know my fellow Masters, especially those of the modern companies and felt quite at home in spite of the magnificence of our surroundings.

Mansion HouseBuilt in the age of Hogarth, the Mansion House is a rare surviving Georgian town palace in central London. It was originally built to enable the Lord Mayor to represent the City in appropriate style; it also acts as a symbol of the City of London as the world’s leading international financial and trading centre.

Mickola Wilson


Spring Dinner in Vintners Hall

On Monday night, 19th March the Vintners Hall rang to the sounds of Mud, mud glorious mud as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama singers lead the sing-along with Liverymen and guests at the Spring dinner.

Attended by 140 people the guests included Masters from the Tobacco Pipemakers, the Plaisterers, the City of London Solicitors, the Chartered Secretary and Administrators and the Constructors and representatives from the armed forces with whom the WCCS has an affiliation. The principal speaker was JohnLivingstone-Learmonth, an internationally renown wine writer specialising in the Rhone region – bio below. John recommended the wines served at the dinner, and helped choose the food menu to complement the wines in tastes and flavours. These were:

2009   Condrieu Chery Andre Perret Northern Rhone
2007 Cornas La Geynale, Vincent Paris Northern Rhone
2005 Cornas La Geynale, Robert Michel Northern Rhone

The wines were chosen to demonstate the wide variety of some of the lesser known wines of the region, although the earthy hues of the 2007 Cornas was not to everyone’s taste.

Replying on behalf of the guests Anne Kavenagh from AXA Real Estate, who reminded the dinner that AXA owns vineyards in France and the rest of Europe and that having a glass of fine wine is an established tradition in AXA and helps foster the good will and fellowship which was also in evidence at our Spring dinner.

John Livingstone-Learmonth has been visiting the Rhône vineyards since June 1973.

“The Wines of the Rhône” was the first book written on the Rhône, and appeared in three editions (the last one published by Faber (1992, 680 pages). “The Wines of the Northern Rhône” (University of California Press, 2005) won the Louis Roederer International Wine Book Award in 2006. In December 2011, “Gigondas, Its Wines, Its Land, Its People” was published in French and English (Bottin Gourmand and IG & AV); here John covers every vintage of the wines of Gigondas from 1959 to 2009. His Rhône website is

John’s articles have appeared in a range of British magazines, notably Decanter, Wine, and the World of Fine Wine, as well as the Singapore Wine Review. He contributes to annuals such as the Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine Book, the Wine Atlas, and the Oz Clarke Wine Atlas and Pocket Book. He has held tastings in Britain, the United States, France and Asia, and tasted on Panels including the Mâcon, San Francisco and McLaren Vale South Australia Wine Fairs. He is an Honorary Citizen of the Rhône village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and in July 2006 was made a Chevalier of the Ordre du Mérite Agricole by The French State.

Anne Kavanagh is the Global Head of Asset Management of AXA Real Estate, Europe’s largest Real Estate Investment Manager with over €40 billion of assets under management. In this role, Anne is responsible for transactions, development and asset management and is also a member of the Management Board.

Prior to joining AXA Real Estate Anne was Managing Director at Lazard. Before, she was Head of Real Estate Europe at CPIM and an International Director at Jones Lang LaSalle.  With over 25 years in the real estate business, Anne has extensive experience in capital markets, investment and asset management.

Mickola Wilson


Mercers Company Royal Ballet Master Class

Mercers CompanyOn Wednesday 14th March we went to the Mercers Hall and, along with a glittering array of Masters from over 60 Livery companies, were entertained right royally by pupils from the Royal Ballet in Master Class. We saw pupils from both the junior and senior schools demonstrate the art of ballet, starting with the simple Plié and ending with the graduates completing the most amazingly athletic jumps.

ballet dancers

The class was followed by Supper, and I sat next to Bill Scarborough, a Mercer and a Chartered Surveyor though not one of our Liverymen (note to self, invite to the ‘getting to know you’ drinks on the 21st April) who was telling me about the new developments being completed by the Mercers in Covent Garden – a place near to my heart – vis Seven Dials. For those that have not been there, the new development of St Martin’s Court is a happening place, with some good new bars and restaurants.

Covent Garden

Mickola Wilson


Sustainable City Awards

Raymond BlancOn Thursday 1 March I was invited to the Sustainable City Awards at the Mansion House. The awards were hosted by Raymond Blanc, who regaled us with fishy stories which, given his strong French accent (in spite of living in the UK for over 20 years), made it quite difficult to catch the punch line, but his beaming smile and little giggle was enough to make us all laugh along.

WCCS support the Sustainable Buildings Award, which was won by The Castle Climbing Centre, details below, but Laurence don’t even think about it…

The Castle Climbing Centre
The Castle is the premier indoor climbing centre in South East England. It is housed in a Grade II Victoria building, which has been refurbished to the highest environmental standards which has inspired staff and customers alike to live sustainable lifestyles.

For further details see

Mickola Wilson


Inter Livery Swimathon

On Monday 12 March WCCS hosted the 20th annual Inter Livery Swimathon at the RAC club Epsom. Thirteen Liveries participated – see the list below – in this arduous but enjoyable task. The Swimathon was first conceived by Sir Brian Hill and our Clerk and was one of the first events that involved a cross-liverychallenge, the aim being to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s appeal.

A most appropriate event for my year with its joint themes of sport (in the year of the Olympics) and ‘getting to know you’.

This year the Lord Mayor’s appeal is ‘Fit for the Future’ which aims to promote better health opportunities for all, including those from some of the UK’s most deprived areas, and the WCCS is donating a minimum of £5000 to the Lord Mayor as part of our charitable giving, plus any contributions from sponsors of the swimmers.

The WCCS teams included: Sir Brian Hill, Brian Lamden, Sven Topel, Digby Flower, David Mann, James Bryer, Tony Collins, Brett Robinson and Amanda Jackson. And of these Sir Brian Hill, Brian Lamden and Digby Flower swam in the original Swimathon 20 years ago.

There were 18 teams in total, and the Drapers fielded 2 teams – one of livery man and one of pupils from the Bancrofts School – whose young fit swimmers were in stark contrast to some of the older but none the less enthusiastic swimmers. Each swimmer was asked to swim 34 lengths, equating to 1000 meters. The participants took to the water with enthusiasm and some of the stronger swimmers like Digby and James seemed to manage the whole course at a cracking pace – heads down, doing the crawl, whereas some of us took it at a gentler pace doing a dignified breast stroke in the slow lane.

After the swimming, there was an informal dinner in the RAC Club, attended by most of the teams and Masters from companies attending including , Mr John Lockyer, Master Actuary, Lt Col AnthonyPaterson-Fox, Master Plumber Surveyor His Honour Giles Forrester, Upper Bailiff Weavers, Mr Paul Bethel, Master Framework Knitter, Nicola  Frazer Master of the Loriners  and members of our Court. The award to the company that had raised the most for the Lord Mayor’s appeal in 2010 was presented by Sir Brian to the Master of the Loriners and in the spirit of good fellowship and healthy competition he challenged the other companies to participate in the Swimathon in future years.

Livery Companies participating in this year’s Swimathon:
1.    Chartered Surveyors
2.    Paviours
3.    Weavers
4.    Haberdashers
5.    Framework Knitters
6.    City of London Solicitors
7.    Actuaries
8.    Chartered Accountants
9.    International Bankers
10.    Plumbers
11.    Stationers
12.    Loriners


135 Squadron Dinner

Saturday night saw me on the road to Ewell to the officers mess of 135 Squadron for dinner, hosted by Major Michael James.

The Master was supported by Mark Larard, himself a member of the TA. We were surrounded by officers in their red and black mess kit, sporting their assorted medals, including the new Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal which was only awarded in early February – it was a very smart occasion.

The squadron are all reservists, that is part time soldiers, who volunteer to provide a vital role in the support to front line troops, by surveying terrain, preparing maps, and distributing vital information to those planning for manoeuvres on the ground.

These days the role of the surveyor is no longer tied to a theodolite and level but is based on an extremely sophisticated GPS system. But these are backed up by observations on the ground and many of the Squadron have seen active service in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the more day to day survey role on the Green line in Cyprus.

The Master was sitting next to their Honorary Colonel Vanessa Lawrence, who is also the head of the Ordinance Survey, a lady surveyor and geographer, who has lead a spectacularly adventurous life, taking her all over the world, to a number of battle zones, acting as advisor to Nelson Mandela,  and when injured in Fiji being rescued by Billy Connelly – don’t ask – no doubt there is a book to follow.

The association with the Squadron goes back many years and is much appreciated by the members as it shows recognition and support from the civilian world, at a time when many do not understand or appreciate how very brave and committed our armed forces are in fulfilling their role in defending our country.

Carry on the good works lads!

Mickola Wilson