It is an honour and a privilege to be installed as the Master of the Tylers and Bricklayers’ Company. To follow in a 600 year line of Masters is quite daunting but I look forward to my year with enthusiasm.
As all previous Masters will know, the year starts with a full diary through the months of October, November and December, and it comes as a little bit of a shock to the system as the events and commitments come thick and fast!
Thursday 6th October 2016 was a very special day for Hilary and I and we would like to thank everyone for their good wishes and support. The day of the installation started with a relatively short Court meeting at Carpenters’ Hall, followed by the procession to St Margaret Lothbury for the Installation. Liveryman Steve Trott carried the Company banner with style and the Master, Wardens and Court Assistants followed behind. The procession is a wonderful experience as it is the only time that we are on public view. The installation went very smoothly and was followed by the Church Service. We processed back to Carpenters’ Hall for lunch, after a two year absence, and I was delighted that the Master Carpenter joined us as a guest. A special thanks goes to my guest of honour, Sir Neville Simms, who spoke with interest, relevance and humour.
But the day was not over! After a quick change into evening dress, we managed to get to Grocers’ Hall in time for the Constructors’ Company installation dinner. A full-on first day and the sign of things to come!
To date I have attended 23 events including Company committee meetings.
Following the hectic first day, my first event was the Turners’ Company ‘Wizardry in Wood’ reception at Carpenters’ Hall, which was organized to display the work of some very skilled wood turners. Many pieces of incredible detail were on display and available for sale. This is a craft/industry that seems to be ‘under the radar’ for some reason.
The following day we attended the St Paul’s School concert and supper at Mercers’ Hall. This was a rare opportunity to visit the hall of Company No.1. It was another school event the next day with the City of London School for Girls prize giving at Guildhall, with prizes presented by the Lord Mayor. These prizes included the Noreen Dickins’ prizes which are donated by the T&Bs.
To attend the installation dinner of the Master Builders Merchant at Drapers’ Hall was a special pleasure, as Steve and Christine Turner are very good friends. Steve was in good form and thoroughly enjoyed his day. I have a close connection through business with the Builders Merchants’ community and met many good friends and acquaintances.
Apart from the T&B installation, the highlight of the year so far is probably our trip to Warsaw, as guests of NFRC, to attend the 26th World Championships for Young Roofers. Having some experience of Poles through my ancestry, I was somewhat prepared for their eating and drinking habits. Copious amounts of pork and vodka were made available through their wonderful hospitality, but we managed to maintain consumption at a sensible level. The young roofers, of various disciplines, produced some excellent work, which was rewarded by prizes at a Gala Dinner in the National sports stadium.
Hosted by James Campbell, a Fellow of the College, a group of 30 T&Bs visited Queens’ College, Cambridge. James was able to lead a tour of the college, which was extremely interesting including visits to areas that are not open to the public. The visit concluded with a very pleasant lunch.
All the Masters were present to place a cross at the opening of the Garden of Remembrance at St Paul’s, headed by the Lord Mayor. A very moving occasion as one would expect.
This was followed by a short walk to Plaisterers’ Hall for the Plaisterers’ Company training awards lunch. This was the first event at their hall following the renovation after the flooding. This is the largest Livery Hall in the City and has a capacity of 350. It is always a delight to witness young tradesmen being recognized and rewarded for their good work.
More awards followed with the Brick Awards dinner at the Hilton Park Lane. Our Company has a link to this event, as Past Master David Cole-Adams sits on the judging panel. I have attended this event on many occasions and it remains a very lively and boisterous occasion!
The mood changed completely the following day with attendance at the Silent Ceremony – the installation of the new Lord Mayor – in Guildhall. This is a special ceremony to attend due to its long tradition. Apart from the Lord Mayor swearing the oath of office, the whole ceremony is carried out in silence.
Along with other Masters, I was able to hear the Lord Mayor’s annual address to the Livery at Mansion House where he explained his objectives for the year. The Lord Mayor is a very natural speaker who always brings humour to what he says.
The Actuaries’ Company organized a very interesting lecture at Staple Inn Hall, given by economist John Kay. He explained the history of insurance and the subtle difference between insurance and gambling. He also discussed the risks of excessive levels of re-insurance.
We accompanied Jeff and Catherine Fuller to SkillBuild at the NEC, Birmingham. Both NFRC and TTA acted as hosts. All of the three T&B crafts were displayed, by some very talented young craftsmen. The competition pieces were very challenging with the bricklaying piece being extremely difficult. This visit provided the opportunity to meet a number of influential people in our industry.
I was invited by the Carpenters’ Company to the Building Crafts College awards at Carpenters’ Hall. The Carpenters’ Company sponsor this college, which provides places for over 100 students. The college focuses on the crafts of carpentry and stonemasonry. These awards provide great encouragement to the students and provide an incentive for others to join the industry.
The launch of the Big Curry Lunch was held at the City of London Club. The lunch is a Mayoral function that raises significant funds for ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity. £250k was raised in 2016 and the target for 2017 is £450k. The Lord Mayor spoke to the gathering via video link from Kuwait. I was able to discuss the lunch with Court Assistant Simon Martin, who sits on the organizing committee. The T&Bs provide some financial support for this lunch.
Both the Clerk and I attended the Paviors’ Company Autumn Dinner at Drapers’ Hall. This was a very well attended event held in superb surroundings. As with the Builders Merchants, I have historical links to this industry and was able to catch up with some old friends.
In addition to these functions I have attended the Wine Committee, Communications Committee, Craft Committee, Finance Committee and Charitable Trust Trustees meetings. I have also met with a prospective member to explain the history of the Livery Companies and the Tylers and Bricklayers.
All in all, a very enjoyable albeit busy start to the year. Following the Carol Service I have a three week break as we visit our children, Hannah and John, who both live in Melbourne, Australia. Christmas in 30degree heat alongside a BBQ always seems strange, but we will be thinking of you all as we celebrate the Festive Season.