September began with the Court Meeting at Wax Chandlers’ Hall followed by a Court Luncheon with the Stewards and consorts which was a most enjoyable event and a good opportunity for me to extend my thanks for the support of the Court and Stewards and all their hard work over the course of my year and also to thank the Learned Clerk and the other Officers of the Company. It was a particular pleasure to be able to use the wonderful port decanters given to the Company by my Father and Past Master Hugh Fuller. As ever Mark Grove’s food and service were superb and I very much hope that this luncheon will become a more regular event.

After interviewing four more prospective new members in the first 12 days of September membership continues to grow and it is good to see Liverymen wishing to bring friends and colleagues into the Company in such numbers. I am also delighted to advise that the outgoing Chief Royal Engineer is to transfer his Honorary Liveryman status into full membership at the December Court.

A flurry of events followed with two trips to St Paul’s for Evensong including processing at the Musicians’ Company Evensong both services were followed by Receptions in the evocative Nelson Room in the crypt. Next came the Painter Stainers’ Dinner in their newly decorated Hall. This was a most enjoyable evening where the Master Painter Stainer welcomed the principal guests by comparing them to characters from Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers – I was somewhat flattered to have been selected as D’Artagnan!

Another busy week followed beginning with welcoming the Sheriffs and their consorts back to dry land after their row from Chelsea Pier to HMS President at St Katherine’s Dock which raised an excellent £14,000 for the Sheriff and Recorder’s Fund. That evening Catherine and I found ourselves at Guildhall for the Vintry and Dowgate Ward Club AGM and Dinner. 

A hectic day next with a Reception to celebrate the presentation of the Hon Liz Green’s Shrieval Badge and Chain of Office before heading off to Essendon Golf Club for the Company’s Golf Day. Many congratulations and thanks to our joint Golf Captains Court Assistant Simon Martin and Deputy Master David Szymanski for arranging such an excellent day and congratulations too to all the golfers who braved the windy conditions.

Sadly the following Monday saw the funeral for Past Master Michael Christopher and it was a testament to the high esteem in which he was held that so many Tylers and Bricklayers were in attendance and thank you to all those who travelled to Essex to be there. This was the start of an extremely busy week as I headed to Glaziers Hall that evening for the Glaziers’ Autumn Dinner and Catherine and I then had an early start for Heathrow as we headed to Bologna at the kind invitation of the Tile Association. We visited the Cersaie exhibition and met representatives from the US Tiling industry before attending the European Tile Fixers’ Board Meeting where it was not only a pleasure to catch up with some old friends but also to learn of the challenges facing the European industry which amongst others include the difficulty of encouraging people into the profession. Huge thanks to the Tile Association for their hospitality and we managed to enjoy two excellent dinners amongst the work in what is rightly regarded as the food capital of Italy.

On returning to London I attended the Admission of The Sheriffs at Guildhall and was privileged to be invited to the Sheriffs’ Breakfast which followed. Congratulations to the Hon. Liz Green and Alderman Vincent Keaveny and their consorts Peter and Amanda who will I’m sure make an excellent Shrieval team. Congratulations also to outgoing Sheriffs Tim Hailes and Neil Redcliffe and their consorts Fiona and Emma with whom we have had so much fun this year.

More civic events on the following Monday with the supporters Breakfast and Election of the Lord Mayor followed by lunch at Stationers’ Hall where I was mistakenly seated with the Framework Knitters! However as their table was next to ours it mattered little. After a day’s respite Catherine and I attended the Fit for the Future Conference at the University of East London. This was one of a series of ongoing consultations about how to deliver better training and education in the post GCSE age groups and to encourage vocational training. The Master Builders Merchant and Past Master Educator were also in attendance and it is good that the Livery movement now have a voice on this body which is already seeing results - not least in construction with two East London colleges now actively seeking input from micro businesses and designing courses to suit their specific requirements incorporating day release courses as opposed to the Government’s standard two year full time training. The three of us intend to continue to attend these events and will report progress back to the Livery movement in due course.

After the conference we headed to St Paul’s for the Musicians’ Company Evensong and Reception which was a fabulous event with which to end my year in office as the following morning saw the Installation Court and Service and the election of our first lady Master. Congratulations to Lesley and together with Malcolm I hope you both have as enjoyable a year as Catherine and I although hopefully it will not go quite as quickly as ours seems to have!

Not that this was an end to events as aside of my role as Deputy Master and attending the Company’s excellent 450thanniversary Dinner at Tallow Chandlers’ Hall, I received a number of other invitations and the 1stNovember saw us at Mansion House for the Lady Mayoress’ Reception and the 5than invitation to join the Master Cook for a moving Remembrance Luncheon - the last event in Mark Grove’s Mastership year. Catherine and I were also privileged to receive an invitation to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at Guildhall with all the associated ceremony and splendour. It was a particular delight to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury speak with some passion on the need for vocational training and the importance of ‘T’ levels.

All in all a superb way in which to finish an exhausting but hugely enjoyable year.