The afternoon started with the interview of an applicant for membership of our Worshipful Company. The interviews are conducted by the Master, Wardens and Clerk and are always interesting because they allow an opportunity for the candidates to provide as much information about their careers, aims and aspirations as they feel appropriate. This gives the panel excellent information on which to base their decision about the candidate.

Following the interview, I chaired my first meeting of the Court as Master. We started the meeting with a minute's silence in memory of Past Master Jeremy Stokes who was much loved by us all.

There was a full agenda to get through with lots of essential business, the first of which was the pleasurable installation of a new Court Assistant, Liveryman David White. David pledged his declaration of intent and then took his place at the table. We discussed the Company finances and statements of account, which were the most up to date we have had for many years. Congratulations to Upper Warden Simon Martin for making this happen. There were also, inter alia, reports from the Craft Committee, Communications Committee, and Treasures Committee. An important item of business discussed was the replacement Renter Warden's medal and a way forward was agreed. Thanks to Past Master Roger Westbrook for his wonderful ideas and his work in this connection.

Following the meeting of the Court, we proceeded to the Trading House to join the Mistress and other consorts and partners. The Mistress had organised a lovely pre-Christmas drinks reception for everyone, which was greatly appreciated by all who attended.

There then followed the wonderful Christmas Carol Service at St Margaret Lothbury, by kind permission of the Rector, the Reverend Prebendary Jeremy Crossley and led by our own Chaplain, The Reverend John Cook. This is always the highlight of my Christmas events, with wonderful music and singing by the Lothbury Singers, organised so marvellously by the Director of Music, Honorary Freeman Richard Townend. It is a truly wonderful event that cannot fail to get everyone into the Christmas spirit.

To finish the evening off we all made our way to the Guildhall Club for a delicious Christmas supper of stroganoff of beef and lamb fillet with saffron rice and a selection of vegetables followed by an exquisite Christmas pudding cheesecake, all accompanied by excellent wines chosen by the Wine Committee. A wonderful end to a marvellous day and a great way to start the Christmas period.

A Very Happy Christmas and New Year to all.