I extend warm Summer greetings to you all and hope that everyone continues to be fit and well.
The month of May continued with good news in terms of Covid-19 vaccinations, with the roll out continuing apace - some 40 million UK adults have received a first jab (over 75% of the UK adult population), and around 30 million have received both jabs, such great work by our NHS and volunteers. Although the emergence of new variants means we have to continue being cautious, it does appear that we are on the right path to return to something resembling normality very soon. We are eagerly awaiting the announcement by the Prime Minister on 14th June to see if the Government’s programme of opening up is going to be maintained. I sincerely hope so as we have our wonderful Masters' and Clerks' luncheon planned and ready for 22nd June. Fingers tightly crossed!
Turning to other, non-Covid matters in May, there were several local and regional elections held, with varying results around the country. Also, Leicester City won the FA Cup Final for the first time, and the final Debenhams store closed after 240 years in business.
In the City, things were fairly quiet for a change. Zoom meetings continue to take place on a regular basis, but we have also started to take tentative steps towards holding face to face meetings. I attended our very first face to face T&B Committee meeting in over 15 months - the Treasures Committee, which was held at the home of Past Master Roger Westbrook CMG. Huge thanks to Roger for hosting this first meeting and for kindly supplying the fine champagne to celebrate our first get together. It was good to be in each other's company once more.
I also joined the Renter Warden, Upper Warden, Clerk, Chairman of the Treasures Committee and Liveryman Martin Reading to carry out the Company's annual stock take at Carpenters' Hall. It was really nice to be greeted warmly by the staff at Carpenters' Hall who all seemed as pleased to see us as we were to see them. Very slowly, it certainly feels like things are beginning to take on a form of normality again. We finished off the stock take after several hours and ended the day with a wonderful lunch at a local pub, marvellous!
I continue to meet with the Wardens and Clerk via Zoom on a regular basis to discuss Company business and make plans for the future. I also attended a meeting of the new Membership Committee and interviewed a new candidate for admission to the Company.
The Lord Mayor called together all current Masters to form the Past Masters' Association (PMA) for 2021. This would normally take place over a weekend at Ironbridge, but we contented ourselves with a Zoom session. The most pressing item of business was choosing a name for the PMA and after much deliberation and with over 50 suggestions, the name chosen was "The Unmutables" (not Immutables).
I attended a smaller number of City events in May, but they continue to be most enjoyable. There was a wonderful talk entitled "Bovines and Banquets" given by Past Master Horner, starting with the history of the company which was established in 1234 and outlining the many uses of horn and how important it was for early window panes, drinking vessels, knife handles, combs, reading aids and of course purely decorative items such as snuff boxes and sticks. Horn played an early role in the medical world with measuring vessels and spoons made out of translucent horn.
I also attended a fascinating tour of Hampstead and Highgate where we explored the picturesque streets and green spaces to discover the hidden history of this beautiful part of the London.
Additionally we held our own Company event which was a virtual tour of the "Secret Gardens "of the City of London. Katie Wignall, a qualified Blue Badge Guide took us for a lovely long walk around some of the most beautiful hidden gardens in the City. Many of these are in plain sight, but get overlooked as people hurry past them. It was a most interesting and entertaining event, thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.
I am looking forward to seeing many Company members and guests at our Masters' and Clerks' luncheon at Trinity House on Tuesday 22nd June, and also at my Annual Banquet at Saddlers’ Hall on Wednesday 14th July, which is going to be a very special occasion after such a long period of absence from each other.