Following the meetings of the Finance and Communications Committees I met up with Maureen and we made our way to the In and Out Naval and Military Club to join the Royal British Legion at a special event hosted by their new National President, Lt General James Bashall CB CBE.
We were warmly welcomed by staff of the Royal British Legion who gave us very interesting information about the work of the Legion, including showing us a poignant film about the work which moved everyone deeply. For almost 100 years the Legion has been a constant presence, championing the unique contribution of the Armed Forces community, providing life changing support and ensuring that the sacrifice and service of those who have gone before is honoured and remembered.
Lt General Bashall, who has had a distinguished 34 year career, gave a talk about the Legion's strategic objectives and then introduced an amazing war veteran who had been on the HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War. He gave an extremely moving speech about his time in the forces and how he had been chatting to many friends below decks just moments before the Argentinian Exocet missile hit the ship.killing them all. He talked very openly about the mental health problems he and his colleagues have suffered over the years, and was full of praise for the wonderful work of the Royal British Legion in helping so many people like himself.
Maureen and I felt very privileged to be at this important and significant event.
It is the pleasant duty of all Masters to attend as many of the Company's Committees as time will allow. Today it was the Finance and Communications Committees which have generally taken place on the same day over the past few years. The Finance Committee, chaired by the Upper Warden, Simon Martin, covered a wide range of items including the Company investment performance, cash flow projections, the progress of quarterage collection for the year, financial policies and procedures and, most importantly, the annual accounts for the Past Master's year. This is the first time that the annual accounts have been completed so quickly after the year end and much thanks for this must go to the chairman of the committee, Simon Martin, for doggedly pursuing this goal. It will be very satisfying to present the most current year's accounts to Common Hall in February of next year.
The Communications Committee followed after lunch, chaired by the Renter Warden Professor John Schofield. We covered a number of issues in connection with membership of the Company and the various events that will be taking place over the next 12 months, including identifying event reporters, to whom I am most grateful. There was also a debate about the website and the continued expansion of use of IT communications methods and how we can make better use of these. It was also agreed that it might be appreciated by Company members if the Master were to communicate a little more frequently with Liverymen, say two or three times per annum and I agreed to try this out for my year.
I was very pleased to attend both meetings which I found interesting and thought provoking.
Following the opening of the Annual Garden of Remembrance at St Paul's Cathedral, a group of Tylers and Bricklayers gathered at Vintners' Hall for the Annual Civic Luncheon in the presence of the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor. The guests were welcomed with a glass or two of champagne following which we were called in to the magnificent hall for lunch which comprised Devonshire White Crab as a starter, a main course of Lake District Lamb Rump and all the trimmings with a warm sticky toffee pudding and ice cream for dessert, excellent.
The Chairman, Mrs Christine Broomhead gave the Loyal and Civic Toasts and the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor responded with a witty and interesting speech. He ended by congratulating the Chairman on her upcoming 50th Wedding Anniversary, giving her and her husband a gift.
This was yet another wonderful occasion enjoyed by all present, including a good number of Tylers and Bricklayers.
We ended a full but enjoyable day by attending the service of thanksgiving for the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor at St. Stephen Walbrook, the Lord Mayor's Parish Church.
Many Masters and their Consorts were present at this magnificent church and it was lovely to mingle with them prior to the commencement of the service, to catch up. I am very quickly getting to know a number of Masters of my year, which is very pleasing.
The service was conducted by Reverend Stephen Baxter, the Priest-in-Charge and The Reverend Prebendary Jeremy Crossley gave a very amusing sermon in which he told us that his strict orders were to not exceed 5 minutes on pain of being confined to drinking only orange juice at the reception which followed! Six minutes later, Jeremy was anticipating his orange juice! There followed a generous reception in the church, with bubbly donated by the Don Restaurant and very tasty canapés, where we continued chatting to Masters of various Livery Companies for a further hour or so. This was a very enjoyable ending to a busy but wonderful day.
This morning Maureen and I were privileged to attend the opening of the Annual Garden of Remembrance at St. Paul's Cathedral in the presence of the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.
The proceedings commenced with the arrival of the Military Band of Welsh Guards and the Parade of Standards, a magnificent sight. An open air Service of Remembrance followed, conducted by the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul's. The choirs of the City of London School and the City of London School for Girls sang beautifully along with the whole congregation, hymns that could be heard all around the St. Paul's Cathedral surrounds.
Then came the highlight of the service, the Exhortation, the Last Post and the Two Minutes Silence. This was followed by the planting of crosses by everyone present while the choirs sang "Be still my soul" accompanied by the Band of the Welsh Guards. When it came to the turn of the Masters of the Livery Companies to plant their crosses, we were all directed masterfully by the Regimental Sergeant Major.
This was an uplifting Service of Remembrance in the recognition of the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community and their unique contribution in safeguarding our freedoms and values, truly inspiring.