Today Maureen and I were delighted to be guests at the Youthbuild UK Young Builder of the Year Awards held on the beautiful Terrace at the House of Commons, overlooking the Thames, hosted by the Rt Hon Sir John Hayes MP. The awards celebrate the achievements of young, usually socially excluded people, who, despite having to overcome many personal barriers, have succeeded in training for and being employed in the construction industry. Youthbuild UK has been chosen as the Company's Charity of the Year for 2019/20, so this was an extra special occasion for us to celebrate.
On arrival we were greeted by Trustee and Freeman of our Company, Livia Williams, Head of Major and Minor Works for Nottingham City Homes who is dedicated to supporting the roofing industry at strategic level through the development of apprenticeships, training, management and qualifying the workforce. Livia introduced us to the Chair of Youthbuild UK, Stephen Ratcliffe and other Trustees and we were privileged to meet some of the finalists. Some of their stories were truly inspiring and we were overwhelmed by the huge effort and dedication all the finalists have shown to achieve their ambitions.
Nick James from Jones Homes North West was chosen as the winner of the 18-24-year-old category and Dylan Connell of Barnardo’s ETS (North) as the winner of the 14-18-year-old category, both truly deserving winners with amazing stories to tell. However, as emphasised by the Chairman and other Trustees, all the finalists were winners today.
This morning I had a meeting with the Editor of our Company Newsletter, Liveryman and Steward, David Williams, to put the finishing touches to the Newsletter 2019. David's contribution to the production of the Newsletter is invaluable to the Company as he brings with him his editing skills developed over many years plus his publishing know- how. This year's Newsletter looks like being a bumper edition, with the format changed as agreed by the Court, with more emphasis on the Installation of the new Master and the introduction of biographies for new Liveryman and Freeman. The production of the Newsletter is a huge task, ably handled by the Editor, for which the Company is very grateful.
Following this meeting I was pleased to attend the annual prize day ceremony of the City of London School for Girls. Present on stage were the representative Lord Mayor, Sir Andrew Parmley, the Non-Aldermanic Sheriff, Chris Hayward and the Chief Commoner, Tom Hoffman MBE, as well as the Chairman of the Board of Governors and the Principal. The programme commenced with the school orchestra playing Schubert's Symphony No 7 in B minor, a delight.
During the prize-giving, the senior and junior choir sang beautifully and we heard further pieces of music from the wonderful girls orchestra. The City of London School for Girls is an incredibly high achieving school and I was amazed to see the wonderful results achieved by the students, many of whom are going on to the country's top universities.
The Principal gave an uplifting speech and promised us that we will be seeing many of these girls in prominent positions in the future, and I am in no doubt that this will be the case. The afternoon was rounded off by a wonderful speech by the head girl, Tilda Glynn, once again inspiring the rest of the school to keep achieving at this wonderfully high level. It is evident that the girls at the school are very happy and achieve fantastic results. A lot of this must be down to the excellent teaching and the wonderful support they receive from other support staff. It was a delight to be part of this ceremony.
After many months of planning and organisation, the day of Installation finally arrived. I had spent the previous day at the Guildhall for the Election of the Lord Mayor and at a beautiful Choral Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral, organised by the Worshipful Company of Musicians, a wonderful introduction to my year.
Following a short Court meeting at which two new Court Assistants, Tom Christopherson and Alan Dodd were installed, we processed to the church of St. Margaret Lothbury, behind the Company Banner, ably carried by Liveryman Peter Lynch, where friends and family were eagerly waiting for us.
The Company Banner was displayed for the first time in the beautiful new banner stand that had been expertly crafted by Craftsman Blacksmith Mr Simon Grant-Jones and generously gifted to the Company by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths.
The Installation followed traditional lines and I was honoured to be Installed as the 439th Master of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers.
The Company's Annual Service of Dedication and Thanksgiving followed, which was led by the Company Chaplain, The Rev. John Cook.
The Liverymen and guests then proceeded to Carpenters' Hall for the Installation luncheon at which the principal guest was the Chief Commoner, Past Master Tom Hoffman MBE. Other guests included Master Carpenter, Lord Flight MA, Prime Warden Blacksmith, Dr Nicholas Land and Dr Carrie Herbert MBE, Founder of Charity of the Year, Red Balloon.
Everyone enjoyed a fine luncheon comprising a tian of hot cured salmon and scallops followed by breast of Gressingham chicken with vegetable accompaniments, and a chocolate marble parfait for dessert. Fine wines were served and an excellent madeira rounded off things beautifully.
Court Assistant Christopher Causer proposed the toast to the guests, and the Chief Commoner gave an interesting speech in response, speaking about his role in the City and outlining the role of the Chief Commoner. Liveryman David Williams gave the toast to the Company and wished good health to the Master.
I ended the proceedings by giving thanks to all and made mention of the highlights of my programme planned for the forthcoming year. A cheque was presented to Carrie Herbert of Red Balloon, our charity of the year. I also had the pleasure of thanking Immediate Past Master Lesley Day for her wonderful year and welcoming Maureen Wilson-Wright to Companionship of the Company. The Installation Lunch was much enjoyed by all, always a convivial occasion for the Company. I was very grateful to have so many friends, both Company and personal, together with my Wife and Consort, Maureen and other members of my family to support me for this important event in the calendar.
Maureen and I were delighted to be invited to celebrate the Installation of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Constructors at Grocers' Hall. On arrival at the Hall we were greeted by the Renter Warden, Terry Withers and his wife, Alison, who kept us entertained with glasses of champagne and gave us some background on the Worshipful Company. I was also very pleased to meet the company apprentice and his grandparents who have close connections with Mauritius, spending many months there each year.
We processed into dinner in the usual way and I was very pleased to be sitting next to Lady Barbara Ramsey, Mistress Constructor, with whom I had very pleasant conversation. To my other side I had Tina Seymour, the wife of the Senior Warden, who gave me a very interesting insight into her amazing contact with the natural health world, once again of great interest to me. We dined on excellent Scottish salmon, followed by Cornish lamb, with lemon posset to round off the evening. The toasts followed the Loving Cup Ceremony and the evening was concluded by a wonderful speech by the Master. We were then all invited to join the Master in a stirrup cup before taking leave.
Maureen and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly at this first event of our year. We wish the Master Constructor and his Mistress an enjoyable and successful year.
It was a day of some very mixed emotions; pride in what had been achieved in the year mixed with sadness as my time as Master was coming to an end.
In the Installation Court Meeting I addressed the Court and these are the words I spoke:
In her time as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said “People who end up as “first” actually don’t set up to be first. They set out to do something they love”.
How true that is for me. When I became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers I had no idea that I would become the first Lady Master of the Company in its 603 years of recorded history. It has been an honour and a privilege to represent you.
My diary has recorded just under 150 engagements of all types during the year. For me, it was particularly poignant to attend the 100th Armistice Commemoration Service at St Pauls, not only to remember the Tylers and Bricklayers who had served our Country, but also my grandfathers neither of whom I ever knew but had fought in World War 1.
It was a privilege to meet some inspirational people such as Zinnia Young, the winner of the 2018 Youthbuild UK Award, who overcame a very difficult childhood to train and qualify as a painter and decorator and now helps other young people who are in the same situation as her. I am delighted that Youthbuild UK will be our Charity of the Year for the new Livery year and I hope that everyone will support this wonderful charity.
Through our support of the Royal Engineers I was delighted to attend the Cadet Open Day at RSME Chatham which the Company had sponsored, along with Court Assistant Ian Ogden. As part of the day the Cadets were challenged to undertake some bricklaying. I suspect that the Cadets learned that bricklaying was not as easy as originally thought, but at least they had a go. My thanks go to Ian for acting as Liaison Officer between the Tylers and Bricklayers and the Royal Engineers.
Having had a career in the construction industry it was inevitable that our crafts of tiling, bricklaying and roofing would feature in the year. I was delighted to present Liveryman Emma Simpson with a Master Heritage Bricklayer Award, and to take a group of Ts & Bs to Hampton Court Palace for our Charter Day to walk the roof and to see Emma’s work at first hand.
August saw bricklayer Lewis Greenwood from York College and wall and floor tiler Mark Scott from City of Glasgow College represent our crafts at the WorldSkills final in Kazan, Russia. They were both Awarded Medallions of Excellence with Mark achieving the highest mark ever for a UK tiler.
2018 was the 450th Anniversary of the presentation of our Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth 1, and following my Installation we celebrated the Anniversary with a Livery Dinner at the end of October and by presenting the portrait of our Clerk Robert Browne painted by Royal Academy artist Mason Chamberlin to the Guildhall Club on long term loan for the enjoyment of all.
At this point I should like to thank Silver Steward David Allen for all the work he undertook on behalf of the Company on the Anniversary.
Charitable giving forms an important part of our activities and I was delighted to be able to include a visit to Bursledon Brickworks Museum, one of our Craft Trust beneficiaries, in our visit to Hampshire. Our Charity of the year Red Balloon will benefit from a grant of £3000 which the Master Elect will present to Carrie Herbert at lunch this afternoon. My thanks go to Alan Dodd who has acted as Honorary Secretary of the Charities over the past year.
Over the course of the year I have had the opportunity of meeting and enjoying the company of the Civic Team along with Prime Wardens, Upper Bailiffs and Masters of the 110 Livery Companies of the City of London. It has been a pleasure to attend many events and to support the charitable works of the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and several Livery Companies.
It was a particular honour to host a lunch for Past Master Tyler and Bricklayer Tom Hoffman who became Chief Commoner in April, and to present him with a commemorative gift.
In his year as Master, Tom Hoffman held an appeal to raise funds to support Presentees at Christ’s Hospital School. As a result of that appeal Company Apprentice Onyinye Udokporo completed her education at the school, has just achieved a Degree and is now working towards her Master’s before taking up her role at Deloittes. Yesterday, it was a real pleasure to witness Onyinye talk to Common Hall about the changes made to her life as a result of the Company’s help with her education at Christ’s.
Our second Presentee Kiyan Rahman began at Christ’s Hospital in September and Past Master Tom Rider and I met Kiyan a few days ago to present him with his Company Medallion. I am sure you will join me in wishing him every success in the years ahead, and thank you to Tom for all your work in securing a new Presentee.
It was a sad day when we had to attend a Memorial Service for Past Master John Wilson-Wright and I am pleased that Maureen will become a Companion of the Company later today.
During the course of the year we have welcomed Diana Christopher as a Companion along with 7 new Freemen and elevated 10 to become Liverymen, bringing our membership to 203.
As we come to the end of the Livery year, Malcolm and I will have many wonderful memories of the places and people we have met and we both would like to thank the Wardens, Deputy Masters, everyone on the Court, the Almoner,the Stewards and everyone in the Company for their support over the past twelve months.
For my part I should like to record my thanks to my Consort and husband Malcolm, who has been such a great support in the year. I could not have done this without him.
My final words of thanks are to our Learned Clerk John Brooks. Thank you for all your help, advice and support during the year. So much of your work goes unseen.
It just remains for me to wish our Master Elect Michel Saminaden and Maureen a wonderful year; I am sure you will both enjoy every minute.
Dear Reader, thank you for reading through my blogs over the past year. Now it is the turn of Master Michel Saminaden to take over the mantle of Master and I am sure you will continue to enjoy his regular reports on his activities.