Today Maureen and I attended the mysteriously titled event “A is for Arsenic: the Poisons of Agatha Christie” which was hosted by The Mistress Apothecary. The event was held in the wonderful ancient Apothecaries’ Hall, the oldest extant livery hall in the City of London.

We were welcomed with a glass of bubbly and were given the opportunity to mingle with the other guests during which time we were all allocated to our tables which were, unusually, not numbered, but identified by names of different poisons! Maureen and I were allocated to Morphine table, adjacent to Strychnine, Digitalis and Arsenic! There were small bottles of pills on our tables and some strategically placed chocolates, which nobody dared touch.

All was revealed when our guest speaker was introduced to us – Kathryn Harkup, the author of the book entitled “A is for Arsenic: the poisons of Agatha Christie”. Kathryn gave a fascinating talk about Agatha Christie's life and writings. She had worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, during the second world war, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels. The audience picked up many tips about various poisons and their horrible effects on the human body, possibly not the best way to tempt the appetite before lunch!

Following the interesting talk and questions, we had an excellent luncheon of smoked haddock and spinach florentine with poached hen's egg, chargrilled aubergine paupiettes with puy lentils and rainbow brassica, followed by coffee and petit fours. The food was delicious, but we ate with some trepidation as we found notes scattered about, taken from Agatha Christie's books, such as "Don't eat the Plum Pudding, as one who wishes you well!". To add to the fun of the day each table had a quiz about various poisons to complete and I am happy to report that Morphine Table came a very close second place.

The luncheon was organised to raise money for the Master Apothecary's Fund which supports medical students throughout the UK who are in danger of dropping out of their courses due to extreme financial hardship, a very worthy cause.

We all had a wonderful time at this event and Mistress Apothecary closed proceedings by thanking everyone for attending and paying particular thanks to Kathryn Harkup for her fascinating talk about poisons.

Tonight I was delighted to be the guest of The Master Pavior, Ms Susan Illman, on the occasion of their Autumn Livery Dinner held at the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall. On arrival I was greeted warmly by a member of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, who looked after me and introduced me to Past Masters and other Court Members.

I was very honoured to be seated on the top table, next to the Master, which enabled us to engage in interesting conversation and to get know each other better. We dined on spicy tiger prawns with a chilli lime dressing, duck ballontine with cranberry and pistachio stuffing and a dessert of apple tarte tatin with bay leaf ice cream, a wonderful meal accompanied by fine wines.

Following the sung grace, the Master proposed the toasts to the Queen and the Lord Mayor, after which we performed the ceremony of the Loving Cup, to the merriment of many guests. The toast to the guests was a wonderful piece of poetry written and performed by Assistant Caroline Dwyer which amused everyone, and the guest speaker was Dr Amanda Clack who spoke enthusiastically about diversity in our industries.

The Master closed the evening with a wonderful speech and invited guests to join her in a stirrup cup, ending another delightful and successful event.

Tonight it was an absolute pleasure to take part in the graduation ceremony and prizegiving for the Building Crafts College at Carpenters’ Hall. At this event, which takes place every year, the students graduating from their programmes of study are recognised and a number of special prizes donated by sponsors are presented to students.

The Master of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, Lord Flight of Worcester, welcomed all the guests and introduced the Guest of Honour, Mr John Makepeace OBE, an outstanding furniture designer and craftsman. The Chair of the Building Crafts College addressed the assembly after which the students were all presented with their awards individually by Mr John Makepeace.

I was particularly pleased to see the Tyler and Bricklayer sponsored prize being awarded to a brilliant bricklayer, Kate Longworth.

Following the excellent awards ceremony we all adjourned to the ante room for a lovely reception with wines and canapes where Chris Causer, the Chairman of our Crafts Committee and I met with Kate Longworth and her party. It was fascinating to hear her story of how she got involved in bricklaying and to feel her passion for the craft. She has a keen interest in heritage brickwork and we agreed to introduce Kate to our own Emma Simpson, Master Craftsman.


It was a delightful evening and I was most impressed to see all the dedicated and enthusiastic award winners.

The Duke of Gloucester Awards recognise the skills of craftsmen and craftswomen who have gone through a recognised apprenticeship for their craft, achieving a City & Guilds Craft and Advanced NVQ Level 3 at an approved college, and have between two and nine years post qualification experience.

I was very pleased to be invited to attend the awards presentation ceremony at Mercers’ Hall in the presence of Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester KG and the Master Mason, Christopher Radmore. On arrival I was greeted warmly by our own Dr Christine Rigden who is currently Upper Warden of the Worshipful Company of Masons and was pleased to meet other members of the Worshipful Company, as well as Simon Martin, our Upper Warden.

There were two awards presented tonight, to Paul Synan, a stonemason working at Gloucester Cathedral and Catherine Martin, a stonemason and sculptor working in the heritage sector. Their work was described as exemplary by their sponsors and they were well deserved winners of these awards.

After the ceremony there was a reception with fine wine and canapes where we all had the opportunity to mix and meet with the winners. Another very successful and joyous occasion.

Today it was the turn of the Plaisterers' Company to showcase their wonderful students who have reached high levels of achievement in plastering and drylining, along with their tutors and colleges. The awards ceremony was held in the most appropriate setting of Plaisterers' Hall, with its décor throughout of the neoclassical style created by Robert Adam in the 18th century. His various designs have been faithfully reproduced in great detail both on plaster and wood, some being taken from his original moulds.


Following a wonderful champagne reception, at which I met and talked to many members of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers, as well as our own Liveryman Bob Howard MBE who was an invited guest, we were led into the Hall for a delicious luncheon. We started with gravadlax of salmon, followed by braised beef cheek with the trimmings and a dessert of apple and cinnamon mousse with baked apple terrine, all accompanied by fine wines.

It was wonderful to see the Right Honourable The Lord Mayor, Alderman William Russell present to make the awards today. The Master, Alderman Alison Gowman proposed the Loyal Toast and the Toast to the Lord Mayor.

We all had a wonderful surprise when we heard the voice of the awards compère, Alan Dedicoat. The name did not mean anything to most of us, but the voice certainly did as it was the voice of the "Lottery" and "Strictly Come Dancing" announcer, very familiar to most people attending. The awards ceremony was wonderful, with music and full of razzmatazz, a true showbiz event. It was very pleasing to see the award winners so happily accepting their much deserved accolades.


I was most impressed by this awards ceremony and felt privileged to have been invited to take part.