Reception with the Master of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers

As well as acting as Ambassadors for our respective Livery Companies the Masters also become good friends because we meet up so often at events in and around the City. So, it was a pleasure to accept an invitation from Master International Banker Mark and his wife Helen.

On this occasion it was all about catching up with the Masters who had already finished their term of office and those who were still in position. It reminded me just how important the Past Masters Association (in our case Apollo 19) will be to ensure that we all stay in touch and continue the friendships made!

Civic Dinner with the Chief Commoner and the City Remembrancer

I had to leave the drinks reception early to join other guests for a Civic Dinner held by the Chief Commoner, Past Master Tyler and Bricklayer Tom Hoffman, and City Remembrancer Paul Doble in the Chief Commoner’s Parlour at Guildhall.

Before the event a list of the guests had been circulated so I had an inkling of who I was to dine with. Amongst the guests was Rev. Stephen Golding who had just retired as Chaplain to Christ’s Hospital School, so we had a little chat about Company Apprentice Onyinye, who Stephen remembered well! Alongside me for the first course of the dinner was Commander Glynn Johns, Chief of Staff of Eastern England Naval Regional Command who explained his region was from Lincolnshire down to Kent! I also sat alongside Martin Everett who had, in former years, supplied wines to the Ts & Bs. After the second course I met Paul Batchelor, brother of Past Master Turner David, small world, and our chat included the current political turmoil and the roles of Livery Companies.

The Parlour was a room I had not yet visited in Guildhall; it had the most beautiful barrelled ceiling and paintings adorning the walls.

We dined superbly on fish, venison and fruit with some very splendid wine to accompany the evening.

Walking the Livery Halls

The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners arrange an annual walk of 39 Livery Halls to raise funds for the Sheriff & Recorders Fund, so it was an early train for me and a short walk along the river the HQS Wellington for breakfast and briefing.

Thankfully the weather was dry, but with all Masters fully gowned it did get very warm as we progressed through the City!

After the briefing we set off in an easterly direction, along with a photographer to mark our visit to each hall. With most of the hall it was just a case of a photograph outside, but we had the opportunity of visiting the IT Hall, the Girdlers Hall with its beautiful tapestry, Draper’s and Leatherseller’s Halls.

We were most grateful for the breaks for drinks at Salters Hall and the Dutch Church, lunch at Armourers Hall and we were greeted by the Dean of Southwark Cathedral as we finished the walk at Glaziers Hall.

I will admit to some very tired warm feet and enjoyed a wonderfully cooling shower when I got home.

The Company Apprentice

Our Company Apprentice Onyinye who we supported through Christ’s Hospital has now achieved a degree and is working towards her Masters before beginning a career with Deloittes.

She has been invited to address Common Hall in October and wanted to meet up to talk through the Address and to catch up generally. She will be talking to the audience in the Great Hall about how her life has changed since she began at Christ’s Hospital, all thanks to the Ts &Bs.

She is a remarkable young lady with many City connections already in place. I am sure her address will be carried out with aplomb and over a dozen Tylers and Bricklayers will be in the Hall to support her on this very special occasion.

Past Masters planning ahead

To ensure that Masters of the current year have the chance of staying in touch after their year ends, Past Masters Groups are set up.

I had volunteered to be part of the Committee and we spent a useful couple of hours sorting out banking arrangements, websites and our first event which will be a black tie dinner at Blacksmiths Hall in November.

Court Meeting and Livery Dinner

After a quiet couple of weeks in August when the City effectively closes down for holidays, it was back to business!

Our September Court Meeting and Livery Dinner was to be held at the very newly restored and refurbished Butcher’s Hall in Smithfield. I had hoped to visit the Hall early in the week, but our dear granddaughter had given us both a bug and travel to London was off the menu!

There is much work going on around Butchers Hall which makes it a little difficult to find, but a walk with Master World Trader around the area a few weeks earlier ensured I found the Hall without too much difficulty.

The stonework outside the Hall had been completely clean and as soon as I walked into the front door I could smell the “newness”! I was given a tour of the building was was now suited to the 21st Century requirements with a kitchen in the basement linked to serveries on all floors by lift. There was much use of terrazzo tiles and light coloured walls making it a light bright place. The Livery Hall had had its tapestry fully cleaned and restored, and the three chandeliers fully cleaned. A full complement of new tables and chairs made for very comfortable sitting!

The Court Meeting agenda was completed in record time, allowing the Assistants to repair to a local hostelry for an hour whilst the Wardens and I remained to enjoy a few quiet moments before the evening began.

Company guests for the event included Master Young Freeman who I had met over the summer, Master World Trader who had become a firm friend over the year, Master Environmental Cleaner who had spent his childhood in Berkshire in many of the same places as Malcolm, and Master Launderer.

Principal Guest was Suzannah Nichol MBE, CEO of Build UK, who I had known for, we think 17-18 years in my working life, and a lovely lady too!

After a delicious meal it was time for speeches. I welcomed the Guests, Suzie spoke with great enthusiasm on what a great place the construction industry is to work in. My closing speech was a mini-summary of the year and that I had hoped to show off our three crafts. I also thanked my “Prince Philip”, and all who had helped make the past 11 months so successful. Thankfully I managed to keep my emotions in control. Our personal guests had noted the crack in my voice early in the speech!

In August 1568 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 1 presented the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers with a Royal Charter. Over recent years the Company has celebrated the occasion with a Charter Day organised by the current Master with, hopefully, some kind of connection to Queen Elizabeth 1.

It has been my hope this year to highlight the three crafts of the Tylers and Bricklayers and following a conversation with Heritage Bricklayer Master Craftsman Emma Simpson it was decided to arrange a visit to Hampton Court Palace, one of the many homes of Queen Elizabeth during her reign.

Hampton Court Palace is known for its 241 Elizabethan style chimneys, which interestingly enough were not built in Tudor times but much later.  Some of the chimneys have not aged well and it is the role of Emma Simpson and her team of heritage bricklayers to restore them back to their former glory. Emma spends many hours at the Palace undertaking the restoration work. As a result, Emma was able to “pull a few strings” and arranged a roof top tour of the Palace led by Dan Jackson, Curator of Historic Buildings for Hampton Court Palace ably assisted by Emma.

As part of the day a 90-minute guided tour of the Palace was arranged as well as a demonstration by Emma and her team of Neal Cooper a Tyler and Bricklayers Master Craftsman Lynn Mathias and Matt Wilson one of this year’s SPAB Fellows.

Charter Day dawned with warm dry weather and 28 members and guests made their way to Hampton Court Palace. After tea, coffee and some cakes made by yours truly it was time for each group to head up onto the roof. The views from the roof were magnificent and it was wonderful to be able to get “up front and personal” with the chimneys. My camera came into its own on that part of the visit!

After lunch it was time for the tour of the Palace led by guide Sarah Slater. Even 90 minutes could not begin to scrape the surface of the history of this lovely Palace and most of us made a note to visit again.

Back to Emma’s workshop for a refreshing drink and an opportunity to see the many different shaped bricks being cut from rectangular bricks and to learn how chimneys were restored or re-built from scratch.


Cadet Camp on Salisbury Plain

Malcolm and I had accepted an invitation to join the Army Cadets of the north west sector of London for their visitors day at Rollestone Camp on Salisbury Plain. Thankfully the weather was kind to us with plenty of sunshine as we headed past Stonehenge to the Plain.

After a quick cup of coffee, the visitors, including fellow Masters Master Pewterer and Master Playing Card Maker, we listened to a briefing by Col. Simon Ettinghausen who explained how the cadets operated in the modern era, and that as well as army crafts the young people spent a day learning about Cybersafe. We later learned from the trainer that cyber attacks were likely to get worse and it was important for the Army to recruit IT specialists to work in this area. Then it was time to head off to see the Army cadets in action.

First port of call was the range where we saw cadets firing single action rifles over 150m. The cadets told us that the morning activity had improved their skills and accuracy on the target. Next stop was the “village” where cadets were receiving a briefing on an exercise they were undertaking in the afternoon, evening, and unknown to them in the very early hours of the next morning.   We watched part of the exercise as they cleared the houses and moved onto the next.

After lunch it was our turn and we had the opportunity of having a go at archery and clay pigeon shooting. Having never lifted a gun in my life, this was my chance to pick up a bow and arrow and learn how to fire an arrow at a target. Thankfully I managed to get all six arrows on the target, but not necessarily in the middle ring.

We were introduced to a young Sapper who had given up part of his holiday to be there and he said he was having a great time. We also met some Engineer cadets, a Grenadier Guard and several adult volunteers.

This was a great day out for us, but we did think about the cadets out on the plain on the next day when it was raining heavily.

The Army Cadets is a great organisation and helps young people in many ways as they grow up into adults.


Craft Trust and Committee

The Craft Trustees met the following day to review the applications for grants for the coming Livery year. As always it was a very difficult decision to agree who would and who would not receive a grant.

The Craft Committee met after the Trustees and met with Martin Pryce, whose organisation championed apprentices in the construction sector. This was a very good meeting and I hope that the Company will work closely with Martin and his colleagues to encourage new entrants into the Construction Industry.

Lunching with the Worshipful Company of World Traders

Over the past 9 months as Master I have bumped into Master World Trader Dr Edwina Moreton very often. She was installed as Master the week after me, and since then we have become firm friends.

Malcolm and I were delighted to join Edwina at a World Traders’ Business Club at the Caledonian Club, where the guest speaker was Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of British Business Investments and British Patient Capital.

Also on the table was Master Fruiterer Cheryl Roux, another new friend, Master Guild of Investment Manager and Master Chartered Secretary and Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of Lloyds of London, so it is fair to say we were in some very august Company!

After an enjoyable lunch Catherine spoke to those present about the work of British Business Investments and British Patient Capital. Some of what she talked about went over my head, but I understood that her organisation provides funds to Fund Managers who are investing in new business in the UK. These businesses include innovation, fintec and medical science.

It was very interesting to learn about the activities of another Livery Company which is focussed on trading around the world.

Dining with the Marketors

On the day that new Prime Minister Boris Johnson took over the reins as Chief Lord of the Treasury we made our way to Mansion House, as guests of T&B Liveryman David and Past Master Marketor Sally Williams for the Banquet in honour of the Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Sadly the current Lord Mayor Peter Estlin was not able to attend, but Alderman Sir David Wootton stood in, and both Sheriffs, their consorts and Sheriff Elect Chris Hayward were in attendance.

As a result of a legacy to the Worshipful Company of Marketors a new Masters Badge had been commissioned. It was blessed by PM Sally and presented to Master Andrew Cross.   Sally also gave a most appropriate Grace, mentioning the new PM and the heatwave being endured by all.

Also joining David and Sally was their son, Joe, who lives “just across the bay” from Malcolm’s daughter Helen, so we had quite a long chat about Sydney, and his forthcoming wedding in October.

After a most convivial dinner and speeches, it was time to head home to our very warm house on one of the warmest nights of the year.