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.
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.
Common Hall for the Election of the New Lord Mayor of London
It was an early start as I struggled to get to the City following power failures and trees on the line on the local railway network. I was somewhat relieved to find a seat on a train as the game of “sardines” was played out on the train as a result of so many cancellations.
I reached the Members Dining Room of Guildhall feeling just a bit flustered but Mark Groves who was hosting the breakfast soon sat me down with a glass of some bubbles and I relaxed and enjoyed the delicious breakfast he and his colleagues served up.
The it was down into the Crypt to gown up and attend the church service prior to the election of the Lord Mayor in St Lawrence Jewry, just across Guildhall Yard. As I sat in the church the sun was pouring through the stain glass windows lightening up the Church where the Civic Party, Aldermen and 110 Livery Masters worshipped.
After the Service it was time to process into Guildhall itself to take part in Common Hall. This was to be quite a special occasion for the Ts & Bs as our Company Apprentice Onyinye had been invited to speak about how her life had changed when she became our Presentee at Christs Hospital.
It is fair to say the election was a bit of a foregone conclusion with Alderman William Russell elected unanimously by those present. Whilst we awaited the formal procedures carried out by the Aldermen the Assistant Town Clerk talked about the importance that the City places on education and then invited Onyinye to speak. She talked about her life and how it had changed following support from the Tylers and Bricklayers, and as I listened I felt like a very proud Mum with a few tears in my eyes – I hope that Onyinye’s parents were able to see the video and were also proud of her achievements.
At the conclusion of Common Hall we left to enjoy a lunch at a local hostelry with Onyinye as our guest of honour and I was very pleased to be able to return her Christs Hospital Medallion as an extra reminder of the day.
Musicians Evensong at St Pauls
After lunch it was time to walk over to St Pauls to gown up and take part in the Musicians Company Evensong along with some 100 Livery Masters and Members.
Being able to sit in St Pauls for a church service during the year has been wonderful, especially to listen to the voices of the young choristers with their angelic voices. As well as singing hymns the choirs also sang prayers and anthems. There was a particularly poignant few minutes as the Royal College of Music String Orchestra played Elegy for Strings in memory of the Musicians who has passed away during the 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.
Lunching with the Builders Merchants
Malcolm and I had happily accepted an invitation to join Master Builders Merchant Pippa Latham and her Consort Fabian for the final formal event of her year as Master. The event at Tallow Chandlers Hall felt like more of a lunch with friends than a formal Livery event as there were six others Masters and their Consorts at the lunch, all of whom had become friends over the past 11 months.
After a delicious lunch we listened to their Honorary Chaplain Rev. Canon Roger Hall who had recently taken a sabbatical and who talked about his experiences. He had spent time in Ethiopia living with some villagers in, what in the UK, would consider some very basic conditions, i.e. with no running water or toilets! During this time he was able to help local charities, eg Wateraid, and to visit parts of the country that few Europeans will have seen.
Worshipful Company of Actuaries Livery Lecture
After lunching with the Builders Merchants it was time to talk to Staple Inn to join the Actuaries for their annual lecture, and to celebrate their Ruby (40th) Anniversary. The lecturer was Sarah Winckless MBE. Sarah is a former British rower. She won a bronze medal in Double sculls with her partner Elise Laverick at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and was twice world champion, in 2005 and 2006. She won the Helen Rollason Award in 2013.
Sarah now runs a business consultancy working with firms and talking about her life as a rower linking it to management training. What I found difficult to appreciate was that Sarah considered herself an “imposter”. I had always assumed Olympic athletes to be full of confidence and driven people setting themselves some very high goals!
After the lecture I had a pleasant supper with fellow Masters.
Our new Presentee at Christ’s Hospital School
Mohammed Rahman, known to everyone as Kiyan, is the Company’s second Presentee to begin life at Christ’s Hospital School. Past Master Tom Rider, who has been appointed Donation Governor, and I travelled down to Christ’s to present Kiyan with his Tylers and Bricklayers Livery Medal.
Christ’s Hospital has always struck me as a very special learning place with its history dating back into history and in some beautiful Sussex countryside.
We met Sarah Clifton, who acts as the Liaison between Livery Companies and the School. She explained that Kiyan had settled well into the school and that had the potential to be a high achiever in the years ahead.
We lunched in the dining hall with the Principal, Sarah, Kiyan and some of the senior school monitors. It turns out that as well as enjoying maths, a very confident Kiyan is a football fan following Chelsea, and is now learning to play the piano and learning pool from one of his fellow house mates.
After lunch we walked over to the chapel for a very simple ceremony where the Chaplain blessed Kiyan’s Tylers and Bricklayers Medal, with PM Tom presenting the medal to Kiyan, who also received a certificate from the school commemorating the event.
I had a small gift of a couple of books for Kiyan which I hope he will enjoy reading.
We hope to stay in regular touch with Kiyan over the coming years and to watch him grow into what we think will be a very assured young man.
Installation of the new Sheriffs
Much to my surprise and delight I had been invited to witness the installation of the new Sheriffs of the City of London and to attend the Sheriff’s Breakfast afterwards.
The Ceremony took place in the Great Hall at Guildhall where Sheriffs Elect Alderman Michael Mainelli and Chris Hayward were surrounded by family and friends.
The Ceremony began with a procession into the Hall by City Officials, Aldermen and the outgoing and incoming Sheriffs. I will always remember the procession as it begins with the click click of heels on the stone floors of the Hall. The Sheriffs Elect are required to make an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen, City and to uphold the laws in their roles of supporting the Judges at the Old Bailey. They signed Certificates using a feather pen, much to the interest of the guests watching. Having done this the robes and chains of office were removed from the outgoing Sheriffs and handed to the incoming Sheriffs. Thereafter the procession left the Hall.
I was delighted to see some fellow Masters at the event. World Trader, Mariner and Framework Knitter have become firm friends so we were able to Toast the new Sheriffs before sitting down with other guests at the Sheriff’s Breakfast in the Old Library.
I was delighted to be sitting beside Jeremy Crossley, who is so well known to the Tylers and Bricklayers and Robin Scott. Both were delightful Company and we talked much about the Livery movement and the current political situation. The menu had been specially designed for the event and was delicious.
After toasts to Her Majesty, the Royal Family and the City of London His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC the Recorder of London proposed a toast to and thanks outgoing Sheriffs Liz Green and Vincent Keaveny along with their Consorts for their work during the year. A toast to the new Sheriffs was proposed by Professor Jo Delahunty QC to which both Sheriffs replied.
Then it was time for guests to leave and the Sheriffs to begin what will undoubtedly be a very busy year ahead.