Tonight I had the privilege of being entertained by the Chief Royal Engineer, Lt Gen Tyrone Urch CBE and his Officers at the Royal Engineers Headquarters Officers' Mess, Brompton Barracks.
On arrival I was shown to my quarters, which was a beautifully appointed room in the Officers' Mess, good enough to rival any hotel room in which I have stayed! At 18:25hrs sharp I was escorted to pre-dinner drinks in the Brompton Auditorium, hosted by Brigadier Peter Rowell MBE, Commandant of the Royal School of Military Engineering, where I met fellow guests and Senior Officers from the Corps. We had time for introductions and I was pleased to meet and get to know some wonderful people here. At 19:15hrs we were all escorted to the mess for more drinks before being seated for an excellent 4 course silver service meal accompanied by fine wines.
Toasts were made to the Queen and the Heads of State of those represented at the meal. Music was provided by the Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra throughout the evening, which was quite delightful.
Nearing the end of the proceedings all the Royal Engineer Officers stood and sang the Corps song, "Hurrah for the CRE", an amusing piece which includes many "oolum das", "ooshta ooshta ooshtas" and "ah ah ahs"!
To mark the end of the proceedings the Chief Royal Engineer led the guests to the ante-room for after dinner drinks and further conversation.
This was a truly inspiring and memorable occasion where we were able to celebrate the wonderful achievements of the Royal Engineers and have the privilege of sharing in their wonderful camaraderie.
Lt Gen Tyrone Urch CBE and Guest
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.
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.
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.