Finally, after more than 15 months of lockdowns and restrictions, zoom calls and virtual events, we were able to meet again for lunch at Trinity House on Tuesday 22 June 2021. What a happy and memorable gathering!
The event had been planned as the Masters & Clerks Lunch at which we traditionally entertain the Masters and Clerks from the other Companies in the Construction Group of Livery Companies and others to whom we owe hospitality. However, the Government announcement on 14 June 2021 that the remaining social distancing restrictions would be extended for a further four weeks until mid July meant that the capacity in the Library at Trinity House was reduced to just 65 people, seated at tables of six. The Master, Wardens and Clerk decided that the lunch should therefore be limited to members of the Company and their personal guests.
Social distancing restrictions meant that there could be no receiving line or reception. Instead, we were directed to our appointed tables where masks were removed and champagne was served. The volume of conversation rose as old friends were warmly greeted and lockdown stories were shared. Some guests wandered from table to table, usually pursued by a member of the excellent Trinity House team who had the unenviable task to trying to get everyone to stay at the designated table or to wear masks when standing or moving around.
The Master and consort Maureen, Upper Warden, Father of the Company and Clerk processed into the Library and grace was said by the Honorary Chaplain. An excellent lunch was served, accompanied by some splendid wines selected by the Wine Committee from the Company’s wine reserves.
The toast to the Master was given by the Junior Liveryman, John Gorman. The Master replied welcoming all present to the first face to face event held in more than 15 months. The Master thanked the Company for giving him the opportunity to serve a second year as Master and explained that this meant that he would be a member of two Past Masters Associations, both of which had chosen dubious names reflecting the circumstances of the last two years: the Zoomers and the Unmutables. The Master also noted that this was the first event organised by our new Clerk, Heather Smith, who had provided huge support since taking up her post in January. The Master finished by thanking his personal guests for their friendship and support during lockdown.
Past Master David Szymanski replied on behalf of the guests. He noted that putting on a suit and tie for the first time in 12 months had been a novel experience. David commended the Master for his unfailing optimism and calm leadership of the Company through the challenges of the past year and, breaking with tradition, he asked all present to join him in again toasting the Master, which we gladly did.
We now look forward to the next event which is the Annual Dinner. This will be held on Thursday 5 August 2021 at Barber Surgeons’ Hall when, all being well, all remaining social distancing restrictions will have been lifted and we will be able to enjoy a splendid dinner with old friends and their guests.