Over 75 members and guests sat down for lunch at Watermen’s Hall on Thursday 1 September 2022, the last formal event of the Master’s year.
Watermen’s Hall was built in 1780 and is the only original Georgian Hall remaining in the City. It is an attractive and elegant building but somewhat smaller than some of the other Halls which we use.
The Master had chosen a vegetarian menu comprising a chilled pea and mint soup, a roasted charlotte and leaf spinach tarte tartin with a smoked cheese crumble and a lemon and raspberry tart with a Pimms sorbet. As the Master explained in his speech, the choice of a vegetarian menu was a small but significant step towards fulfilling the Company’s commitment to the Livery Climate Change Initiative. The Master pointed out that, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, meat and dairy production accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and therefore, whilst not advocating that we should all become vegetarian, the Master suggested that we each need to reduce our individual consumption of meat and dairy products in the same way that we also need to take personal responsibility for flying less and reducing the frequency with which we use our cars.
Freeman James Wheeler, who describes himself as a “confirmed mnivore”, writes: “The vegetarian lunch was a pleasant surprise to most Liverymen I spoke to. Many were sceptical prior to lunch but there were no complaints during the meal. People have to accept that we should eat less diary and meat products but, when we do, we need to make sure that the animal husbandry is of the highest standards and ideally locally sourced. Much of the UK (about 42%) can only grow grass products and on hillsides where only cattle and sheep can graze. Cattle and sheep should only be grass feed and not reared with intensive farming grain-based products. We all remember BSE caused by intensive rearing of cattle. Locally sourced foods are much kinder to our environment and seasonal foods should be welcomed into to our diet more widely. Many people do this already, but we should accept that the less fortunate should not be castigated for their choices in supermarkets, as not all budgets are equal. To conclude my observation of our Luncheon, it made most of us think about the environmental impact of the we eat on a daily basis.”
Court Assistant Alan Dodd welcomed the guests. The principal guest was General Sir James Everard KCB CBE. General Everard retired from the Army in 2020 after 37 years of service. General Everard’s final posting was Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe which meant that he was ideally placed to give us a fascinating insight into the NATO response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a better and more balanced understanding of the reasons why it is so important that the United Kingdom stands with the United States and our European partners in support of the people of Ukraine and why we must face the impending energy crisis and the other economic consequences of the war with fortitude.
General Everard is also the President of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and thanked the Company for its support of veterans over several years through participation in the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch.
We were pleased to welcome three visiting Masters: Brigadier John Meardon DL (Master Carpenter), Stephen Gilbert (Master Plaisterer) and Alderman Sir David Wootton (Master Waterman).
The toast to the Company was proposed by Liveryman Robin Harvey. The Master responded, thanking all those who had contributed to the success of the Lunch. He noted that there were twelve Past Masters of the Company in the room and was particularly pleased to welcome Immediate Past Master Michel Saminaden and his wife, Maureen, back to the Company after Michel’s major surgery and long period of recovery.