How do you serve lunch to 1,650 people in a single venue in three hours?  And the guests include The Princess Royal, the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, judges from the Old Bailey and senior officers in the British Army. This was the challenge facing the organisers of the recent Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch which took place at Guildhall on Thursday 18 April 2024.

The answer is three sittings, no seating plan, efficient service and table clearing and a degree of good-natured queuing on the part of the guests.

The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch was first held in 2008 when about 700 guests ate lunch in a marquee in Guildhall Yard because the Guildhall kitchens were being refurbished.  By 2016, the Lunch had grown to fill all of Guildhall, including the Old Library, Livery Hall and Crypt.  


The event is an important fundraiser for the three national single service charities - the Army Benevolent Fund, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund – and has raised over £3.3m since 2008.  In 2008, British forces had only recently withdrawn from Iraq and were still engaged in operations in Afghanistan.  The need to support current and former servicemen and women and their families was very much in the public eye.  Thankfully these operations have come to an end but the need to provide support to veterans and their families continues.  The focus of the fundraising this year, as in the last couple of years, was employment and employability, specifically supporting veterans through the Pain Management Programme at the King Edward VII Hospital Centre for Veterans’ Health and on the Lifeworks course which offers practical advice, guidance and support to veterans and their families to find employment, education or training.

This year 46 members of the Company and their guests gathered in the Livery Hall for a glass of champagne before Lunch – certainly the largest group which we have taken to the Lunch.  We joined the queue for the 1.15pm lunch sitting.  My guest commented that it reminded him of the queue for a star attraction at Disneyland – just when you think that you have reached the front of the queue, you turn corner and find that you have to ascend another staircase, whilst the hubbub of conversation grows and the enticing scent of curry gets stronger.  Eventually you reach the front of the queue in Guildhall, collect a plate of delicious curry and a glass of wine or a Cobra beer before  finding a place at the long tables, laid out along the length of Guildhall.


During Lunch, guests have an opportunity to bid in the Silent Auction for more than 70 lots ranging this year from tickets for the Last Night of the Proms, a two week holiday in a villa in the South of France, a private dinner with the Constable of Windsor Castle, a tour and lunch at the Reform Club (generously donated by Past Master John Schofield) or a week’s use of a Southwold Beach Hut (generously donated by Past Master Jeff Fuller).  There is also a prize draw, champagne and cocktail bars and stalls manned by various Livery Companies including the Bakers, Turners, Fruiterers, Framework Knitters and Fishmongers.  Of these, the Fishmongers were required to set up outside in Guildhall Yard, alongside the 2024 Veterans Garden, designed and planted by the WC of Gardeners.IMG_4178.jpegAfter Lunch, some of the T&B party regathered in the Old Library for coffee and further lively conversation.  It was generally agreed that it had been a relaxed and enjoyable occasion raising funds for a worthwhile cause.  Hopefully, we return for the 18th Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch at Guildhall on 10 April 2025

Simon Martin - Deputy Master