The Masters Blog 2016-2017

1st February 2017
Welcoming a New Freeman. It is not always possible for the Master to be present when a Freeman swears his oath and becomes a Freeman of our Livery Company but today was very special. Our Clerk with his usual professionalism was word perfect with the reading of the Oath and a newest Freeman is David Murray. Then its off to the Guildhall to register for the Freedom of the City of London but not before having a photograph with the Master. David here wearing his business attire not the uniform of the Atholl Highlanders which he is entitled to wear. As Master when the Liverymen seem to be getting younger you know it is really you getting older! Welcome David I hope that you have a long, fruitful and above all enjoyable time with the Plaisterers.

24th January Dinner with the Tobacco Livery
Off to Drapers Hall for dinner with the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Rollers or just the Tobacco Livery to its friends. Drapers Hall is always worth a visit and I try not to be too critical of the beautiful fibrous plaster ceilings. The Master Charles Miller was robed about a month before me so we know each other quite well from the "circuit". Lots of old friends and then some new. Fine wine, good food and great company, Charles is a most convivial host. I get to process but poor William Charnley Master Draper is still in much discomfort following his accident. I have a great deal of sympathy having attended Livery events in Plaster when I had broken my ankle - but my Clerk did not let me sit down for the toasts. I hope that Camilla the Mistress Tobacco, who I am sat next to, was not too bored hearing about spring leeks and purple sprouting from Gloucestershire. After dinner entertainment super including the Mozart no4 Horn Concerto which always brings Flanders and Swann to mind. An illuminating after dinner speech from Martyn Downer a dealer of historic jewels, objects and artifacts, especially relating to the Royal Navy in the era of Admiral Lord Nelson. Then the stirrup cup and a chat with another old friend Revd Canon David Parrott whose dry wit goes well at this time of night. Home to the Hall for just after 11:00. Another very good evening!

20th January Face 2 Face at City Livery Club.
It is sometimes easy to think that the Plaisterers are unique, and in some ways we are; but as Master I have the opportunity to mix with most of the other 109 Liveries. It never ceases to amaze me just how much good all the Liveries do and Friday 20th was another case in point. Liveryman Alison Gowman is a Past President of the City Livery Club and runs a set of lunchtime talks called City Face2Face. This involves a talk by a prominent City person and a Club lunch afterwards. On 20th January the talk was by Bob Heathfield of the Constructors Company so I went along. I learnt that the Worshipful Company of Constructors offers a range of scholarships to support students, graduates, academics and practitioners in order to promote and reward the construction leaders of the future. Each award offers a one-year research fund of £3,000 where the scholar aims to produce a piece of research in the UK that results in a tangible outcome and benefits the scholar, the company and the industry as a whole. The results were most illuminating and I wish when I was starting out in my career in the industry something like this had been available.

For those Liverymen who do not know about the City Livery Club then please visit .You can all become members for a very reasonable £256 per year. It provides an oasis of calm view river views offering breakfasts and lunches at very competitive rates - by City standards.

17th January 2017. Visit to Lincoln College.
As a change from the hills of the Cotswold I was off with the Clerk to the flat heart of Lincolnshire today.

Save the date - June 23rd and 24th the Master will be representing the Plaisterers' Livery at the Heritage Skills Festival in Lincoln Cathedral. The event will be celebrating the life of the City of London Livery Companies and will be held in and around the Cathedral. It will be attended by the Lord Mayor.

Our visit today was to liaise with Lincoln College Construction Centre and their Plastering Department. It is essential that the event creates a legacy with an increased take up of training in Heritage Skills such as decorative plastering. Kevin Davey Head of Construction met us and showed us round the College. Very busy Plastering department with Andy Skeet in charge and about 17 Apprentices working to Levels 1/2 combined with at least 25 Full Time L1 FE students. If any of the FE students show special promise Andy tries to get them into employment through the local trade.

Well supported by BG with materials. For the Heritage event Kevin is proposing a demonstration of fibrous plaster running skills and trowel skills onto expanded metal. This to be combined with a "Have a go" challenge to let visitors try to cast some small decorations. List of jobs for both WCP and the College to do before June. All very exciting. Both Nigel and I leave pleased with a most useful meeting confident that the event in June will be a great success.

16th January 282 East Ham Mentoring
What a pleasure to visit our affiliated ATC squadron at 282 East Ham. A crush on the rush hour tube gets me to East Ham later than I wanted but at the same time as Livery Steward Simon Hinks. He is making a presentation so I cannot be late because they cannot start without him. A stiff 15 minute walk down to the Combined Cadet Centre. Super reception as ever and on my first visit a walk around the facility with Vic Tak.

This is the first of a series of 4 Mentoring evenings with the Cadets at 282. Great start with Deputy Master Bill Mahony in top form showing why he was such a success in the Food Industry; followed by Simon Hinks - who showed what is best about the diversity that is the membership of the Plaisterers Livery. Around 24 cadets, gave their full attention and asked questions that showed how worthwhile the event was for them and the Livery. Three more to come. Looking forward to them.

15th January.
Your Master finally got a chance to get in the Garden!

Still no snow here although we have had a couple of frosts. So we are still pulling carrots, parsnips (not my favourite), purple sprouting and just today the first of the over wintered Spring Leeks. Planted end of August and just ready to eat now!

14th January 2017.
A big thank you to all of you who, having found out about the Mistress' hospitalisation during the week after New Year, have sent so many kind messages. For those of you who have not heard my wife, Christine complained of a urinary tract infection over New Year and waited until Tuesday morning 3rd January for a GP appointment where she was given a course of antibiotics. She was first in major distress at 9:30 in the evening and we eventually got her to Hospital at 3:30am on Wednesday 4th. Out of hours 111 and the Emergency services both failed to recognise the classic signs of sepsis and considered that her symptoms should be treated at home.

Once in Gloucester Royal A & E a temperature of 39.6 combined with violent shaking and sickness with a BP of 75 over 55 caused a great deal of concern. She stayed in ACU for two days where the infection was identified as e-coli. She was then transferred to a ward being discharged to continue her recovery at home at 4:30pm on Monday 9th January. I am pleased to say that whilst she is still a little tired the Doctors have advised that she will make a complete recovery. I expect her to be back supporting me in the next week or so.

Whilst I am very pleased that this incident ended well it is a warning to us all that however fit we are infections need treating as soon as possible.

Unfortunately this has meant that I had to miss a small number of events but with cover from my Brother in Law I was able to attend the Master's and Clerks on 10th January. Thank yous also to the Deputy Master and Clerk for covering for me.

19th October 2016 - Musicians' Company Dinner
So where might your Master sit down to dine with the Lord Mayor Elect Andrew Parmley, past Lord Mayor Roger Gifford, the Right Honourable Lord Gill and one of the most iconic British singer songwriters of the current era Annie Lennox all within talking distance. The Master and Clerks' Dinner of the Musicians' Company at Painters' Hall of course! What an evening.

Primary guest speaker Lord Gill was very good and very entertaining but the thank you from Annie Lennox which paid respect to the contribution that the Livery organisations make to society today was truly humble and showed a real appreciation for the good that the Musicians do for their sector. This will take some topping but .....................

18th October 2016 - MIke Hannibal Completes Epic Trek
Good News, Today Mike Hannibal has completed his trek along the Naukluft Way (Namibia) and although he is a little bit lighter weight and darker skinned he is fit and well. Thank you to all the generous people who have contributed to his Virgin Giving page which now stands at £3800 with Gift Aid.

For those who have not visited the page yet there is still time to get Mike to the magic £5000 figure. Well done Mike - a superb example to us all of how one Liveryman can make a difference!

18th October 2016 - Unveiling of Company Stone at the National Memorial Arboretum
On 21st October the new visitors' centre at the National Memorial Arboretum will open to the public.

The building cost of the centre has been met entirely by donations including a small donation from the Plaisterers. Christine and I were given the privilege of attending the dedication of the building and had the chance to see the Plaisterers' flagstone in Heroes Square.

Along with about 40 other Livery Companies our flag stone and our motto "Let Brotherly Love Continue" is a feature in the Square. I can heartily recommend a visit to the NMA to all my fellow Liverymen.

15th October 2016 - Elworth Cup, Cadet Training Centre Frimley with 282 (East Ham) Air Cadet Squadron.
15th October saw your intrepid Master and Mistress braving mines and trip wires in pursuit of observing the Cadets of 282 Squadron ATC. At Frimley Cadet Training Centre. 88 of the 14000 cadets in the four cadet categories in the South of England competed for the Elworthy Trophy.

282 had won the right to represent London Wing of the ATC. They were intensely competitive over 7 tasks and acquitted themselves very well winning the Casualty Evacuation Task. The Elworthy Sword went to the overall winners South West ATC. The photo below is of WO Pena briefing his squad before they set off for the CASEVAC task through the "Mine Fields" (clay pigeon clays!). Your Master entered the Friar Tuck look a like archery contest scoring one bulls eye - please do not ask where the other three arrows went!

As with every visit we make to support 282 Squadron it was an absolute pleasure to be involved with such a wonderful group of youngsters. Well done to Flt Lt Chris Booty for getting his team to the final.

27th July - W/Co of Distillers' Spirits Results & Tasting
Attending the "Spirits Results and Tasting 2016" organised by the Distillers Company at Vintner's Hall does not sound like hard work - but, on behalf of the company, someone had to do it! I bravely took on the challenge for all of my fellow Liveryman. As a blended whisky drinker, (mostly with coke), I came to the event with a slightly jaundiced attitude. What I had not expected was probably the best networking event imaginable. I spoke to 8 Masters and 1 Sheriff. Four said, "Oh, you're the new Bill!". Only one said, "What's your day job?" to which my answer, "I am a plasterer", was met by, "I know your a Plaisterer but what do you do?". Whilst formal dinners are great you only get to talk to two or three people but tonight I was everywhere and if I add in the specialist spirit suppliers and makers and Distillers I made over 15 contacts. Then to make it a win win event I also found a Single Malt that I really liked.

So if anyone wants to buy me a Christmas present - Glenmorangie "A Midwinter Night's Dram" will do nicely.

Monday 25th July - Worshipful Company of Founders' Court Dinner.
Just 6 days as Master - in at the deep end.

Drinks in St Bartholomew's graveyard with a brass ensemble. Champagne and oompah. Everyone wants to speak to the new boy.

Intimate hall, partly subterranean like Plaisterers. Good Company well looked after. Met my first fellow Masters. Guinea Fowl twice in the week - must be a shortage of small black birds with white heads by now. Fish course of Sole Veronique - very nice indeed. Stirrup cup - spoke to a Past Master Founder, Tony Newman who was a Director of the Woodchester Mansion Trust at Nympsfield. Just up the road from Christine and me in Gloucestershire. Small world. Lets hope all of my formal dinners are as enjoyable.

Friday 22nd July - Visit to 282 (East Ham) Air Cadet Summer Camp
Any time with 282 Squadron ATC is time well spent. When I was offered the chance to meet them at RAF Cosford whilst they were away on their Summer Camp I was delighted to accept. Nigel Bamping got to Cosford in time for the bacon butty but Christine and I followed on at noon. We arrived just in time for lunch in the Sergeants' Mess - cheapest fish and chips I have had for many years! 282 squadron had 11 cadets under the watchful eye of Flight Sergeant Shoheb Akhtar. During this week there were cadets from two other London Squadrons, 444 Shoreditch and 12F Walthamstow & Leyton. The officers were most pleased with the way that the Cadets had bonded and mixed showing what an inspired choice it was to bring three East London groups together. Friday was a range day. Some were better shots than others but I think some more practice will be needed before any reach marksman status. The gun cleaning was very diligent and the word of the day was "gleaming". The Clerk helped with inspection and not for the first time looked down the barrel of a gun. On the way back to their accommodation we posed for photos under the wing of the Spitfire at RAF Cosford. That evening was to be the "disco". With a combined age the wrong side of 120 the Plaisterers eschewed the offer to "strut their stuff" and settled for dinner in the Officers’ mess. It was a very good opportunity to discuss how other squadrons were doing. We thanked our hosts and set off for home at 7:00pm - yet another super day with our affiliates.

Thursday 21st July - Visit to British Gymnastics Foundation, Lilleshall
My first visit as Master Plaisterer was to the headquarters of my chosen charity the British Gymnastics Foundation at Lilleshall. I chose this Charity because I believe that by our support we can really make a difference. As we start our tour of the facilities we meet Jane Allen the CEO of BG. Jane is effusive with her thanks for our support and excited about the opportunity to connect with City contacts through a fund raiser at Plaisterers Hall. Then it is off to the grounds of this beautiful Late Georgian hunting lodge built for the Duke of Sutherland in 1831. It is reminiscent of typical Scottish stately home of the Georgian and Victorian eras and was designed by Sir John Wyattville, the King's Architect. It was on the "Heritage at Risk Register" but now that National Sports Centre has produced a comprehensive plan for the maintenance of the buildings on the site it is been transformed. The gardens are simply gorgeous - it must be a delight to work here. Included on the site is the "Battle Back Centre". The Royal British Legion provided £27 million to establish and operate the centre which provides sports and adventurous activities for wounded, injured and sick Service people from across the Armed Forces. The great surroundings must aid recovery.

Then to the training facilities to see the BG Olympic Teams preparing for Rio - Men's trampoline and Ladies Artistic Gymnastics teams training. Just bump into and say hello to Amanda Reddin GB gymnastics head coach. All in a mornings visit.

Finally, the important bit, talking with Patrick Bonner BG Foundation & Disability Manager about how money donated by the support of the Plaisterers' will be used to help change lives. These include the gymnastics programme that is in some cases proving life-changing for dementia sufferers . The Foundation also supports cases of hardship where budding gymnastics would not otherwise be able to continue thier chosen sport.
I am very pleased that I have chosen the British Gymnastics Foundation as my Charity and I know there will be lots more stories to tell during my year as Master Plaisterer.

Tuesday 19th July 2016
The day of the Robing finally arrived. The sun shone. My name was on the Master's Board - no going back now. We all baked in the Stationers pressure cooker of a Stock Room for the Court Meeting with order papers providing makeshift fans. Don't touch the black hand rail its red hot - too late! The sun did its best to obscure the screen at Common Hall but we made it - just in time. Tea, Coffee and biscuits - but I needed the water with ice. Then the Robing. 14 new Liverymen and 4 new Freemen. Finally I get to stand up and say "I DO" and that is all that it takes to become Master.

Off to Church. Much longer walk than usual with Fozzie doing the job of three Stewards at once. Rousing Hymns, a thought provoking lesson with John Moses following Jerusalem. Then back through Paternoster Square, past the deckchair sitting city workers and the lenses of the tourists' cameras. Official photographs, this way, that way, forward and back. Three generations of the Family - marvellous. Finally the champagne, I needed that. Process into dinner and sit in the magic chair that goes back and forth apparently by itself. Take wine with the new Liverymen and Freeman. Let everyone take their jackets off then realise the chain of office is welded onto my jacket. Speeches and Happy Birthday to Ron Jordan - the first Master I met in 1992/3. Then handshakes all round and a final drink now that I did not need to make any more speeches. Then back to the Hotel for Master and Mistress Plaisterer.

Just another quiet day really!