It really has been a tremendous privilege and honour to be Master during the past year. At the start of it last July, I expressed my wish for all of us to focus on ‘Opportunity’ and ‘the Industry’. I therefore sought to be the Company’s ambassador both within the trade and outside of it by attending as many trade, professional and social events as possible.
It is a unique and very interesting experience to attend such a variety of civic, religious, military and social events and all of them have been extremely enjoyable occasions. The venues I visited were not only throughout the City of London but as far afield as Yorkshire, the Midlands, Suffolk and Devon.
I have been particularly proud to visit all of our affiliates in the Armed Forces where I have not only been fortunate to see their training regimes, career pathways, educational programs as well as their welfare and care facilities for those who have been injured or become ill, but I have been superbly entertained each time too.
I have been to the Royal Marines at Lympstone and Plymouth, RM Endeavour, (the Help for Heroes Naval Recovery Centre), the Royal Marine Reserves at Wandsworth, the Royal Navy at sea with HMS DRAGON, the SRR, the Royal Engineers at Chatham and the RAF Cadet 282 Squadron in East Ham. Reciprocal invitations were made and accepted by them to join us through the year at our events. The pressure on our Armed Forces does not become easier and the tours of duty are onerous. The Company is keen therefore to showcase its support, strengthen its links and to continue to involve members of our affiliates in our various trade and social activities when possible.
I have had the privilege to have dined with many of the one hundred and ten Livery Companies, the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and the ‘Old Bailey’ Judges during my year. While doing so I have been lucky enough to visit most of the Livery Halls in the City, the Mansion House, the Guildhall, the York Guild of Building and Steven and I attended the 31st Annual Ironbridge Gorge Museum Livery Weekend in June 2014. I have especially enjoyed meeting many other Masters which included fourteen Lady Masters who have become friends.
Every event has been special, whether it has been with many of those Worshipful Companies who have their own Hall, including the Apothecaries, Armourers and Brasiers, Bakers, Barbers, Brewers, Butchers, Carpenters, Coopers, Cutlers, Drapers, Dyers, Founders, Furniture Makers, Glaziers, Information Technologists, Master Mariners, Merchant Taylors, Painter-Stainers, Pewterers, Saddlers, Stationers & Newspaper Makers, Tallow Chandlers, Watermen & Lightermen and Wax Chandlers or those without Halls who move around the City.
I have dined with the Actuaries at the Old Bailey and Staple Inn Hall, the Arbitrators, Blacksmiths, Carmen, Chartered Architects, Chartered Surveyors, Coachmakers, Constructors, Curriers, Engineers, Environmental Cleaners, Fan Makers, Firefighters, Gardeners, Glass Sellers, Glovers, Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers, Joiners and Ceilers, Lightmongers, Makers of Playing Cards, Management Consultants, Marketors, Masons, Musicians, Paviours, Plumbers, Spectacle Makers, Tobacco Pipe Makers & Tobacco Blenders, Tylers and Bricklayers, Water Conservators at Trinity House, Weavers and World Traders at various other Halls including our own and the Mansion House. What a year !
I attended the Silent Ceremony at Guildhall in November when Alderman Fiona Woolf was installed as the 686th Lord Mayor with a hushed assembly who had packed Guildhall to share the experience. She is only the second Lady Lord Mayor in history. Steven and I, with our son Oliver, watched the Lord Mayor’s Show the next day from the stands and although it poured with rain we had a very good seat and were able to see the whole parade well and particularly enjoyed seeing The Lord Mayor and her Consort received a blessing as they knelt outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
A luncheon was held at our Hall afterwards together with several other Livery Companies and Ward Clubs with entertainment provided for the children. Tea followed later and we then watched the spectacular firework display from the Temple Steps.
The Lord Mayor addressed the Livery Masters and Clerks later in the month when she informed us all about her charities for this year’s Lord Mayor’s appeal. Each year Masters are also invited to a special Banquet at the Mansion House and what an experience that was in April with the State Trumpeters and excellent food and wine. It was superb.
During the year our Hall was the venue for several military receptions, our prestigious Training Awards Luncheon in November, with the then Lord Mayor Alderman Sir Roger Gifford on his last day of office, for our splendid Livery dinners where we had inspirational speakers in October and April: Steve Gelder of the Gelder Group and Christine Townley CEO Construction Youth Trust. Our Annual Banquet with principal guest Ed Davies Commandant General of the Royal Marines in May was well attended and the highly successful Charity Gala Evening which raised over £7,000 for the Plaisterers’ Charitable Trust and my chosen charity Construction Youth Trust. The auction and raffle was hosted by Radio DJ Mike Read and we all enjoyed the musical entertainment provided by saxophonist Dave Bowdler and singer Sam Harrison and his piano accompanist.
Other engagements included attendance at several informative lectures on Energy, the Paralympics, the History and Future of the London Underground and the annual Tacitus lecture organised by the Worshipful Company of World Traders, several wonderful services at St. Paul’s Cathedral including the dedication of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor, and the Worshipful Company of Musicians. I attended music in Spitalfields, visited Charterhouse and many other excellent events supporting the Sheriffs including the Sheriffs Breakfast at our Hall, the Sheriff and Recorders Trial and Fashion Show held at the Old Bailey in aid of their Charitable Fund set up to help ex-offenders.
I travelled to Paris for this year’s Master’s Visit in March and the twenty who came along with me had a great time with plenty to see, eat and drink. In June Steven and I went to the Founders Day Parade at the Royal Hospital, the Buckingham Palace Garden Party, Beating the Retreat by the Royal Marines at Horseguards Parade, Payment of the Governors’ Dues at the Tower of London and again to Buckingham Palace for the Royal Marines 350th Foundation Parade for the HM Royal Marines Cadets in the presence of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier at a reception in Westminster Hall after Beating the Retreat.
My Master’s Outing was a tour and lunch at Syon House in July and I am pleased that to end my year it enabled us to see fantastic original plasterwork by Robert Adam whose original moulds were some 200 years later used to enrich our own Hall with those unique and splendid designs.
I spent a wonderful day at Peterborough Cathedral in June attending several services with beautiful music and singing by the choir and had the pleasure of meeting our chorister (Erica Wood) while we were there. Lunch was superbly hosted by the Dean, Charles Taylor and his wife.
What a pleasure it has been to have also been entertained by Theo Nesbitt, the Plaisterers’ Chorister whom the Company has supported during his six years at St. Paul’s Cathedral, culminating in attending his final Speech Day in July when he was presented with several cups and awards for his outstanding achievements in his final year at the school. We wish him every success for the future and the Company will be staying in touch with him as we hope we shall see him become an Apprentice of the Company together with my son Oliver at next year’s Robing Ceremony.
Although my year has been action packed, quite remarkable and unbelievably enjoyable as Master there is also considerable work that has to be undertaken on the administration of the Company and in attending the various committee meetings throughout the year. Much hard work is done by all of the Committees and our Charitable Trust to progress the aims of the Company and the Court and Plaisterers Hall Ltd, are working hard to ensure that the future of the Company is secure, vibrant and relevant and that it will be purposeful for all our Liverymen and the trade we represent, not only for today but for all of those who will follow us in the future.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to our Learned Clerk Nigel and Assistant Clerk Ali as without them the Plaisterers’ Company just wouldn’t function so smoothly and efficiently. They do an excellent job and particularly for me, when at certain very difficult moments in my year, their strong support, endless patience, excellent time keeping and personal sympathy enabled me “to carry out my duties to the best of my ability” as I pledged to you all at the beginning of my year. Thank you both very much.
Thanks also goes to all the Hall staff and our event partners Create for their hard work throughout the year and the excellent service, food and wines we have all enjoyed. Thanks must go to my consort Steven and our son Oliver for supporting me throughout year and attending where possible events that they too have found exceptional and memorable.
I truly believe that serving as Master is the greatest service that a Liveryman can do for his or her Company and I thank, the Wardens, the Court, Past Masters Emeritus and all of my fellow liverymen, for giving me support, good advice and the most wonderful ‘Opportunity of my Lifetime’ to have served as the First Lady Master of the Plaisterers’ Company. The Company would not be what it is without the participation of its. Thank you all.
I will conclude by offering the next Master and his Wardens every good wish and success for the ensuing year.