The Masters Blog 2015-2016

Welcome to the Master’s Blog. During the year, there will be updates and news of events attended as The Master, as well as news about the charity we’re supporting this year.

Friday June 24th - A day to remember
I started with breakfast at Goldsmiths’ Hall which was delicious and I reflected that the last time I ate here was at the ‘Trial of the Pyx’ when I was only a few feet away from Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. This time I heard of the resignation of the Prime Minister David Cameron.
Whilst I ate my scrambled eggs with the Master Stationer Mrs Helen Esmonde, I reflected that ballots and elections can be very strange things. Fortunately, the Election of Sheriffs, which was my next destination, was much more straight forward.

As the Masters led the parade of dignitaries into the historic Guildhall we knew that our candidates were to be Alderman William Russell and Alderman Peter Estlin and all went according to plan!.
We voted for our Ale Conners , Bridgemasters and a host of other posts without which our beloved city would not function – not an argument took place to upset our Lord Mayor. This magnificent ceremony takes place every year and is one of the highlights of the ceremonial life of the City
I did not have an opportunity to discard my gown, chain and badge before hurrying along Gresham Street towards St Anne’s and St Agnes church for the lunchtime performance of children from Sherringham School who had been working with Apollo 5 on music from The Lion King and associated jungle sounds.
The Plaisterer’s charity supports the Gresham Centre based at the church in their work to provided top quality musical experience to local children and the splendid concert provided evidence that our money is being very well spent.

I returned to our Court Room for a quick lunch with my fellow Plaisterers to celebrate the election of the Sheriffs and then I greeted Lt Col Ed Moorhouse Commanding Officer Royal Marines Reserve City of London based at Wandsworth and together we returned to the Guildhall where a flag raising ceremony, over seen by The Lord Mayor, marked the start of Armed Forces Week end. There was a march past of retired and serving soldiers as we listened to the National Anthem and the speeches given by the Mayoral Party.
On a day of extraordinary historical change for our country it was good to be reminded that the City retains its age old traditions come what may.....

Wednesday June 22nd - Keeping well with the Medical Profession
It was time for the Mistress and I to step out with the Learned Clerk and his wife Angela and head for Apothecaries’ Hall for their ‘Guest Dinner’.
The Apothecaries are looking forward to celebrating their 400th anniversary next year and are proud of their connections with innovations in the medical institutions; their insignia of a rhino has been their emblem for 300 years and whilst it is untrue that rhino horn has aphrodisiac powers it has always been associated with magical properties. Now the Apothecaries are working hard to raise funds to save the White Rhino. It was a delight to begin the evening with champagne in their splendid courtyard – for once the weather was kind to us! Dr Roy Palmer, Master Apothecary, presided over a delicious meal and students from the Guildhall School of Music provided us with some beautiful music. The speeches provided us with food for thought and altogether we had a most enjoyable evening.

Tuesday June 21st – A trip to Stratford
No, Even though it is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, my visit today was not to THAT Stratford! I took a trip on the Jubilee line at the invitation of the Master Carpenter, Mr Michael Neal, to see his Company’s Building Craft College. This was founded in 1893 by the Carpenters’ Company and teaches crafting excellence through apprenticeships and Courses in Stone Masonry, Construction, Conservation and Wood Occupations. Their Master Certificate Scheme recognises excellence in the art, craft science and practice of carpentry and joinery and various courses take students through from the basics to the pinnacle of success.
A whole range of Masters from different companies were shown, during the course of the visit, the progress and attainment possible and we were most impressed and felt that this was definitely the sort of facility we should all be supporting and encouraging. The quality of some of the projects in stone carving and furniture making was quite outstanding and showed just what can be achieved, given the right environment.

Thursday June 16th - Master’s Outing to Bomber Command Memorial.
The skies were clear over London – no bombers in the air today, as a group of fellow Liverymen and their guests headed towards Green Park to view the stunning memorial to our brave airman who died in combat.
This was designed by architect Liam O’Connor and built in 2012 using Portman stone to commemorate the 55,5073 members of the allied forces who died within Bomber Command , most of them in the Second World War.
The RAF Benevolent Fund is the official guardian of this monument and they take their work very seriously as their Director of Strategy and Fund Raising Mike Neville made clear in his presentation. He told us of the characters represented in the bronze sculpture of a Bomber Command air crew sharing an insight which he had gained through losing members of his own team in a military exercise. He gave the listeners a moving account of the emotional ties developed by such a team and the impact that loss has on not only their fellow airmen but on their friend and families.
The hospitality which he had arranged for us at the nearby RAF Club was an excellent way for us to enjoy time together and reflect on the importance of this monument and the contribution of the RAF to our security both in the past and the present.

Wednesday June 15th - checking the cash, riding the Coaches and Walking the catwalk.
My first job today was to go to The Hall and attend a meeting of the Finance Committee and the good news is that in spite of ‘choppy’ times at our Hall, all is being managed very well indeed.
At this point the Mistress and I met up at the OXO Tower for a tasting session for the Court Dinner – always a great culinary delight!
We then went our separate ways as, along with the Learned Clerk, I headed for the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers (the longest of the Livery names) Summer Court Dinner and the Mistress proceeded to a charity fashion show at The Old Bailey.
The Clerk to the Company, Commander Mark Leaning RN gave a most entertaining talk about his extraordinary experiences in combat whilst Doug Willis, Managing Editor of the London Evening Standard explained how his newspaper had become managed by ex KGB staff (although they did keep out of the editorial; control of his newspaper). Altogether, it was scintillating evening.
Meanwhile the Mistress was enjoying the fashion show which was in aid of The Sheriff and Recorder’s Fund and Blue Sky, both of which work to support prisoners and their families. The clothes shown on the cat walk had all been designed by Sue Bonham and her team and had been produced by women either in prison or recently released. In return for their work the women receive a weekly pay packet and are able to achieve qualifications which help them to find employment.
The models showed the clothes off beautifully and our own Lady Mayoress, Juliet Lady Mountevans was brave enough to model one of the outfits as well.
This was a wonderful event and praise must be given to Samantha Bowman whose hard work and organisational skill made it a stand out event in the Mistress’s year. Although she did not buy any of the designer outfits she has got plans to purchase fairy costumes made by the same team for our three little granddaughters!
What a busy day!

Tuesday June 14th - More about the future both within our Company and the local community
The Industry Committee met today to finalise its new approach to outreach to different sectors of the Trade and its working environment - more of this will become clear at our Common Hall on July 19th.
As our meeting drew to a close I joined the Mistress, who was waiting for me to journey to the church of St Leonard Shoreditch for an early evening concert. This was part of the Spitalfields Music Summer Festival and was a performance by children from local primary schools on the theme of ‘Global Adventures’. Pupils from five Tower Hamlet’s schools took us on a musical expedition with a colourful array of songs and words from around the globe.
The Mistress and I were carried along on the wave of enthusiasm exhibited by the pupils who came from all walks of life and were of all abilities – it was a powerful reminder of the shared joy of making music.

Monday June 13th – Looking to the future
It was good to meet with the Public Relations Committee who amongst other things were putting forward their plans for the forthcoming Members’ Evening.
This looks like an exciting project to tell prospective members about life within our Company should they decide to join us, and the Master Elect was eagerly looking forward to this opportunity.

Friday June 10th – Sunday June 12th : Happy 90th Birthday your Majesty - we are having a party down in Ironbridge!
This strictly Livery event was the 33rd Annual Ironbridge Gorge Museum Livery Weekend and it combined culture, pleasure and fundraising in equal measure.
The Mistress and I arrived full of eager anticipation having been told by past Masters and their Mistresses what a very enjoyable event this is and we were not disappointed. It was great fun to be sharing the Park Inn at Telford with all our fellow Masters and their partners ( not to mention the Sheriffs and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress) and we seized the opportunity to get to know some of them better. During the course of two dinners ( well one was a Ball!) we also met members of the Fundraising Committee whose passion about preserving and developing the World Heritage site of Ironbridge was inspiring.
During the course of Saturday we visited a range of buildings and museums - including the iconic Iron Bridge, which brought to life the extraordinary Industrial development which took place in this area and triggered the Industrial Revolution of the C18th which was to change the world and lay the foundations for this country’s future prosperity. Ironically, although we were in the heart of the West Country, the funds were generated in our own City of London. We had warm sun shine, torrential thunder storms and every sort of weather in between but nothing could detract from the beauty of the countryside and the magnificence of the historic sites we visited.
Your Master particularly liked the Blists Hill Victorian Town Site where he visited a Plaster Moulding Craft shop - see picture below.
This weekend is a milestone event in a Master’s Year and the Mistress and I felt most fortunate to be a part of such a prestigious gathering.

Thursday June 9th - New members, Tylers and Bricklayers
After a stimulating and interesting meeting which included details of our forthcoming ‘Members Event’, the Learned Clerk and I made the very short journey to Pewterers’ Hall to attend the luncheon for Masters and Clerks which Mr Tom Rider the Master Tyler and Bricklayer had arranged. Fortunately for us on this fine day we were able to trip along London Wall looking out for our newly delivered Bee Hive buzzing with activity in the Jubliee Gardens.
After a delicious lunch which included a grilled Swordfish steak we heard a witty response from Sheriff Dr Christine Rigden whose sparkle seems to increase every day she is in office.
As we returned, noting that our bees were still as lively as ever, I was happy to buzz off home myself!

Wednesday June 8th – Currying Favour for the British Army
The Lord Mayor hosted a reception at which he announced the wonderful news that this year’s charitable Curry Lunch had raised a total of £217,000 all of which goes to ABF the Soldiers’ Charity. Thanks were given by him to all the sponsors, countless volunteers, particularly GMC, (Global Markets Consultants) for making the event such a great success. He praised Michael Hockney the organiser, before introducing General Sir Mike Jackson, President of the ABF, who explained where the funds raised would be directed. He is pictured below with Prem Goyal chief executive of GMC.
Never one to avoid throwing down a challenge, Sir Mike made it very clear that he would be expecting the organisation to raise £250,000 next year!
Master Elect please note......

Tuesday June 7th – The Finishing and Interiors’ Industry Rewards Excellence
I was invited by FIS to their annual Awards Lunch at the Dorchester Hotel, ably hosted by the comedian and writer Tony Hawkes who famously carried a fridge around Ireland! Members of our Livery Company figured among the top award winners today in this competitive get together. FIS president Steve Coley used his speech at this second FIS Awards Lunch to hail the ‘cream of the crop’. “The annual event brought together the sector in a healthy spirit of competitiveness”, he said. “We subbies are a competitive bunch, so to win such prestigious titles gives us a real buzz”
He went on to talk about the fine safety record of the Industry. In 2012 throughout the building of the Olympic Games facilities in the UK there were no fatalities recorded; compare that with 11 fatalities for Rio Olympic Stadium and 300 deaths for Qatar World Cup stadiums – staggering statistics. Sometimes we are quick to criticise ourselves, but one of our great achievements is the improvement in our health and safety record. While such statistics shine a favourable light on health and safety standards in the UK, we should not be complacent but must continue to strive to care for the well being of our work force both physically and mentally (including managing issues connected with anxiety and depression).
Significantly, the charity element of today’s lunch raised funds for Samaritans Central London Office.
It was good to be with Industry leaders and contractors and to feel the energy which is being generated in our lively trade.

Saturday May 28th - Evensong at St Paul’s with the Air Cadets
This afternoon the Mistress and I attended Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral with the Air Training Corps( London and Middlesex Wings) as they commemorated the 75th anniversary of the ATC. This was the first outing for the newly dedicated London Wing Banner which we had seen at its inauguration service at the Guildhall yard just a week earlier.
The stirring service was taken by the Very Rev David Ison who gave thanks for the work of the ATC over the previous 75 years and made special mention of the officers and supporters who maintained the high standard of the Corps.
The organ voluntary of the ‘Spitfire’ Prelude and fugue from the First of The Few by William Walton was a suitable and uplifting way to end this special service.

Friday May 27th - Today’s longest Drive
For me the longest drive today was to Oakham , north of Peterborough; my dream, to see the Plaisterers score a victory against the York Guild in this traditional annual golf fixture.
Sadly due to too many late nights, lunches and dinners my lack of golf fitness precluded me from taking part but I was confident that at the end of the day dinner would be enhanced by handing the trophy to our own captain and Master Elect Terry Wright.
It was a closely fought battle between the two teams but yet again, despite much discussion about scoring systems and handicaps the result was a victory to York. Dinner was delicious (steak pie of course!) but the picture you can see below of me handing the trophy ( or in this case a water jug!) to Steve Cluderay was a bitter sweet dessert.

Thursday May 26th And yet more delights with the Joiner Ceilers
Thanks to the Mistress’s laundering skill I was able to set forth with her on my arm appropriately dressed for the Summer Banquet which the Master Joiner Ceiler Mark Snelling had invited us to at Fishmongers’ Hall.
We were placed on the top table where we enjoyed our dinner immensely – I believe this was the first time I had been served pork during my time as Master and it made a delicious change. The musical entertainment was a duo who played gypsy style music which set everyone’s toes tapping.
After the meal The Master celebrated one of the Company’s military affiliations by presenting a number of awards to officers and service men and women from the Royal Engineer Corps.
Mark and his consort Sally have become real friends of ours this year and it was a pleasure to be a part of their most successful evening.

Wednesday May 25th - From the Palace to The Painter Stainers
I left Buckingham Palace the previous evening after a discussion with Master Painter Stainer Tony Ward in which we both agreed that leaving the glory of the Palace on such a beautiful evening was hard to do. But at The Barnett Dinner held by his Worshipful Company tonight I was delighted that he had decided to change location and welcome me to his Hall. It was great to team up with more old friends and fellow Masters whilst enjoying the Company’s hospitality and I think we all shared the awe and wonder in the Hall expressed by Former Lord Mayor, Alderman Sir Roger Gifford in his toast to the Company.
As I remarked to the Mistress on my return home late that night – what a week this turning out to be!

Tuesday May 24t h - At Her Majesty’s Invitation.
A lively collection of Masters and Mistresses, all dressed in their finest - morning coats for the gentlemen and smart outfits with hats for the ladies – congregated at The Goring Hotel for lunch before the main event of the day; The Buckingham Palace Garden Party .
After a jolly lunch together we skipped across to join the queue by the Grosvenor Gate entrance, (We had been tipped off that this was the quickest way in). How lucky were we, compared to those who had attended earlier parties, to be waiting together in the sunshine.
Once inside the gates we took time to enjoy the wonderful gardens and the views across the lake to the palace before joining the crowds surrounding the advancing Royal Party as they made their way across the lawns to the Royal Tea Tent.
The Mistress and I found ourselves right next to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they were introduced to select groups. We were most impressed at their obvious interest in the conversations that took place and in their refusal to be hurried along. The Duchess looked stunning in a cream outfit and the Duke was very dashing in his top hat.
Tea turned out to be a delicious assortment of sandwiches and cakes, which we ate whilst we listened to the band playing. We met many other guests from all walks of life who were all enjoying themselves as much as we were.
We had a wonderful time at what is a quintessentially British tradition which we were honoured to be a part of.

Monday May 23rd – Our Banquet at Drapers’ Hall
For those who were present at the Banquet - no more needs to be said – but for those who weren’t , you missed a magical evening.
Of course we were sad not to be celebrating the high point of the Master’s year in our own Hall ( the best in London!) but what a glittering alternative we chose in the magnificent Drapers’ Hall, location of the Buckingham Palace scenes in ‘The King’s Speech’ .
We were graced by the presence of a number of eminent guests, among them, two sheriffs, a retired Chief Magistrate, the CEO of Barnardos and The Dean of Peterborough Cathedral. The Mistress and I were also delighted to welcome many of our own family and close friends to share this splendid occasion with us.
The meal itself was superb, thanks to the excellent staff of Drapers and of course I am grateful to their Master for making the Hall available to me.
The speeches were most entertaining and Nicholas McCarthy, a one handed pianist earned a standing ovation with his breathtaking performance.
As I surveyed the hall packed with my fellow Liverymen and their guests I was so proud to be Master of this wonderful company. It was a night in which we showed that whatever happens we can rise above it and that the ‘waifs and strays’ described by Honorary Chaplain The Very Rev. Dr. John Moses in his inspired grace, had triumphed.
On behalf of the Company I must thank The Learned Clerk and Assistant Ali Mackey for masterminding my ‘Event of the Year’ and making it such a great success.

Saturday May 21st - The sun shone on the new London Wing Banner at Guildhall
The band played ( 282 band of course) at this colourful presentation of the laying of the old Wing banner and the presentation of the new banner at Guildhall this Saturday morning.
The Mistress and I were given VIP seats along with dignitaries such as the Chief Commoner, the Sergeant at Arms and the Remembrancer, to view this spectacular parade, presentation and blessing of the Wing colours. Sheriff, Alderman Charles Bowman and his wife Samantha were on hand to inspect the Corps, and their very proud officers ( including C.O. Chris Booty)shared a hearty buffet afterwards in the Guildhall Crypt. Special mention was made by the Sheriff of the part played by the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers in supporting 282 Squadron’s band in its meteoric progress over recent years culminating in today’s splendid performance.

Thursday May 19th - Dinner by Candlelight.
At the kind invitation of the Master Tallow Chandler, Mr Nicholas Bull, the Learned Clerk and I attended Dinner at the Worshipful Company’s Hall. During the course of the evening I learned that the Master was an extremely keen skier but had in recent years stopped racing toboggans on the Cresta run in St Moritz due to the fact that he had broken his neck in a skiing accident.......
Liveryman Miss Wendy Sweetser sat close to me and as she was a member of the Tasting Committee explained to me that one course at their Livery Dinner always included a ‘tallow’ dish. Tonight, it was ham hock and leek Suet Pudding which was delicious, as indeed was the whole meal. With a Loving Cup of Lindisfarne mead what more could one ask for? And yet we had wonderful music from students from the Guildhall School of Music and very entertaining speeches. I noted that even though the original medieval Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, the Company is still not shy about burning wax candles at every opportunity and in each room of the Hall.

Tuesday May 17th – A call to the Board Room
Today was the date of an extraordinary meeting called to discuss the recovery work being carried out after the flood damage to our Hall. I was really impressed , having toured the site and discussed the progress with our Chairman, at the detailed and exacting effort being brought to bear by all concerned in the project to return the building to its former glory.

Monday May 16th – The Fascinating World of Playing Cards
The Mistress and I were lucky enough to happen upon the Master Playing Card Maker, Richard Fowler, outside the historic Chapter Hall of St John’s Gate Museum and Priory at Clerkenwell, as he prepared for the lecture and reception which his Worshipful Company had in store for guests throughout the Livery movement.
We were given an explanation of the various uses of the magnificent Museum building by director Tom Foakes and learned that after the dissolution of the monasteries and subsequent restoration by Queen Mary the buildings had been used as the Offices of the Master of the Revels. (Thirty of Shakespeare’s plays were licensed here).
We were then led to the Chapter Hall where Past Master Yasha Beresiner delivered a scintillating illustrated lecture on the history of playing cards throughout the ages, punctuated by extremely humorous stories and pictures. I for one will never pick up a pack of playing cards again without dwelling on their importance and meaning. The Master had given a beautiful set of cards commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Lord Mayor’s Show at our Masters and Clerks’ dinner in January and at the end of his event this evening he auctioned for the benefit of his charity an identical set which raised over £100.00
We then headed off to the bus stop after an ace night!

Friday May 13th - A visit to one of our military affiliates
I was lucky enough to try out some of our military’s most advanced weapons today, under the scrutiny of one of our military affiliates this was a most exciting and exhilarating day.

Thursday May 12th “They’re changing Guard at Buckingham Palace”
And the Master went down not with Alice but with the Mistress, invited by Barnardo’s CEO Javed Khan to the Palace Garden Party. This was to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Barnardos and was attended by people who had some connection with Britain’s largest Children’s charity, including staff, fund raisers, volunteers and clients. HRH Duchess of Cornwall was in attendance in her role as president of Barnardos.
The sun shone throughout this very pleasant afternoon and it was a real delight to be part of this wonderful celebration of the work of a most remarkable man , Dr Thomas Barnardo

Wednesday May 11th
If the Bakers didn’t start it then who did?
The Learned Clerk and I ‘broke bread’ with the Master Baker, Mr Colin Reese, at lunch time today on the occasion of the Masters and Clerks Luncheon at Bakers’ Hall. As we had heard at the Brewers earlier the Bakers are, of course refusing to take any blame for causing the Great Fire, but it is interesting that the conflagration started in Pudding Lane and they have chosen a QC as their Master this year! We learned that the Bakers will be celebrating this historic anniversary with a series of dinner plays (plays performed during dinner) which will include the involvement of Samuel Pepys. A new Great Fire Biscuit has been developed made with the spices in use in the 17th Century.
The lunch was delicious and we enjoyed the Master Baker’s dessert selection as much as his fine wines.

And then to Barts Hospital with the Mistress
This event began with a glorious choral evensong in The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, one of London’s oldest churches founded in 1123 as an Augustinian priory. The sermon was given by The Rt Revd & Rt Hon. Dr Richard Chartres who , after the service, led us out of church towards St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
The very many Livery Company Masters who attended what is known as ‘View Day’, conducted what was historically an inspection of the hospital instituted by new governors in 1551. It offered the opportunity to review the state of the hospital in the past year and to receive suggestions for improvements. Nowadays, ‘View Day’ provides an opportunity for guests to find out more about the Trust and Charity and their plans for the future.
This terrific alliance between the Barts Charity and the NHS provides world class treatment facilities for emergency heart trauma and cancer patients - all of which we were shown by the very dedicated and professional medical team.

Tuesday May 10th - Getting wet on the way to church
Today was the 362nd Festival of the ‘Friends of the Sons of the Clergy’ at St Paul’s Cathedral and as the rain deluged down on London your Master and the Wardens joined the Clerk in attending this important annual service to show solidarity with the Country’s clergy.
The Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff of most of the City Livery Companies solemnly processed into the cathedral to attend with the Lord Mayor, The Sheriffs, Aldermen and Bishops in support of the charity. All were gowned and bejewelled as they listened in awe to the combined choirs of St Paul’s, St Edmundsbury and Birmingham Cathedral. The sermon was preached by The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Rt Hon Justin Welby.

Friday May 6th - Heading in Different Directions – The Master visits the Country and the Mistress goes to Town.
Today the Mistress headed off first on her trip to Vintners’ Hall in response to a kind invitation to have lunch with the Mistress Light Monger, Sandy Rowsell.
She writes;
“This turned out to be a most enjoyable event which included a trip around the Hall to see the almost certainly genuine Van Dyke painting and all the Swan memorabilia that is associated with ‘Swan Upping’ . A delicious lunch was followed by an irreverent and extraordinarily funny speech from the Rev Ann Easter whose recollections about her sartorial mishaps during a service which she was conducting had many of us ladies helpless with laughter.”

Meanwhile, I headed off to the Country as a guest of Master Joiner and Ceiler Mark Snelling at his Master’s Outing to Munstead Wood House and Gardens.
To Historians this is one of the most famous gardens in England. In 1895 the owner, Gertrude Jekyll, employed the acclaimed architect Edwin Lutyens to design the house. She became one of the most celebrated modern gardeners of our time designing the ideal domestic style garden that we all know and love. Her commercial success with developments for Suttons Seeds led on to her winning the ‘Victoria Medal of Honour’ from the Royal Horticultural Society. Equally as important to me on this excellent day was enjoying a wonderful lunch in the fellowship of other Masters and members of The Joiners and Ceilers’ Company; I was made to feel most welcome before I rushed back to London to meet up with the Mistress and enjoy a concert at The Festival Hall along with other members of my community choir.

Thursday May 5th - Sustainability Scholarships Presentation Evening
Tonight it was my pleasure to attend the presentation of these scholarships sponsored by The Chartered Institute of Building and The Worshipful Company of Constructors. As you would imagine the two presentations which we witnessed from Adam Golden of Costain and Inga Geach of Willmott Dixon were equally innovative but totally different in their approach to this subject.
These two young people had studied hard, Adam to look at the influences of behaviour in conflicts and disputes within Construction and Inga to focus on marketing the idea of ‘Best Value’ rather than ‘Best Price’ when incorporating sustainability in searching for the correct contractor. I think that Master Constructor Graeme Monteith summed things up brilliantly when he said that this was the way forward for us all in our industry.
A very’ Constructive’ evening for us all.
What a day – and I still managed to vote in the local elections!

Wednesday May 4th – A pint of Harvey’s Sussex Bitter with The Master Brewer
The Learned Clerk and I were more than happy to be entertained at The Brewers’ Company Dinner for Masters and Clerks at their eponymous hall tonight. We were in the Company of a goodly group of friendly City Masters who thoroughly enjoyed the speech to the guests by The Master Baker, Mr Colin Reese QC which attempted to deny all responsibility for causing The Great Fire of London 350 years ago.
The Master Brewer in turn responded by bringing in references to all of the Companies present and the trouble that the inferno had caused to them.
One might believe that such an exchange, after an excellent four course evening’s dining with high class wines and beers, might have provoked some controversy amongst the guests but with the excellent Dame Alice Owen School’s Close Harmony Group serenading us with ‘When the Saints’ followed by ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’, we had to leave the Hall in a mellow mood, carrying with us generous samples of Harvey’s speciality ales.

Saturday April 30th - 282 Squadron Presentation Evening
The Master and Upper Warden together with their consorts and Assistant Clerk Ali Mackey and her husband attended Newham Town Hall this evening for the 282 Squadron Annual Awards Presentation . This was without doubt the best and most professional that I had witnessed and showed off the range of achievements of our favourite squadron in style. We learned of their magnificent efforts in India, working with the local people on a project to refurbish a school building and celebrated the squadron winning the Innes Sword competition.
Prizes and certificates for a host of achievements in a range of disciplines were presented by a number of eminent local dignitaries including Local MP Stephen Timms , The Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Newham Mr John Barber DM ,and Councillor Bryan Collier MBE . Your Master was the proudest presenter of them all, able to give the Plaisterers’ Shield for ‘Best Musician’ to Cadet Warrant Officer Ricardo Pena. Who also was named as ‘Cadet of the Year’.
This remarkable squadron achieves so much for local young people under the inspirational leadership of Chris Booty, their Commanding Officer.

Friday April 29th – Trial of The Pyx
The Learned Clerk and I were called to Goldsmiths’ Hall today to witness the conclusion of the ‘Trial of the Pyx’.
This is an examination by a Jury of Freemen of the Goldsmiths’ Company in a court of law to check that coins produced by The Royal Mint are correct in weight, diameter and Composition, as required by law. This has happened to assure the ‘justness’ of the coinage of our country since Saxon or possibly early Roman times. There’s a record of a public trial in the year 1248 in front of the Barons of the Exchequer by a jury of ‘twelve discreet and lawful citizens of London and twelve Skilful Goldsmiths of the same place’.
Our jury concluded in favour of the currency being ‘good’ and we witnessed it with relish. We watched the verdict delivered by The Queen’s Remembrancer’, the Chancellor of the Exchequer,, George Osborne, and the Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, along with The High Commissioner of New Zealand. The Remembrancer delivered a wonderful and witty ‘summing up’ making many references to Shakespeare’s comments on the worthlessness or otherwise of currency but informed us that “On the whole” our currency met the ‘required standard’!
We were all delighted by an excellent lunch which followed amusing speeches from both George Osborne and The Prime Warden. The Chancellor proudly showed us the new pound coin after muttering darkly that many of those in our pockets at present are forgeries........
“On the whole” - a superb event which I will never forget.

Thursday April 28th - Rathbones’ Charity Symposium 2016
During this year, as Master I attend the meetings of our Charity Trustees and our advisors
Andrew Pitt, Head of Charities at Rathbones invited me along to the Institute of Engineering and Technology to their Charity Symposium based on the theme of ‘Legacy and Ethical Investment’.
The Rt Hon Lord Sebastian Coe KBE was interviewed by ’Today’ programme presenter Mishal Husain about the importance of Legacy in investment for the future and the influence that society could bring to bear for positive means.

Wednesday April 27th - Not a Pointless evening with the best choristers in the Country
This evening the Mistress and I attended St Paul’s Cathedral for an Evening with the Cathedral Choristers of Britain in aid of The Friends of Cathedral Music’s Diamond Fund for Choristers.
Sixty young singers representing Cathedrals across the United Kingdom presented a programme of classics ranging from Handel’s ‘Zadoc the Priest’ and Allegri’s ‘Miserere Mia’ to Parry’s ‘I was glad’.
The presenter was Aled Jones MBE and former chorister Alexander Armstrong ( of television programme ‘Pointless’ fame ) gave a personal reminiscence about his experiences as a chorister at Durham Cathedral and the very positive impact this made on his life. The funds raised from the evening will be used to encourage young people from all walks of life to become choristers.
This very fine concert was performed in front of their patron ,HRH The Duchess of Gloucester and was enjoyed by everyone who was lucky enough to attend.

Sunday April 24th - Sunday 24th April - Run Run Run!
Today was a day to wake up to with real feelings of excitement for the Mistress and I.
We stayed overnight at The Hall to be first" On the scene" to watch Livery man Phillip "Fozzie" Foster compete in the London Marathon. I can tell you that he made us both feel very proud.
He ran a fantastic time of 4 hours and 12 minutes in the race, Raising funds for the Master’s Charity, Barnardo’s, and he is confident of reaching £5,500 for all of his efforts.
He was supported by a number of members of the Company as well as other friends
and his family.
There is still time to support Fozzie…..visit his fundraising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PhillipFoster .
We were delighted to share his success with friends and family at the Barnardo’s reception afterward and the joy of hearing the runners cheered in by fellow fundraisers was unimaginable.

Friday April 22nd – Cwmni Anrhydeddus Lifrai Cymru
For those of you whose Welsh language is a little bit rusty, the above title translates as ‘ The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales’ and it was to their Annual Livery Dinner in London aboard HQS Wellington that we were lucky enough to be invited this evening..
We were among friends not only from the London Liveries but also the Welsh Livery as we were delighted to discover that our own Deputy Master Michael Jones and his wife Heather were on the guest list.
This relatively new Livery Company was formed in 2013 when the original Welsh Livery Guild was presented with a Royal Charter. The Company provides fellowship for its members provides education and makes awards to Welsh people to help develop their talents and skills.
To make the Welsh feel at home this was an exceptionally wet evening but it was well worth putting up our umbrellas to attend this most enjoyable event with excellent food and wine and another witty speech from Alderman for Vintry Ward Dr Andrew Parmley.

Thursday April 21st - a riverside lunch and more Shakespeare.
Having had a day to recover from the two wonderful meals that I ate on Tuesday ( the Mistress had me on bread and water!)I was raring to go for lunch with the Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames. Together with the Learned Clerk we made our way to their exquisite Hall for their St George’s Day Luncheon for Masters and Clerks. The Master, Mr Richard Springford, gave us an excellent insight in to the Company’s year and of course, with the Doggett’s ‘Coat and Badge’ race still in prospect for the year, the Master has an exciting time ahead. This race is one of the oldest sporting events in the City and continues to be of great interest to all its spectators along with the many apprentices and highly skilled river craft Masters and Crew who work on the Thames.
Europe’s busiest stretch of Inland Waterway carried nearly ten million passengers last year and this Company is proud to supervise the safe navigation of its craft.
This intimate and amicable lunch was greatly enjoyed by the many liveries attending and with its links to the St George’s Day celebrations and with the Queen’s forthcoming 90th birthday just ahead of us was a suitable festive event.

The Clerk and I jumped into a taxi to race back to London Wall to view the City of London’s Blue Plaque to William Shakespeare being unveiled. This took place at St Olave’s Churchyard in Silver Street ( neither of which exist today, but are in fact opposite the entrance to our Hall alongside the offices of DLA Piper)and commemorates the fact that the Bard lodged there for a while with the Mountjoy family during his time in the city.
Prior to the unveiling there was a little ceremony in which a group of local hand bell ringers played ‘O Mistress Mine’, children from Bean County Primary School sang ‘You spotted snakes’ from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and actor Fiona Shaw read Sonnet 55. This was followed by a speech from Sir Nicholas Kenyon and the unveiling of the plaque by Alderman Sir David Wootton .
The ceremony over we were invited by the generous management of DLA Piper - amongst them our own Liveryman Alderman Alison Gowman , to partake of champagne and canapés to celebrate. We were entertained on one of the upper floor suites where we could experience the most stunning view over St Paul’s and across London.
“ Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of Princes , shall outlive this powerful rhyme
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time”
Extract from Shakespeare Sonnet 55

Tuesday April 19th - off to market and lunchtime and still seeing straight in the evening.
At lunch time I returned to my roots as a Marketor and together with our Learned Clerk joined their Worshipful Company for lunch in the sumptuous surrounding of Grocers’ Hall. Here, Master David Pearson, my neighbour in the office at London Wall, had arranged a Spring Luncheon with Elizabeth Corley CBE, Vice Chairman of Allianz Global Investors as guest speaker.
Having listened to her stimulating talk it was easy to understand how she was recently named as ‘Most influential Woman ‘in Asset Management. Another surprise was to learn that she is also a well known Crime Fiction writer, recently on the short list for the ‘Dagger in the Library’ Award! One of my neighbours at lunch was the Rev.Cannon Dr Alison Joyce, Rector of St Bride, Fleet Street who presided over the power wedding of Rupert Murdoch and Gerry Hall back in March. Now that’s what you call a high profile event!
It was most refreshing to eat grilled sea bass as the first real spring sunshine of the year shone through the windows of Grocers; Hall

In the evening it was the turn of the Mistress to accompany me to Drapers Hall for the sumptuous white tie livery dinner of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers. We were warmly welcomed by Master Edward Middleton and his Mistress Rosemary and were honoured to sit at the top table along with next year’s Lord Mayor, Sheriff, Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley, who gave a most amusing speech in which he referred to the huge number of Shakespearean references used daily in our language - very appropriate as the 28 marble columns in Drapers’ Hall provide ideal spaces for the Company’s collection of royal portraits along with ceiling panels painted by Herbert Draper depicting scenes from Shakespeare plays. Suffice to say that I was very glad to have purchased a brand new pair of spectacles before this event.
The dinner was delicious which made us very confident that our own Banquet which will be held at the Hall on May 23rd will be a great success.

Monday April 18th - Music with the Tylers and Bricklayers.
The Mistress having an important meeting elsewhere, I was delighted to be accompanied by Court member Alderman Alison Gowman to this concert at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama at Milton Court in The Barbican.
After a lively and interesting introductory talk by Sheriff Alderman Charles Bowman which marked the 600th Anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Tilers and Bricklayers we listened to a varied programme of music ranging from Bach to Bernstein played by the talented Guildhall pupils. This was a splendid display of the range of musical talent that we have right here in the City.

Wednesday April 13th - Time for Tea
In spite of the flood the Mistress’ Tea Party was able to go ahead thanks to the Worshipful Company of Cutlers who loaned their Hall for this event.
This was well attended by over eighty guests and everyone enjoyed looking at a new venue and trying to count all those elephants! Entertainment was provided by Womens’ Barber shop quartet ‘Hot Note’ who not only sang beautifully but explained a little about how their harmonies are worked out. Tea was a jolly affair with lots of champagne, sandwiches, savouries and cakes.
It was nice for the Ladies to have their own event and The Mistress thoroughly enjoyed herself amongst a group of the pleasantest people you could hope to meet.

Tuesday April 12th - Our last trip to The Mansion House!
Wouldn’t you expect The World Traders to organise themselves terrifically well?
Well of course they did for their Annual Election Dinner at the Mansion House and The Mistress and I were delighted to receive and accept an invitation to this prestigious occasion.
We were received and greeted by past Master Mei Sim Lai OBE, a lady of diminutive form and huge personality, who introduced us with great pride to many World Traders.
Our Lord Mayor gave a wonderful speech exhorting us as ever to ‘Innovate and Succeed’ and as a World Trader himself, with his well known shipping background, he knows how important the role of the trader is to Gt Britain PLC. I sat between Sheriff Dr Christine Rigden who is so enjoying her time looking after our judges at The Old Baily, and past Mistress Sally Bishop who entertained me with stories of her Mother in Law’s exploits as a member of Bomber Command.
The food is always good at The Mansion House and tonight was no exception – we have been so lucky to dine there several times - and for the second time we heard the Post Horn Gallop played from the galleries at either end of the Egyptian Hall this time by Thames Fanfare Brass . It was a splendid backcloth to a memorable evening.

Saturday April 9th – a day with the Military.
It was an early start for the Mistress and I as we drove to Crowborough Training Camp to support our favourite Air Cadet Squadron, 282 from East Ham battle it out against 25 other squadrons from London Wing to compete for the prestigious ‘Innes Sword’ trophy.
It was a cold and wet day as we joined Masters and Wardens from other Companies to watch the Cadets take part in an obstacle course, a stretcher run, orienteering, archery and first Aid – just some of the skills that were being tested.
With the accent on team work we were so impressed with both the way the cadets helped each other out and the determination of all to do their best for their squadron. We were also impressed with our packed lunch which was the same as that given out to all the young people – A hearty and generous meal which the The Mistress and I were still eating the next day.
At the end of the week end our eight cadets from 282 took overall first place and won the sword. Congratulations to Commander Chris Booty and all the cadets.

From the mud splashed countryside of E.Sussex, we drove back to London and changed into our evening dress ready for an evening at the Albert Hall. Here we attended the ‘Mountbatten Festival of Music’ as guests of Major General Martin Smith MBE.
The Guest of Honour in our box was HRH The Duke of Edinburgh who is the Captain General of the Royal Marines. We were greatly honoured to be in the company of so many important military and civilian dignitaries; this made us realise just how valuable our connections with the Marines are from the perspective of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers.
The concert, compered by John Suchet featured the massed bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and was a spectacular and uplifting event culminating in a performance of a tribute to the First World War Battle of Jutland. This moving piece marked the blackest day in the history of the Bands of the Royal Marines when in Scapa Flow and its surrounds British losses reached 6098

Friday April 8th – Building of the Year award
The Leadenhall Building was the location for the presentation of the first ever ‘City of London Building of the Year Award’. Peter Murray, Master of the Worshipful Company of Accountants said, “The City of London is home to some very fine examples of contemporary architecture. We are keen to support good design and encourage City Businesses to do so in the future”.
Many guests and City Livery Company Masters joined me in toasting what is known colloquially as ‘ The Cheesegrater’ as the Lord Mayor, Lord Mountevans, flanked by his two sheriffs unveiled a plaque marking the design achievement by Rogers Stirk Harbour and partners. We rode up to the 42nd floor and wondered at the magnificent City views beneath us.

Thursday April 7th - Its still pretty hot Sir!
This was the day of The Ninth Annual Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch held at London’s Guildhall to raise money for the ABF – The Soldiers’Charity.
The Lord Mayor, Lord Mountevans, hosted this lunch which over the last eight years has raised almost £1.4 million pounds for the charity helping soldiers and veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and who risked so much. The Royal Guest of Honour, who was presented to those at the Lunch was HRH Prince Harry and those attending were invited to bid for prizes in the Silent auction and draw as well as enjoying lunch with serving soldiers and Ministry of Defence personnel.
This was an enjoyable way to have a good curry and raise money for a worthy cause.

Tuesday April 5th – ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’.
And so the day dawned for our April Quarterly Court and Spring Livery Dinner – just one working week after The Flood at Plaisterers’Hall. The Clerk’s Office and our friends at Create Foods worked wonders and thanks to the generosity of the Worshipful Company of Stationers this grand affair took place in the magnificent Stationers’ Hall. One of the main subjects of our evening event was the presentation of a Jubilee Crown which we pay as rent to The Corporation of the City of London for the rent of our garden along London Wall (currently well watered thanks to Thames Water!)
This was followed by the presentation of The Royal Navy Cup to Leading Writer Alison Reed for her outstanding service on HMS Dragon.
Our guest speaker and Barnardos’ Ambassador was Melvyn Hayes who brought the house down with a most entertaining speech. Your Master was pleased to present him with a cheque for Barnardos of the money so far collected for his chosen charity.
This was a triumph of an evening and although I am sure we all missed our own Hall it was interesting to see the historic home of Shakespeare’s original portfolios.

Saturday 2nd April – A private supper with our Banquet Guest
The Mistress and I spent a fascinating evening with Senior District Judge, Timothy Workman CBE who served as Chief Magistrate for London for a number of years at the historic Bow Street Magistrates’ Court handling extradition and terrorism cases of great notoriety. Now that he is retired , he and his wife Felicity , enjoy their life on a small homestead in Berkshire where , amongst other things, they keep sheep. He has some wonderful stories to tell which I am sure he will be sharing with our guests at the Banquet.

Thursday 31st March –The Mistress dines on the Thames
The Mistress was delighted to be invited by the Mistress Mariner,Mrs Miki Conybeare, to board HQS Wellington for a guided tour and a luncheon Party.
This was a fascinating experience which was made all the more interesting by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the Company Clerk, sporting a Captain Mariner’s Sailor type beard, who led the tour around this remarkable ship which is home to The Honourable Company of Master Mariners .
Although this is a relatively new Company , formed in 1926, its first Master was Edward Prince of Wales , which explains the Master’s badge which is both exceptionally beautiful and remarkably valuable! The History of HQS Wellington is varied and distinguished including service in the second World War as a convoy escort. It is now moored at Temple Stairs on The Embankment.
This was a most enjoyable trip and the lunch was quite delicious. The weather was kind and as The Mistress stood on deck, surveying The Thames in its all its glory it was a moment to reflect on the rich and wonderful life of our magnificent City. Boadicea ruling the waves!

Thursday March 24th - Easter Holidays (“and it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the earth”)
Thus sayeth The Bible, and that’s how it seemed to Rob Pegg, our Hall manager when he came to work on Good Friday morning to work overtime writing his monthly report. To his horror he discovered that due to a major burst water main on London Wall , Thames Water had flooded our beautiful Hall. Prompt action by him drained much of the water quickly away, but the catastrophic result is that the Hall will be ‘closed for business ‘for a number of months.
Chairman of Plaisterers’ Hall Ltd ,Robert Dalrymple, will be working tirelessly, along with his dedicated team, to restore our Hall to its former glory as soon as possible.
We wish them well!

Wednesday March 23rd. The Mistress learns about the mysteries of The Middle Temple.
The Mistress writes ;
Today provided an opportunity to meet up with some of the fellow Mistresses and Consorts on a trip to The Middle Temple, one of the four ancient Inns of Court , Invited by Mistress Launderer, Mrs Sheila Higgs and Mistress Water Conservator, Mrs Georgina Hall. Once the right location had been found there was time to get to know some of the ‘new recruits’ before starting a guided tour around The Middle Temple . This beautiful building was badly damaged in the Second World War and has been carefully restored to its former magnificence. Some of the customs and practices of this historic institution were explained to us and there was speculation about two shields on a stained glass window dedicated to the names of Jekyll and Hyde – were they seen by Robert Louis Stephenson?
The first recorded performance of William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ took place here and in the magnificent hall where lunch was served there is a bench table, believed to be a gift from Elizabeth I. It is 29 feet long and made from a single oak tree which was floated down the Thames from Windsor Forest.
This was a wonderful opportunity to visit a historic gem right in the heart of the City and it was a real privilege to participate.

Tuesday March 22nd – Are The Masons Mercenary? How long is a Pikeman’s pike?
As always, even as the end of my year draws frighteningly into focus – I find that I have a lot to learn, for example, I was unaware of the closeness between the Worshipful Company of Masons and the Esteemed Mercers Company, but Master Bill Gloyn happily explained that their connections dated well back in history. Accompanied to the Masons’ Luncheon at Mercers’ Hall by our Learned Clerk – who took me to visit the Mercers’ ancient chapel beneath their Hall, a place of great reverence – I enjoyed a convivial repast with The Master, his Lady and his Livery colleagues.
I felt quite sad for my friend Bill when his guest speaker announced that this would be Bill’s last ‘home event’, and I also thought I saw a small tear in his eye too.
The Master was at pains to mention historical links with many companies, including ours, in his speech and somewhat glossed over an earlier speech which he had made inferring that we Plaisterers had been responsible for some faulty stone masonry repairs; I consider this to buried that Particular hatchet!
In the evening I repaired to Armoury House, the home of the Honourable Artillery Company ( otherwise known to you and me as the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers).
Their familiar name in the City is ‘The Gentlemen of the Artillery Garden’ and you may have seen them parading in The Lord Mayor’s Show. They were pleased to tell the Learned Clerk and me of their availability for special events – carpet guards, parades and ceremonials of all kinds – whilst affording me the opportunity to don some of their armour. Our thanks for their hospitality, they are a completely voluntary organisation with great expenses which can only be met from charitable donations and I feel sure that they will live long and prosper.
Oh! And the answer to that question? They used to be eighteen feet long but due to practical reasons they have recently been limited to twelve. I leave you with the picture below and some words from Gilbert and Sullivan which the Learned Clerk felt were quite apposite.
Words from Princess Ida by Gilbert and Sullivan

“This helmet, I suppose,
Was meant to ward off blows,
It's very hot
And weighs a lot,
As many a guardsman knows,
So off, so off that helmet goes.”

Monday March 21st – Organs never stopping
I am never surprised as I continue my ‘magical mystery tour’ around the City so I shouldn’t have been phased to find myself entertained courtesy of Master Chartered Surveyor Lady Davies in the only City Hall to possess an organ.
This was expertly played by Paul Collins whilst James Cleverton serenaded us with his wonderful baritone voice as he strolled around the magnificent circular balcony above the famous Merchant Taylors’ Hall.
At the Spring Livery Dinner , we dined in wonderful company on a seasonal menu of delicious Spring Lamb.
Powerful speeches by The Lord Dannatt, Constable of HM Tower of London and The Master, who proposed the guests were followed by an extremely amusing monologue from Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley .

Friday March 18th - Who are the Cordwainers?
OK ! I’ll tell you – The Cordwainers are shoemakers who practised their trade for centuries within the walls of the City of London. Today they are still connected with Footwear and leather but are heavily involved in charitable giving and education. One of their nine main charities is The Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSP) and the Master Corwainer’s guest, Mr Michael Fallon MP is President of the society. He spoke of his work in this area and I reflected that if our busy Minister of Defence find time for charity work, there are no excuses for us not doing the same. There was some imaginative and excellent music from Vincent Ott a Cordwainers’ scholar from City University. It was a duet with piano and tape recorder. I had never heard anything like it before!
This was an evening to remember with an exciting menu and excellent speakers.

Thursday March 17th – ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’
How very kind of Colonel David Davies, the Master Armourer and Brasier, to dedicate his Freemen’s Dinner to a St Patrick’s Day feast; I wonder whether he had notice of my Irish heritage? Suffice to say that any meal comprised of Irish sirloin steak, cabbage and Guiness sauce, Bailey’s pannacotta and Donegal herring will have my vote!
Guest speaker William Shawcross CVO explained the importance of good governance to the charity work undertaken by The Armourers and Brasiers and other Livery Companies – a
Not only did we have interesting speeches and the finest choice of wines but to finish the evening with a medley from the City Singers from the Guildhall school of Music and Drama, culminating in an emotional rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ made this a most memorable St Pats ( not a dry eye in the house!)

Wednesday 16th March – A Basket Case and a Security Professional
The number of events that are offered to The Mistresses is increasing every year and the annual Consorts Basketmaking Day is seen as one of the highlights. Taking place in the delightful Dutch Church it turned out to be a bit of a challenge for your Mistress who discovered that there is more to making a basket than she had anticipated. However, after a most enjoyable day which included a delicious lunch, and helped by her fellow Consorts and the very patient instructors she is now the proud owner of her own ( Rather lopsided) basket) which she will treasure for years to come.

Monday March 14th/Tuesday March 15th – Meetings,Meetings,Meetings and wood you believe it – Dinner at the Carpenters.
This is all about how our Company works. It works very well, but only through the efforts of the dedicated members of our Livery and Court who sacrifice their own time to attend Membership, Finance and Industry Committees. I am pleased to report that with excellent support from The Learned Clerk and his assistant all is working smoothly.
So quickly in to my white tie, bib and tucker to go, with the Mistress, to one of the City’s most impressive Halls at The Worshipful Company of Carpenters where we were greeted by the ever smiling and charming Master Michael Neal and his lovely Mistress Sophie to their Livery Spring Dinner. We ate our four course dinner in great style with a touch of the exotic in a starter of tempura prawns, and a dessert of Spiced pineapple and mango hibiscus sorbet.
In his speech the Master Made special reference to his affinity to our beloved Plaisterers’ Company when he empathised at our joint loss of business after that terrible fire 350 years ago. As he said, the Carpenters used to make marvellous wooden frontages which we would daub with plaster as a fire protection measure( it didn’t work).

Meanwhile, your Master was heading for the RAF Club ( which is to be the location for his outing later in the year) to hear the seventh annual Security Lecture. The title of this lecture was extremely long and complicated but the lecturer, Mr Hagai M Segal spoke very clearly about the terrible threat which terrorism and counter-terrorism is posing to our security when doing business abroad. One fact which sticks in my mind is that there are over one hundred anti-government terrorist groups existing in Syria – and that does not include ISIL ! Thanks must go to the Master of The Security Professionals Stuart Seymour for that Company’s excellent hospitality.

Friday March 11th – The United Guilds’ Service
This morning The Mistress donned her hat and I robed in The Master’s Gown.
Wearing our official badges we joined other members of The Court and fellow Liverymen under the dome of St Paul’s to celebrate the annual service of thanksgiving held each year for The United Guilds of The City of London.
The Bishop of London used his splendid sermon to remind us of our duty to remain anchored within our communities, giving service wherever we can.
As the magnificent Cathedral bells rang out we walked out into the sunshine feeling uplifted and very fortunate to be a part of such a great City tradition.
Having returned to our Hall we lunched with members of another four Livery Companies who we were delighted to welcome as guests. The food was as excellent as the Company we kept.

Thursday March 10th – The High Point of the Year
Tonight, the Mistress and I were guests of The Lord Mayor at The Mansion House for what is justifiably regarded as being the most prestigious dinner in The Master’s calendar. This did, of course, live up to its reputation with representatives from the entire City’s Livery Companies and the major officers of The Corporation. Dressed in our finest, in an Egyptian Hall filled to capacity, we enjoyed wonderful food, fine wines and memorable music from The Orchestra of the Honourable Artillery Company.
Speeches from The Master Mercer and The Master Grocer resulted in our Lord Mayor being gifted a pair of ‘roller skis’ and challenged to use them to participate in a race around the city to raise money for his charity . He graciously accepted the challenge. Watch this space!

Wednesday March 9th – All aboard HQS Wellington for lunch and Sitting comfortably with the Furniture Makers for supper.
As always it was a great pleasure to be in the company of The Master Mariner, Jim Conybeare, along with his Court of Assistants afloat on The Thames.
My neighbour at lunch was Commander Les Chapman, a member of Court from Canada with obvious Naval connections, who also is lucky enough to be landlord of a pub in Greenwich ( memo to self – must visit!).
This is an intriguing Livery Hall and The Master kindly gave me a most interesting book detailing the great royal links of the Company and pointing out the wonderful history of the vessel HQS Wellington. A few moments viewing the medal collection on board gives the full flavour of the courage shown by this Company’s members over the years.
The hospitality of the Master Mariner was, as one would expect, of the highest order. No doubt that delicacies had been shipped from far afield for our delectation!

It was time to lay back in the evening in the comfortably furnished Furniture Makers’Hall. Not so for The Master, David Dewing, who sadly for us fellow Masters would be standing down during the next few days. He has been great fun in this year’s group and the Master Carpenter, who responded for The Guests at this Spring Election Court Dinner, brought to life the ‘woody’ connections within the City. This was a really memorable evening.

Tuesday March 8th – at The Clothworkers in search of Ayesha
What a pleasure to attend, along with The Learned Clerk, a dinner for Masters and Clerks at Clothworkers’ Hall. I shook the hand of their Master, Melville Haggard, with great respect as in my youth I enjoyed reading the stirring adventure stories written by Sir Henry Rider Haggard; The Master is his Great Grand nephew. I searched in vain for “She who must be obeyed” and then remembered that I had left the Mistress at home!
The Clothworkers’ Hall is one of the few in the City that has as great a ‘wow’ factor on entry as The Plaisterers’ Hall, with its walls bedecked with amazing drapes and tapestries. Having received virtuoso entertainment on the piano and violin, we were given the unusual choice between Brandy and Gin before we left. The question having been posed ‘ Do you dine with Alderman or Lady Cooper’? This traditional ceremony dates back to 1664 and a belief in the medicinal superiority of Gin!

Monday March 7th - Sweet Charity and Plumbing at The Mansion House
Under the leadership of our Charity steward, Professor Hubert Lacey, this hard working committee met to help refine the destination of our members’ charitable donations. As your Master I am never disappointed by the dedication and effort put in by our committees and today was no exception.
In the evening I donned my white tie in readiness for a visit to The Mansion House, courtesy of the Master Plumber, Mrs Erica Stary who had arranged a magnificent banquet for us, by kind permission of the Right Honourable The Lord Mayor.
A main course of sea bass made a pleasant change, but ‘The Roast Beef of Olde England’ made an appearance courtesy of The London Banqueting Ensemble, and the Post Horn Gallop gave a new meaning to the word ‘stirring’!
The triumvirate of; The Representative Lord Mayor, Alderman Dame Fiona Wolfe, The Baroness Hale of Richmond ( our guest speaker) and The Master Plumber, spoke with authority and vigour on the role of women in the modern world.

Friday February 26th - A Glittering Night with The Worshipful Company of Masons
This evening I donned my white tie and with the Mistress on my arm we were proud to represent our Livery Company as a guests of our good friend Master Mason Mr Bill Gloyn , Who, together with his lovely wife Erika welcomed us to the magnificent Egyptian Hall at The Mansion House. The last time that the Mistress was in this wonderful room was for the children’s Fancy Dress Party but tonight it was altogether a more dignified and grown up affair. This impressive mansion which took 14 years to build was fully paid for by fines levied on those wishing to evade the office of Sheriff, whilst we were delighted tonight to be in the company of Sheriff Dr Christine Rigden. The speeches were, of course, wonderful as was the entertainment provided by the RICS Singers, whose sometime conductor, our Master Mason, was otherwise engaged hosting our feast!
Your Master had to endure some teasing during Master Bill Gloyn’s speech when he made the point that our Company had only recently been reconciled back into the fold of friendship following historical instances where he claimed that we may have been guilty as Plaisterers of badly repairing damaged masonry work. (I doubt this very strongly!)

Wednesday February 24th – Up with the lark – Durham here we come!
The Plaisterers Livery Company is a great supporter of Peterborough Cathedral’s music, choir and organ and is supporting them with their ambitious scheme to re - pitch their slightly sharper than standard organ pipes – all 5,286 of them!
This is just one of four projects that the cathedral has undertaken in its run up to its 900th anniversary in 2018 and The learned Clerk and I were pleased to be invited along with a party of other fund raisers to visit ‘Harrison and Harrison Organ Builders’ to see their progress.
I will be writing a full report on this memorable day in our newsletter but on what was the coldest day of the winter, we both enjoyed a fascinating insight into the complex restoration process involved in what the Cathedral professionals call ‘Peterborough Pipewatch’. The good news for our members is that the Cathedral choir in the not too distant future will benefit from the ‘perfect pitch’ which the work of Harrison and Harrison will bring about;
Could this make their voices even more exquisite to listen to?

Tuesday February 23rd - The President’s Lunch (Finishes and Interiors Sector).
Today, our Hall was packed with professionals assembled to award recognition to achievers within the sector. I was privileged to join in the judging of the following categories
• Future Leader
• Lifetime achievement
• Outstanding employee
My host was the FIS President Mr Steve Coley who also introduced the events in a very engaging way. Guest speaker Dominic Frisby, the well known comedian and financial commentator, gave us some excellent back ground along with cause to worry about the great ‘Brexit’ debate and how that might impact on our businesses. It was wonderful to see the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Howard Winter who recently retired after 25 years with ‘Sound Interiors’

Monday February 22nd – The City Water Debate
The celebrated group of Livery Companies known as ‘The Wet Ten’ invited me along with the Masters of all the other Livery Companies to attend this annual event. The ‘Wet Ten’ are an informal group of both users and suppliers of water. We all depend on water in one way or another and all share a common concern for the long term health of the water environment. The aim of this group of companies is to promote awareness, to contribute to debate and to influence for the good in this key area. This debate was held under the famous ‘Chatham House Rules’ which means of course, that I cannot tell you who said what, but I can tell you that it was very interesting. The subject matter of ‘How Will London Manage a Drought?’ was discussed at Glaziers’ Hall near to Southwark Cathedral by the Thames.
As I walked to the Hall alongside The Thames, in Montague Close I noticed a very apposite quote etched into the River wall quoting these famous words of Sir Walter Raleigh
“ There are two things scarce matched in the Universe, The sun in Heaven and The Thames on Earth”.
We must look after our water sources...............

Friday February 19th – A tasting for the April Livery Dinner
Tasting for the April Court and Spring Livery Dinner. Yet again , one of those really taxing days for a Master Plaisterer – having to choose between several delicious alternatives, to decide what our Company, our star guest Mervyn Hayes and all our Guests are going to eat and drink at our Spring Court Livery Dinner on April 5th. What a feast it will be! And the good news is that it is not too late to book your tickets, visit our web site today to make your reservations.

Thursday February 18th – A morning with some old masters for the Mistress
So on Thursday whilst I had a much needed alcohol free day, the Mistress joined the Mistress Framework Knitter’s trip to the National Gallery . This proved to be a highly successful event starting with a guided tour of some of the priceless paintings in the gallery under the theme of ‘Fashion in Vision’. The group inspected the work of a number of Old Masters including Rubens and Hans Holbein and looked particularly at the detail of the fashion of the time. In the presence of an expert, one can see so much more than is apparent at first glance.
Following the tour, the group moved on to the National Portrait Gallery Restaurant where lunch was provided. This is a wonderful location looking out over Trafalgar Square on an eye level with Nelson. The food and wine was delicious and the company was excellent. This was a really successful trip and everyone who was lucky enough to take part thanked Diane Miller, The Mistress Framework Knitter for her hard work in organising such an enjoyable event.

Wednesday February 17th Adding some colour to life at The Dyers,
After years of wearing black tie only to evening dinners in The City, The Master Dyer, gave me his kind permission to wear some colour at this event. There was a prize for whoever wore the most colourful and inventive garb, which my friend, Master Barber Surgeon Geoffrey Preston won hands down , dressed as he was in something akin to a barber’s pole. Red and white striped to the core and cummerbund, he was unbeatable and made my effort with a dragon emblazoned waistcoat seem quite tame. Dinner was delicious with oysters and venison and the speeches were very entertaining, as was the Master’s hospitality at The Stirrup Cup. Enough said!

Tuesday February 16th – Far afield in the City
Tonight I was forced to venture far afield-all on my own- as our Learned Clerk was on holiday, to a Livery Dinner held by Master Mark Chambers at The Worshipful Company of Pewterers. I managed this voyage quite well as it was only about one hundred and fifty yards from our Hall – the Pewterers being one of our nearest neighbours! ( The Learned Clerk had left behind a piece of string for me to follow) . I can tell you that the journey was well worth it, for the hospitality shown by this Company was second to none! With a delicious menu and very fine wines. The response to the toast to the Guests by Sir Jonathan Phillips - Warden of Keeble College Oxford and former permanent secretary at the Home Office ,was stimulating and not without controversy. Some of his reminiscences of the sparring which took place between notable personalities of the day - Ian Paisley amongst them – drew very graphic pictures of the vitriolic mood of the times. Thank goodness for the forbearance of people like Sir Jonathan.
The Clerk to The Wax-Chandlers, Mrs Georgina Brown, was my neighbour at dinner and she gave me great hope to expect some beehives in the future in our garden alongside Plaisterers’ Hall – more later!

Monday February 15th – Building for the Future with the Livery Companies Skill Council
Today, along with the Masters of twelve Livery Companies, I joined The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman The Lord Mountevans at Fishmongers’ Hall on the banks of the River Thames. I was there to award Master Plasterer certificates to two hard working candidates, Stewart Keenor and Nicholas Fall, as a tribute to their years of hard work, experience and skill “on the tools”.
This morning was a lively and happy time watching Journeymen, Apprentices and Masters of all skills being presented with their awards and discussing their progression through life towards this well earned accolade that each had achieved. It is great to think that each of these talented individuals will be armed with a qualification and a certificate of recognition to take them forward as they mentor others in their crafts and train their successors in the skills of their trades.

Friday February 12th - Arbitration during the day and a Ladies’ Festival during the evening
The City of London is a world centre for the support of dispute resolution and adjudication and mediation and what better way to make this historic tradition a pleasurable activity than to share lunch at Cutlers’ Hall where the Master, Michael Goodridge, had arranged a Court luncheon. I was pleased to be reacquainted with Fiona Adler who responded to the Master’s toast and speech to the guests in a most entertaining way relating some of her experiences as sheriff. One of my last memories of her had been as a vision in lycra riding a tandem with her fellow sheriff Andrew Parmley to raise thousands of pounds for the Sheriff and Recorders fund for ex- prisoners.
In the evening The Mistress and I were delighted to be entertained in our own Hall as guests of The Plaisterers’ Lodge and The Berkshire Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge. Our great Hall was filled with thirteen lively round tables of hosts and guests, our own being presided over by President Peter Neal and his lovely wife Rosalind. We were made exceptionally welcome and enjoyed an excellent meal followed by first class entertainment from Dr Katie Rogerson accompanied by Edward Dye ( She is renowned for pipping Justin Bieber to the Christmas number one with the NHS choir!)
Mr Jonathan Randall, one of our Liverymen, as well as being a member, proposed the ‘Toast to the Ladies’ in excellent style to accompany the beautiful red roses that they had received at table to mark St Valentine’s Day – what a romantic and delightful evening this was!

Thursday February 11th – Building for the Future with The Constructors
Tonight I was invited to be present at the Annual Livery and Awards Dinner given by Master Constructor Graeme Monteith - and what a splendid affair this was ! When I looked at the table plan I was proud to see The Worshipful Company of Plaisterers Coat of Arms sandwiched between those of the Master Constructor and Sheriff Dr Christine Rigden. They were both great company at dinner and it is very encouraging to build such strong relationships with both of these constructors as our group of like Livery Companies grows closer together through our shared interests. It was also very pleasant to have music from our own familiar pianist Edward Dye – the Master did say he had enjoyed listening to his music very much at our Hall.
The well earned awards were distributed to the winners by The Master and the speech by Alderman Andrew Parmley, our prospective Lord Mayor , was so funny that not only did it evoke gales of laughter in the audience, I am sure that it did the job very well of making the Worshipful Company of Constructors flourish ‘’root and branch” for ever.

Tuesday February 9th – Pancake tossing in The Guildhall Yard and The Stationers’ Stamp of Approval
The wind blew chill but the sun shone brightly as our ace athletes , Richard Hanney, Simon Hinks and Penny Carr joined Philip Cowan ( our sailor in the novelty race) to do battle in The Inter Livery Pancake Races. What a fine sight they were, flying across the Guildhall Yard, gowns flapping and frying pans flipping. It was a tragedy that not every contestant could receive a prize we all thought , as we drank our hot soup in the vaults of Guildhall, courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Poulterers . Our Learned Clerk is certainly a coach “par excellence” and given the current woes of Manchester United we hould guard him with great care......
I still had the sound of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers’ cannon ringing in my ears on the approach to Stationers’ Hall as I made my way there that evening for their Masters’ and Clerks’ Dinner.
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers have one of the most celebrated halls in London with its beautiful architecture and stained glass and this year their first Lady Master, Mrs Helen Esmonde, has particular reason to remember, along with her colleagues, one of the great inspirations to the Company, as they commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Guests were given a copy of the page registering The Bard’s folio at Stationers’ Hall which was presented in a special hand- made box made by Veterans at the ‘Bound by Veterans’ charity . This charity supports and retrains wounded , injured and sick veterans through bookbinding. I was amongst twenty nine Masters Prime Wardens and Governors who were present on this occasion and greatly enjoyed the magnificent four courses served, with a different wine for each.
Following an excellent speech by the Master Mercer, which drew on the great benefactors to the Company, the evening was rounded off by a magnificent medley of songs by a Welsh male voice choir ‘Gwalia’. At the end of their rousing repertoire we were treated to a full bodied version of ‘Delilah’, which irrespective of political correctness, the singers hoped would ‘will’ their rugby team to glory! This rounded off a very fine evening. !
I was indeed sad to bid goodnight to our excellent hostess, Master Helen, whom I have come to think of as a “partner -in- crime” around the corner – we share many values together.

Friday February 4th - The Mistress dines at The Mansion House
Today, the Mistress had the great pleasure of dining with The Lady Mayoress at the Mansion House. This proved to be quite an intimate event with only about twenty guests invited. It was a relatively informal occasion and included a visit to the Lord Mayor’s private apartment where a splendid four poster bed was much admired – as was the wide screen TV at its foot!
The Lady Mayoress was an excellent hostess who put everyone at their ease and made sure that there were plenty of opportunities for the guests to meet each other. This included every other guest moving around the table between courses which provided an opportunity for your Mistress to meet Johanna The Lady Mountevans ( the Lord Mayor’s sister in law) with whom she discovered a mutual love of cycling! The excellent lunch was followed by a visit to the basement strong room where all the civic treasures are kept. There are some very old and exceptionally valuable pieces on show some of which date back to the 16th century. Altogether, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and very special occasion.

Thursday February 4th – Annual Vigil to the Saint.
This evening was a night to show our respect to the patron saint of our parish church - St Vedast. What better place to show that respect than in our wonderful Baroque style, Christopher Wren designed church and along with fellow Livery Masters I was honoured to process into church to give thanks to our patron saint for this wonderful place of worship.
Many of us know this church from our Christmas Carol Services and Robing ceremonies but it is perhaps a surprise to learn that five other Companies in the parish share our affiliation, with the Goldsmiths, Pewterers, Wax Chandlers and Saddlers all maintaining a close relationship with St Vedast Alias Foster.
The music and service were, as always, uplifting - it is good for us all to remember that our Companies, Worshipful that they are, all originated from the base of a trade and a church and this link was what brought us all together in’ Brotherly Love.’

Wednesday February 3rd - Roll out the Barrel!Dinner with The Coopers’
I had been advised that this was a very special Hall to dine in and The Coopers lived up to their reputation. One of the oldest buildings in London that is used as a Livery Hall , it was built around 1684 during the reign of Charles 11.
This was their Masters’ and Clerks’ Dinner, and The learned Clerk and I enjoyed a most excellent, intimate dinner with just thirty two of us present. My neighbour at Dinner was the Master Innholder and I could see that even she, with her great experience of hospitality was ‘bowled over’ by her night with the Coopers, as was I !

Tuesday February 2nd - A heart warming visit and a hand warming evening
At the centre of my Master’s year, with its focus on youth, education and learning is the charity Barnardo’s , and it was with great pleasure that a party of interested fellow Liverymen and their partners visited The Hub. This Barnardo’s project in Stepney Green provides facilities for several different community based activities, one of which is a construction skills centre helping youths who have had difficult mainstream experience in education. The working environment there proved to be very familiar to our plasterer members with decorating and woodworking skills to the fore. Above all, the dedication of the staff shone through; Dr Barnardo’s motto “No child is turned away”, was evident throughout.
Our happy band of visitors enjoyed an unexpected bonus with a high quality lunch at a local restaurant - ‘Verdi’s Italian’!
Out marathon ‘hero in waiting’, Liveryman Phillip Foster enjoyed the visit and lunch as motivation for his forthcoming London Marathon where he is running in aid of Barnardo’s. There is still plenty of time to sponsor him at :_
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PhillipFoster
Later that day was ‘The Golden Glove Livery Dinner’ and your Master was delighted to attend this prestigious event. He was greeted by a Guard of Honour of the St John Ambulance 467 Barnet cadets ( we were in safe and gloved hands!).
As the guest of The Master Mr Michael Orr, The Worshipful Company of Glovers held their Livery dinner at Haberdashers’ Hall. I was honoured to be presented with a very fine pair of black leather gloves by the Master which exemplified the exceptional quality of their craftsmen. The dinner and company were excellent and this was a splendid end to a most enjoyable day.

Wednesday January 20th Industry Committee Strategic Plan Development
This was a great morning’s work, orchestrated by Assistant John Telling, in which the Industry Group discussed how best we might serve our Industry in the years ahead in a more effective and focussed way. Some good cornerstones were laid.

Tuesday January 19th - Giving potential members the third degree.
Well not really! This was a very interesting day. Together with other members of the interview panel it was an opportunity to talk to potential new Liverymen and Freemen. There is a lot of good news here. Some excellent candidates out there want to join us as Liverymen and Freemen but it is important that they understand what we are about and what might be expected of them.
There seems to be a great deal of interest in joining Livery Companies just now as people start to understand the benefits of such outgoing organisations.
Let Brotherly Love Continue!

Masters’ and Clerks’ Dinner
Just as the Butchers had, the Plaisterers launched 2016 in great style. We hosted this dinner which is seem within the City Livery Companies as a significant event in the calendar. Over 250 guests were present and we tried to give a ‘party’ feel to the evening with a pantomime themed speech from your Master and a riotously funny response for the guests given by Master Draper John Gifford CBE, QPM, DI. He should now list amongst his secondary career occupations , ‘Accomplished Stand up Comic’!
Our music from resident pianist Richard Dye was, as usual, excellent, and I noted that the Master Glover decided that very night to retain his services for his coming dinner. The retro performances by ‘Apollo5’ were terrific, the ensemble being part of the charitable foundation ‘Voces Cantabiles’ who we are supporting with their musical work in schools in Newham through the Humber Bursary.
This was, as always, a glittering evening and one which should make our Company very proud. It attracts many other Livery Companies towards us, not only offering ‘Brotherly Love’ but also using our Hall for some of their events.

Tuesday January 12th Silence in Court!
Today we held the Quarterly Court Meeting which our members can read about elsewhere. Many important subjects were covered but for me it was both a happy and a sad meeting. Firstly we observed a moment’s silence to remember Past Master Ralph Vickers – sadly missed. Much later in the meeting with great happiness we elected unanimously next year’s officers; Master Elect Terry Wright , Upper Warden to be Richard Hanney and Future Renter Warden Tim Cooke.
This was also the reason for a great deal of sadness for me because I realised that I would have to stop being your Master, which I am enjoying so much, in July this year ( Sob!)

Saturday January 9th The Lord Mayor’s Children’s Fancy Dress Party
This was a wonderful event which was greatly enjoyed by The Mistress and two of her grandchildren – Heidi (dressed as a princess) and Joseph (made up as a vampire) both aged 7. There was a full afternoon of entertainment and a proper party tea, not to mention the balloons and the gift of a silver teaspoon for each child.
The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress dressed in their finest regalia were great sports and, together with a whole host of dignitaries and yeomen, joined in all the activities including a conga all round the wonderful Mansion House. The Mistress will treasure forever the sight of small children clutching on to the tails of the morning coats of some of the most esteemed citizens of the City and Ladies with their tiaras askew running to catch up with the breakaway group in front.
A great time was had by all!

Thursday January 7th - Feasting with the Butchers
After all the Christmas Feasting , January is a time of cold weather and blustery winds, so it was a delight to be invited by the Master Butcher, Mrs Patricia Dart, to their Court and Livery Luncheon.
In the elegant Cutlers Hall constructed to look like the interior of a Victorian Country House we were served the Butchers’ traditional January Fare of steak and kidney pudding. It was very warm and comforting as indeed was the hospitality shown to us by the Butchers’ Liverymen. Major Gerry Hill talked about his role in The Falkland Islands in a most entertaining manner. Talking to other Butchers- and this Livery numbers a lot of professionals as their members – I was amazed to hear how early in the morning the trade begins work, and after lunch I would imagine that a great many of the attendees would have been ready for a nap! What a great start to 2016!

Tuesday January 5th - Time for me to be a Judge
This day was spent closeted in my office at home working hard on judging the ‘Finishes and Interiors sector Annual Awards’. This important organisation which drives technical competence in the Industry, holds its Annual Presidents Lunch each year at Plaisterers’ Hall and I have been given the honour, along with others, of judging the awards for ‘Apprentice of the Year’, ‘Outstanding Employee’, ‘Future Leader’ and ‘Lifetime Achievement’. I do hope that I contributed some wise decisions!

Friday January 1st 2016
A Happy New Year to everyone!
Over the holiday I had a chance to read back over my first six months’ experiences and it really makes me realise how fortunate I am to be leading this prestigious Company and attending so many wonderful venues and occasions. The Master’s and Mistress’s diaries are already filling up with exciting events that I hope members of our Livery will enjoy reading about in the coming months.

Friday December 18th – A Birthday treat at 282 Squadron.
The 282 Christmas Carol Service was the usual rousing mixture of military and local culture, with one of the cadets mixing his own spiced recipe for a mulled wine - there was no doubt that alcohol was a key constituent of this recipe!
However, I am sure that the warm feeling which we all had as we left St Bartholomew’s Church in East Ham was more about the community spirit of everyone; helpers, Clergy and supporters of 282, rather than the refreshment.
Your Master was celebrating his birthday and was very touched when the whole squadron finished the service by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.
For the Mistress and myself this was the perfect ending to our celebrations of Christmas on behalf of the Plaisterers’ Livery Company.

Spitalfields’ Music Winter Festival
After all that cheese, it was time for a little music and the Spitalfields’ Music Festival had invited me and a guest to attend their Christmas Oratorio at St Leonards’ Church Shoreditch; I was delighted that Liveryman, Alderman Alison Gowman agreed to accompany me. This turned out to be exactly as advertised – Bach “as you’ve never heard it before”, with a performance of Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’ by Solomon’s Knot as the final event of the Spitalfields’ Music Winter Festival. As a large group of Masters of City Livery Companies, we were invited before the performance to share wine and nibbles with the Directors and Managers of the Festival in a kind of loft above the Church.The young Baroque group performed the whole piece without a conductor and without music which proved to be an extremely engaging and direct experience. The strings and soloists performed beautifully and left the audience wishing that the evening would never end. However, as there were mince pies and mulled wine to follow, dear reader, The Master did have to succumb to a further couple of happy months before catching the last train back to Berkshire.

Tuesday December 15th - Starting the day with Two Boards
The crack of dawn at Plaisterers’Hall and your Master is on duty for a cheese tasting – hence, the first board is a cheese board! As I sat together with the Learned Clerk tasting cheeses provided by’ Create’ for our delectation, I reflected that somebody has to carry out this onerous task. Below, you can see a picture of us working hard at it.............

The next board was the Plaisterers’ Hall Ltd. Board Meeting .Here we reviewed the year’s progress and discussed the latest issues and investment plans for the Hall for the year ahead. As always, the Plaisterers’Hall Ltd team have realistic but ambitious plans for the year ahead in terms of maximising the income from our Hall, whilst insuring that it is maintained in its usual pristine condition. Despite some changes during the year their Chairman, Past Master Robert Dalrymple, continues to run this company with energy and aplomb.
Well, I suppose I that would have to say that, as I was invited to their staff Christmas lunch immediately after the meeting which I confess led to more happy months.............

Monday December 14th – Celebrating Christmas with London’s Air Ambulance.
Father Mark Young conducted the Christmas Carol service at St. Andrew Holborn Church in support of this life saving charity. The main celebration was, of course, as explained by CEO Graham Hodgkin, that they have now purchased a second emergency medical helicopter, thanks to the generous contributions given by the people of and organisations of London. The Mistress and I sang along with the volunteers, survivors and the Babington House School choir supported by the Singology Choir, prior to enjoying mulled wine and mince pies – they say that every mince pie consumed makes for a happy month in the year to come – I find myself already into 2017!

Thursday December 10th - Meetings, Meetings, Meetings.
Today our Investment Committee and Charity Trustees met at Plaisterers’ Hall. We were presented with a review of our investments with Rathbones. These committees work tirelessly with the interests of our Livery Company and our Charities at the centre of all their attention. We now have a top manager from Rathbones overseeing our investments and look forward to good progress in the future.

Tuesday December 8th – Called before ‘The Beak’
Today I was to have the honour of being given lunch with The Judges at the Central Criminal Court (‘The Old Bailey’ to you and me), as a guest of Sheriff Dr. Christine Rigden. This was a fascinating lunch listening to the stories being exchanged by our judges in between their weighty deliberations at Court. Such refined and friendly individuals would be difficult to find over any lunch table and they showed equal interest in the affairs and activities of our Livery Companies to that which I obviously had in the serious criminal cases which they were witnessing in front of their benches during that day. One of my neighbours at lunch was Charles Henty who bears the ancient title of ‘Secondary of London, Under- Sherriff and High Baliff of Southwalk’. Effectively, he is the Managing Director of The Old Bailey, and was kind enough to agree to my sitting in Court to hear the details and discussion about a really wicked and brutal assault carried out on a young woman in our great city- I am not allowed to give any detail as the case continues but it would seem that the perpetrator is being given his ‘just desserts’ as I write. It was very encouraging to see British Justice being carried out to the highest standard, the envy of the World.
On the way home ..............THE WOKINGHAM ‘LIVING ADVENT’ CALENDAR
As I stood in the wind and rain outside Waitrose in Wokingham singing carols with our community choir, alongside the Mistress I reflected on the amazing contrast in the different experiences that I had had over the past few days and felt very privileged.

Monday December 7th ‘Oh Come All ye Faithful’ – Christmas at Plaisterers’ Hall
Once again all our Plaisterers’; members, friends, families and visitors from Peterborough Cathedral, came along to celebrate the season and ‘Have Themselves a Merry Little Christmas’!
The carol service took place in St. Vedast-Alias Foster Church and everyone agreed that the choir of Peterborough Cathedral had never been in better voice. Both the Dean, The Very Rev Charles Taylor, and Steven Grahl, Director of Music must be congratulated on the outstanding performance of the boys’ choir. The Mistress and I were particularly delighted to hear the David Wilcox arrangement of ‘I Saw Three Ships’ which is one of our favourite carols.
In fact we were so inspired by the wonderful music that after dinner we attempted to sing parts of our speech of Christmas greeting to the guests. Fortunately for us, our blushes were spared as the choir finished the evening with a perfect rendition of ‘Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas!’
I think that all who attended this Christmas celebration at the Hall agrees that this was a wonderful way to start our seasonal festivities.
“God bless us every one!”

Wednesday/Thursday December 2nd/ 3rd
The day had at last arrived for the Mistress and myself to make our much anticipated visit to Commando Training Centre - The Royal Marines and their Military Academy at Lympstone.
Along with the Learned Clerk, we met Major Mark Latham, their commanding officer, in the Officers’ Mess for a briefing on the exciting events planned for the two days ahead.
Our first task was to learn about the Senior Signals Course through a presentation made by the students and delivered to us by Corporal Beavers, who turned out to be the winner of the top student award. I was delighted to present him with the Plaisterers’ trophy and a cheque. Each student had attained a high level of signalling skills and was awarded with certificates which will enable them to move forward in their careers within the British Military.
Their positive attitude and impressive career plans made me very proud to be representing the Plaisterers and it was gratifying to appreciate how much they all valued our support.
In the evening we were invited to supper at Zeebrugge House, the Official residence of General Martin Smith MBE to celebrate with the winner of the ‘Sword of Honour’ and the runner up, who had been awarded the Commandant General’s Prize. We were greatly honoured to have been included and enjoyed an unforgettable evening in the best of company.
The next day the base was ‘invaded’ by visiting dignitaries, senior officers and most importantly the families and friends of the 44 successful graduate officers (nearly one third of those who started had not completed the course).
The event began in The Falklands Hall with a Welcome Address from Lt Col Chris Haw and this was followed by a very entertaining presentation by the Young Officers who took us through their training schedule on a month by month basis.
Fortunately the heavy rain held off and we were able to watch the Passing Out Ceremony on the Parade Ground. We had heard the rehearsals taking place from the early hours of the morning but were still unprepared for the spectacle which was to follow. This involved a brass band, close marching and skilled swordsmanship.
Your Master was sitting comfortably in the VIP stand when to his surprise the RSM marched across the Parade Ground and in stentorian tones announced “The Master Plaisterer is asked to join Major General Smith and Commandant Oliver to inspect the Young Officers” With a certain amount of trepidation I marched across to the assembled ranks and for the next thirty minutes addressed each officer in turn in traditional Devon December weather.
As the inspecting group began to return to the stand I was reflecting that this was probably one of the most stirring experiences of my life when , from nowhere came two low flying military helicopters, who with impressive military precision had timed their fly past to perfection!
There followed a series of presentations culminating in the awarding of the Sword of Honour to Second Lieutenant Nathan Buchanan – the prize winner’s magnificent sword had been reconditioned by a fellow liveryman, Cutler Mr Robert Pooley.
Our high profiles on this very special day in the calendar of the Royal Marines shows the value which they place on their affiliation with The Worshipful Company of Plaisterers.

Tuesday December 1st – Time to get weaving
Yet another white tie event, this time at Vintners’ Hall. The Learned Clerk and I were in very special company tonight with Alderman the Lord Mountevans the RT Hon the Lord Mayor as guest of honour. Sheriff Dr Christine Rigden was at the head of my table spur so I knew that I had to be on my best behaviour as I was dining with the judges at the Old Bailey as her guest the following week. My immediate neighbour at table, PM John Hodges was already a legend to me as I was aware that he had arranged the manufacture of suiting material with real gold pin stripe for Mick Jagger at his factory in Otley – now that’s what you call a sharp suit!
By now I am starting to encounter friends, and the Master Barber, Geoffrey Preston and I stopped for a chat at the head of the stairs after saying ‘good night’ to The Master Weaver. I explained to him that I need to make tracks quickly for an early start next morning. I was heading for Lympstone and as part of my visit expected to watch the Young Officers ‘Passing Out’ parade; then in one of those terrific coincidences, he told me that I would be seeing the Barbers Past Master Rounce, as he would be there for his son’s Passing Out!
Off home for an early night ( 1.30 am!)

Monday November 30th - Hard work at the Public Relations Committee
Updating the Strategic plan and thinking ahead to a potential recruitment event late next year was on the Chairman’s agenda for this meeting.
Followed by The Mercers’ Company Concert
In the evening the Mistress and I were invited by the Master Mercer Mr Timothy Haywood to attend Mercer’s Hall for a concert performed by musicians from IMS Prussia Cove – one of the premier short course musical seminars in the world. As well as performing sixteen annual concerts in Cornwall IMP Prussia Cove take an ensemble from Open Chamber Music around the UK each autumn culminating at Wigmore Hall. We listened spell bound to pieces by Dvorak and Brahms.
This was followed by a buffet supper where everyone enjoyed the chance to eat excellent food in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere where there were no speeches!

Friday November 27th - VCM 100 Reception
The Mistress and I went along to The Gresham Centre which all Plaisterers will know as St Anne’s and St Agnes’ church at the opposite of Gresham St. from Plaisterers’ Hall. Tonight was to be a rare and unexpected treat in our musical calendar as we heard performances from’ Voces8’ and ‘Apollo 5’.
The purpose of the evening was to showcase some of VCM’s education work in particular the Young Leaders programme and the Arts Council project supporting singing. The programme had been planned by their Young leaders and included a range of music from the two groups, together with performances from the choirs of The City Academy, Hackney and St Benedict’s school. The standard was out of this world and Plaisterers will be delighted to hear that their music will be featured during next year’s programme at the Hall.

Thursday November 26th - A close Shave
This evening I donned my White tie and tails for dinner with Master Barber Geoffrey Preston. His magnificent Hall was the setting for one of the best meals I have had the pleasure of eating so far. We were treated to a response to the Master’s ‘Welcome’ by Alderman Dame Fiona Wolfe DBE who has already adopted the new Lord Mayor’s nautical theme and took us on a gentle cruise to sea in her speech. My neighbour at this dinner was Baron Ribeiro CBE, a notable British Surgeon who as a Life Peer sits on the Conservative benches of the House of Lords. Disarmingly, he lent across and said “Call me Bernard!” He was greatly interested in my background in fostering children, particularly a young Ghanaian girl who stayed with us at one time and shared some interesting connections to that country in his own background.

Wednesday November 25th- a busy day of Crafts , Industry and Information Technology.
First I was off to the Carpenters’ Hall to attend the ‘William Morris Craft Fellowship’ presentations. This auspicious occasion, hosted by Master Carpenter Michael Neal, focussed on the achievements of outstanding craft under the auspices of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
The Master showed me the most incredible carvings manufactured by some of his members and then Lord Cormack, Chairman of the Fellowship, gave the address before the presentation of certificates. It was good to see such a high standard of creative skill in evidence at this event.
Then back to our Hall to meet with the Industry Committee and look ahead to our plans for the coming year which will be a busy one for this group........
..........and so , in need of some information ( or at least a good dinner), the Learned Clerk and I made haste to the Bartholomew Place to attend the Masters’ and Clerks’ dinner given by Alderman Sir David Wootton, the Master information Technologist. There, my familiarity with the Japanese Food Industry was rekindled by The Master’s choice of starter which was an array of excellent Sushi, the fish presented in authentic style.
After dinner students from the Guildhall School of music and Drama performed for us to conclude a most enjoyable evening.

Tuesday November 24th - Did they have to go?
A change of pace this evening as I was treated to a lecture courtesy of the Master of Charter House which covered the most important subject of whether the Carthusian Monks had to die?
I suppose it is always possible that Henry V111 believed that there had been some sympathy within the London Charter House for the prophesies of Elizabeth Barton, aka The Nun of Kent, who predicted that the King would not survive six months after divorcing Catherine of Aragon. However, as always, Thomas Cranmer followed the way the wind was blowing in his usual style whether he felt merciful or not. Therefore the hanging, drawing and quartering of Robert Lawrence and eventually, the other monks went ahead.
So, they had to go, as eventually did our audience, after enjoying the generous refreshments provided by Charterhouse that evening!

Monday November 23rd – New term begins at the Mansion House
After all the excitement of the Lord Mayor’s Show it is time to get down to business, and The Lord Mayor invited all the Masters, Prime Wardens, Upper BaiIiff and Sheriffs to an address at the Mansion House. Here he launched his Annual Appeal and outlined his manifesto for the year in the glittering Egyptian Hall. After a short introduction by Nigel Pullman, Livery Committee Chairman, Lord Mountevans introduced his motto ‘ Innovate here. Succeed anywhere.’ This was focussed very much on team building and working together and given his nautical background it was good that he began by introducing his ‘Crew’ at the Mansion House, who I am sure we will all enjoy working with during this year’s ‘voyage’.
Socialising at the Mansion House after the address with my fellow Masters one felt lucky to be part of this dynamic civic team.
Earlier in the afternoon the Mistress was invited to tea at the Guildhall, along with all the other Mistresses and Consorts for a unique occasion, a party at the Guildhall to meet the incoming Lady Mayoress, Lady Mountevans at the very start of her year in office.
This event was organised by a steering committee who combined the party with the launch of the updated version of the ‘Mistresses and Consorts Picture Book’. This very useful booklet contains a picture of the Mistress or Consort of every Livery company and includes the month in which they started their term of office.
This was a very sociable and friendly occasion which your Mistress enjoyed a great deal.

Sunday November 22nd – Bring on the Band
Today the fledgling band of 282 Squadron Air Cadets took part in the Air Cadet Organisation National Band Championships at RAF Halton. Having triumphed in the regional competition in only the fourth year of their existence they were set to compete with Britain’s best.
The competition took place in an aircraft hangar on an exceptionally cold day but the support for 282 was outstanding with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the London Borough of Newham Mr John Barber, your Master and Mistress and many parents and friends attending. We were treated to a feast of wonderful music performed by very talented cadets from all over the UK.

After achieving a remarkable second place competing against the four best ATC bands in the United Kingdom, the cadets and their Squadron Commander, Chris Booty were congratulated on their performance by Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty ( Commandant Air Cadets) and Honorary Group Captain Carol Vorderman.

Air Commodore McCafferty said that she could not believe the progress which the band had made recalling that only four years earlier they had no instruments! Chris Booty said that that none of this would have been possible without the support of the Plaisterers. Well Done 282 Squadron!

Thursday/ Friday November 19th and 20th down to the sea in ships
The day dawns and it is time to rush for the train down to Plymouth for another one of the highlights of my Master’s year. This is the awarding of the ‘Landing craft 1’ certificates and the ‘Best Student’ prize to the Marines seeking promotion at Tamar.
The Clerk and I were welcomed to the Officers’ Mess at the Naval Base at Tamar which is where our Marines are trained to be experts in the skills required for amphibious assault. 1 AGRM is the leading regiment for amphibious warfare and Royal Navy Board and Search training .It turned out that our class of 2015 had received their training during one of the most challenging weather environments of recent years. The presentations and prize giving was due to take place in the morning and so Commanding Officer Assault Group Royal Marines, Colonel Armour had kindly arranged dinner for us with the senior officers commanding the training group along with Major De Vreng from the Dutch Marines.This was a splendid Mess dinner, where we enjoyed stories of the exploits and endeavours of our Marine colleagues before retiring to Jago’s Bar for a night cap.

The next day after a very early breakfast in the Drake Wardroom we were transported to the Triumph building for coffee with the Commanding Officer and then we went along to the Cambridge building to begin the presentations. The small group aiming for their sergeants qualifications as Landing Craft commanders presented the results of their hard work and I was delighted to tell the assembled company how proud we are at the Plaisterers at the efforts which they are putting in to achieve excellence in their profession.
With our increasingly international Forces network we liaise more closely than ever with our allies and the leading performer on this course and winner of the Plaisterers prize was Sgt Goezimmen from The Netherlands.
This was a most rewarding two days which I feel privileged and proud to have participated in on the Company’s behalf.

Wednesday November 18th –‘ How sweet the music’ and a ‘man with two gongs’
This morning, the Mistress and I attended St Paul’s Cathedral for ‘The St Cecilia Service: A Celebration of Music’ in aid of the charity ‘Help Musicians uk’.
This service uniquely brought together the choirs of Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s and Westminster Cathedral who performed a specially commissioned anthem composed by Matthew Martin.
The City Masters processed in their familiar order from the chapels of St Dunstan and St Michael and St George to their places under the Dome. There we listened to some wonderful music, including a solo by Tasmin Little OBE and a reading given by Sir Willard White OM CBE. The Address was given by Sir Richard Stilgoe OBE DL who assured us that the cause of ‘Help Musicians UK’ was a worthy one and insisted that he was not on his way to a Jeremy Corbyn ‘lookalike’ competition!

In the evening I went along to the Livery Dinner held by the Worshipful Company of the Solicitors of London, held at the Haberdasher’s Hall, accompanied by Past Master Solicitor, Mr Nigel Bamping, aka our Learned Clerk. I now must know him by a new subtitle ‘The Man with Two Gongs’, as he outshone all the guests by wearing loyally, his Plaisterers’ Clerk’s badge along with his Past Master’s insignia for his year as Master Solicitor.
We were both most grateful for the excellent dinner and company at this event hosted by Master Solicitor, Alderman Dame Fiona Wolfe DBE, and greatly enjoyed the speech given by Sir Peter Hendy CBE Chairman of Network Rail about his time with Transport for London. As we all used Public Transport on our way home I am sure we were very grateful to him for his efforts.

Tuesday November 17th - Hearing the wisdom of Past Masters
Having thought of myself as Master of our Worshipful Company, I am asked to chair a meeting for the one and only time of our Past Masters, and as you can imagine, this made me realise how junior I still am.
This important meeting to review the progress and direction of our strategies and policies led to some really worthwhile suggestions and ideas from the ever active minds of our former leaders. It was a great pleasure to have their support and encouragement.

On to the Worshipful Company Of Actuaries Annual Lecture
Here in the hallowed surroundings of Staple Inn Hall, your Master was invited, along with many other Masters ,Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiffs to hear from Baron David Willetts, affectionately known by many of us as ‘Two Brains’, about the impact that the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation is making on the economic scene. Are we thriving at the expense of our children? Have we taken their future and should we give it back?
David had a long career in politics as MP for Havant from 1992 until 2015 and now, amongst other things he is the executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation, a visiting Professor at King’s College London and a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies – so his words must be given serious consideration.
As you can imagine, the question and answer session at the end of David’s fascinating presentation was at the least ‘lively’!
It must be said that however heated the discussions, it did not put us off the excellent dinner provided by the Master Actuary.

Monday November 16th – A tasty start to the week
Obviously, having been entertained so royally by our fellow Liveries, it was important for me to write many ‘Thank you ‘letters this morning for the respect and kindness shown to us. But, with every chore comes a positive reward, and there followed one of the more pleasant duties of a Master.
I had to accompany the clerk and taste the various suggested menus for our January Dinner for Masters and Clerks of City Livery Companies. The offerings were delicious and I hope dear friends that I chose wisely so that those of you who join us for this glittering event at the start of the year will leave the hall suitably impressed. I need hardly tell you that on my train home I was blissfully unaware of the many tedious stops between Waterloo and Wokingham!

Saturday 14th November – The 800th Lord Mayor’s Show.
It rained as usual! However, this did not dampen the spirit of this spectacular event. As is traditional, we at the Plaisterers had a family celebration day after watching The Lord Mountevans, the new Lord Mayor doff his tricorn hat to the cheering crowds. I asked the children who were with me which was their favourite float and I have to say that the huge flying pink pig, something which always seems to feature at the show, yet again came out on top!
It was quite stirring to see that despite the merriment in evidence the crowd to a man stood still and silent to mark with respect the two minutes silence, as the Lord Mayor had requested. This was to show solidarity and sympathy with the French nation which had suffered grievous losses due to the terrorist violence that had occurred in Paris the previous evening.
Back at the Hall, the children’s entertainer was hard at work as we dried out and enjoyed lunch with many guests from our sister Livery Companies.
Later in the day, many buildings in London were illuminated in the tricolours of the French national flag in place of the cancelled fireworks.

Friday 13th November – The Silent Ceremony
An early start from York Station took us back to Kings Cross in good time to attend this historic event. The Lord Mayor traditionally swears his oath on the day before the Lord Mayor’s Show in November. The ceremony is known as the ‘Silent Ceremony’ because aside from a short declaration made by the incoming Mayor, no speeches are made. We had seats near the front and, together with the Learned Clerk, were able to watch the processions, doffing of tricorn hats, bows and presentations all in complete silence. Then Alderman the Lord Mountevans The Rt Hon. The Lord Mayor of the City of London swore his oath and processed out of the Guildhall to a city of pealing bells.

Thursday 12th November - York Guild of Building Annual Dinner.
It was with great pleasure that I headed up to my home county of Yorkshire for the York Guild of Building Annual Dinner. Here, the Mistress and I were delighted to be joined by the Deputy Master and the Upper Warden and their wives. This event was held in the Merchant Taylor’s Hall which is celebrating its 600th anniversary. This is a wonderful old building which provided a really great atmosphere. This, together with the great company, good food and wine kept the increasingly stormy weather at bay. A good time was had by all!

Wednesday 11th November - Horners’ Ralph Andereson Memorial Lecture
The Mistress and I were invited to the Royal Society of Medicine to listen to a lecture given by Prof.Martyn Poliakoff . This scientist, a Knight of the Realm, is often referred to as the ‘mad professor of Youtube’ for his films introducing us all to the Periodic Table. Amazingly, he managed to relate his life story to a series of incidents involving horns whilst also providing a scientific commentary. This was both very interesting and extremely amusing.

Monday November 9th - Plaisterer’s Annual Training Awards.
This is rightly seen as one of the most important events in our annual calendar and we were delighted to welcome The Lord Mayor, Alderman Alan Yarrow, together with the Lady Mayoress. Also attending were Aldermanic Sheriff Charles Bowman and Mrs Bowman who all shared in the successes achieved by the winners of the awards.
We were delighted that Alan Dedicote agreed to host the event, which he did with great style and panache.
There was a good representation from participating colleges throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland and it was very pleasing to be joined by so many students.
Student of the year was Robert Johnson and the ‘Contribution to Training Award’ was presented to Mr David Winchester.

Wednesday November 4th – down to the Thames at The Little Ship Club
My fellow Master, Mr Bill Gloyn of the Mason’s Company had arranged a meeting over lunch at this venue, which is also known as The City Livery Club. We met with the Master Constructor and talked about the potential for closer links with the Incorporation of Masons of Glasgow, an organisation which supports Stone Masonry and allied trades through its apprenticeships and prize giving for excellence in the construction trades. We agreed that there is great value to be achieved in our working more closely together.

Monday November 2nd
Funeral Service for Ralph Vickers
It was with great sadness that the Mistress and I attended the funeral of Past Master and Past Clerk (Emeritus) Ralph Vickers. Ralph was a friend and guide to many of us in the Plaisterers’ Livery Company and it was a great comfort for us all to join his wife Doreen and the family to pay tribute to his long life and prestigious career. He will be sadly missed.

Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund Dinner at the BT Tower
Tonight, was an important occasion for the Royal Marines’ Charitable Trust Fund as they launched their 2015 ‘Impact Report’. This was held at the BT Tower which was celebrating another notable anniversary - it’s 50th Birthday!. It was officially opened on October 8th 1965 by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, but tonight it was the venue for a fund raising dinner for the Marines.
As the Learned Clerk and I twirled round London’s skyline the speakers emphasised the great difference their donors had made in supporting the whole Royal Marines’ Family through Recovery Pathway grants.
Our links with the Marines should be a source of great pride to us.

Thursday October 29th - Agincourt Service at Westminster Abbey.
Your Master has grown accustomed to the honour of attending services at St Paul’s Cathedral but today, along with the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Livery Masters, Prime Wardens and Clerks, we processed through the Abbey to commemorate the Battle which took place six hundred years earlier on the field of Agincourt. This encounter was to shape the future of European history and thanks to the sword of Henry V which was carried aloft through the Cathedral by the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, along with the skill and courage of our soldiers- particularly Long Bowmen, our French adversaries were defeated in spite of their superior numbers.
The readings and Acting of scenes from Shakespeare’s play gave life to this service, although the medieval hymns proved a challenge to many of us!
Of course we city Liverymen must bask in the glory that the King awarded us the Crown Jewels as a guarantee , to be redeemed at a later date, because of our support at Agincourt and the ornate Crystal sceptre which he generously gave is still on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery.
In his address The Rt Rev Dr Richard Chartres, The Bishop of London reminded us that “leadership is a hotly debated topic at the moment in both Church and State and there’s much to learn from Shakespeare’s hero.”

Wednesday October 28th – The top brass are in town.
What a night this was -as we dined in the magnificent Stationer’s Hall along with their Master. We were in very special company with the Minister of Defence, Ministers of State, Lords, an Admiral and a host of sailors and Marines, each proudly sporting a chest full of medals. Officers from Overseas Allied Forces were also much in evidence. I was lucky enough to spend time with Marines from our Affiliates and brave members from the ranks of the Hasler Company. As you can imagine, the air was buzzing with speculation about the forthcoming defence review, and in his speech, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP made sure that the assembled forces felt reassured about their future role in Britain’s defence.

Tuesday October 27th - Lunch with The Apprentice
Without Alan Sugar but with our apprentice Theo Nisbett, the Learned Clerk and I, along with his mother and Apprentice Master, Robert Dalrymple, shared a very pleasant and informal sandwich lunch in the company Offices. This occasion was to mark the fact that our newly bound apprentice had attended Guildhall to swear his oaths and make his City status official!
I am so impressed that Theo is showing such an enthusiastic response to the company; it has been a real pleasure for us to see him develop.

Evening – the Flying Doctor
Plaisterer’s Hall was the venue for the London Air Ambulance to reach out to the City of London, its Livery Masters and citizens to appeal for support for the amazing life saving work that they do.
I was invited to make a key note speech in which I was able to show the Company’s support for the service and point out that any of us would be so grateful to be helped by them in our hour of need.
They in turn, shared some of their experiences and gave a dramatic reconstruction of a roadside incident showing how their team of medics work in the most traumatic situations. Some of their patients whose lives had been saved shared their stories with the group – it was truly inspirational and the Mistress and I were considerably moved.

Monday October 26th – Lunch at the Guildhall.
Today I was invited by Nigel Pullman, who as Chairman of the Livery Committee, explained to a select number of Masters over lunch its prime purpose is to make the arrangements for Common Hall, the important elections of Sheriffs and Lord Mayor but also to act as a communication point between the City’s important Centres, the Livery, Guildhall, Mansion House and the Old Bailey. His aim was to get to know us and the direction that our Companies are taking. You can read more about this important establishment on www.liverycompanies.info

Thursday October 22nd – The Mistress comes to Town
Sadly, your Master was reduced to cheese sandwiches at his desk today whilst the Mistress was invited to enjoy the company of Katusha Ostroumoff Bull, the Mistress Tallow Chandler, at Luncheon.
This was a great opportunity to meet the other Mistresses and Consorts over a most delicious and enjoyable meal. As a relatively new girl on the block she was made most welcome and established some firm friendships which I am sure she will develop over the rest of the year.
Not to be outdone, as soon as the Mistress extinguished the candles at the Tallow Chandlers, I began thinking of the dinner which I was so much looking forward to that night.....

- The Master goes up in smoke
Although this is strictly speaking no longer true. My hosts, The Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders, do insist that their Master dons his special “Smoking cap” even though, of course, the law does not allow us to smoke at such events any more. Their Company, led by the Master, Mr Christopher Allen, held their annual banquet in the Barber-Surgeons Hall where, as we dined in great style, we were overlooked by the huge painting by Holbein depicting Henry V111. I found myself amongst exalted company as the Bishop of London, The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres was the Guest of Honour and at my side was sitting Rev Phillippa Boardman, Cannon of St Paul’s. I also discovered that the Master and his charming Mistress, Mary, were great friends with two of my best friends in Wokingham, so during the evening I shared common ground and holy ground- although I hadn’t realised quite how much fun our clergy can be when they are out to dine! The Tobacco Industry was celebrating an important trade function during this week and their Liverymen and guests made me feel very welcome in their company.

Tuesday October 20th – Building special relationships
Tonight, the Mistress and I were invited by my good friend Master Leo Martin and his worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants to enjoy dinner in the splendid surroundings of Goldsmith’s Hall. We were told on good authority that the value of the gold on display behind the Master could be set in the region of £12million! The Builders’ Merchants however, proved equally golden in their hospitality and the speech from the Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr Daniel Mulhall, was both entertaining and interesting as he emphasised the value of trade between Ireland and the UK.

Thursday October 15th – A trip to Hereford
Company members who are reading this blog will understand if I make this simple entry to tell you that I had a wonderful dinner with many members of one of our important affiliates in the Herefordshire Countryside. It was an unforgettable experience!

Wednesday October 14th - The knives come out at the Cutlers
I dined with the Mistress tonight as guests of The worshipful Company of Cutlers at their Court Ladies Dinner. Crossed swords marked our table placement in the menu plan although out hosts could not have been kinder or more welcoming. This magnificent Hall steeped in history and grandeur is one of the most ancient of the City of London Liveries and its site has been on or near the present location since 1285.During the Second World War it escaped the great firebomb raid which left only the Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral unscathed. We enjoyed an excellent dinner which of course we ate with the finest cutlery!

Tuesday October 13th – Chipped out of stone.
Tonight I was lucky enough to attend the bi-annual Duke of Gloucester Awards hosted by the Worshipful Company of Masons who held their ceremony with the Duke present, in the beautiful church of St Stephen Walbrook. These awards are presented every two years to reward excellence in Stone Masonry and winners must have been active in their craft for at least nine years. The winning entry, the work of Pourang Tajally, is now on show in Winchester Cathedral.
Whilst I was there, it was interesting for me to see the original telephone used by Chad Varah, the founder of the Samaritans. (I had met Chad’s daughter Felicity Varah Harding in her current role as Renter Warden of the Spectacle Makers Company a few days earlier.)

Monday October 12th - Meeting with Mike Neville – Director Strategy and Fundraising Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.
The Learned Clerk and I enjoyed this meeting very much as Mike is becoming Honorary President of 282 Squadron, our Air Cadets affiliate. In the longer term he plans to work with their officers to further develop the excellent performance of the Squadron, and for now, he is going to liaise with Wing Co. Mark Biggadike to arrange some familiarisation in Puma helicopters for 282 over at RAF Benson. That will be fun!

Thursday 8th October - Polishing off the week at the Furniture Makers
The final invitation of this most exciting week was for the Learned Clerk and me to attend the Court Luncheon of the Furniture Makers’ Company in their newly refurbished Hall. This very charitable company places great emphasis on the education of the up and coming professionals within its trade with awards and grants given to hard working and talented students who attend its training workshops.
The Master, Mr David Dewing, welcomed us to his Hall and proudly explained the intricacies of its design and the great contributions made to its reconstruction by its membership. I sat close to Mr Edward Tadros, Past Master, who I was delighted to learn, having asked him what part of the industry he worked within, that he actually owned the Ercol company . This just happens to be a great favourite of my wife and so you can imagine my lunch time conversation was of great interest to her when I told her all about it that evening.
I am pleased to repost that the newly refurbished Hall is bright and airy and beautiful plastered.

Wednesday 7th October - Looking and Listening
To start with ‘the looking’- Today was the celebration of the Spectacle Makers October Court Lunch and I was lucky enough to be on the top table, alongside the Deputy Master of the Company, Dr Christine Tomkins, who made me feel very welcome. This took place in the Apothecarie’s Hall with its breathtaking Irish oak panelling dating from 1671 displaying the coats of arms of past Masters and former officers throughout history. Christine, a keen London cyclist, had kept Barny and me company on our sponsored walk round the Livery Halls. I also met an old friend, Felicity Harding, now Renter Warden of the Spectacle Makers but better known to me as the daughter of the great Rev Chad Varah who founded the world wide Samaritan Movement (not to mention his contribution to the Eagle comic!).
At this splendid function, I was greatly impressed to see the awards made to successful scholars and scientists in the world of Ophthalmic care and treatment; I dined exceptionally well with some very clever scientists.

And later , ‘the listening’ when the Mistress and I, accompanied by our learned Clerk and our Wardens and their wives attended Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral , a glorious service courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
We processed in order (that order now becoming familiar to me!) with increasing amounts of fur and gold towards the front of the group. As you might expect the music was wonderful with the choristers in fine voice and the string orchestra of the Royal College of Music playing a rarely heard piece by Elgar, ‘Elegy for strings’.
Following this uplifting service there was a reception in the crypt where we were served with wine and canapés amid the tombs of Wellington, Nelson and many other heroes from our past.
As the day came to a close I reflected that it was only Wednesday evening and I had already during the past three days, thanks to the Plaisterer’s Company , enjoyed the experiences of a lifetime.
But still more to come tomorrow................

Tuesday 6th October
Serious business today as the full Court met for its Autumn Quarterly meeting to consider the management and business of our company. All the committees reported in full and appropriate votes were taken and decisions made. All in all, a thoroughly hard working and productive session.
And then...............
– Entertaining at home, a teddy bear’s picnic.
Our October Court and Autumn Livery dinner turned out to be a lively and occasionally thought provoking evening. It was a pleasure to see so many younger faces amongst our guests, many of whom were experiencing a Livery Dinner for the first time. Our military affiliates were well represented with a number of RAF officers and their partners. In particular we were delighted to welcome Wing Co. Mark Biggadike who has volunteered to arrange with his 33 squadron at Benson, familiarisation flying in Puma helicopters for our 282 cadets. Group Captain Mike Neville, who has taken over as honorary president of 282, was delighted by this offer.
In his response on behalf of the guests newly elected Liveryman, Prof Paul Atkinson, a former pro vice chancellor of Cardiff University, urged us to remember our roots and support training and apprenticeships in our trades and crafts. I know that you will all agree with him about that.
The musical interlude provided by Catherine Backhouse included a piece by George Gershwin that I had never heard before but which was simply enchanting.
Barny bear, who was a special guest of mine in his fund raising capacity, expressed his delight that we have now raised over £3,000 for my charity,Barnardo’s.
This most enjoyable evening was made all the happier when we received news of the birth of Robyn Victoria, a beautiful daughter for Liveryman Simon Hinks and his partner Julie.
(Some people will find any excuse to miss a dinner……..)

Friday 2nd October - Casting Light in the City with the Lightmongers
Today, the Learned Clerk and I made our way to the Tallow Chandlers’ Hall to celebrate the ‘Masters and Clerks’ luncheon with Master Rodney Bennion of the Lightmongers’ Company. There was much debate as I sat with Wax and Tallow chandlers as to the superiority of the two fuels, but it was clear to me that they were both absolutely equal ( ‘diplomacy’ is my middle name!).
The Tallow Chandlers Hall is undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful in the city and we were made to feel most welcome there.

Thursday 1st October – An explosive lunch with the Gun Makers
I expected this event to ‘go with a bang’ and it did! It was a surprise to arrive at the Gunmakers and rather than find myself in a ceremonial Hall, realise that I had walked into a hard working factory environment. The Master Gunmaker , Mr. John Jackman ,made us very welcome and told us the very interesting story of the evolution of the Company since the reign of King Charles 1 . To this day it is the business of the gun makers to ensure the safety and prove the gauge of all small arms used in the United Kingdom. We were treated to a tour of the Proof House led by Richard Mabbitt, the Proof Master, who gave me the honour of pulling the string to discharge the supercharged barrel of a firearm to test its strength-the resultant explosion almost resulted in the Master Butcher jumping out of her skin!
All this was followed by a splendid lunch in the company of other Masters and Clerks as we admired the many coats of arms on the walls of the Court Dining room.

Wednesday 30th September – Down to the River with the Marketors
I was invited to hear about the wonderful marketing opportunities available to British exporters in China in a talk given by Brendan Tansey who is a member of the Marketors Livery Company and who lives and works in China. His knowledge of the cultural differences shown by the indigenous population gave everyone clues as to how the different purchase intent of the Chinese consumer can be harnessed for real growth in sales.
Brendan was an expert in e-commerce and told us how this young and fast growing population is excited by internet shopping. He convinced us that ‘we live in interesting times,’ as the Chinese say. Meanwhile, the hospitality of the Marketors and their Master Andrew Marsden made for a memorable evening in the modern Marketing Suite of the Unilever Company which overlooks the River Thames.

Tuesday 29th September – Mayor Making in the City
This was a day of great pomp and circumstance starting with a procession of Masters in strict ceremonial order from the crypt of the GuildHall to St Lawrence Jewry. I made the acquaintance of the Master Stationer and the Master Fruiterer – very important to me, as I will always be sandwiched in between these two in the Livery Pecking order!
The sermon was given by the Master of the Temple, who, coincidentally, was the speaker at our banquet. Listening to his words of caution to the financial sector I felt quite pleased that I was there as a Plaisterer!
Our procession then returned to Guild Hall where we Masters sat with gathered Liveryman in order to elect the new Lord Mayor. In due course The Lord Mountevans (Jeffrey Evans – Alderman and Shipwright) was voted in. Common Hall heard a most illuminating talk on the history of the Fire of London, the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of which will be commemorated next year. We sincerely hope that Lord Mayor Mountevans has a much better year than his predecessor; Sir Thomas Bloodworth did in 1666.

Evensong and reception at St Vedast to say farewell to the Rev Alan McCormack.
Our Company has been welcomed in recent years by the Rector Alan McCormack to this wonderful Wren church in the heart of the City. This very special evening was a mixture of wonderful music and good humour which was shared by Alan’s many friends in the city and his congregation from St Vedast.
Our company was well represented with Mike and Heather Jones, our Clerk, the Mistress and myself. You can see from the picture below that a good time was had by all.
Alan is moving on to follow a more academic calling at Goodenough College and we wish him well for the future

Monday September 28th – Early Evening reception with the Worshipful Company of Farmers
The Learned Clerk and I were invited along to take a look in a relaxed reception environment at the newly refurbished Hall in Cloth St. This has been fully modernised to provide the excellent facilities required for a modern day Livery Company. Master Tony Alston made us most welcome and I am sure that their new premises will be a most popular venue for City events- we certainly enjoyed it!

So what does The Master do after a week like that?
Well, it was a memorable Saturday for my niece, Liveryman Charlotte Ashworth, as she had a ‘special’ birthday. As you can imagine the Mistress and I have dressed up a bit this week, so her invitation to an Alice in Wonderland tea party, was no challenge at all.............. Our Tweedledee and Tweedledum outfits ( complete with rattle) went down well.
Shall we look ‘Through the Looking Glass’ to see what next week will bring?

Thursday September 24th - Annual Banquet of the Worshipful Company of Paviors at the Mansion House
This white tie event was a glittering occasion. The Mistress and I were welcomed most warmly and were pleased to have the time to take in our prestigious location. The rooms are magnificent with the most elaborate decoration and walls covered with Flemish masterpieces. The plaster work in the ceilings is a marvel.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner and were thrilled by the ‘Battle of the Post Horns’ which took place between two soloists across the balconies at either end of the splendid hall. Our retiring sheriffs, Fiona and Andrew gave an entertaining response to the ‘Toast to the Corporation’ as a double act ; they were after all known fondly as ‘Wallace and Grommet’ and can we forget their joint sponsored tandem ride for charity earlier this year?
The Master Pavior, Mr Terry Last, gave an entertaining speech and should be very proud of his fine banquet.

Tuesday September 22nd - and so to the Royal Aeronautical Society
Here, the Honourable Company of Air Pilots delivered their annual Sir Frederick Tymms lecture. We heard from Air Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, talking about the difficulties in planning for successful defence and weapons strategy in future decades given the background of our uncertain world today. He gave us his personal perspective on the importance of technology and the need to stay ahead of the competition so that our nations always have the ‘cutting edge’ in defence weaponry. Thanks to the Master, Squadron Leader Chris Ford MBE for an excellent supper and a great welcome. This was a most uplifting evening.

Monday September 21st – The Tax Advisers celebrate their ‘Installation Court’.
Back home in London, after a service of thanksgiving in The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, I was entertained to dinner by The Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers. At his dinner which was held in the newly refurbished Farmers and Fletchers Hall, we saw Alderman Dame Fiona Wolfe and Past Master Nicholas Wolfe given awards for their service to their Industry. We heard a hard hitting speech calling for a more direct approach by our tax authorities and a greater attention to the detail which is all so essential.

And so to the Deacon’s Choosing Dinner ..........
It was a pleasure to see Past Master Michael Hall at this event - resplendent in his tartan trews.
The dinner is an annual event to celebrate the installation of the new Deacon, David Bannerman and his new Collector, David McLaren.
This is also the celebration of the installation of the new leaders of each of the fourteen crafts Incorporated in the Trades Hall. They are irreverently known as ‘The Chain Gang’ and process in wearing their fine, and very valuable, gold chains of office - a truly spectacular sight!
Everyone wore a sprig of heather to show that they had been given pears – this is a sort of ‘brown envelope’ – an unusual Incorporation custom!
This was a most entertaining evening with music, poetry, swirling kilts and great friendship. Prizes were given out to recipients of Skills Awards and the Deacon presented me with a silver Quaich and a wee dram to take back to Plaisterers’ Hall ( only the Quaich arrived there!). The Mistress and I had a wonderful time and offer thanks to the Deacon for his great hospitality.
We enjoyed our visit to Glasgow and took the opportunity the next day to take a look around the city. Imagine our surprise when we saw George’s Square filled with Scottish Nationalists commemorating the anniversary of the independence vote the year before. This was overlooked by the statue of Wellington who proudly wears a traffic cone on his head – the Police became so sick of removing it that it was decided that it should be left there and has now become a local feature.
Glasgow is a fine city with great humour and spirit and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Friday 18th September - The Incorporation of Masons of Glasgow
The Master Court of this august organisation met at the Trades House in Glassford Street Glasgow, which is the centre for fourteen incorporated crafts. The Deacon, Mr Craig Bryce, was kind enough to admit your Master as a member of the Incorporation in recognition of our Company’s services to the Court – a great honour indeed.
Following this the Mistress and I were taken by the newly elected Collector, Mr David McLaren, to visit South Lanarkshire College in East Kilbride.
This College is a centre of excellence for both its academic and skills education and we were incredibly impressed by what we saw. We met the Associate Principal, Mr James Martin who showed us round their remarkable workrooms and craft areas and Mr John McGinley , the Curriculum Manager for Trowel Crafts , introduced us to some of the students. Their confidence and enthusiasm were exemplary, as was the level of skill they were demonstrating.
We were invited to have lunch with the College Principal, Mr Stewart McKillop, and enjoyed a delicious meal that had been cooked and was served by the students. He explained his vision and ambition for the College and it is clear that his determination to make this outstanding College even more successful is shared by all the staff and students. It was a privilege to visit and we look forward to developing our links with the College at our future Training Awards.

Evening Thursday 17th September
Returning to my new home at Number One London Wall I collapsed into the arms of the waiting Mistress, exhausted by the rigours of the day. She helped me to pack up for my next exciting experience on behalf of the Company..............
And so to Bonny Scotland!
We arrived in Glasgow after midnight and booked into our room at our ‘Boutique Hotel’ which interestingly only had enough space for a bed and one standing person!

Thursday 17th September - The Master’s walk around the City Livery Halls with Barny Bear
Thank goodness, the day dawned sunny and bright as I rose early to start my walk around the Livery Halls of the city, together with my trusted Renter Warden, Richard Hanney at my side and my loyal Barnardo’s mascot Barny bear on my back! We all wore our livery gowns and our gongs around our necks with pride. This was the ‘10th Annual Livery Halls walk’ organised by the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners and what a great job they did.
There was a real sense of comradery between the Masters and Wardens who were walking together and we learned a lot about each other’s companies as were guided around this fascinating route. Did you know, for example, that the now famous Jeremy Corbin was educated at a school run by The Haberdashers?
Barny proved to be very popular with each Master in turn wishing to have their photograph taken with him. I do believe, however, that he was nervous about one day becoming the fur collar on one of the gowns! With breakfast at the Armourers, lunch on HQS Wellington ( the Master Mariner’s home) and tea at The Grocers – not to mention a glass of port at Southwark Cathedral. One was kindly given to Barny but I do believe that the Master Launderer may have helped him with it! - we were well provided for.

........And then to church
The Clerk and I then headed to St Paul’s for a ‘Short Talk under the Dome’ by Prof Arthur Burns. This was a fascinating talk and revealed secrets about the history of St Paul’s and how it had, over the years been used as a commercial centre as much as a church. This perhaps, should not a surprise, given its location at the heart of the city. I also had the great pleasure of meeting our new chorister Benjamin Irvine-Capel. He told me about his journey across America singing with the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir. He added that he had enjoyed listening to more popular music through his headphones as he travelled! He is not only an outstanding chorister but is also learning to play the organ - what a really talented young man!

Wednesday 16th September – Master and Wardens Committee take tea and cake with the Learned Clerk
This was an opportunity for the Master, his wardens and their wives to meet with the clerk and discuss their plans for their short, medium and long term programmes. We were lucky to receive written advice from the Deputy Master about what he had learned during his very successful year. We reviewed job descriptions for our various roles and duties. Charities, events and ideas were all aired in an open and informal way, our brain power helped by the cake , generously provided by the Learned Clerk.

Tuesday 15th September - I am the Board Room Apprentice
This was a day in the Board Room. The chairman of PHL and his Board members have a big job to do managing the hall and maximising its opportunities. During this productive meeting the many aspects of running the Hall and maintaining its financial performance were discussed in detail along with reports from our partner ‘Create’. We also reviewed improvements and tested the Hall’s new Sound system. The Board refused to allow me to sing my version of ‘My Way’ but nevertheless I can assure you that you should notice improvements in sound performance at Plaisterer’s Hall from now on.

Monday 14th September – Committees and Defence of the Realm
The Public Relations Committee meeting was, as usual, very lively and there was an animated discussion about how our new data base will help direct us in a more focussed way towards members’ interests. I was chastised by the committee members for not having set up an electronic ‘Just Giving’ page for my proposed walk around the London Livery Halls and I committed myself for setting this up by the time of the next meeting – why do I make these promises?
In the evening I was ‘all at sea’ - well at least on the River Thames, as a guest of the First Sea Lord Sir George Zambella, aboard HMS Iron Duke at the Excel Centre. Our Naval top brass, along with many of our allies, were meeting at the ‘Defence and Security’ international event and Sir George was gracious enough to give us a short speech about the future of our allied sea defences. I was surrounded by senior naval personnel (really, my gong looked quite understated amongst all that gold!) and during an interesting and entertaining evening received a Right Royal Naval reception. Truly, our connections with the Royal Marines (who played music alongside the ship) and our affiliation with HMS Dragon had earned our Company a place amongst this august group which included the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. I was surprised to see that I was one of only two Livery Company Masters lucky enough to be invited. Can you imagine what a come down it was travelling home on the DLR( even though I did have a senior director from Westland Helicopters’ sitting alongside me.
Photo: The Master with Lt Cmdr Neil Wiseman aboard HMS Iron Duke

Saturday September 12th - Fund Raising time
This was a very special night and saw our hall used to host a glittering fund raising event of a very special nature for one of our affiliates. Confidentiality forbids me from saying any more but full information is ‘readily available’ in the members area of our website! Suffice it to say that it was an unforgettable night!

w/c 7th September Committee week
The first week is a busy round of committee meetings with the Charity Trustees on September 7th followed the next day by the Membership Committee who are discussing exciting initiatives to attract new members to our wonderful Company. I am pleased to say that we have some very good quality applications for membership in the pipeline.
Wednesday moved us on to ‘Finance and Industry’ and I was delighted to hear of the ambitious plans in place for our Industry leading Training Awards on November 9th. I know that The Lord Mayor is expecting to see some fresh young faces pick up their prizes that day, and I feel very privileged that I will be standing beside him on that occasion.

August 6th – charity meeting
More serious work as I met with representatives from Barnardo’s to plan the year’s charity events. We were able to put together some really interesting ideas which I think that Livery members will enjoy. Thanks to all of you who have said that you will help to raise money for this outstanding Children’s charity, I am already thinking about my sponsored walk around the Livery Halls on September 17th.

July 28th - Sheriffs’ visit to Plaisterers’ Hall.
Following a good dinner the night before, I was up early to welcome Sheriffs, Fiona Adler ( a vision in lycra!) and Andrew Parmley as they cycled to our hall as part of their fund raising bike ride around the city. Along with some fellow liverymen and the two Barney bears we were able to provide them with refreshment and wish them well. They raised £ 13,500 for the Sheriffs and Recorders charity – well done to them both!

July 27th - Founders’ Court Dinner
Here the Clerk and I enjoyed a great evening with a reception - surprisingly in the open air - given the unpredictable weather, and afterwards, dinner in the intimate Livery Hall with its porthole windows looking out over the gardens of St Bartholomew’s.
I was on a table with Wing Commander Mark Biggadike , who as OC of Puma Squadron 33 at RAF Benson, promised to give our affiliate 282 squadron at Newham, some exciting experiences at his headquarters this year – something really special to talk to our cadet friends about!

July 23rd - Worshipful Company of Distiller’s Spirit Tasting
And so to my first engagement – Mistress, Rose Mahony and I were invited to the Worshipful Company of Distiller’s Spirit Tasting on 23rd July at Vintners Hall. I was delighted to meet the Master Distiller, Allan Cheeseman , who I knew of old from my Brewery days. He kindly introduced the Mistress to Grappa Gewurztraminer which went down very well! What a night - we slept well afterwards!

July 21st - Common Hall Robing Service and Dinner
This was, of course, the last major event for Mike Jones as Master , and despite his leg injury, the now Deputy Master did a magnificent job introducing our new freemen and liverymen into the Company, what a great day for so many people! I felt really honoured to be made the Company’s new Master, and if today’s enjoyable proceedings are any kind of an indication, a superb year stretches ahead.
I was happy to introduce to fellow liverymen, my two ‘Barney’ bears, fellow patrons of Barnardo’s, which is my chosen charity for the year.