This month’s blog marks the three quarters point of my year as Master which might not have been worth mentioning were it not for the fact that the arrival of Covid- 19 to the UK has put an abrupt curtailment to all social engagement and functions. Thus, whilst I want to report on an exceptionally busy time leading up to the 17th March – thereafter it is a different world as the next blog in this series will reveal.
In early March a stand out event for me was the ability to recognise five exceptional artisan plasterers who were honoured with the title of Master Plasterer – master craftsmen. The ceremony was held at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor and included many other Livery companies as well. Over 240 people attended and certificates were given to apprentices journeymen and Masters of their respective trades. A Master Plasterer is a person of at least 20 years’ experience of the plastering industry or of equivalent experience with qualifications in commercial and heritage plastering. Thus it was with great pride that I met the five men who had been nominated with these requirements. On the day they each pledged to uphold the standards of a professional plasterer and help others through training and education. Our new Master Plasterers are first (in alphabetical order) Bernard Cunningham who works in his own business in Northern Ireland. Martin Ward joined the well-known firm of G Cook and Sons to begin his apprenticeship in 1974. He is now one of their most senior and respected plasterers. Nigel Davies joined the Ipswich firm of Cubitt & Gotts Limited where he served his apprenticeship and since 1986 Nigel has been part of the team at G Cook and Sons in Cambridge. Gary Lewis began his career as an apprentice plasterer with the small firm of Hinkins & Frewin in 1976 and later acquired teaching qualifications which led to him joining Oaklands College. In 2018 he joined leading manufacturers, British Gypsum, as a Demonstrator. The fifth is Paul Mulinganie. For over the past 35 years he has been ‘on the tools’ working on some of the most significant construction projects in the West Midlands. Since 2016 Paul has worked for British Gypsum where he now focuses on helping plasterers increase their knowledge of products and their correct use. I am sure you will agree that they are worthy Master Plasterers and applaud their commitment to the trade and craft and thank them for their dedication.
At the other end of the scale was the annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Race in Guildhall Yard. Our team of Plaisterers lined up as me, for the Master’s race, Liz Kitson for the lady Liveryman race, James Dye for the Livery race and a very frightening Philip Cowen as a pirate for the fancy dress race. We acquitted ourselves well with Liz making it to the finals. However none of us won the frying pan! All good fun and raising funds for charity.
With support for the trade (our Master Craftsmen) and fellowship and charity ( the Pancake Race) then a third element of our Livery engagement is definitely with the military and the Plaisterers took a box at the Mountbatten Festival of Music in the Royal Albert Hall. The annual concert performance by the massed Marines’ bands was exceptional and included items by the Corp of Drums, the trumpeters and several solo artists throughout the evening . We were particularly delighted that the Captain General, Prince Harry, and the Duchess of Sussex also attended a few boxes away. They were warmly welcomed to the event. We were proud to support the Marines and their charity in attending this enjoyable concert.