It’s now about a month since the Installation Dinner and I am gradually getting used to being called Master rather than looking over my shoulder expecting to see where the Master is who is being addressed! Although as a Warden one gets a good idea – and experience of – almost every aspect of what goes on within our Company, it’s perhaps only as Master that one really appreciates quite how much effort is put in by our Clerk, Assistant Clerk, Committee Chairs and Members who together help keep show on the road.
Apart from John and Doreen all of us are volunteers. When prospective members are interviewed, one of the reasons often given for wanting to join is “to give something back” which is a key part of what belonging to a Livery Company entails. Giving back can be fun and rewarding as I found out: the first thing I did when I joined was to volunteer for Outreach projects. I found myself involved in projects as diverse as helping write a business plan for a charity dealing with crack cocaine addicts and working with St Paul’s on addressing declining visitor numbers. Very stretching, and immensely rewarding. Without volunteers the website wouldn’t be kept up to date, no Marketor would plop on to our doormats or any social events happen. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who contributes in any way, however small, to the ongoing success of our Company.
Every year the Master and Wardens, in consultation with Members, evaluate whether our Committee structure still meets the Company’s needs. Last year it was decided to merge the former Awards and Thought Leadership Committees to form the Education Committee, now to be renamed the Knowledge Development Committee, a name which better describes its dual remit of rewarding academic excellence and stimulating cutting edge thought. And this year the fledgling Mentor programme, led by Liveryman Stephen Christou, which has been nurtured under the Outreach umbrella, becomes a stand-alone Committee.
Another thing which comes to the fore as Master is the role of the Company, within both the wider Livery movement and the Civic City. Liverymen are of course formally responsible for such things as electing the Lord Mayor each year but throughout the year there are other events such as the Annual Sheep Drive over London Bridge which remind one of this. One of these is about to happen – the annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races in Guildhall Yard organised appropriately by the Poulters’ Company. Each year we put in a team. Last year Middle Warden Phil Andrew won his race and restored the Company’s honour, dented when I had come an ignominious last the year before. Phil has nobly agreed to run again this year. Our other participants are Andrew Cross – who I think has to be in fancy dress – and Liveryman Adele Thorpe who as Team Leader will be trying to keep everyone in order as well as running herself. Do come along next Tuesday 28th February at noon if you are free to join me in cheering our team on.
Many of you will know that our Learned Clerk is a Member – indeed a Court Assistant – of the Scriveners’ Company. This Company, which has just celebrated the 400th Anniversary of the Granting of its Charter by King James I, every year gives the Sheriffs a Quill Pen. This ceremony will take place on the evening of the Pancake Races at the church of St Lawrence Jewry and will be followed by “Members of the Scriveners’ Company performing the Scryveners’ Play from the York Mystery Cycle.” One of the actors will be our Clerk. I’ve been invited to the ceremony so will in my next blog report back on John’s thespian talents!