As my final few weeks as Master of our Company draw to a close, it has been a good time to think about the year and the enjoyable time that I have had. It has been a unique opportunity to get out and about and meet so many interesting people. I thought I knew lots about our City of London – but believe you me – there has been so much more to delightfully discover! I feel privileged to have been at some very grand occasions representing you. So thank you for your support and trust.
December is of course the festive season and with lots of carol singing and listening to great music in wonderful buildings with everyone looking forward optimistically to a Christmas and the New Year – what’s not to enjoy!
So 1st December, and where better to start the month but with a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral. This was organised by Richard Christou and there’s more about it on our website. I can’t tell you how lucky we were that evening. To begin with we were invited to sit in the extraordinarily beautiful choir stalls in the nave to listen to the evening prayers. After this we had a tour of the ‘secret places’ within St Paul’s including the library with its ancient books and manuscripts, all 100s of years old (It was like stepping into Hogwarts), the Dean’s private circular staircase, the original models of the building built by Wren, an insight into a previous age.
Then we were invited to listen to the choir rehearsing the glorious Messiah for a future performance. One of the other things that struck me (after the singing of the choir ceased) was the silence that seemed to wrap around us in this huge dimly lit building. Then off to supper with the team.
On 7th December, I headed to the Headquarters of the Honourable Artillery Company for a reception in preparation for the City’s renowned Big Curry Lunch. This takes place every year at the Guildhall and since 2008 has raised some £1.4m for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity (formerly know as the Army Benevolent Fund) benefiting soldiers and veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Lord Mayor brought together the Masters of Livery Companies and sponsors to garner their support for the coming year’s event which takes place on Thursday, 7th April at the Guildhall. It is a great City occasion and I hope I will see some of you there.
On 9th, I went to the magnificent Southwark Cathedral for the Marie Cure Carol Service. As some of you will know, I am Trustee of this important charity and of course, a great admirer of the work they do. The Carol service was led by The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark (who has asked for some support from us through Outreach) and was supported with appearances by a host of stars of stage and screen. A fitting celebration of Christmas and the selfless work of the Marie Curie Nursing Service.
The next day (10th) we had a meeting with Whiteoaks who have been supporting our PR for the past year and I am delighted to say have agreed to continue with us for another year.
Off to St Bride’s on 14th for the Communications Industry Carol Service – I was delighted to be invited to give a reading as your Master. Once again, the choir of St Bride’s were wonderful – they truly have to be one of the best choirs in the country. After the service we all headed up to All Bar One where it was good to catch up with the Company attendees and the various industry guests.
My last occasion for the year was the Royal Society of St George Christmas Banquet at Mansion House.The Royal Society of St George has branches all over England and abroad. As the name of the Society suggests, they support all things English in an un-sectarian manner and are independent of party politics. The Society has been going for 121 years and has a charitable trust whose main aim is to support young people to greater achievement. They say nothing succeeds without enthusiasm and I certainly subscribe to that. Former Lord Mayor and currently Alderman of the Ward of Langbourn, Sir David Wootton gave a very good speech about upholding all our great traditions. With some 300 people in white tie sitting down to a banquet at the Mansion House, this was a very British occasion and all great fun.
I went home for Christmas and had a wonderful time with all my family and friends. I couldn’t make it to the Annual City New Year Service at St Michael’s Cornhill on the 8th January (had bursitis in my ankle) – our Clerk stood in for me at short notice.
But on 12th January I attended the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies Meeting and lunch hosted by the Worshipful Company of Arbitors. This group is formed of 12 modern livery companies and aims to help and support the Lord Mayor on things financial/business especially in relation to overseas trips that may be undertaken. It is customary for the immediate Past Master of the Company, (which I will be in days) to take over our representation in this Group, as I will be also chairing the Aim 1 committee this coming year. I am looking forward to this and will work to both enhance the influence of the Company in the City and encourage as many of you as possible to get involved in the treasure trove of opportunities which active involvement provides,
As my year as Master ends my last few weeks have been peppered with farewells, a reception for the Committee Chairmen and Secretaries and officers of the Company, a thank you dinner for key contributors, and a host of wonderful letters and emails. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time representing our Company during what has been a year of real achievement, and would like to thank you all for the opportunity and the support you have given me over the past 12 months.
But I will still be around and about, and I hope to enjoy your company and fellowship for many years to come. Thank you and au revoir!