April

Incredibly April 5th marked the start of the second half of my year as Master – tempus indeed fugit!

After the Easter break my first event was the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch at the Guildhall and it was great to see a large number of our Liverymen supporting this excellent event which for the first time benefitted all three services and not just ABF The Soldier’s Charity. In all the event raised an impressive £190,000 and if you have not yet sampled the delight of garam massala in the Great Hall I strongly encourage you to attend next year’s event scheduled for 4th April 2019.

The Curry Lunch was followed by the Installation Dinner for the Framework Knitters at Goldsmith’s Hall where unusually I was a guest of the Mistress who is a Framework Knitter.

A range of Company administration and meetings followed but the month’s highlight was my visit to Brompton Barracks for the Royal Engineer’s Cadet Open Day at which bricklaying was one of the task stations for the first time. The cadets enjoyed a variety of tasks including arranging tractor wheels with heavy plant, a waterborne initiative test and operating bomb disposal robots although despite these delights many identified bricklaying as their favourite activity of the day – another pointer to the need to expose school students to crafts at an early age!

 May

The Easter break made April a relatively quiet month but in May the Livery world springs back into life with a vengeance. Lunch with HM Judges and Sheriff Neil Redcliffe at the Old Bailey on the 8th heralded a run of six events in three days including the principal event of the Company year, our Annual Guest’s Dinner at Merchant Taylors’ Hall. I hope all who attended enjoyed the evening as much as Catherine and I did. The food, wine and principal speaker HH William Kennedy were all excellent and it is testament to our history and longevity that we dined in the same room in which our Liveryman Ben Jonson had designed and produced a Royal Pageant and Masque for King James I some 411 years before. Particular thanks must go to our Learned Clerk who as ever oversaw a superb and slick event notwithstanding a number of unusual requirements such as the Master and Mistress’s gifts and the viewing and procession of our magnificent new table centrepiece. This is a truly fitting piece with which to commemorate the 450th Anniversary of the grant of our Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568 and I extend my thanks to the Upper Warden, Past Master Roger Westbrook and Silver Steward and Liveryman David Allen for all their hard work in the commissioning and delivery of the centrepiece. 

We approached the Annual Guest’s Dinner with some trepidation as our room manager for the night confessed to having worked for the Learned Clerk when at the Dorchester  - fortunately John had treated him kindly and trained him well as he presided over a near faultless service. 

The week ended with the NFRC Awards and it was a great pleasure to see Master Craftsman Andy Rowlands receive the Heritage Roof of the Year Award – congratulations (again!) Andy.

The following week was no less hectic with the wonderful Sons and Friends of the Clergy service at St Paul’s Cathedral. The next day some 20 of us embarked on the Craft Committee visit to Ironbridge. This was a most excellent trip, and thanks are due to Liveryman David Williams for organising such an informative and entertaining programme and for securing excellent accommodation and catering. It was a particular pleasure to visit the Tile Museum and Craven Dunnill at Jackfield where we also participated in a tile designing and decorating competition. The tiles have been independently judged by Craven Dunnill and the results and photographs will appear in the Upper Wardens’ Newsletter. 

From Ironbridge the Mistress and I attended the TTA Awards and Gala Dinner at Solihull which was an excellent but late, night to close another busy week. 

After a few days at home there then followed 7 appointments in 3 days the highlights of which were another trip to Brompton barracks for a Reception and the Sounding The Retreat by the Band of the Ghurkas on 23rd May as well as the launch of the Exhibition of the Company’s History and Treasures at the Guildhall Library on the 24th May. We were honoured by the presence of the Lord Mayor who officially opened the Exhibition and who was still eulogising about this at Christ’s Hospital Speech Day on the 26th May. This was another excellent event in the impressive surroundings of the school and hopefully we will be able to announce our second presentee later this year to follow in the footsteps of Onyinye Udokporo. The students’ march past and salute to the Lord Mayor and the School Band were most impressive and were almost but not quite, up to the standard of the Ghurkas - I have to say that as they have Kukris and the students, to the best of my knowledge, don’t!

June highlights to look forward to include HM Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, the Mistress’s Ladies event at the V&A, the Livery weekend at Ironbridge, the Annual Masters and Clerks Luncheon at Armourers and Braziers Hall and the Master’s visit to Southwold. Another busy month in prospect!

March began with a Court Meeting at which we welcomed three new Liverymen in Clare Banks, Bob Caile and Peter Bull MBE and a new Freemen, Steve Brooks. The meeting also formalised the appointment of Jenny Rolls as our new Almoner. Sarah Stroud will be a hard act to follow but I’m sure in Jenny we have the perfect successor.

The Court meeting was followed by our Annual Craft Awards. I have to say that this is one of my favourite events of the year as we recognise those young people at the outset of their careers and those who have achieved Master Craftsman status. The recent trend of having successful figures within our crafts present the awards is proving both inspirational and aspirational to the younger winners and thanks and congratulations to Liveryman Bob Howard MBE for striking such a perfect note in his speech. It was also a pleasure for me not to be involved in organising the event for the first time in five years and huge thanks and congratulations to Court Assistant Chris Causer for handling his first awards ceremony with such aplomb. All being well next year the assembled company will be spared from hearing from me at all!

The awards were followed later that week by the Davy’s Annual Trade Tasting. This provides the opportunity for the Wine Committee to assess how purchased wines are progressing as well as tasting others both for consideration in future purchases and to add to our list of wines for buying in. It really is a much tougher job than it may seem given the number and variety of wines to be tasted – honest!

The following week was busy to say the least. Catherine and I attended the opening of the World War I Tribute Garden by the Lord Mayor and I’d encourage all to visit this in Guildhall Yard. This was followed by the Carpenters’ Spring Dinner at Carpenters’ Hall. A fairly stressful afternoon as we decided to head back to Loughton to change in between and fell foul of the Central Line at its worst but fortunately we made it back to the City in time for the reception. One of the challenges in the Mastership Year is the logistics of having the right formal wear in the right place at the right time!

The following day we again found ourselves at Mansion House for the Lord Mayor’s Banquet. This was a truly splendid occasion with the Pikeman and Musketeers in full attendance of the Lord Mayor together with some 103 Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff as well as the civic team.  This was a great City occasion enjoyed by all and yet another highlight of the year so far and was followed by another great Livery occasion in the United Guilds Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. A full St. Paul’s is a sight and sound to behold and I’d encourage every Liveryman to try and attend this wonderful celebration of the Livery.

Immediately after the service Catherine and I headed to the Tower of London to support the National Heritage Training Group Awards, an organisation chaired by Liveryman Bob Howard MBE. The lottery funded bursaries have been a great success and it is to be hoped that new bursaries or other heritage training will be supported by the National Lottery now that the current funding cycle has come to an end.

The Guildhall, Carpenters’ Hall, Mansion House, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London all in one week!

The following week was no less hectic with the Mason’s Court Luncheon at Mercers’ Hall followed by a private dinner with Sheriff Neil Redcliffe and his wife Emma at the Old Bailey which included a wonderful tour of the Central Criminal Court. Maintaining the theme of criminal justice, the next day saw some 30 intrepid Tylers and Bricklayers head to HM Prison Brixton to lunch at The Clink our Charity of the Year. Seldom, if ever, will so many Tylers and Bricklayers have been behind bars at the same time!

In somewhat imposing surroundings we enjoyed a fabulous three course meal and again one was left wondering why it takes a custodial sentence to receive vocational training and how many of the young men we met might have avoided prison had they had this sort of opportunity at or immediately after, school. Thanks go to the Upper Warden for arranging such an excellent and thought provoking visit and congratulations in her role as Secretary to the Charitable Trusts as we have nearly reached our target for the Charity of the Year so please keep giving to this tremendously worthwhile cause.

From HMP Brixton to the splendours of the Mansion House once more for the Plumbers’ Annual Banquet where we were royally entertained on our sixth visit thus far! A fitting end to my first six months in office but hard to believe I am already halfway through the year.

April highlights include the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry lunch. We have a good number attending but if you are free on the 11th April and in the vicinity of the Guildhall please do purchase a ticket and support Court Assistant Simon Martin who is one of the organisers of this excellent event. I am also looking forward to visiting the Royal Engineers at Chatham for their cadet open day.

It is hard to believe that this is my final blog. The year has gone so quickly. But what a super year it has been!

August is effectively a ‘shut down’ month in the City, but I did carry out a couple of very interesting and enjoyable engagements. I visited Bursledon Brickworks and Museum near Southampton. I thought I knew all the brick factories in the UK, but I wasn’t aware of this one. The factory has been closed down for some time, but is now being converted into a museum. It has some quite unique pieces of machinery, which are steam driven. It is likely that the Craft Trust will provide some financial support for the museum.

The second engagement in the month was a trip that Hilary and I took to Salisbury Plain to join the North London Army Cadets on their annual two-week camp. The contingent was over 200 strong and many of these cadets had not been away from home before. Quite a challenge! We got the opportunity to witness some demonstrations and then talk with the cadets over lunch. They were a credit to their Officers. Extremely polite and attentive. A super day!

The September schedule started with a Court meeting in Vintners Hall followed by our last Livery and Guests dinner in the evening. The event was fully subscribed at 147 guests, including the guest speaker Dr Peter Bonfield, a long term friend. We were also entertained by another good friend, Isobel Craig. It was a special pleasure for my daughter Hannah to join us, having returned from Australia to live and work in London.

The following evening we were guests of Court Assistant Professor John Schofield for dinner at the Reform Club. John is the current Chairman of the Club. The dinner was quite unusual as it was a Livery dinner outside of the City, but this was not unusual in times gone by. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress were the principal guests. Congratulations to John on a superb evening.

Past Master Ian Grimshaw accompanied me to an exhibition and reception at St Paul’s, hosted by the Dean, in the presence of the HRH the Duchess of Gloucester. Many of the wonderful Cathedral vestments were on display.

The annual T&B Golf Day was held again at Hever Golf Club in Kent. Teams from the Masons, Paviors, Carmen, Makers of Playing Cards and Constructors also joined us for the day. Court Assistant Simon Martin won the Paul Harris trophy for the first time. Well done Simon! Thanks go to Liveryman Barry Blumsom for all of his hard work in organizing the event. The following day I joined with Liverymen Barry Blumsom, Steve Trott and Mike Gee to play in the Carmens golf day at Cuddington Golf Club. Although we didn’t feature in the prizes, we had a great day on a lovely course.

I was invited to the Farmers Company’s Masters and Clerks lunch, which was held in their hall, which they share with The Fletchers Company. After the lunch I joined a panel to interview 4 prospective new members to the Company, all of whom have craft links.

Hilary and I attended the Treloars Charity Gala dinner at the Mansion House. Once again the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress were principal guests. The evening raised £75,000, which was a wonderful result.

It was a great honour to attend the church service and election of the new Lord Mayor with all of the other Masters, processing through the Guildhall. It was a special honour this year, as Princess Anne was processing as the Prime Warden of the Fishmongers. I would recommend that all T&B Liverymen take the opportunity to involve themselves with this historic ceremony and election. Following the election, 16 T&Bs got together for a lunch at Stationers Hall. In the evening I enjoyed a very pleasant dinner with Deputy Master Roger Westbrook.

As Master I am able to make a specific donation from the Charitable Trust to a charity of my choice. I visited a charity called KEEN who were holding an activity in a school in Vauxhall. The charity provide respite care for parents of primarily autistic children by taking the athletes, as they are called, into the school for physical activity for one and half hours, allowing the parents to have some free time. On this day there were 21 volunteer coaches to look after 15 athletes, some of whom require two to one care. I found the event quite emotional in many ways, as these wonderful volunteers had given their free time to help these young people in such a caring and effective way. Following this trip I decided to make my Masters charitable donation to KEEN.

Hilary and I attended an art exhibition at Painters Hall and were persuaded to invest in a small picture. The following evening I attended the Masons Company’s awards presentations at St Bartholomew’s the Great. A wonderful venue. The Masons give prizes to young craftsmen and women as we do. The prizes were presented by HRH the Duke of Gloucester who is a Liveryman of the Masons Company.

And so to the final day. My last, short, Court meeting at Carpenters Hall where the Officers for the ensuing year were confirmed. We formed the procession to walk to St Margarets Lothbury, in full splendour with gowns and bonnets, headed by the banner carrier, Liveryman David White.

The Installation Day is a day of mixed emotions. The sadness of the current Master departing, but more importantly the joy of the new Master taking office. All went to plan with no awkward moments. The ceremony was followed by a beautiful church service taken by our Chaplain John Cook. We all walked back to Carpenters Hall for a splendid lunch, where the new Master Jeff Fuller gave a superb speech, along with his principal guest the Lord Mayor.

Hilary and I did feel very sad as we passed on the ‘baton’ to Jeff and Catherine, but it has been a wonderful year. A time that will always remain in our hearts.

Jeff and Catherine have got off to a brilliant start and we wish them well for their year. It was a real pleasure to see Jeff being installed as the third generation of the Fullers, in the presence of three Fuller Past Masters, including of course his father Peter, the Father of the Company.

The day showed off the Tylers and Bricklayers at our very best!

Finally, I would like to thank the Wardens, the Court, our learned Clerk and all other members of the Company for their fantastic support during the year.

October

My Mastership  experience began before it had officially started with an invitation, as Master – Elect, to the Worshipful Company of Constructor’s Installation Service and Dinner on the eve of my own Installation.

Naturally the Installation Court Meeting, Church Service and Luncheon are a highlight of any Master’s year and I was delighted that the Lord Mayor the Rt Hon Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley was able to join us. It certainly was a most fitting way to begin the year in which we will celebrate the 450th Anniversary of the grant of our Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568. It is a tremendous honour to have been elected to serve as Master and to be the third generation of the Fuller family to hold the office and the seventh Fuller Master in all. I hope that everyone will have enjoyed the day as much as Catherine and I did.

The next day I had the privilege of attending the Prizegiving Ceremony at the City of London School for Girls where the standard of achievement across the entire curriculum was hugely impressive with academic, sporting and musical attainment at the forefront. Indeed the standard of the musical performances was better than some professional events I have attended. Congratulations to all the prize winners but particularly to Isobel Picken the grand daughter of late Court Assistant Ian Picken who won one of the Tylers and Bricklayers Mathematics prizes.

The ensuing month was a fairly constant stream of events or functions the highlight of which was undoubtedly the UK Young Builder of the year Awards held on the House of Commons Terrace and hosted by Baroness Smith of Basildon and the Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle. Lindsay was apprenticed as a bricklayer so it was a happy coincidence that he was presenting the awards and he will hopefully present our own Annual Craft Awards in 2019.

November

The month began with a flurry of events initially centred around the Annual Act of Remembrance and the Installation of the new Lord Mayor. Laying a simple cross to mark the opening of the Garden of Remembrance in St. Paul’s Churchyard on the 100th anniversary of the date British and Canadian troops finally captured the village of Passchendaele was extraordinarily moving and a huge but humbling honour.

There were also events to celebrate the outgoing Lord Mayor’s year of office including a particularly good Thanksgiving Service at St. Stephen’s Wallbrook presided over in part by Reverend Sally Muggridge the wife of Liveryman and Steward David Williams and of course the Lord Mayor’s Show at which I was delighted to see the Lady Mayoress on horseback accompanied by her two daughters who were coincidentally at school with my son. An excellent start to what I am sure will be another superb Mayorality and I take this opportunity to wish Charles and Samantha Bowman a fulfilling and enjoyable year.

A variety of lectures, lunches and dinners followed together with a number of awards ceremonies. I was particularly delighted to present an award at the Annual Brick Awards in the company of comedian and impressionist Jon Culshaw although I am still puzzled as to why my stage entry music was the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive - I managed to keep my dinner jacket on although the temptation to have a Saturday Night fever moment was great!

Other awards included the Plaisterers Training Awards and the William Morris Fellowship Awards where our own Liveryman Emma Simpson won the inaugural Gwyn Watkins award, a much deserved honour and recognition for the work and commitment Emma provides to the Fellowship.  I also had the pleasure of representing the Company at the SkillsShow with the Chairman of the Craft Committee. This event, held annually at the NEC, Birmingham and particularly the SkillBuild competition, is truly inspirational and I would encourage all members. Again we were kindly hosted by the NFRC and TTA and I thank both organisations for the generosity.

The Lord Mayor’s address and reception at Mansion House detailed the plans for the mayoralty in the coming year including the new approach to the Lord Mayor’s Charity Appeal which is to be run over a three year cycle and will support three charities key to the Mayoral theme of ‘A Better City For All’. The Charities are Place2Be, OnSide Youth Zones and Samaritans.

December & January

The build up to the Festive Season saw a number of dinners and lunches including being entertained at Charlton Athletic by Hadlow College which has interests in a large number of educational institutions including the University of Greenwich, Hadlow College, Ashford College and South West Kent College to name but a few. The Hadlow Group provide a wide range of vocational training and it is hoped that we may be able to set up some training courses relevant to our three crafts and possibly extending these via the new Pan Livery Collaboration project, to other Livery Companies.

December’s highlight was the Company’s Annual Carol Service at St. Margaret’s Lothbury and I am most grateful to the Company Chaplain the Reverend John Cook for stepping in at the last moment to preside. The service as ever, was wonderful and a suitably evocative start to the Christmas period and special thanks are due to Freeman Richard Townend and the Lothbury Singers. Afterwards we enjoyed good fellowship as ever at the City University Club but sadly we will need to seek a new venue for next year as the Club are moving to new premises at Fenchurch Street which will be too distant for our purposes.

Sadly the Carol Service was preceded by news of the sudden death of our beloved Almoner Sarah Stroud and it was good to see so many members of the Company at the Funeral Service in Holy Trinity Church, Claygate - a church that Sarah and her husband Andrew, late Court Assistant and Chairman of the Craft Committee, did so much to help renovate and support. The service was very moving and a fitting memorial to Sarah who will be much missed.

After the Carol Service Catherine and I took the opportunity to re-charge our batteries in the Far East mindful that this would be one of the few quiet periods in which we could get away. Returning refreshed from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand (where, in each case, the internet was better than in Suffolk!) we were again back into the fray with Catherine’s Livery Company, the Framework Knitters’ Winter Dinner at Painter and Stainers’ Hall. Whilst away I was delighted to see that Andrew Parmley’s excellent Mayoralty was recognised with the award of a Knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List and a similar honour extended to Lindsay Hoyle. Congratulations Sirs!

February

February is a surprisingly busy month beginning with the Nominations Committee meeting at which a new Almoner was identified immediately followed by Finance and Communications Committee meetings and Common Hall. It was a little disappointing that more Liverymen did not take the opportunity to attend Common Hall which is the one opportunity in the year to ask direct and if required difficult, questions of the Master, Wardens and Court. The event was followed by a truly excellent meal served with extremely fine wines with excellent fellowship – an appropriate reward for those who braved the elements.

The elements were firmly in evidence at the next event as the ‘Beast from the East’ reduced the Inter-Livery Pancake Races to a static display of tossing skills. The somewhat arbitrary approach to the judging resulted in a surprise win for the Poulters who are of course the organising Company. My thanks to Team T&B (Clare Banks, James Parris and James Hockley) and all the supporters for braving the cold and ice and hopefully next year there will be a true race when we can again show our athletic prowess. Do please come along and support this event which is great fun and is an important fundraiser. There is always the delight of watching tourists shaking their heads at the eccentricity of the English! Thanks also to Liveryman Michael Ash for his generous sponsorship of the event.

The month concluded with various lunches, lectures and receptions, and most notably, the Vintners Dinner an event memorable not just for the very fine wines but also for the Vintners’ Company song which is sung with much gusto as part of the speeches and the other musical entertainment provided by Escala, finalists in Britain’s Got Talent in 2008!

One of the pleasures of being Master is to visit inspirational Charities and Institutions and Catherine and I were mightily impressed by the work undertaken by the St. Edmunds Charity when we visited them in Norwich. The Charity provides vocational training, education and support for excluded school children and further vocational training for elder students who are otherwise unable to access this. It is a sad reflection of how poorly vocational training is viewed in this country that only those who might be dubbed ‘problem’ students receive this yet the vocational training allied with the support and education they receive means that some 80% of St. Edmunds’ students outperform their peers at GCSE maths and English. Hopefully the new technical qualifications will enable at least T1 and T2 to be delivered as part of the core curriculum.

Another pleasure of being Master is to attend the Freedom of the City of London Ceremonies for our Livery Freemen. This important and historic ceremony fascinating and a special experience for those receiving the Freedom and I’m delighted to say I’ve attended three such ceremonies already and with a growing membership hope to be attending several more.

March promises to be a busy month with highlights including our Annual Craft Awards at Trinity House on the 5th and the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House Dinner on the 15th.

The Summer months have been somewhat quieter as the City prepares for its August ‘shut down’, but there were still a number of very interesting events that we were able to attend.

We drove back from France following the Livery trip a day early, so that we could attend a memorial service for Bomber Command in Green Park. This was followed by a buffet lunch at the RAF club. The memorial in Green Park depicts a Lancaster Bomber crew, which has special memories for the Mistress as her father was a bomb-aimer in a Lancaster crew. He was able to visit the memorial just prior to his passing at the age of 91.

The following day was the Election of Sheriffs at Guildhall, which is a very formal occasion, as you would expect. It is one of the occasions where wearing morning dress feels right.

Later in the week, I was able to attend the T&B Charitable Trust trustees meeting, after which I had a very pleasant lunch with Past Master Nicholas Ward. Nicholas has always been a great supporter of the Company and was instrumental in re-structuring the Company’s finances some years ago. After lunch, I endured a tortuous drive into deepest Kent, and arrived in the ‘nick of time’ to get changed to attend the Royal Engineers Corps guest night at their Chatham Barracks. The Officers of the Corps make their guests extremely welcome and allow guests the opportunity to sample their wonderful hospitality with full military tradition. Our relationship with the Corps is very strong, and long may it continue.

As a member of the City Livery club, I have joined their Golf Society, which provides the opportunity to play at some very nice courses in the London area, one of which is the New Zealand Club. Interestingly this is one of only two clubs in the UK that are not members of the English Golf Union, and therefore are able to establish their own rules of etiquette, which are not always in line with other clubs. When we played the course they were playing under winter rules in July!

The second Thursday in July was a day for T&B business. The day started with a Craft Trust trustees meeting, followed by Finance and Communications meetings. The session finished with the interview of a potential new member.

The next day was equally busy. Along with Past Master Ian Grimshaw Mitchell I attended the St Paul’s Cathedral School Speech day, which was a wonderful occasion. The young pupils were absolute stars as they were shepherded around to receive their prizes. The guest of honour was Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian and Gold Medalist. Ian and I had the opportunity to have a long chat with Katherine who was extremely interesting and an absolute delight. I took the opportunity to have lunch with James Talman – CEO of NFRC. NFRC are great supporters of our Company and it is important that we maintain the relationship. In the evening, I attended the Builders Merchants Company’s Summer Ball at Skinners Hall. This was a slightly less formal Livery event, which provided me with the opportunity to catch up with some good friends from the industry. I had not visited Skinners Hall before, and I was very impressed with its roof garden.

As a member of the City Livery Club, Hilary and I attended their Civic lunch at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor as principle guest.

Along with a number of other Masters, I attended the Imperial Society Knights Bachelor service in the crypt of St Paul’s, after which there was a buffet lunch at Apothecaries Hall. In the early evening, it was back to the Mansion House for the Lord Mayors annual lecture, given by Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Her speech gave an overview and appraisal of the terrorist threat after which she was good enough to have informal chats over coffee.

The last event of the month was the Charter Day celebration in Bath, which was attended by 26 Liverymen and guests. A ‘welcome’ coffee was followed by a very interesting guided tour of the Roman Baths, and then a delightful lunch in the Georgian Pump Rooms. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

I have just started to send out Company invitations for the next Installation, which comes as a shock! It only seems ‘five minutes’ ago since my installation and here we are with the year coming quickly to a close. The last formal event of my year is the September dinner at Vintners Hall, which is sold out. I am grateful to everyone for their support.