The 9th February 2017 was an extremely busy day with three meetings and a dinner all held in Bakers Hall.

The day started with a Communications Committee meeting, chaired by Michel Saminaden. The key discussions at the meeting concerned the Company website which has been experiencing a number of problems. Thankfully these have now been resolved.

Immediately after this meeting, we moved into the Finance Committee meeting, chaired by Simon Martin. The agenda was full and Simon was able to report that the finances are in good shape and on budget, with a strong cash position. Investments had also improved significantly over the last few months.

Common Hall in the evening was attended by just over 50 Liverymen. This is an important meeting in the Company year as it gives Liverymen the opportunity to ask questions of the Master and Wardens. As a first this year, Lesley Day launched the Charity of the Year initiative, and those present were able to vote for a charity from a list of three. The charity selected was ‘The Clink Charity’ which is involved in the rehabilitation of prisoners. At the dinner following Common Hall I gave an overview of my year so far, after which there was lively discussion in a warm and friendly atmosphere as Liverymen were able to chat amongst themselves in an informal manner without the pressures of hosting guests.

The following week started with attendance at an awards ceremony in Merchant Taylors Hall for winners under the Masters Certificate Scheme. The awards were presented by the Lord Mayor.

Accompanied by Liverymen David White and Steve Trott, I visited H G Matthews brickworks to discuss arrangements for a future visit by the Company. Liverymen will be able to witness a traditional brickmaking operation that produces a high quality product.

I travelled to Southwold in Suffolk with Liveryman Barry Blumsom to attend the memorial service for Past Master Hugh Fuller. The church in Southwold is a magnificent building and we were made to feel very welcome by the Fuller family, including Hugh’s wife Anne, Past Masters William, David and Peter Fuller (Father of the Company), along with Upper Warden Jeff Fuller.

Hilary and I undertook another organisational meeting the following day by visiting the Pump Rooms and Roman Baths in Bath. This will be the venue for the Charter Day Event on Sunday 30th July 2017.

The Master chairs the Nominations Committee that, amongst other things, recommends appointments to the Court and proposes a candidate for Renter Warden in Nomination. The members of the Nominations Committee are the Master, Wardens and two Past Masters.

Rochester Cathedral held a fundraising reception at Mercers Hall, which was attended by their Patron, the Countess of Wessex. A junior school choir gave a lovely performance in what must have been quite daunting circumstances for them.

Prior to attending the Craft Committee meeting, I visited the Chamberlains Court at Guildhall to support Michael Simpson as he received the Freedom of the City.

At the Craft Committee we discussed three main issues: the Lincoln Cathedral exhibition, the Craft Awards and the Triennial Awards. This committee is chaired by the Upper Warden, Jeff Fuller, and has responsibility for organising all of the Company’s links with our three Crafts.

Tuesday 28th February 2017 was Pancake Day, another big event in the Livery diary. The T&Bs always enter a team and have a good record of success. Unfortunately our lady competitor, Clare Banks, had to pull out at the last minute due to illness, but fortunately the Mistress agreed to take her place. The Master and the Mistress gave a good account of themselves in their races but the stars of the team, yet again, were James Parris and James Hockley. Both of them won their heats and went on to be first and second in the Grand Final, which meant that the T&Bs were the top team!

At the start of the following week, I chaired the Court meeting at Trinity House, which was followed by the Craft Awards. Whilst many of our events are special, the Craft Awards get to the very hub of what the Company was originally formed to do. It is always a great pleasure to witness so many fine young craftsmen being rewarded for their good works. A long-term friend from business, John White, was our guest speaker. John was CEO and then Chairman of Persimmon Homes, and is now Chairman of McCarthy and Stone. John is a bricklayer by training and was able to relate directly with the young trainees. We finished the day by visiting an art exhibition organized by the Painter-Stainers Company at the Mall Galleries.

The remainder of the week was relatively quiet, but was followed by another busy week. I arranged for a party of 8 T&Bs to attend a play performed in Court No.1 at The Old Bailey, with all of the participants being judges and support staff. The play was entitled ‘Forever Trial and Error’ and gave a very amusing account of past trials and famous barristers.

The following afternoon we were treated to a guided tour of the Museum of London. This is a wonderful museum that is packed with artefacts from throughout the centuries. A very pleasant ‘white tie’ dinner at Carpenters Hall, as guests to the Carpenters Company, completed the day.

We checked out Haberdashers Hall for the Annual Dinner before I travelled to north London to attend the Cadets Awards ceremony.

I started the next week with another ‘white tie’ dinner at the Mansion House as a guest of the Plumbers Company. A very grand occasion! I was very fortunate to be seated next to Sir John Armitt. Sir John has held a number of very senior positions in construction, as well as being Chairman of Network Rail, and Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority. A very genuine and interesting man.

The Carmens Company celebrated their 500th anniversary with a service at St. Pauls Cathedral followed by a reception at Stationers Hall. This was a very joyous occasion and was well supported by the Livery.

Another busy week! A visit with Hilary and Ian Mitchell Grimshaw to Chelsea Physic Garden. This will be the venue for the Ladies day in June. Court Assistant John Schofield and his wife Helen kindly invited us along with Deputy Master Tom Rider and his wife Caroline to dinner at The Reform Club where John is currently Chairman. We all enjoyed a super dinner followed by a guided tour of a fascinating building.

We were looking forward to attending the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House dinner for the Livery Companies Masters and it didn’t disappoint. A superb occasion where everyone is made to feel very special!

We started the following day with breakfast at Goldsmiths Hall and then attended the United Guilds Service at St. Pauls Cathedral. A group of T&Bs then walked to Carpenters Hall to join a number of other Livery Companys for a delightful lunch. The Master Carpenter kindly asked me to say a few words on behalf of the guests. Immediately after lunch the week finished with an interview with a prospective new member of the Company.

And there we have it! Within the ‘blink of an eye’ I am half way through my Masters year, and enjoying it immensely!