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.