Masters’ Activity Report. December/January 2024

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My third month as Master included the Christmas and New Year holidays and as a result family events took precedence and City activity was light. My first engagement, on December 14th, was the annual meeting of our Charitable Trust Fund at Carmen Hall. Past Master Chloe Andrews Jones is the Chair of the Trustees and she has already circulated a very informative summary of the Fund’s donations and the various activities undertaken by Fuellers to support these causes, so suffice to say the Meeting was well attended and run very efficiently. We then adjourned for a Christmas lunch in a nearby restaurant where there were a number of other tables celebrating the season, some rather noisily, albeit this did little to spoil our fun!

The following week, on December 20th, I attended the Energy Industries Club Christmas lunch. There was a ‘Fuellers table’ with familiar faces and this added to our enjoyment. The speaker was Jon Butterworth, the CEO of National Gas, who gave we an interesting and informative update on recent progress in the gas sector and its contribution to the road to net zero. Christmas then started, for me, on that Friday, December 22nd, with a train trip from Princes Risborough to the North Pole (aka Chinnor) with my 15 month old grandson so he (and his father, my son Leonard) could meet Santa ….. although Michael was clearly more interested in the model train exhibition than the bearded man in the next room… it made for a fun afternoon – and his first gift of a model train flew back with him to Boston a (rather exhausting) week later.

Company business finally restarted on January 8th when I met with Nick Mottershead, our Chaplin and his colleague Sarah Finch, to agree the principal features for the inaugural Fuellers Charity Volunteer Event on March 20th. Details are in the ‘Save the Date’ notice already circulated and I very much hope as many of you who can will join us at The Holy Sepulchre in the City for what should be an enjoyable and worthwhile afternoon and evening. Even if work or other commitments prevent you joining us early in the afternoon, pleased do come along to the evensong and/or supper later!

On the next day, January 9th, I was a guest at a splendid dinner at Plaisterers’ Hall. This is the largest of the City Halls and the dinner very much an event that marks the beginning of the City year, with a very large attendance that included over 80 Masters. The atmosphere was reminiscent of a first day of the school term, albeit considerably enhanced by very generous food, wines, port and brandy as well as entertaining and amusing speeches. All in all a very jovial evening and an opportunity to renew old and forge new acquaintances.

January 10th combined Company business and pleasure. At 4pm the New Year Court Meeting started in the Aldermen’s dining room at the Guildhall Club. I was delayed due to travel and logistics problems but Ash, our Junior Warden , took the chair and held the fort until - and after- I arrived. The agenda included a review of the recent Duke of Edinburgh Future of Energy Conference and recent activities by the Groups, promotion of future events and plans to improve our e-mail communications and the updating and review of the website. After the meeting finished the room was rearranged for the New Year Court dinner, with all of us enjoying drinks in the bar downstairs in the interim. Some 25 of us then sat down to dinner with the guest speaker Commodore Bill Walworth, our ex-Clerk , who gave a very interesting speech about the role of Trinity House, of which he is now a Deputy Master, and the Royal Naval Reserve in maritime affairs. I also distributed a new plate, marking the 40th anniversary of the grant of our livery, to each Court Assistant and consort, with the plates intended to succeed the plates presented by Past Master Bainbridge in 2009 to mark the 25th anniversary.

The Industry Group met on the next afternoon, January 11th. I had hoped to sign in virtually but communications from the car driving back home from Hampshire were too unstable. The agenda include confirming a trip to the ‘Energy from Waste’ site near to our house in Buckinghamshire. This will add to a number of exciting industry visits, starting with the Verizon visit on January 31, scheduled for the year with details to be circulated in due course.

The (very busy) week and my third month concluded, on Friday January 12th, when Margaret, Alex and I attended the annual City New Year Service at St Michael’s Cornhill. The service is the prime fixture for senior figures in civic and business spheres to meet, to renew institutional links and to welcome the challenges and events of the coming year. The Lord Mayor of London and the Governor of the Bank of England each read a Lesson and retired High Court Judge, Sir Jeremy Cooke, gave a thought provoking sermon on the meaning and importance of free will. We and the rest of the congregation then adjourned to the Drapers’ Hall for a buffet lunch, which was generously provided by the Drapers’ Company.