Master’s Activity Report for November 2023

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My first month as your Master ended with Elena, my Senior Warden,  and I in the Lord Mayor’s Parade on November 11th. We processed with officers of the 40 other ‘modern’ (i.e. granted livery since 1900) companies and guilds from London Wall, past Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice, where the new Lord Mayor paid his royal tribute (first required by King John).  We then returned via the embankment and a stop for a picnic on HMS Wellington berthed on the Thames.  Many thanks to Dave, our Military Affiliates Liaison, who preceded us with the Company banner.  This marked the 20th Lord Mayor’s Parade for which Dave has undertaken the task!  Fortunately, the weather was sunny and we were delighted to see and to wave at several Fuellers on the route, including Past Masters Shravan Joshi, Doug Barrow and Peter and Jan Harrison and my Junior Warden Ash.  

To return to the beginning, this is the first of my monthly reports on my activities as your Master.   I was installed on October 11th at our Court Meeting shortly before the Installation Court dinner in the historic Stationer’s Hall.  Over 120 members and guests, including five Masters and one Master-Elect, enjoyed drinks and a splendid dinner after which the Senior Warden introduced and then toasted the Company guests. Our Guest speaker, Dr Frederick Lough, entertained us with observations from of his eventful 50 plus years as a heart surgeon, in 30 of which he was serving in the US Medical Corps.  This included two tours in Afghanistan and an award for meritorious conduct under attack. He then provided an insight into the challenges he faces in his new role as the Director of the U.S. Department of Defence Medical Ethics Center in Washington DC before finishing by making the traditional toast, may the Company ‘flourish forever’. I replied on your behalf, with my speech including details of my theme for the year: ‘onward and upward’, of which more below.

My first invitation as your Master was a few days later courtesy Commodore Bill Walworth, our clerk for many years and now a Deputy Master at Trinity House. I found myself on the top table between a Vice Admiral and the Commodore, both enjoying very active retirements, for a lunch in honour of the Lord Mayor.  We had a very interesting conversation, which increased by many multiples my knowledge of maritime affairs!  Trinity House is the venue for our annual Military Affiliates awards ceremony and lunch and has always been one of my favourite City venues - and the lunch only strengthened my opinion. I am delighted to report that Bill has accepted my invitation to be the guest speaker at the New Year Court dinner in January.

Some 48 hours later Margaret and I were guests of the Worshipful Company of Carmen for its Installation and Rededication service at St Lawrence Jewry, followed by lunch at Drapers’ Hall to celebrate the installation of new Master, David Pugsley, and his consort, Sarah Sturrock.  On the walk back from the service we enjoyed chatting to Elisabeth Mainelli, the then Lady Mayoress elect. At lunch we were honoured to join David and Sarah on the top table along with Alderman and Lord Mayor Elect Michael Mainelli, his wife Elisabeth, the Policy Chairman for the City and other senior members of the Carmen Company.  We had previously dined with David and Sarah as part of the planning for the Woodmongers dinner, details below.  At the end of lunch Michael gave a lively and enjoyable speech – which was encouraging as he is giving our Ezra lecture next March!
Next, on to Company affairs and a meeting of the Communications Group.  The agenda included publicity for the Duke of Edinburgh Energy Conference on November 29th and very positive news of the Company’s increasing social media presence.  The Group is keen to attract new members and I strongly encourage any member who is interested in communications and publicity to get in touch with Michael Green, the Chairman, on  

A Fuellers Advantages meeting followed later in the day.  This was held at the National Liberal Club and was a joint meeting with the Club’s Science Circle. Margaret and I joined a party of 30 Fuellers and guests for a lecture by Squadron Leader Greg Curtis, Chair of the Air Fuels & Sustainable Energy Association, on ‘The Energy Transition in the Defence Domain: Fast Follower to First Mover’. The evening was organised by our Industry Group and we were provided with an intriguing description of the contribution our armed forces are making to the transition to net zero, as well as the chance to meet and mingle afterwards over drinks.   The week ended with the monthly ‘catch up’ meeting for me and Wardens at which we discuss and review any outstanding issues and future events.  

The following Monday Alex, our Clerk, and I returned to Drapers’ Hall for a reception for the Livery Companies who donated to the Anointing Screen Project organised by the Weavers and Needlemakers Companies.  The reception featured a presentation by the craftsmen and others who were involved in the creation and deployment of the Screen behind which the King was anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, an important part of the Coronation service earlier in the year. The Screen was a gift by the City of London Corporation and City Livery companies. Our Company is one of the 88 livery companies who contributed.  Following the presentation we were able to examine the Screen and talk with other attendees over drinks.

I started November with an important lunch with Guy Sawyer, the Chair of the Membership Group.  Increasing the membership is vital for the future of the Company and we discussed various initiatives, including a new Aide Memoire that will serve as an introduction for new members.  This will provide a description of our history and activities, including details of the sub-committees and Groups which new members are encouraged to join as part of becoming an active member of the Fuellers. Some current members might benefit from reading the document, which will shortly be available from the Clerk.  The Groups always welcome new members, however long they may have been Fuellers!

On November 3rd, Margaret and I attended a dinner organised by the Chartered Accountants Company in their hall.  The speaker was the Lord Mayor elect in his final week before assuming office.  This was a large gathering of the 2023-24 cohort of Livery Masters, and we enjoyed sharing a table with a very welcoming group of new Masters and Consorts and a stirring speech about the Lord Mayor elect’s aims for the City in the next year given under the Chatham House Rule. 

An early departure on Monday November 6th was required so I could attend breakfast in the crypt of St Paul’s with Alex.  This was a prelude to the special Service of Remembrance that takes place in the church gardens outside the Cathedral to remember those who have lived and died in defence of justice and freedom in the service of humankind. At the end of the service the Lord Mayor, as one of his last Mayoral duties, places a wreath on behalf of the City of London and the Masters of each of the 141 Livery Companies then plants a cross in the ground to commemorate our lost comrades. It was a poignant and impressive service in glorious sunshine.  Alex and I then adjourned to Plasterers’ Hall for lunch amongst new and old livery acquaintances and friends.
After a short break Alex and I joined the congregation in St Stephen’s Walbrook for a Service of Thanksgiving for the Lord Mayor’s Year in Office, which was ending on the following Friday, November 10th.  This was followed by another reception for the livery representatives present – and after circulating among new and old faces I confess I retired to Buckinghamshire after a long and tiring , but rewarding, day!  

On the next day, November 7th, I attended a meeting of the Industry Group, which plays a vital role in fostering our relationships with and within the Energy Sector.  In the meeting, we discussed the various and exciting portfolio of projects for the coming year, including the DoE Conference, the Ezra lecture, the Advantages programme, and a selection of visits to nuclear, electricity and ‘Energy from Waste’ facilities.  The issue of new members was also on the agenda with discussion as to how we can increase recruiting within the Energy Sector. 

Turning to the coming year, my plan is to continue many of our traditional gatherings but with a few changes which I hope will encourage increased member involvement as well as help us attract new members. Charitable activities are a vital part of Livery Company affairs and we are planning a volunteer day for members to assist The Hygiene Bank, the national charity that seeks an end to hygiene poverty. Revd Nick Mottershead, our chaplain, is the coordinator for this charity in the Square Mile and priest-in-charge at the Holy Sepulchre London. The plan is for a meeting at the Holy Sepulchre in the spring at which volunteers will be asked to bring personal care and household cleaning essentials and then assist packing them for subsequent distribution to people in need in and around the City.  The day will then continue with a short service and an evening supper to complete what I hope will be a new and fun Fuellers day. 

Margaret and I will also be taking a week, probably in August, to walk Hadrian’s Wall, with Maia and Theia, our two black labradors, to raise funds for the Fuellers Charitable Trust and JDRF(UK), the type I diabetes charity with which I have been involved for nearly 40 years – beginning two years before my own diagnosis with the condition.  Details will  follow for both these events and donations will be very welcome!

Other future events include the Woodmongers dinner, a new joint venture with the Worshipful Company of Carmen. This is scheduled to follow our Election Court meeting at Mansion House on April 24th and marks our Companies increasing reconciliation and collaboration after a sometimes bitter dispute in the late 17th century…. an evening not to be missed!  I am also arranging a spring visit to an English sparkling wine vineyard in Hampshire and my Master’s weekend will take place on May 17th/19th in Buckinghamshire.  This will include supper on Friday evening and accommodation for the weekend in the market town of Wendover.  On Saturday will start the day with a visit to the River and Rowing Museum in Henley with this followed by lunch cruising up and down the Thames.  Margaret and I then look forward to welcoming you to our home near Wendover for Saturday night’s dinner.  On Sunday morning we will travel to Bletchley Park for a group visit and tour, which will include a buffet lunch.   Further details will follow in due course  

I am hoping to offer an exciting year of social, charitable and industry events for all our members, both old and new.  ‘Onward’ with many of our traditional events continuing – and ‘Upward’ with new and changed events all designed to improve the opportunities that Fuellers’ membership offers.