Master’s Activity Report Nov/Dec 2024

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After the relative pandemonium of the Lord Mayor’s Parade on the Saturday, the second month as your Master started the next day, November 13th, with a Service of Remembrance with the Commemoration of the Fallen at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The Clerk and I joined  the many other Masters and Clerks,  including  a number of increasingly  familiar faces, as we prepared to robe up before entering the Cathedral. The service was traditional, sombre and inspiring with the new Dean giving a solemn address honouring all those fallen in conflicts before a congregation that included the Lord Mayor and many representatives of military and veteran bodies in and around the City.  The service ended as the bells struck 11 and the beginning of the two minutes silence, after which I joined the eighty five Masters and Clerks as we processed to the Royal Exchange where we took our places for a wreath laying ceremony, which included a wreath placed on behalf of all the livery companies.  So ended a day for reflection at which it was a privilege to be your representative.
The following Thursday, November 17th, Margaret and I attended the annual Ralph Anderson Lecture, organised  by the Horners’ company at the Royal Society of Medicine.  This gave us a chance to inspect the venue for our forthcoming Energy Conference where we heard an interesting talk about developments in equine research by the Master Farrier. We were also able to sample the catering at a most enjoyable buffet afterwards, where we met up with, amongst others, Past Master Macdonald.
Next came Company administration, an important parts of my role, if not the most glamorous, with  virtual meetings with the Hon. Treasurer and the Wardens on financial matters, including expenses against budget to date and budgeting for the next two years.  An important parts of my role, if not the most glamorous. The primary message of these meetings  was the importance of new members – so please may I encourage you all to see if you can persuade your friends and contacts to join us! 

The following Wednesday, November 22nd, Margaret, Alex and I attended The Festival of St. Cecilia in Westminster Cathedral. This is the flagship event in the Help Musicians’ Charity, which our Charitable Fund supports.  The Festival alternates between Westminster Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. The Masters of the supporting livery companies attend in full robe and badge dress and join the procession before and after the service.  For the service itself the choirs from the three venues perform together in a programme of music that included, on this occasion, a specially commissioned anthem and speeches from the Charity’s  ambassadors and music from artists who have benefitted from the Charity’s support.  All in all it was a very special occasion.

Afterwards the three of us were joined by Past Master Lewis and Court Assistant Michael Green for lunch at the Cinnamon Club, a short distance from the Cathedral.  Sadly the Clerk and I had to leave early to attend   the Mansion House at 2.30pm for address to all the livery companies by the new Lord Mayor at which he set out his expectations and plans for us all in his year of office.  We then joined him and many others in a celebratory and jovial reception.
November 29th was the highlight of the year so far: The Duke of Edinburgh Biannual Conference on the Future of Energy, organised by your company, in particular (but not only) the Industry Group. I was , as your Master, delighted to be the official host.  The conference is described at length elsewhere but suffice to say that Margaret and I both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and learnt much about the issues facing the energy field over the next few years, the many potential avenues which are seeking to address them and the many political ‘difficulties’ facing those who favour an universal common approach. I had been lucky enough to persuade Lucian Pugliaresi , our first speaker at the Conference who was visiting from Washington DC, to speak in London at a dining club which I chair earlier in the week. I therefore had no doubt that his lecture would be an excellent and challenging opening, which also set a very high standard for those who followed him.  The high standard,  I am delighted to report, was maintained for the rest of the day. It was also an honour to host His Royal Highness and our Past Royal Master, the Duke of Edinburgh.  He continues to be very interested in the Energy sector, as his questions to the speakers made very clear. I also presided over the lunch for him, the main speakers and organisers, after which he was kind enough to meet and talk with a number of students who are at schools supported by our Charitable Fund,  or at university with awards provided by the Fund and attended the Conference as our guests. I think my main takeaway from this very successful conference is that, while there is considerable progress on a number of fronts, there is no easy solution and many of the areas under investigation are likely to have a role even though quite which remains to be clarified. Furthermore very few, if any, of the underdeveloped nations see reducing the potential for economic growth as part of a solution for them.
The next evening saw the end of the month and our monthly Officers’ catch up call, most of which was a post mortem on the conference - and another enjoyable couple of hours! December opened with a meeting of the General Purposes  Committee on December 4th at Carmen Hall, which approved, amongst other documents, the new Strategy for the Company (now in the Governance section of the website) and the new Aide Memoire that now acts as a detailed introduction to the Company prepared by the Membership Group for new members (copies are available for al members from the Clerk).

The GPC meeting was followed that evening by our annual Carol Service,  on the following Monday, December 4th, at St Vedast -alias -Foster church on Foster Lane, where we join forces with the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. Each Company provides three lesson readers from amongst their officers, with Immediate Past Master Peter Harrison substituting for Junior Warden Ash Shastri, who was abroad.  A very good attendance was reflected in a congregation singing loudly, if not universally in harmony, but the small but high quality choir more than made up for the rest of us.  The Fuellers then retired to the Butcher's Hook and Cleaver,  a hostelry which is close to Smithfield where we had reserved the mezzanine. Some 40 of us enjoyed a lively and noisy supper with a traditional Christmas menu.   Everyone seemed to enjoyed themselves celebrating the beginning of the Christmas season.
On the following Wednesday, December 6th, followed Monday, Alex and I as guests of HMS President, a ‘stone frigate’, or shore establishment of the Royal Naval Reserve, based on the river Thames near Tower bridge. We were invited to witness the ‘Sunset’ ceremony, which sees the lowering of the Flag on all Naval vessels.  In our case the ceremony included a Royal Marines band who also provided an initial display and subsequent back . The hospitality was generous with plentiful food and drink – with the formal lowering of the flag at exactly the right moment for me to catch , just, my train back to Buckinghamshire.
So ended my second month as your Master, though the following evening, December 7th, Margaret and I received the joyous news that our first granddaughter, Amelia, had been borne in Cardiff.  We were absolutely delighted and drove down to Penarth and see her (and her parents) for the beginning of her first full week. There could be no better start to the Christmas break and I only hope that you all were able to enjoy a happy and enjoyable Christmas and New Year and that we see you all often in the new Year- it will never be too often!

Please also remember to save the dates for our upcoming events in your diaries. These include:
-    The Ezra Lecture by the lord Mayor at Imperial College on March 13th
-    The inaugural Fuellers Charity Volunteers Event at the Holy Sepulchre in London on March 20th
-    The inaugural Wordmongers’ Dinner at the Mansion House on April 24th
-    The Master’s Weekend on May 17th through 19th in Buckinghamshire, which includes Friday night supper in a local pub (which will provide accommodation), a day on the Thames followed by dinner at our house in Marsh on the Saturday and a visit to Bletchley Park on the Sunday.
Full details of these and all other Company events, including booking, will be circulated by the Clerk well in advance and included on the Company website.

Dates of future Company and City events are available by clicking here and also on the Events Diary.