Master’s Activity Report. March/April 2024

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Month five of my year as your Master finished on March 15th, the Ides of March and my 68th birthday. Just like the end of my fourth month It proved to be an extremely busy time, of which more below!

Back to the beginning, the month started on Valentine’s Day, the day after the Shrove Tuesday pancake competition (see my last report). I was due to join a group of Fuellers at a lunch addressed by Paul Greenwood of Esso UK but sadly I found myself instead at home nursing a cold.  This kept me out of action until the weekend, although I did attend two meetings virtually and caught up with the continuing progress by our Membership and Communications sub-committees on membership applications, the Company website and e-mail.

My next public appearance was on February 20th when Chloe Andrews-Jones, the Chair of the Trustees of the Fuellers Charitable Trust Fund (the ’FCTF’), and I attended the official launch of the Veterans’ Garden for this year’s Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch in the Guildhall Yard.    The Duke of Kent was the guest of honour and the launch was a preliminary to the Big Curry Lunch and the many associated events which raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund.  The Big Curry Lunch has certainly mushroomed and is now an increasingly significant annual fund raiser for a very important cause.   I attended the first ever Big Curry Lunch, in 2008, with two of my clients as my guests both of whom are now Past Masters of the Company: recruitment brings many rewards! After the launch, Chloe and I took the opportunity over lunch to catch up with developments and plans for the FCTF the relationships we maintain with many of the charities both our entities support.
The next week was mainly logistics and administration. First I met with our Chaplin, Revd Nick Mottershead, and his operations manager to agree the final details for the Fueller Volunteers Day at the Holy Sepulchre, where he is the Priest-in-charge, the following month.  Next I met the Master of the Worshipful Company of Carmen to plan the programme for Wordmongers dinner at Mansion House on April 22nd; then two meetings on the arrangements for the Master’s Weekend, including the dinner at our house on the Saturday,  May 18th.  

Finally I had a meeting at Imperial to run through the planning and inspect the venue for the Ezra lecture, which is reported on below. The Volunteer Day is also now over and will feature in my next report but I hope very much you can attend either or both of the Woodmongers dinner and the Master’s Weekend and look forward to seeing you. The Egyptian Room at Mansion House holds up to 350  (see above) and, while our capacity at Elmbrook is a little smaller, there is still plenty of room!  

On February 29th Margaret and I attended the Tacitus Lecture organised by the World Traders Company at the Guildhall. We joined a large audience including other Masters, Government officials, senior business leaders and members of many organisations and institutions to hear Lord Browne of Madingley speak on ‘Optimism and Change: Sexuality, Climate & Engineering’. He described the roles of engineering in combating the climate crisis and stressed the importance of inclusion in a speech that was underpinned by optimism – and very well received. We enjoyed meeting several friends and new acquaintances at the reception afterwards.For my first event as Master in March I joined several Fuellers and others on the HMS Sultan annual Affiliates Day in Gosport.  HMS Sultan is the home to the Defence School of Marine Engineering and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School.  Responsibilities include training the Fleet's engineering Officers and Ratings and the base is located within what was once a fort built to defend against a Napoleonic invasion.  Very little except the boundaries has remained unchanged! The theme of our visit was the holistic elements of training that support the core Engineering training and I enjoyed my first virtual flying lesson:  take-off was straightforward but landing  less so…. The day also included a trip on HMS Sultan’s 1920’s Steam Truck, which the FCTF helps to fund.  We also enjoyed a more than adequate refuelling at lunch in the Officers’ Mess.

We are long term supporters of HMS Sultan and I could not help remembering, as I drove home to Buckinghamshire, my first visit with four of our children, then all under nine: our fifth and youngest, now 26, had only just been born. We were royally entertained - on both occasions. The site of that first visit is, however, now a housing estate!
My next appearance as Master was on March 13th at the Canadian High Commission for a breakfast meeting sponsored by Export Development Canada. This was an opportunity for a visiting party organised by the Alberta Department of Energy to meet some Fuellers active in the UK energy sector: my role was accordingly limited to welcoming the guests and thanking the sponsors, though the discussions improved my knowledge, not least of the Canadian energy industry plans for net zero. This was the first in what I hope will be an exciting new programme of engagement with the energy industry outside the UK, more details to follow.
The quarterly General Purposes Committee meeting followed later in the day and was  held at Imperial College so we could be in place for the start of Ezra Lecture that evening. The Lecture was the first event in our new joint venture with the College’s Energy Futures Laboratory. The evening proved to be a considerable success.  The Lord Mayor gave the lecture and described the potential role of hydrogen in the move to net zero and some of the hurdles that have been cleared and others that remain. He was followed by questions from the over 300 attendees addressed to a panel of experts, that included Jon Clark, our Industry Group Chair, and was moderated by Dr Carole Nakhle, whom I have since welcomed as a new member of our Company. The evening finished with a reception, generously sponsored by Cadent Gas. A feature of the evening was the number of guests who thanked me for such an interesting evening and we have received many subsequent positive comments and enthusiastic appreciation for the event. 
The next evening, March 14th, Margaret and I were the guests of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress at a banquet in the Mansion House. This was a splendid occasion with 350 guests, looking splendid in formal white tie dress and filling the Egyptian Room for a very  sociable evening. Three very short speeches did little to interrupt a very garrulous, if entertaining, crowd. Margaret and I were lucky enough to be seated among a combination of old friends and new acquaintances and this  certainly contributed to a memorable evening!

The next morning began with (a totally unnecessary but tempting)  breakfast (to which I succumbed) generously provided  at Plaisterers Hall.  Alex and I then met the Senior Warden outside St Paul’s Cathedral before Elena and I enrobed and we moved to our designated seats for the annual United Guilds Service, which marks and gives thanks for the work of the Livery Companies.  The service was first held on March 25, 1943 with a view to lifting morale as London recovered from the blitz. The sermon this year, by the Lord Bishop of Southwark, finished on a note very much still in people’s minds, the terrorist atrocity in Westminster in March 2017. 

Lunch followed and we joined the dozen Fuellers and guests who attended the service in Pewterers Hall.  The current Master Pewterer is a retired Old Bailey judge and I have been lucky enough to her speak on several occasions. She did not disappoint with another witty and amusing speech.  Then a pause and a change of clothes before family dinner to celebrate my birthday - and escape to the country on the Saturday morning for a rest….
As I write we have just enjoyed Easter and are starting what seems likely to be another busy month. Dates for your diary include the Election Court meeting followed by the Woodmongers dinner on April 22nd;  the visit to USAF Mildenhall on May 1st (already fully subscribed); my Master’s Weekend on May 17th/19th (please let us know if you are planning to join us – all welcome); our annual Thanksgiving Service followed by our Affiliates’ prize-giving and lunch at Trinity House on June 3rd; a tour of the Hattingley Valley winery near Basingstoke on June 19th; the tour of Hinkley Point on July 8th; and a visit to the Greatmoor ‘Energy from Waste ‘plant near Aylesbury on July 16th. Details of all events are  circulated by the Clerk in advance but please save the dates - and I hope very much to be seeing each of you at as many of these events as you can manage!


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


 Alex Maclean Bather
Worshipful Company of Fuellers

M: 07521-992 653

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