May 2024

The Big Curry Lunch post briefing at Mansion House

Tuesday 14 May

Following the very successful Big Curry Lunch last month, Under Warden Jonathan Pears and I were invited to Mansion house by the Lord Mayor to be told the final figures that were raised for the Army Benevolent Fund, The Royal Navy Charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund. Following an introduction by Michael Hockney, the event organiser, the Lord Mayor revealed that the grand total raised was £402,000 of which just over £2,000 was raised by the FWK stall. Again many congratulations to Jonathan and his team for all their hard work. PM Liz Green, Jonathan and I all purchased jars of Mr Todiwala’s Marsala sauce, could be curry on the menu for the next few weeks!

The Master

FWK Cottage Homes visit of Willie Hartley-Russell (Chairman of The Almshouse Association)

Thursday 9 May

Nettie and I first met Willie Hartley-Russell at an Almshouse seminar at Wyggeston Almshouses in Leicester in 2023. At the time I asked him if he would do us the honour of visiting our Almshouses and yesterday a small reception committee comprising Nettie and myself along with PM’s Jeremy Beachell and Tony Jarvis, Upper Warden and Chair of the Cottage Homes Committee Peter Corah, Steward Jill Journeaux, Liveryman Michael Griffiths and The Clerk, welcomed him to Oadby.

Nettie had arranged an agenda and after a cup of coffee Willie visited David and Elaine Evans in Cottage 4 and Hazel Littlewood in Cottage 15. There followed a tour of Corah Hall and our Archive/Library Room and then a detailed explanation of the work to be carried out on Cottages 20 and 21. It was a very useful meeting and we learnt a lot about the work of the Almshouse Association and the help that they can provide. My thanks go to Willie for taking time out of his busy schedule, it was much appreciated.

Chairman of The Almshouse Association visit Hazel!

Thursday 9 May

Willie Hartley-Russell meets 101 year old Hazel!

369th Festival Service at St Pauls

Tuesday 7 May

This service was formerly called The Sons of The Clergy. It originated in 1655, just two years before our Cromwellian charter was signed, when it was a method for the merchants of the City of London and the sons of the clergy to raise funds for the welfare of the Clergy, their children and widows.

The service has only been paused on two occasions in it’s history and that was in the 1941 Blitz and the 2020 pandemic. The Festival service is a key staple in both the history of the Cathedral and choral music tradition with composers such as Adward Elgar composing arrangements especially for the service.

As a Master it was a privilege to process into the Dome and then listen to three choirs, Durham Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral and St Pauls Cathedral particularly when they all performed the Elgar piece together. Quite stunning. During the service the sermon was given by The Most Revd Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales. 

I was fortunate enough to be the guest of Past Master Hon Liz Green at the buffet following the Festival Service at St Pauls. This was run by The Clergy Support Trust and over 300 diners were treated to a delicious buffet in the magnificent hall (London’s largest Livery Hall) and speeches from Senior Treasurer Richard Farmborough, Chief Executive The Rev Ben Cahill-Nicholls and The Right Rev Dr John Inge the Lord Bishop of Worcester.

A great way to finish off a splendid day.

Norwich University Textile Awards

Thursday 2 May

The FWK Education Committee have only recently started visiting Norwich University to assess students for Bursaries and Awards and I was lucky enough to be on the panel when we visited back in 2023. The three students that we interviewed all applied for and were granted Freedom of the Company at our recent Installation Court meeting. Kate Farley (course leader) and Caroline George (knit tutor) are doing a wonderful job with their students and kindly invited me to judge their annual Textile Industry Awards Event. 23 students had entered 8 judging categories that included colour, presentation and confidence. Judges were given just three minutes to “interview” each student. I was asked to judge the knit element for which just 8 students were eligible but I was asked to question all 23 students, giving valuable experience to them and me! The standard was exceptionally high and inspiration had been sought from nature, sustainability and even doors in Prague! With applications ranging from hiking, fidget aides, the human body and children’s play it was very difficult to choose a winner but after careful consideration my runner up was Lottie Green and the winner was Grace Lawrence. It was an honour to have been invited and I commend all of the students for their dedication skill and application. Knit at Norwich Uni will hopefully be on the FWK Bursary Awards itinerary as a permanent fixture.

April 2024

Brigantes Annual Golf Competition – Ganton Golf Club

Monday 22 April

The Brigantes is a club formed specifically for those London Livery members who live in the North and an annual golf competition is held on a rotating basis at Ganton, Royal Liverpool and Lindrick. Following successful wrist surgery 12 months ago to eliminate chronic arthritis I have been able to swing a golf club again and secure a handicap of 22. This allowed me to enter the Brigantes competition. The FWK were well represented by PM George Turner, PM Tony Jarvis and Mary, Liverymen Adrian Keene and Marion, Mike Piper and Janey and John Mawer.

Playing in teams of four, I was partnered with our team captain Dennis (PM Fueller), Richard (Launderer) and Roger (Chartered Accountant). The weather held off and despite a strong northerly wind we managed to all stay dry. The course was in magnificent condition. Ganton is an extremely tough course particularly for high handicappers but our team seemed to score well. Following a delicious and well deserved supper the prize giving was announced and the FWK cleaned up on most of the prizes. Liveryman John Mawer won the nearest the pin competition, Mary Jarvis won the ladies competition AND your Master won the main prize of the day with the Team competition which was presented by The Ganton Ladies Captain.

A great day out and thanks go to David Bentley (PM Baker) and his team for all their hard work. Roll on Royal Liverpool next year!

The Big Curry Lunch at Guildhall

Thursday 18 April

The annual Big Curry lunch is always a splendid occasion. Nettie and I arrived at Guildhall and were ushered into a champagne reception held by the Lord Mayor and his Sheriff’s.

Prior to Princess Annes arrival we went to find our stall manned as ever by Under Warden Jonathan and his sales team consisting of Upper Warden Peter Corah, TheClerk, PM Liz Green, Assistants Janie Martin, Susan Jagelman and steward Susan Shields. The stall was positioned in a prime spot to catch the diners as they left the Great Hall. This included Princess Anne who stopped at our stall where I presented her with a cashmere scarf provided by Jonhstons of Elgin and socks her and her husband provided by Corgi socks. Princess Anne was very well informed about our industry as she represents the UK Fashion and Textile industry with Chairman Nigel Lugg who was the speaker at my Installation dinner.

Finally Nettie and I could partake of an excellent curry in the magnificent Guildhall before setting off for home. It’s been a fabulous first week as Master.

My thank go to Jonathan and his team for all their hard work.

The Master

Installation dinner of The Worshipful Company of Upholders

Wednesday 17 April

An invitation from the newly elected Master Mr Rob Ward to attend his Installation Dinner at Apothecaries Hall. One of our favourite Halls, Nettie and I were entertained extremely well by the Upholders. The Upholders are craftsmen in Upholstery and also pull their membership from the Undertakers. The newly elected Under Warden Stephen Tanner proposed the toast to the guests and Ian Thomas CBE The Town Clerk & Chief Executive of the City of London Corporation responded on behalf of the guests. An excellent evening with superb food and wine as well as a loving Cup which the Upholders have continued throughout although the wine was replaced by chocolates until recently.

The Master

Lunch with the Lord Mayor

Monday 15 April

An invitation from the Lord Mayor to all Masters and Consorts to lunch at The Chartered Accountants Hall to be followed by a Q and A session for the Lord Mayor. Unfortunately, Nettie couldn't make it. A delicious lunch which was followed by the Master Chartered Accountant telling the assembled that the session would be held under "Chatham House Rules" which effectively means that I'm not allowed to tell you what was discussed !! What I can say is that The Lord Mayor bought us up to date with the first 6 months of his tenure and then went on to tell us what his plans were for the next 6 months.

All a bit silly really but thems the rules and definitely no photos, so sorry!


The Master

The Installation Dinner

12 April

I am so proud to have been installed as The Master, especially in the same Hall that I was admitted into the Livery 39 years ago by my own father when he was Master. I also had the honour of admitting my son, Max, as a freeman in the Court meeting earlier in the day, keeping up the family tradition. 

It was such a special evening with my mother, daughter, sister and brother in law flying in from Kenya and the rest of the family making their way down from the East Midlands.

Assistant Paul Bonnet introduced our guests and Nigel Lugg OBE was my principal speaker. Ironmongers Hall looked spectacular and the evening went very smoothly and thanks go to The Beadle and The Clerk.

I am looking forward to representing the Company at as many events as I can in the next year. I can’t believe how busy my diary is with three visits down to London next week already planned and I will try to keep this post up to date with diary entries and photos where I can.

The Master