June 2024

Karl Whatsize – Retirement

Friday 28 June

Karl started at the Cottage Homes in November 2009 as understudy to Roger Marshall and since he was officially made a permanent member of staff in May 2010 he has been our Gardener/Mower/Painter/Decorator/Builder/Handyman/Refurbisher/Consellor. In fact we haven’t actually found anything yet that Karl hasn’t been able to turn his hand to.

Over the last 14 years Karl has been a constant here at The Homes not only as an invaluable asset, mending, cleaning, patching, building, restoring but also as a friendly ear to all of the residents that have needed someone to help or simply someone to talk to.

Karl has decided to call it a day as he has reached State Pension age and we celebrated with a lunch in Corah Hall with a good number of residents as well as members of The Management Committee and a number of Past Masters.

We wish Karl and Elaine all the very best as they drive off into the sunset in their beloved Campervan.

Common Hall – Election of The Sheriffs

Monday 24 June

Liverymen and women gather annually at Common Hall in Guildhall to elect the Sheriffs of the City of London. As a Master it was a privilege to progress into Guildhall in our robes and jewels. This year it was reasonably straightforward as there were only two candidates standing for the two positions available. Traditionally one candidate comes from the ranks of the Aldermen, this year this was Gregory Jones KC and the other is a non Aldermanic candidate, this was David Chalk a Past Master Draper.

The most exciting part of the day was the contested vote for the position of Bridgemasters, a position dating back to 1200. The current incumbents (Messrs Bennet and Howard) who have been in the position for the last 15 years were ousted and new blood was installed in the form of Mr Shilson and Mrs Threader.

Finally we voted to re-install the four Ale Conners, another ancient position, who are responsible for the quality of the beer within the square mile, a position I quite fancy once I’ve retired!!

Livery Masters weekend – London

Friday 21 to Sunday 23 June

Historically the Livery Masters weekend has always taken place in Ironbridge, however since Covid this has been moved around the country. Lord Mayor, Mchael Mainelli, was keen that we should remain in London this year. Nettie and I were lucky enough o be allocated accommodation in Mercers Hall and the weekend started off on the Friday evening with a BBQ at Haberdashers Hall where we were entertained by an impromptu sing along. On Saturday we were all given various activities, we started with a visit to The London Metropolitan Archives which was fascinating and needed a lot longer than the 60 minutes we were allocated. Everyone then met for lunch at the Tower of London in a private dining room where we were entertained by the Director of The Tower, Richard Jackson. After lunch it was a guided tour of Mansion House and a visit to the famous Plate Room followed by an exhibition of silver in Goldsmiths Hall comprising the Formula One trophies made by silversmith Richard Fox. The day was topped off with a black tie Gala Dinner in the Library of Guildhall. On the Sunday morning we met to discuss our Masters year group and to elect a Chairman. This was followed by a wonderful Choral Matins at The Guild Church of St Lawrence Jewry in Guildhall.

A wonderful weekend and thanks go to all those who organised it.

Brigantes Breakfast – Liverpool

Thursday 20 June

The Brigantes were formed in 2014 to enable Liverymen of the City of London to meet regularly in the North of England. This years “Breakfast” was held in the magnificent St Georges Hall in Liverpool where over 250 attended. The FWK were well represented as usual. We were firstly entertained to a fascinating talk on the History of The Cunard Line followed by a wonderful meal in the Great Hall. The entertainment was provided by an ensemble singing a medley of Liverpool’s famous songs followed by speeches by The Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Sheriff Bronek Masojada, Past lord Mayor David Wootton and HH Wendy Joseph KC. The splendid organ was played by Past Lord Mayor Sir Andrew Parmley. It was a wonderful day out ad is highly recommended to any Liveryman whether from north of the border or not!

Inter Livery Croquet Tournament – Worthing

Saturday 15 June

On the recommendation of PM Julian Ellis, Nettie and I set off for Worthing on Friday to make sure we were down on the South coast in time for a 9.00am start on Saturday. We awoke to driving rain, thick sea mist and mid winter temperatures but the organisers were adamant that play would go on. Sure enough by about 11.00am the skies cleared (enough to see) and we were involved in our first ever game of croquet at Sussex County Croquet Club, one of only two clubs in the country with 11 lawns. The competition was split between the “professionals” which consisted of 16 Livery teams playing for the Glovers Cup and us “amateurs and beginners” a further 20 Livery teams, playing for the inter Livery Cup. Nettie and I peaked in our first game which we managed to win and then subsequently lost our remaining 4 games. The Glovers managed to clean up on both trophies which Master Clive Grimley was delighted about as his company had arranged the whole day. Thanks go to the WC Glovers and all the volunteers who showed us the rules, made the tea and coffee and supplied the delicious lunch. We’ll be back.

WC Drapers – Masters and Clerks lunch at Drapers Hall

Thursday 13 June

Russ and I were delighted to accept the invitation to Masters and Clerks for the annual lunch held by the WC of Drapers at Drapers Hall. The weather was fine enough to have the welcoming drinks in the garden before we moved into the magnificent Hall where The Master Draper, Tom Harris, welcomed the 50 Masters attending with their Clerks. The food was absolutely delicious, accompanied by some very special wines and the company was stimulating. It’s so good to get a different perspective on other Livery companies and how they operate. It’s often said that there are 111 different ways! Our thanks go to all the staff at Drapers Hall for a most enjoyable occasion.

WC Horners Golf Day – Ashridge Golf Club

Wednesday 12 June

We have entered a team into The Horners Golf Day since it started back in 2009. It’s played annually at Ashridge which is one of the prettiest golf courses on the circuit, originally designed by Henry Cotton. The day started cool but it soon warmed up and it was lovely to be able to play again, also it was a first outing for our new Livery Polo shirts. Our team of PM’s George Turner and Liz Green along with Ian Smart (husband of Freeman Genevieve Sweeney) played well and had a thoroughly enjoyable round followed by the traditional excellent lunch. However we didn’t quite score well enough as The Actuaries scooped top prize with Tallow Chandlers in second place.

Our thanks go to The Horners for another wonderful day, we’ll be back next year.

Lord Mayors Abseiling Challenge

Friday 7 June

Unfortunately I was unable to take part in the Lord Mayors challenge to abseil down the Leadenhall Building (affectionately known as “The Cheesegrater”) but Nettie and I were determined to get along to support as The Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress and a number of Masters took up the challenge of abseiling 47 floors down the building. Fortunately it was a beautiful day and we manged to get a photo of The Lod Mayor and his wife after they had finished.

Ruddington Museum – Presentation of Kings Award for Volunteering

Sunday 9 June

I was very pleased to receive an invitation to attend the presentation of The Kings Award for Voluntary Service to the staff of Ruddington Museum.

The award was presented by The Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Veronica Pickering MBS HAC, to the Chairman of the Trustees of Ruddington, Ian Rowson

Ruddington has over 50 volunteers and the citation read by the Deputy Lieutenants was a glowing reflection of the work that is done at this remarkable museum.

Fan Makers Summer Dinner

Thursday 6 May

Nettie and I were delighted to receive a personal invitation from the Master Fanmaker, Mike Lakin, to their Summer dinner at Butchers Hall. We hadn’t dined their before as it has been closed for renovation for around 3 years. It’s a very modern hall with the reception rooms on the ground floor and the dining hall on the second floor but it has been beautifully renovated. Following a delicious meal we were entertained to a hornet solo by the Masters youngest son, Ben, playing a medley of World War two songs in memory of the 80th anniversary of D-Day and then a fascinating talk by Mrs Rhian Wong who is the curator of the fan collection held by The Royal family. The photo attached is a guide to “The Language of the Fan”.

Masters Tea Party

Wednesday 5 June

Following last years very successful trip to Wymondham Windmill the Residents Social committee requested that we make the same trip again this year and I was very happy to oblige. The Windmill and Tea Rooms are located in a beautiful part of North East Leicestershire in rolling countryside with magnificent views. We were allocated our own room and approximately 30 of us which included residents, committee members and helpers had the most delicious tea of sandwiches, cup cakes, custard tarts, chocolate covered strawberries and mini profiteroles. The portions were so large that many took “doggy bags” home.

My thanks again to those who were kind enough to drive the residents to and from Wymondham.

May 2024

Lunch at the Old Bailey

Thursday 30 May

The invitation from Sheriff Bronek Masojada to take lunch with His Majestys Judges at The Old Bailey was one I had particularly been looking forward to. After a rigorous security check the five other guests and I were escorted to the rooms of Sheriff Bronek on the top floor of The Old Bailey, the same rooms, incidentally, once occupied by our PM Hon Liz Green. Bronek entertained us with 30 minutes of history about the role of the Sheriff before we were led into the dining room where the judges were waiting having just suspended their hearings for lunch. It was made clear that we had just 60 minutes to eat lunch before all judges were back on duty in their courtrooms. Seated between Bronek and HHJ Lynn Tayton KC and opposite HHJ Mark Lucraft KC (The Recorder of London) and HHJ Anthony Leonard KC, I had a fascinating 50 minutes hearing about the workings of The Old Bailey as well as many humorous tales. Following lunch we were then permitted to attend one of the Court rooms. The Recorder suggested his courtroom (No.5) as he was just about to sentence a convicted murderer, Fiona Beal, for the murder of her partner Nicholas Bellingham in 2021 in Northampton. It was the most fascinating 30 minutes as HHJ Mark Lucraft summed up the case and then passed a sentence of a minimum of 20 years. His words “you may take the prisoner down” were quite chilling.

FWK - Residents boat trip

Wednesday 22 May

It was just too much to ask that we had a dry day just 24 hours after getting a soaking at The Palace but it wasn’t to be!

On the Wednesday morning Nettie and I arrived bright and early at the Cottage Homes in preparation for a 9.00am departure by coach, only to be delayed by The Peter le Marchant Trust, who run the barges from Loughborough, who told us that they wouldn’t be able to take the boat all the way to the Waterside pub at Mountsorrel, our destination for lunch, due to the river flooding! After some serious negotiation by our Homes Manager we finally agreed that we would take a curtailed boat trip and that the coach would transport us to the pub.

It simply didn’t stop raining which meant that we were confined to the seating area inside the boat rather than sitting on deck but that didn’t stop our brave residents from enjoying the trip which was followed by a delicious two course lunch.

Thank you to the Clerk and members of the Livery who helped on the day for making things run smoothly.

Lunch to warm up after the wet boat trip!

The residents enjoying a warming munch after the soggy boat trip!

Garden Party – Buckingham Palace

Tuesday 21 May

Nettie and I were honoured and delighted to receive our invitation from The Lord Chamberlains office to attend the Garden Party. We were given a couple of choices and opted for 21st May and we joined a number of other Masters for lunch at The Goring prior to the event, kindly organised by the Master Security Professionals. During lunch the sky became darker and heavier and by the time we left to queue at Buckingham Palace gate it was already raining heavily and unfortunately it didn’t stop raining for the rest of the day. With umbrellas everywhere this made it very difficult to get anywhere near a Royal and extremely hard to see anyone, apparently The Prince of Wales, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice and Zara and Mike Tindal were all in attendance but sadly I can’t verify that. Nettie and I however did manage to walk around the beautiful gardens but sadly even a cup of tea and cucumber sandwich wasn’t possible as the tea tent was crammed with guests taking shelter from the torrential rain. A damp but enjoyable experience.

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

Freedom Ceremony at Ruddington Museum

Sunday 19 May

Past Master Sheila Turner and the Education Committee have been so successful in recruiting our students that we put on a special ceremony to admit 6 students from DMU and NTU, Olivia, Estelle, Helen, Ellie, Lauren and Bridget as well as Mary a volunteer at Ruddington Museum, into the Freedom of the Livery. Normally this would have been conducted at one of our Court meetings but as our Charter allows us to conduct these outside London it seemed a sensible option for our local students. Both the museum and the weather were most welcoming and following an open air induction we were treated to tea and cakes. The event was particularly well supported by the families of the Freemen as well as members of the Education Committee. Our thanks go to Ruddington for allowing us to hold this event.

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