I hope through my diary I can give you an idea of what Julia and I experience during this year when it is our privilege to represent our wonderful Company at events and activities in the City of London and beyond. I have included number of posts by my consort, Julia which will provide a flavour of her activities.
16th May - Big Curry Lunch 'Result' Reception
Jonathan Pears and I went to the Lord Mayor’s Reception Big Curry Lunch “Result” at Leathersellers’ Hall this evening. Sheriff Liz Green hosted the event and was delighted to announce that £246,500 had been raised at the Lunch in April and after further support, cajoled by a few Masters, those at the reception made donations and took the total to £250,000.
15th May - Buckingham Palace Garden Party
Today, we put our glad rags on for our trip to London to attend the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. We decided to have lunch before hand at the Goring Hotel, a short stroll from the Grosvenor Place entrance to the grounds. There were several other Masters at the hotel and we walked the short distance with the Upper Bailiff of the Weavers Company and his Consort. We had a lovely afternoon, bumping into a few people and enjoying the afternoon tea and listening to the two bands playing. HRH Prince Charles was hosting the afternoon with HRH Duchess of Cornwall and we had a good view of them as they left the Royal Tent after having had tea and strolled back towards the Palace itself. Having come in through the rear entrance to the garden area, we decided to leave through the Grand Entrance and emerged onto the paths to the front of Buckingham Palace to begin our journey home.
13th May - Gala Dinner, Vintners Hall
The Gala Dinner at Vintners Hall for the Reflections of the 689th Lord Mayor Sir Andrew Parmley was both convivial and entertaining. I was privileged to be on the Top Table, enjoying great conversation with Lady Parmley (the Master Information Technologist), and a Minister from the Chinese Embassy. We were entertained by a very energetic Chinese Dragon dance group and also Imaan and Jamaal Kashim from the Royal College of Music, who played the violin and harp respectively, quite beautifully.
Sir David Wootton gave a short introduction thanking Chris Seow for organising the event. Sir Andrew Parmley reflected on his Mayoral year with an eloquence and style, mixing interest, entertainment and humour quite brilliantly. The evening was rounded off with award presentations for "The Stained Glass Roundel" Competition (sponsored by the Glaziers Company) and a cheque to the benefitting Charity - London Symphony Orchestra Discovery (mentoring young talented musicians).
12th May - Frezenberg Memorial Service
Julia and I together with Liveryman Janie Martin, her husband Robert, and Col Bertie Boyle were at the Frezenberg Memorial Service held at Newtown Linford, followed by the laying of wreaths at the memorial in Bradgate Park. The Cadets Band were there playing on a beautiful sunny day and they joined us for lunch afterwards at Welbeck College.
9th-11th May - Master's Break
Our Master’s Break in Bristol, and 46 Liverymen and guests descended on The Bristol Hotel, situated by the harbour for a couple of nights to enjoy some of what this fantastic city has to offer. The first evening we walked to a local wine merchant, Avery’s, established over 200 years making it the second oldest wine merchant in the UK. We were greeted with some fine champagne, before enjoying a three course meal provided by local caterers and paired with wine by Frank, our host for the evening.
On Friday morning our first visit was to Bristol Cathedral and we then went by coach to the Avon Gorge Hotel for lunch. From the terrace of the hotel there were views of the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge. We then went a short distance to the Merchant’s Hall and were given a tour of the Livery Hall by butler Gary. In the evening after a short tour of the harbour by water taxi we arrived at the SS Great Britain for the main event of the weekend, a black tie dinner in the First Class Dining Lounge. Before the meal, we were able to enjoy drinks on the weather deck and then a reincarnated Mr Brunel imparted a brief potted history of the ship and how it had been returned to Bristol. After the meal, we were shown around the ship.
Saturday morning saw a visit to the Lord Mayor’s Chapel, a hidden gem in Bristol which is well- worth visiting and then we were taken on a two-hour walk of the city, seeing some bits that an ordinary tourist would have missed - the chewing gum street art, the echos of Orchard Street and the Cash on the Nail plinths outside the Corn Exchange. Luke, our guide, imparted history, quirks and knowledge about all sorts including Banksy and Blackbeard with enthusiasm and humour. Then finally before leaving Bristol, we enjoyed an Afternoon Tea in the Riverside Grille at the hotel - a beautiful conservatory room overlooking the harbour.
All in all a great couple of days in a beautiful and historic city with good weather and, best of all, great company.
8th May - Barts View Day
Clerk, Shaun Mackaness and I attended the 469th ‘Barts View Day’ - this historic event began with Evensong at the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, followed by a procession of Masters to the Great Hall. Both Sheriffs were present, together with their consorts, and processed in in front of us. After speeches including one by Sheriff Alderman Vincent Keavney, we were all invited to view the Trust’s work first hand with a tour and exhibition. It was good to meet some Masters who will be at Ironbridge in June and truly fascinating to learn of the work of The Barts Charity.
During this time, Julia went along to a Buffet Supper at Guildhall arranged by the Livery Picture Book Committee to meet other Mistresses and Consorts for a pre-Ironbridge Weekend get together.
1st May - City Livery Club Aero Section Luncheon
I was a guest of Capt Arthur Creighton, our speaker at the Installation Dinner, at the City Livery Club Aero Section Luncheon held at the RAF Club - my second visit in a week! After a delicious meal, there was an excellent talk given by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier. As Head of the RAF, it was a fascinating insight into his thoughts - describing strategy Past, Present and Future. It was also good to see our Steward, Simon Burrows, in attendance.
29th April - Mistress Engineer's Lunch
Julia and I, along with Immediate Past Master Sheila Turner, went to the Mistress Engineer’s (Liveryman Marilyn Wedgewood-Johnson) Lunch at the RAF Club. We were taken on a short tour of the Club before enjoying a drinks reception in the Churchill Room. We then went upstairs to the Sovereign’s Room where Carmel McConnell MBE from Magic Breakfast spoke to us with a great deal of enthusiasm and passion about the charity she set up to enable children all over the country enjoy breakfast before starting lessons at school. We then had a delicious lunch followed by a short Q&A session with Carmel to end the afternoon.
24th April - Annual Cobham Lecture
Past Master Linda Smith and I attended the Annual Cobham Lecture at the RAF Club, which was hosted by The Honourable Company of Air Pilots. The guest speaker was Wing Commander Rob Caine MBE MA RAF who is the Officer Commanding at RAF Valley on Anglesey. Hs spoke about his role, having responsibility for training all RAF and RN pilots. A truly fascinating and interesting insight into training procedures - quite literally only the best of the best will graduate!!
23rd April - Royal Society of St George
Julia and I attended the 125th Anniversary Banquet of the Royal Society of St George (City of London Branch) at the Guildhall. Guests included The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor and Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and our own Past Master, Sheriff Liz Green and her Consort, Peter. After enjoying a champagne reception in the Old Library, we moved through to the Grand Hall to enjoy a delicious four course meal - between the starter and main course, the beef was paraded in and presented to the guests. We were treated to some fine music during the evening performed by The London Banqueting En-semble, buglers walking around the hall performing the Post Horn Gallop and then Mezzo Soprano Claire Barnett-Jones led the singing of 4 patriotic songs amid much flag-waving. Finally there were a couple of speeches including a very entertaining one from John Benjamin, who is a jewellery expert with the Antiques Road Show.
16th April - Consorts' Lunch - Post by Julia Grundy
I was delighted to attend my first Consorts' Lunch on HQS Wellington. About 50 of us met for coffee before being split into groups for a guided tour of the ship and a very interesting insight into the history of the Wellington and we even sneaked a peek at the Master & Mistress Master Mariners' accommodation for the year! We were then able to mingle over a glass of champagne, enjoying the spectacular views of London, before going down to the Court Room for a delicious lunch.
Saturday 13th April - Tour of the Old Bailey
The first social event of my year saw 55 Liverymen and guests enjoy a tour of the Old Bailey and then a delicious lunch in the Judges Dining Room hosted by Paster Master Sheriff Liz Green and her husband Peter.
We split into 2 groups were shown around the Old Bailey including the marvellous Grand Hall, Court No 1 and the cells amongst other bits of this historic building and Peter and Liz gave us an insight into its operation and some of the cases that had been and were to be heard.
Friday 12th April - Installation Dinner
A great start to my year as Master was the Installation Dinner held at Clothworkers Hall. The Light Cavalry were on splendid display as a Carpet Guard and talented harpist Soraya Vermeulen provided musical background during the reception and meal. We enjoyed an excellent meal and some fine wine before guest speaker, Captain Arthur Creighton, entertained us with stories about his experiences as an airline pilot over many years. To conclude the evening we moved back through to the reception area and enjoyed mingling with guests and family over a stirrup cup.