Master's Blog, June 2019
Where has the year gone? When I wrote to you in January 2019, I was looking forward to the second half of my year as your Master. As I sit here today there are just three short weeks to go before Common Hall on Friday 5th July, 2019, when I have the pleasure to install our Master Elect Frances Blois.
All I can say is that the last five and a half months have been even busier than the period leading up to Christmas. The New Year started with an invitation to a Service at St Michael Cornhill followed by a Reception at Drapers’ Hall which proved to be most enjoyable, not least that the Sermon was given by none other than the world-famous Belgium Detective Hercule Poirot, disguised as actor David Suchet, who mingled amongst the guests. Knowing that he is a firm favourite of mine my family teased me when they asked whether I would wash my hand after he shook it.
Having met the man with the little grey cells earlier that week the legal theme continued when I had lunch with Sheriff The Hon Elizabeth Green and the Judges sitting on the day at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, all of whom made me most welcome.
As many of you know once a year the Company hold a dinner for Liverymen which, for many years, has been held outside of the City at the East India Club by kind invitation of Past Master David Cartwright. Having moved to our new home at the Wax Chandlers’ Hall in the heart of the City it was decided to hold our Liveryman’s Dinner in their Great Hall. It proved a most enjoyable evening and a successful event which hopefully will be repeated over the coming years.
As all Past Masters know when representing our Company, the year is filled with very enjoyable lunches and dinners but quite often it is the more solemn events that remain in one’s thoughts. In early February I attended an Anglo-French Reception to introduce The British Normandy Memorial in the presence of Veterans of the Normandy Campaign at the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea. Having the opportunity to meet and spend some time with the Veterans it brought in to focus the sacrifices that were made by so many which vividly came back to mind as I watched the 75-year Remembrance Services on TV the other day.
At the end of February 2019, I attended a Lecture hosted by the Worshipful Company of World Traders at Guildhall. The speaker was Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. After her lecture she was asked by a member of the audience what was her major function at the IMF? She stated that she was the Architect for international banking and monitored the behaviour of bankers across the globe. However, as a result of the Financial Crash in 2007-2008 she had spent the majority of her time over the last 10 or so years as a Firefighter. It would appear our influence is spreading.
How things change over such a short period of time. Having mixed with the great and the good at the World Traders at the end of February, early March witnessed me mixing with the great and the good of the Livery world in Guildhall Yard when I represented the Company in the Inter-Livery Pancake race. Our team was made up of myself competing in the Masters Event, supported by our Under Warden in Waiting Nicole Hoffmann, in the Ladies race, Court Assistant Andrew Phillips in the Liveryman’s race and completing our team, Past Master Bruce Hoad in the Fancy Dress race. Seeing Bruce dressed as a 19th Century firefighter, complete with metal studded boots and brass helmet, which had a working blue flashing light attached to it, running around a slippery Guildhall, was a sight to be seen.
At end of March I had the pleasure to host 115 members and guests at our Massey Shaw Banquet at the Cutlers’ Hall. We were honoured with the presence of a former Lord Mayor Alderman Sir David Wootton and his wife as principal guest and speaker. During the evening I was able to formally mark the affiliation between HMS Wildfire with the Worshipful Company of Firefighters and, along with Frances Blois in her capacity as Chairman of our Charitable Trust, I was able to present prizes to the three individuals who had been recognised for their outstanding work in the field of Fire Safety. I would also wish to record my gratitude to Liveryman Dr David Crowther for his hard work in the judging process.
In April the Company once again held its Annual Fire Lecture which due to the very tragic events of Grenfell had not been held for a couple of years. The lecture was Chaired by Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association who introduced our two wonderful speakers, Mr Jim Pauley, President & CEO of the National Fire Protection Association and Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher. The event was most informative and thought provoking which would not have taken place without the incredible hard work of Court Assistant Peter Holland and the support of our main sponsors Aviva and Rockwool Limited.
At the end of May my wife Carol and I attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. Although the weather could have been kinder it did not dampen our enjoyment. Unusually I had the opportunity of a second visit to the Palace a few days later to collect Carol’s mobile phone which she had left in the food tent. Whether this was by accident or design a second trip in such a short period of time was most unexpected.
Over the weekend of 7th to the 9th of June Carol and I joined the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and over 100 Masters at the City of London and Livery Companies event at Ironbridge. Hopefully this event will cement the friendships I have made during my Mastership for many years to come. Despite the warning giving to me by many Past Masters to maintain concentration on the Sunday Morning, my guard must have been lowered for a few moments as I find myself being appointed as the Hon Treasurer of my Past Master Group. It will at least give me the chance to keep in contact with everyone.
In closing I have only been able to give a glimpse of the events, dinners, lectures etc I have attended over the last year, including, by the time you read this, my incarceration in the Tower of London as part of “Jailed and Bailed”. I would like to take this opportunity to thank so many people both in our Company as well as Masters from other Livery Companies for their help, support, company and friendship. It has been a year I will never forget and I thank each and everyone in the Worshipful Company of Firefighters who allowed me to experience this life changing year.
And as I head off to the sunset, and return to the back benches you can be assured I will continue to work for the benefit of the Company which I will do in a spirit of Service, Fellowship, Harmony and Honour.