WCoFF Bulletin No 8
BULLETIN NO 8
Emergency Strategic Coordination Board
Dear Liverymen and Freemen,
1.From the Chair of ESCB:
It was at the end of last month that I last communicated with you regarding the news that,with a sharp return in the increase in Coronavirus cases across the country and in line with Government advice, the ESCB would remain in operation until at least 31st March 2021. The hope that the Government introduction of the “Tiered Strategy” would be able to at least arrest and if not hold the number of cases to a manageable level,has all but disappeared in many areas of the North, Midlands, Greater London, Essex, Northern Ireland, the central belt of Scotland and the whole of Wales, along with larger areas of conurbations throughout the United Kingdom. It increasingly looks like the second wave of this awful disease could be as virulent if not worse than the first one and we are all in for a long, hard and difficult winter where looking out for each member of our family, friends and Company Members will be more important than ever. The ESCB have taken the opportunity to evaluate the range of options in terms of “scenario planning” including keeping the communications alive and thriving amongst the Company’s Membership,with new opportunities for groups to meet on-line regularly and other on-line events throughout the winter period now that the ESCB is going to continue at least until Easter 2021, and this is the main reason for the slight delay in getting this Bulletin out to you all. More will be expanded later in this Bulletin. Meanwhile normal business has continued with some major items concluded since the resumption from the summer recess.
2.Roundup from the Honorary Almoner –Past Master (PM) Peter Cowland:
Our team are now working on “Round Two“ of contacting members for welfare checks and at date of preparation of this note, we have been in touch with over 50 of our number, about 38% of us. The Almoner concentrates initially on those who have been unwell, undergone surgery or have previously identified having some difficulty,or are just lonely in these strange times. We are closely monitoring and in touch with those who have recently had surgery or are expected to undergo an operation,and we have had one member in hospital with COVID whose condition gave cause for concern and some of his family have also been infected. So as a reminder to all of us, there is no such thing as individual immunity from this dreadful virus, so strictly and diligently, with all of your family and friends following the rules AT ALL TIMES to stay safe and well, is imperative. It only takes one small mistake or a moment of forgetfulness as we all need to be lucky every time, the virus only has to be lucky once!! However, most of the Membership remain in “excellent fettle,” either working in key roles or from home, with some others just continuing to hunker down until this elongated crisis passes. Of course, we did hope that we may have been seeing some fresh shoots of life by the autumn but sadly this seems to have faded significantly. Whilst COVID has shut down our activities since March, things looked somewhat bleak, but we are assured that behind the scenes our City management has been in good hands and is preparing for an undoubted come back to normal life. However, this may take time and could look somewhat different to that which we envisaged. Doubtless in the interim some of us may feel a little glum and be wondering what the rest of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 will look like and how it will affect us. Such “wondering” can often cause some inner worries which people deal with in many different ways, but do remember that it is always “good to talk”. Don’t forget that it is not unusual to feel a little down in times such as this and current statistics are indicating that in the UK some 25% of the population is experiencing some mental health issues related to COVID and the lockdown. The wonderful charity MIND has a 24-hour help line on 0300 123 3392. What we would ask our members to do is identify anyone they may become aware of that has any type of need for support, however little,or maybe just a chat. It makes all the difference to people. If in need, please contact our Almoner (07775 673491 firstname.lastname@example.org) and remember too that the Rev George Bush is also there for you should he be needed. He can be contacted on Mobile phone number 07796 846891 or email@example.com. In the meantime, our Almoner offers you this little ditty to cheer up your day:
If your life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing
Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life
(Credit : Eric Idle from “The Life of Brian”)
Since Geoff Fall was appointed as Finance Manager/Assistant Clerk in April this year,a full financial administration review has been conducted,regularly reported to, and steered by the ESCB.This has led to some significant effectiveness and efficiency changes in this area, such astheintroduction of the electronic financial package of QuickBooks, resulting in the termination of the use of the SAGE system at the end of July 2020. Sadly, this has led to the SAGE Book-keeper post being surplus to requirements with no other opportunity being available for re-deployment for Ann Bennett, who had been on the Furlough Scheme since the original “Lock-down” on 23rd March 2020. A redundancy procedure was implemented by the Chair of the ESCB and Upper Warden, and Ann, who accepted the redundancy offer and ceased employment with effect from 6th October 2020. I am sure all of the Company would wish to join me in acknowledging Ann’s ten years of service with the Company and wish her every happiness and success for the future.
4.Financial Matters:The financial strength of the Company during this very difficult period will be more important when the inevitable long term changes to the way we operate in the future finally emerge out of the Coronavirus Pandemic, so therefore it remains a core focus of the ESCB. Geoff Fall has a very good grasp of all of the Financial Matters of the Company and we receive monthly financial statements. I am pleased to report that in late-October the Company still has a healthy balance. Geoff has also been very active with members in addressing the long term “thorny issue”of outstanding quarterage payments which has plagued the Company for a long, long time. When Geoff commenced his role, we had outstanding payments of £6,123 which has now been reduced to £500 with an intent to bring this figure down further. Sadly,we have lost three members who were clearly not going to pay their large arrears under any circumstances, but a magnificent effort in finally addressing this issue. If you are an annual payee of quarterage and not yet settled your payment for this year, then Geoff will be chasing you very shortly.
5.Salamander – November 2020:The next issue of the Salamander is scheduled for the end of November, and we are looking for any news items that our members may like to contribute. If you have any news item on the community spirit in your area or experiences whilst at work that you would like to share with our Members, please send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Salamander editorial team will look through them and will make the call on the suitability for this edition or they may be used in future editions
.6.Memorabilia and Corporate Clothing
In the last four months, the ESCB have carried out an overhaul of the Memorabilia stocks and the processes that have led to purchasing decisions over a number of years and these have been reviewed and improved with the implementation of more robust business case based approvals system, which has been put in place and incorporated into Standing Orders. Outstanding loans for the printing and publication of the Great Fire of London books have been settled. In future, presentation pieces can be obtained on a “just in time purchase” from an external supplier requiring no keeping of stock. Steven Tamcken, The Clerk, has also led and purchased a cost effective and suitably ornate stock of Company badges for fixing to presentation pieces when these are required. Members may recall the manufacturer of Company ties is no longer available. Led by The Under Warden-in-Waiting, DavidHolt, a review of the design has been completed and evaluated by a number of Company Members. This has led to a new manufacturer being identified and an initial order placed for 25 Blue and 25 Red Ties. It is not intended to review the replacement design or change supplier (unless there are insurmountable supplier issues) for the next five years. The delivery timescale for the new ties will be announced shortly.The Chair and David Holt have also sourced some high quality garments with the Company logo covering a Reflex Blue Polo Shirt, Navy ‘V’ Neck Sweater and a Navy Soft Shell Jacket, all at very reasonable prices. The supply is in conjunction with “Look Custom” a long-standing and reputable Clothing Company of many years. This clothing is also available in a range of sizes for both male and females alike, and is open to members and their partners for wear at appropriate Company visits and Committee Meetings, except the meetings of Court and formal dinners/lunches. The Worshipful Company of Firefighters wall shield comprising of a wooden varnished surround and the hand painted Coat of Arms has again been sourced and these will be available for purchase by members and for presentation at events. All of these items will be formally launched in the next fortnight via ‘Mail Chimp’ with all the information to purchase that is required, so if you are looking for festive gifts and not wanting to complete the traditional Christmas shopping trip(s) during this unusual time here maybe is your answer?
7.Induction of New Member and Court Assistant
With over six months now passed since the Company was able to hold the last Court Assistants Meeting, the ESCB have unanimously agreed that we should delay no further in completing the induction of new member Andy Hickmott,QFSM,into the Company as a Freeman of the Company. Also, the same applies to the induction of Liveryman Paul Fuller, CBE, QFSM, DL as a Court Assistant. The Clerk is arranging both of the on-line ceremonies to be conducted by The Master, Frances Blois as follows:
Date: Monday 23rd November 2020:
Andy Hickmott – 3pm
Paul Fuller - 3.30pm
All Court Members are invited to witness the ceremony and if you want to join the on-line arrangement please contact Steven Tamcken, The Clerk, on email@example.com or Colin Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the login details before the event. It is requested that those joining the ceremony are logged on by no later than 2.50pm.The signing of documents and the formal welcome to the Company along with the welcome to the Court of Assistants will follow once these meetings emerge after the Coronavirus Pandemic is finally finished or reduced to a safe level. All new members who join the Company will follow this process for the time being without experiencing a significant delay.
8.On-Line Company Events
The ESCB are very conscious that the extended period of the Pandemic has meant that member engagement and opportunities for colleagues and friends to meet and enjoy conversation together has been severely curtailed. The ESCB are acutely aware that some Livery Companies have been engaging in on-line lectures and other ventures for some time. However, The ESCB has held the view that we are a small but significant Livery Company where the health and well-being of ALL the Membership has remained our priority, along with securing the financial future which is going to be required the other side of the Pandemic. At this juncture though, the ESCB think it is time to start offering on-line events and I hope you will partake and enjoy in the following:
▪On-Line Carol Service –Following the cancellation of the traditional service, I am pleased to announce that after consultation between myself and Reverend George Bush, Rector of St Mary-Le-Bow and Honorary Chaplain, an on-line Carol Service along the lines of the normal service will take place on Friday 11thDecember 2020 at 6.30pm. The Master will be undertaking a reading during the service. All members are encouraged to join in on-line and access details forhe service will be published later, but in the meantime you have a definite date for your diary.
▪Informal Online Meetings - It has been some months since we have been able to meet as a Company and there is little prospect of us meeting in the near future. So, if you would like to join some informal chat sessions to meet up with old friends, we will be providing an online platform over the coming months. Initially, under the auspices of our IT Manager, Colin Simpson, and The Clerk, Steven Tamcken, we will set up two one hour sessions each week. The first will be on Tuesday November 17th at 12 Noon and the second on Thursday November 19th at 7pm. Subsequent meetings will take place at the same times on the following Tuesdays and Thursdays, subject to demand. The following table sets out the dates up to the Christmas and New Year where ESCB will review its use and success before publishing further dates in 2021.
|12 - 1 PM||7 - 8 PM|
|17th November||19th November|
|24th November||26th November|
|1st December||3rd December|
|8th December||10th December|
|15th December||17th December|
As those of you familiar with online chat rooms will know, it is often difficult to get into a conversation (and be heard) if too many people are online at once. So, we will limit each session to 12 participants and ask you to book online. Please contact David Holt to secure your place, (email@example.com) indicating which session you would like to join. Colin and Steven will host the sessions on GoToMeeting, the platform which the Company uses for its official meetings. Full details describing how to access this platform will be supplied when you register. We look forward to seeing many of you again soon albeit online.
▪Lectures, Presentations and Quizzes
oPhotographing the Fire & Rescue Services:
From January next year the Company will host a series of online talks or events given by members. The first presentation will be given by Liveryman David Holt, our Honorary Archivist, on January 12th at 7pm. His talk will be illustrated by his collection of firefighter-related photographs and ephemera. Find out how a life-long interest in firefighting equipment, buildings and organisation culminated in joining the Worshipful Company of Firefighters. David started photography in this field in the late 1950s. Whilst his early collection focused on the fire brigades of Kent and London he has many examples of appliances from other parts of the UK, together with those he took whilst engaged in a career lecturing in locations around the world. He also has a large collection of books, pictures and postcards which document the history of individual brigades, as well as developments in appliances and firefighting practices. Subsequent to joining the Company, he has become the custodian of photographs from the Owen Rowland collection, all of which have now been digitised, and provide a fascinating record of the LFB in the 1970s. So, an evening for the enthusiast with a large screen viewing platform. A reminder and joining instructions for GoToMeeting will be sent out nearer the date of the event.
oNew Building Regulations Impact:
One of the outcomes of the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 was a review of the Building Regulations and how they will be changed and administered in the future. This subject will be of interest to a wider audience than the Fire and Fire Protection industry and a speaker is being investigated with a good knowledge to present this technical subject in February 2021. We will open the lecture to other Livery Companies and possibly a wider audience for a small cost (no cost to our Membership) which hopefully will be donated to the Charitable Trust. Watch this space.
oWorshipful Company of Firefighters Music Quiz:
The Chair of The ESCB and Upper Warden, Graham Maltby has offered to host a Music Quiz for Member households on Wednesday 10th March at 7pm. Four rounds of questions covering 60s and 70s Music, Classical, Musicals and Trivia for which a prize will be awarded for the winners. More details in the New Year and in the meantime Ken Bruce on Radio 2 with his daily Pop-Master Quiz watch out!! Another date for your diary.
The Company has been made aware of the following on-line lectures by Gresham College which may be of interest to Members:
What Do We Owe Society?
How has Covid-19 re-shaped our ideas about what we owe society? The lockdown has had a terrible impact on the economic prospects of young people - and the elderly have suffered from high mortality in care homes. In this lecture Visiting Professor of Economic History at Gresham, Martin Daunton, will look at how choices have to be made between the generations. Should people save and pay for their own pensions, care in ill-health and old age as an individual responsibility? Or is it a societal duty that should be funded by compulsory payment of taxes? Might Covid-19 mark a further shift in the balance?
Tuesday 10 November 2020, 6pm-7pm, Online, free (or watch later)
Data: The Past, The Present and The Future
Data structures are the critical ingredient of all good information systems. In this lecture by Professor Richard Harvey, he'll explain how poor data structures lead to horrendous problems of interoperability and nightmarish complexity; good ones can make the ‘uncomputable’ computable. Structure and order would seem to be particularly important in the problems of “Big data.” However, is this changing? One of the exciting developments is systems, such as Google, which handle unstructured data.
Tuesday 24 November 2020, 6pm-7pm, Online, free (or watch later)
The Changing Geography of Ill-Health
Ill health has always been concentrated in particular places; tackling these pockets of ill health is an essential role for public health. In this lecture Professor Chris Whitty will explain these may be driven by environmental factors, demography, deprivation and healthcare provision. In the UK, the geography of ill health has shifted widely over time and continues to do so. Specific areas have particular health challenges, including coastal towns, rural districts and inner city areas. This lecture will consider the shifting geography of ill health in the UK and globally, and its implications.
Wednesday 25 November 2020, 6pm-7pm, Online, free (or watch later)
Russian Piano Masterpieces: Rachmaninov
There is no need to introduce Rachmaninov, considered by many to bethe greatest composer-pianist in history and the creator of several famous items on the “classical hit parade”. But his very popularity has always detracted from the value of his music in the eyes of scholars, who tend to view his music as merely middlebrow. This is a serious misunderstanding of his art, and has left the complexity and subtlety of his music underappreciated. This lecture-recital by Professor Marina Frolova-Walker and pianist Peter Donohoe will look at his music’s irresistible appeal.
Thursday 26 November 2020, 6pm-7pm, Online, free (or watch later)
This has been a longer than normal Bulletin and I hope you will feel that we, the ESCB, are addressing not only the key issue of health and well-being of the Membership as a whole but that of general interest and morale,with some interesting and different approaches during the winter period with the darker nights to help us all through to better times.
Despite the ever increasing new challenges that the extended COVID period brings, all of the ESCB remain totally committed to meeting these items whatever they may be, securing the future of the Company in a strong and sustainable position to face what is going to be a very different “normality” hopefully sometime during 2021.Yours sincerely
Upper Warden and Chair of the Emergency Strategic CoordinationBoard.