Sunday, 25 April 2010

Stories and a serious point from a former Lord Mayor 21st April 2010

This is Sir John Stuttard in his Lord Mayor's parade in November 2006. Last week he gave a talk at the City Livery Club ( where Liveryman Valerie Boakes is Senior Vice-President. It wasn't an occasion when I was formally representing the Marketors but I wanted to learn something new and thought you would enjoy some of his stories.
The Lord Mayor's coach lurches vigorously as the horses which draw it stop and start. Sir John ended the parade with three holes in his head from the pointy bit of wood that you can see in the picture at the top of the window out of which he is leaning. One of the other prices of being Lord Mayor is time - he reckons to have given about 5 full years of voluntary work through serving as an Alderman and member of Common Council (before and after being Lord Mayor) and a Sheriff.
In 1189 when Richard I returned from the crusades - he, and the country, were broke. England had paid 1.5 times its annual income as a ransome (perhaps we have got off lightly with the international financial crisis!) To raise money he sold a stretch of the Thames to the Corporation of London who thereafter earned fees from charges to people who crossed or lived on the bridges. This was the foundation of the City Bridges Trust, still in existence today, which not only maintains the bridges but also donates substantial sums to charity.
And the serious point....there is much political talk at present about immigration. We need to understand the importance to the success of the City of London of having a diverse pool of skilled and experienced people working there. The people who come to the City from abroad are typically studying or working for a defined period; they then return to their home countries. They are not permanent immigrants, they bring tremendous energy and talent to our economy and they return home as ambassadors for "UK Inc." Sir John was keen that we, as liverymen, should do our best to make our overseas visitors warmly welcome.
PS He has written a book about the mayoralty and the business of the City of London, "From Whittington to World Financial Centre", which is a good read.

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