Monday, 31 October 2011

Helping Disadvantaged Students

One of the charities to which our Trust gave significantly this year is the Sir John Cass Foundation Lord Mayor's Bursary Scheme. A title which, as the Lord Mayor himself commented, doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. Last Friday was the official launch of the scheme at the Mansion House which the Chairman of our Trust, Trevor Brignall, and I attended. After speeches the Lord Mayor presented certificates to 19 scholars in recognition of their award of a scholarship to enable them to undertake undergraduate studies.

This scholarship scheme is funded both by Sir John Cass's Foundation and the Lord Mayor's Bear Necessities Appeal. It awards scholarships to young residents facing financial hardship, aged 18-20 from nine inner London boroughs, to pay for their tuition fees, maintenance, and other educational costs over 3 years of study. £1.5 million will be awarded over 5 years--this is not a small scheme. The students between them are going to all the major London universities to study. As he bows out as Lord Mayor, Alderman Michael Bear can take great pride in this legacy which he has created and left behind.

Management Consultants

It was a great pleasure last week to go to Carpenters Hall for the Installation Dinner of Mary Collis the newly installed Master of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants.

The Management Consultants, at number 105, are a newer Company than the Marketors but are notably active, as are we, in pro bono outreach activity. Mary touched on this in her Master's speech; they provide very considerable external consultancy and mentoring particularly to less well off charities. Their members' commitment to such activities is very great indeed and something towards which we should aim.

The guest speaker after dinner was Sir Peter Gershon who has had an extensive career in the defence industry and at a top level in the public sector, before gathering his current portfolio of public company directorships. He spoke about industry and government relations, their interdependence and how the needs of both might be better met in our troubled times. What it requires it seems is ''Change with Wisdom''-----which just so happens to be the motto of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants as you may be able to discern from their crest above.

Breakfast at the Old Bailey

The breakfast last Wednesday was held to promote the good work undertaken by the Sheriffs and Recorder's Fund. Serendipitously it was hosted by his Honour Judge Peter Beaumont, whose daughter went to the same school and is a good friend of my daughter, so he was not unknown to me. He talked about the workings of the old Bailey and the complicated logistics involved in the moving around of prisoners during a trial. He took us to visit the famous number one court. Whilst beautiful it is not, he explained, at all efficient as a court room not least because of the layout with the jury unable to see the witness at anything other than a sideways angle.
We also saw a more modern court, one of 18 at the Old Bailey, with its recently constructed glass screen in front of where the accused stands.Necessary he explained to prevent the accused from leaping out and rushing across the court room and punching the judge in the face as happened to an unfortunate lady judge not so long ago.
At breakfast Lady Prue Davies, Chairman of the Fund talked about the work of the charity which is focused on helping ex-prisoners get a new start in life and on relieving hardship in the families of serving offenders. It does this to help re-offending by making grants for training, tools of the trade, clothing and household equipment. One of the beneficiaries of the Trust, a reformed character, was at breakfast to pay tribute to what the Fund had done for him to help him put his life back on the straight and narrow. This is a charity not only of great efficiency but also of great compassion. I am glad the Marketors regularly support it.

Annual Curry Dinner

If, as they say, an army marches on its stomach, then our adopted Regiment 151(London) Transport Regiment must move swiftly. As indeed it does as was explained at the annual Curry Evening held at the Sutton TA Centre last Tuesday. The evening started with a macro view of the army, in the context of the Strategic Defence Review which was given by Major General Mark Poffley, the Regiment's Honorary Colonel. He explained that the grand plan would result in a single army not a Regular army and a discrete Territorial army. The single army would comprise full time and part time soldiers with an increasing reliance on the latter. The Regular army is being cut by 20%.

He then discussed theatres of war including Afghanistan where 'winning' was an irrelevant concept since the country is essentially tribal rather than a cohesive nation state.
His opening was followed by presentations from officers of 151 Regiment demonstrating the width of the Regiment's capabilities in providing all the logistical back up for the army sometimes having to fight their way through to provide the needed resources at the front line.

Speeches and presentations were followed by an excellent curry dinner and more extremely interesting conversation. about the actions of the Regiment.. At the end of dinner I was able to present Lt Colonel Adrian Lee, commanding officer of 151, with a framed Freedom of the City of London Certificate, emanating from his Freedom ceremony about which I have blogged earlier. The evening encapsulated the fine relationship between the Marketors and 151 Regiment.

Not forgetting the Bear

I suddenly realise that one of the high points of the Bowden Charter Dinner was the draw for our Lord Mayor's Charity Prize Draw---and I neglected to cover it in my previous blog. Well here is a picture of AnneMarie Hanlon, the winner of the sculpture of the Bear which was the first prize and which has been happily sitting in the Reception of Mansion House all year after Barbara Bear acquired it from the sculptor Lewis Hunter. The second prize was won by Diane Morris and third prize by Mike Barnato. Congratulations all round and our thanks to Matthew Trowbridge who masterminded the ticket sales and to all the many who participated.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Bowden Charter Dinner

This dinner renamed the Bowden Charter Dinner in order to celebrate both the Company's award of its Royal Charter last year and our founding Master Reggie Bowden was held on Wednesday last in the opulence of Drapers Hall. It was a full event due no doubt to the splendour of the venue and the attraction of the speaker.
The dinner was preceded by a Ceremonial Court where the Company admitted seven new Freemen and where I was pleased to recognise Harpreet Sethi of Cass Business school for his dissertation on smartphone apps, particularly related to near field communications--a subject on which I am sure we will progressively hear more.

My, by now well known, theme of innovation was more than adequately addressed by the after dinner speaker Syl Saller. Syl has had a glittering career culminating in her present position as Global Innovation Director at Diageo the global drinks organisation. She gave an impassioned speech relating her company's modus operandi to a single brand --Johnny Walker and its innovative evolution over time as both a brand and a product. It was a pleasure to talk with her over dinner, it was an even greater pleasure to hear her speech--and to judge by the applause the room found it a great pleasure as well. Like Mark Price the MD of Waitrose who spoke on innovation at the Installation Dinner the issue of courage was very much at the forefront of Syl's talk. In today's world you cannot stand still you have to have the courage to take the risks that innovation involves. It's a message that needs to be more widely recognised.

Freedom at last......

It is always a great pleasure to give pleasure and so it was that as the Proposer I was able to be at the ceremony in the Chamberlain's office when Marion Nunn, Past Master Austin Nunn's wife and Valerie Druce, wife of Past Master Harry Druce were both granted the Freedom of the City of London. As their husbands were two of the founders of the Company it was timely that they at last also became Freemen of the City.

The ceremony as always was handled with aplomb by Clerk to the Chamberlain, Murray Craig, who after the ceremony regailed the assembled company with stories and anecdote's of those who had received the Freedom in the past. Here you see the new Freemen with their husbands.It was a very happy occasion which continued over a splendid lunch at the Little Ship club organised by Roddy Mullin.

Aspects of the City

Because the Lord Mayor is by background and training a Civil Engineer and property developer he has a deep interest in the City not just from a development point of view but also from an historical and architectural point of view. With this in mind he instituted this year a series of three talks/presentations on different aspects of the City of London in the context of urban design . I went to the first one where the speaker was the erudite Simon Thurley CEO of English Heritage and a superb speaker, about which I blogged earlier; last week I went to the third and last of these talks having been unable to attend the second one.This third and final talk was about the City of the Future and consisted of a panel chaired by Peter Rees, the City Planning Officer; Francis Salway, the Chief Executive of the property company Land Securities; and Lee Polisano, President of PLP Architecture. They made a formidable team. The talks ranged, unsurprisingly, over inter city global competition and what this meant for infra structure and high speed links, particularly to airports; sustainability in urban planning; the management of resources; the continued growth of all cities and the practical implications. All this and much more but surprisingly no mention of of the impact of technology in its many guises.

This evening's event at the Mansion House, introduced by the Lord Mayor, came the day after a book launch at Mansion House also introduced by the Lord Mayor, and one which I attended and which launched a magnificent tome on the architecture, both ancient and modern, of the City. The City past, present and future all in two days. What more could a Master interested in the City ask.

Celebratory Concert

Last week I went to the Lord Mayor's Appeal Celebratory Concert at the Royal Festival Hall. As most people by now know Alderman Michael Bear's Appeal 'Bear Necessities' supports two charities--the children's charity, Coram and redr UK that trains and provides engineers and other relief workers to respond to world wide disasters. This concert was in support of his appeal and marked its grand finale. And what a concert. It featured a wonderful programme from EC4 Music and the choirs from four schools.
EC4 Music is a non-professional choir and orchestra taking its name from the post code of where the group was founded. It has performed sell-out concerts at its 'spiritual home' St Brides for the last twelve years. It is a very large orchestra of the highest quality amply demonstrated by a rich programme. This included a 400 strong performance of Parry's ''I was Glad''-made famous across the world by its inclusion in the recent Royal wedding. The orchestra's own large choir was boosted by the addition of 100 children drawn from four London schools.

The concert also included 'The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra' by Benjamin Britten with Richard Stilgoe as the irrepressibly witty narrator, as well as Handel's Zadok the Priest and the slightly off the wall Belshazzer's Feast by Sir William Walton. A delightful evening finished off by a private reception where I again had the pleasure of a long chat to both the Lord Mayor and his wife Barbara.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Freedom for an Army man

Adrian Lee is the Commanding Officer of our adopted Regiment, 151 (London) Transport Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps. Our continuing excellent relationship was furthered by the Master and the Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee, together with Past Master Brigadier Roger Hood supporting him in his application to gain the Freedom of the City of London .
And so it was on Thursday last that we all, including Adrian's wife, were at the ceremony in the Chamberlain's office in Guildhall for the granting of the Freedom to Adrian Lee. As ever Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court, officiated and after the ceremony regaled us with anecdotes and stories of those who had received the Freedom in earlier times. Since Adrian is a military man these related to historical figures from Nelson and on through Generals who fought at Waterloo and elsewhere.
The page of the Freedom book which Adrian had to sign showed that the immediately previous entry was for the Earl of Wessex. However for a brief time Adrian had become the ''youngest Freeman''. Something we all celebrated at a jolly lunch afterwards at the Old Dr Butler's Head in Masons Avenue.

A New Master

It is always a fascinating experience to go to the Installation dinner of a Master of another Livery Company. On Friday Marianne and I were guests at the Installation Dinner of Mei Sim Lai the newly installed Master of the Worshipful Company of World Traders at Drapers Hall.

Mei Sim had invited numerous guests particularly those from the Asia-Pacific Rim area. This is her own homeland heritage and so her guests at dinner were thus representative of Asia and Australasia and included those such as the Deputy High Commissioner of New Zealand; the Minister for Economic Affairs, Japanese Embassy; Ambassador, Republic of Indonesia; Ambassador, Republic of Vietnam, and more besides as well as some Masters from other Livery Companies. The toast for the guests was thus a formidable task but Alderman Neil Redcliffe rose to the challenge.
I show here the crest of the Worshipful Company of World Traders for no reason other than it has a motto which I like. Difficult to read here but it says ''Commerce and honest friendship with all''. It is taken from Thomas Jefferson's inaugural Presidential address.

We were fortunate in sitting on the same table as the immediate Past Master whom I know well having shared most of his year with him. On my other side sat a youthful Danish lady who, ex-Oxbridge, Harvard and Yale, is a Professor at a West coast U.S. university. On enquiring what her Doctorate was in, and hence what she lectured on, she told me it was terrorism on which she is an acknowledged expert and author. It made for an interesting dinner table conversation.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Art in the City

This picture is not a fanciful one (well it is actually, look at it) but is a reproduction from the front cover of the Painter-Stainers' annual exhibition:''Art In The City'' The Company have a Fine Art Society and take over the Livery hall for an exhibition of their work. This, I suppose, should not really come as surprise given that since its institution in 1502 the Company through the centuries has included as members a host of famous artists including Joshua Reynolds, Godfrey Kneller, Peter Lely, James Thornhill, Lord Leighton, John Millais, Alfred Munnings, Hugh Casson and many more besides. There were no painters of such stature exhibiting last night when Marianne and I went.
However wandering round, glass of bubbles in hand, there was no doubt that this was an impressive exhibition with many paintings at professional level.
The hall itself has hanging on the walls some wonderful royal portraits but the finest to our eyes was a 6 footer by Sir Gerald Kelly Past President of the Royal Academy entitled Joaquina V. I have no idea who she was but it's a powerful piece of painting. Anyway it's a pleasure to see craft skills based Livery Companies demonstrating their skills to a wider audience. Whilst I was invited to this private show by virtue of position the exhibition is open to the public. It's finished now but worth looking out for next year if like us you enjoy art.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Foundling Museum

Situated in a leafy Bloomsbury cul-de-sac between the British Museum and the British Library is the Foundling Museum--unlike anything else, anywhere. Last Friday the Marketors had a private viewing of this emotionally loaded museum with an expert guide

The Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain's first home for abandoned children.Through the tireless work of Thomas Coram, who was appalled at the number of babies abandoned every year, the hospital was set up ''for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children.''There were many early eighteenth century benefactors including Hogarth and Handel. Many artists and sculptors donated work including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Roubiliac and many others. The art is still there to be enjoyed including the famous Hogarth satirical painting, worth £millions shown on the right : ''March of The Guards To Finchley'' Before the opening of the Royal Academy the Foundling Museum was the main art gallery in London open to the public

The composer Handel was a Governor and major supporter of the hospital and the museum also contains the world's greatest collection of Handel memorabilia collected over a lifetime by an avid Handel admirer and donated to the museum. The saddest part of the museum is the display of Foundling tokens (coins, a button, jewelry, a poem, half a playing card). These were given by mothers leaving their babies, allowing the Foundling Hospital to match a mother with her child should she ever come back to retrieve her offspring. Few ever did.

The charity work for children started by Thomas Coram carries on today through the Coram charity, one of the beneficiaries of Lord Mayor Michael Bear's appeal, Bear Necessities.

At the end of the visit we walked the short distance to the North Sea Fish Restaurant for a fine fish dinner and convivial conversation

Sunday, 9 October 2011

To The Barricades...........

If you are a hammer every problem looks like a nail, even if it has a slot cut across the head or the head is six sided. If you are the Director of the Society of Editors representing 450 of the main national, regional and local newspapers and magazines the answer to every problem is a stout defence of the freedom of the press. And so it was with the annual Olsen Lecture last Thursday at St Brides, given this year by Bob Satchwell the Director of the Society of Editors who talked on the topic ' An Unholy Alliance of Press, Police and Politicians' The Olsen Lecture started 10 years ago in memory of Tom Olsen a former Sunday Telegraph journalist. It has had many notable speakers over the years including David Attenborough, P D James, Lord McGregor, Matthew Parris and Andrew Marr. Bob Satchwell himself has had a long and successful career in journalism and indeed was at one point Assistant Editor of the late lamented News of The World. He took as his start point July 4 2011 the day that Milly Dowler's phone hacking was made public-4 days before the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport was expected to allow Rupert Murdoch to proceed with his bid for the shares in BSkyB he didn't already own. Parliament raged but Hackgate as it became known was not, he observed, just about journalists' ethics and behaviour, the failures of earlier police inquiries into Murdoch were exposed. As we saw and read the political classes who have been battered and severely bruised by investigative media inquiries and reporting took the opportunity to kick back. Bob went on to claim that now we have too may inquiries : the media he claimed was now the most inquired into public institution in history--we now have inquiries into inquiries.
The worry in the media now, Bob said, is that the whole hacking debacle and its ramifications has not only tarnished the press but threatens to create regulations or restrictions which will hamper a truly free press. The counter attack was to hope that the inquiries also examine the collective guilt of politicians who now say they were over-influenced by one man. (some hope!). Unsurprisingly he closed by emphasising that the Society of Editors is determined to fulfil its role as defender of the media at every level. Well he would wouldn't he.
This evening was sponsored by Kaizo PR who kindly provided endless wine and wonderful canapes at the Lutyens restaurant adjoining the church, where there was complete freedom of expression.

Geography and History

A crowd of Marketors and guests were given a masterful education in both geography and history during a memorable trip to the Royal Geographical Society. We were treated first to a fascinating talk and slide show explaining the role of the Society. Founded in 1830 the RGS is the UK's pre-eminent learned society and professional body for geography in all its dimensions. We were shown how the Society through research, education, fieldwork and expeditions advances geography as a leading discipline. With an illustrious history the Society holds one of the world's greatest geographical collections of artifacts and historical photos. which spans over 500 years of discovery and geographical science. It also holds the world's finest map collection some maps going back to the 15th Century.

After the presentation given by Alastair Macleod, Head of Collections and our guide and mentor for the evening we were taken down to the Foyle library where an amazing array of historical artifacts had been laid out for us. These ranged from Livingstone and Stanley's hats to Darwin's pocket sextant, Mallory's goggles and other possessions found on his body, the shopping list from Harrods for an attempt on Everest which, unbelievably included items such as sauce boats, and superb photographs taken on the many expeditions round the world including Scott's and Shackleton's----and much more besides. Here are a couple of photos. On the left Hillary and Tensing Norgay on the way down after conquering Everest. Below on the right we can see the unfortunate members of Scott's fated expedition; left to right Scott, Evans, Oates, Wilson, Bowers. These pictures give only the merest glimpse of the treasures in the Royal Geographical Society

At the end of the evening we were privileged to be the first to use the newly refurbished members area for drinks and canapes. Finer fare than that consumed by the early intrepid explorers whose expedition rations and cooking pots we had just seen.

Election of Lord Mayor

Common Hall, open to all Liverymen, was held last Monday 3 October in Guildhall. This is the annual event for the election of the next Lord Mayor. The event is preceded by a church service in St Lawrence Jewry, known as the Divine Service. Like most Wren churches St Lawrence has no separation or major distinction between nave and chancel. It is a quite beautiful church, well worth a visit, with a magnificent organ but one not quite as magnificent as the monumental one in St James on the South side of Piccadilly, which is truly a marvel.

The sermon was given by the Chaplain to the Lord Mayor (yes, he has a Rabbi too) based on the Reading which was Mark 10. 42-45 and I quote ''whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all''. A message perhaps not just for the incoming Lord Mayor but also for Livery Masters...........
The election in Guildhall is one where all the Masters fully gowned process in and sit close to the front-how lucky. The great and the good process in subsequently. As is now well known Alderman David Wootton was elected 684th Lord Mayor with Roger Gifford being lined up as a future Lord Mayor. The election process-open outcry- reflects the centuries old rituals and demonstrates the full panoply of the Mayoralty and Corporation at such ceremonial events.

The speeches were, of course, gracious, from all concerned with outgoing Lord Mayor Alderman Michael Bear generating the most appreciation with his continuing puns on the word 'bear'.

The Marketors present then repaired to Founders Hall to join others from different Companies for some welcome refreshment and a splendid lunch.