Saturday, 26 November 2011

CIM Graduation Ceremony

The graduation ceremony for all those CIM students who have passed their Diploma, or Post Graduate Diploma, in Marketing was held on Friday in the superb surroundings of the Birmingham Symphony Hall. A magnificent setting for a serious occasion. Some indication of the quality of the Symphony Hall can be seen on the left, a much foreshortened photograph.
I was there, with a number of gowned academics, sitting on the raised platform as I was to give awards from our Trust to the ''Top Worldwide Professional Post Graduate Diploma student and subsequently an award to the 'Top Worldwide Professional Diploma student.
These awards came towards the end of the graduation ceremony which saw many hundreds of students come up to receive the applause and recognition they deserved. Speeches were made, a particularly fine one by Sir Paul Judge, a Past Master and the President of the CIM
The Marketors are well represented in the upper echelons of the CIM as was evidenced on the day since, as well as Sir Paul Judge, Middle Warden Sally Muggeridge is a member of the CIM Academic Senate, as is Liveryman Professor Malcolm McDonald and both the outgoing and incoming Chairmen of the Institute,who are members, were there.
I couldn't help but notice as I left, that outside the Symphony Hall, apart from a vibrant Christmas market, were banners promoting the world Trampoline and Tumbling championships, being held in the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. Were these I wondered an analogy for the troubled Euro zone.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Are Plastics Really Fantastic?

This was the title given to the annual Horners' Company Lecture which I attended last week. The event was held in the Royal Society of Medicine's building in Wimpole Street. I can say unreservedly it is a fabulous venue. It has recently undergone wholesale refurbishment and internal reconstruction and is now offers state of the art lecture and entertainment facilities. Even the raked seats in in the super modern lecture theatre have individual microphones in the arm of every seat.
The lecture was given by the Master, a man with 45 years' experience in the plastics industry and an industry titan. He explained that he was continuing the theme of last year's lecture in explaining why plastics are indeed fantastic. Too often we hear in the media headlines : ''Ban plastic bags''; ''Pacific ocean plastic waste dump''; ''Ban PVC''; Plastic feeding bottles poison babies''. The image is one of plastics wasting valuable resources and polluting the world.
In response to such claims the speaker robustly explained the advantages of plastic with its low carbon footprint and eco efficient manufacturing. The many advantages and disadvantages were discussed . For example the the green benefits of light weight bottles over heavier glass; the myriad uses of plastic from bio degradable bags to the advanced composites in used in aeroplane construction. He stressed the recyclable nature of plastic enabling it to be used over and over again in different guises. All food for thought making plastics, he said, too valuable to be thrown away.

Livery Lecture by the Actuaries

Actuarial affairs are usually dry stuff but not so the the annual Actuaries' Lecture which I attended last week. The venue was Staple Inn Hall just off High Holborn. Never having been there before it was a pleasure to admire the hall and the stained glass in particular.
The speaker was the hereditary peer Lord Colin Moynihan who, those with long memories will remember, won a gold medal as a rowing cox in the world championships and a silver medal at the Moscow Olympics. Now the Chairman of the British Olympic Association he was the guest speaker and spoke on the subject ''2012 An Olympic Dream-Can the Games deliver a Sporting Legacy for the UK''. The answer was unlikely to be 'no'.
He spoke widely and interestingly on the topic of the Olympics, beyond the legacy, especially on an athlete's need for fanatical attention to detail in order to win. He quoted the interesting statistic that of five gold medals we won at the last Olympics the total time taken for all five events was only a little over 12 minutes. The total time difference between Gold and Silver for all five events added together was 0.514 seconds. Just over half a second separates gold winners from silver winners across five events. Wining today is measured in hundredths of a second. A sobering thought for athletes in training.

Address by the Lord Mayor

Every new Lord Mayor addresses the Livery at the beginning of their year. Alderman David Wootton did so last Wednesday at the Mansion House. It is his opportunity to say thank to the Livery who gave him the opportunity to be Lord Mayor but also an opportunity for him to set out his Agenda for the year.
2012 of course is the year of both the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. A great year to be Lord Mayor as he observed and one which would make this country and the City in particular a centre of world attention. Against this background he explained that he intended to raise the visibility and quality of awareness of the City not just internationally but in the UK as a whole. He wants to shine a light on the City's contribution and in addition the contribution of the Livery which in the wider world is virtually unknown. To help this cause the Mercers have just published a short paper demonstrating the contributions the Livery makes and I shall be circulating this round our Company.
Like all Lord Mayors David Wootton has his own appeal entitled (well it would be wouldn't it) 'Fit For The Future' This appeal will help five charities-the primary one being Barts and the London Charity on behalf of the Trauma Unit at the Royal London Hospital. The Rowing Foundation; London Youth Rowing; Fields in Trust and Futures for Kids will all benefit.
It sounded as though he is going to have a very full year!

Tony Bellm Lunch

One of our very earliest Masters was Tony Bellm who, as can be seen from the front of the Directory, was Master in 1979. He very generously bequeathed in his will an endowment to fund a lunch each year for Past Masters, their partners, the current Master and partner and the Clerk.
The lunch was on Monday and was held in the private dining room at Guildhall, a perfect venue. 24 sat down of whom 12 were Past Masters-a good turn out.
It is traditional at this lunch that the most senior Past Master toasts absent friends and in doing so recalls some of the history of the Company. Austin Nunn did this admirably. Tony Bellm was National Chairman of the Institute of Marketing in the early seventies when Lord Mais became Lord Mayor and it was Tony Bellm who put his resources into organising the Lord Mayors show for Lord Mais. Lord Mais of course subsequently became our supporter and it is largely thanks to his good offices that we became a Livery Company.
Generous gestures such as Tony Bellm's reflect so well on the 'service to others' and fellowship ethos which underpin a successful Livery Company. He is remembered with pleasure and respect.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday

It was wonderful to see so many Marketors at the Remembrance Day service at St Brides last Sunday. Something Archdeacon David Meara specifically commented upon to me after the service. At the beginning of the service I laid the Marketors wreath on the steps before the altar, as did representatives of other organisations.
It was a beautifully constructed service and in his sermon, commenting on sacrifice, David Meara opened by referring to the war memorial on Platform 1 of St Pancras station. I stare at it every time I am in St Pancras and go past it. It is a quite superb sculpture of a 'Tommy'' in full kit reading a letter from home. It's probably the finest war memorial I know and worth a detour if you're in the area. It doesn't have the magnificence of Charles Sargeant Jagger's Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park corner but it generates a more immediate emotional response.
As we walked back up Ludgate Hill to St Pauls station past the tented protesters I thought of another form of sacrifice. The protesters are protesting against Mammon not God and yet ironically the damage they are doing is to God's work (the church). The job losses and revenue losses that St Paul's Cathedral has suffered reflect the fact it is the church which has made the sacrifice.

The Lord Mayor's Show

''Three miles of fun, music, and pageantry to welcome the new Lord Mayor'' is the wording on the front of the official Lord Mayor's Show brochure. There is absolutely no doubt that the event lived up to this claim. In perfect weather 153 entrants comprised the parade and the Marketors' float was number 113.
I am advised this was only the third time in history that the Company has entered a float into the Lord Mayor's Show. We had wonderful support from our affiliated school St Dunstans whose marching band and CCF preceded the float.
The float itself owed much to the school whose students designed and constructed the structure of the float. With sponsorship from the CIM, celebrating their centenary, just as st Dunstans CCF also were, and from Unilever whose products and TV ad reel added colour and movement, our entry was one to be proud of. Here below is a photo with the organising maestro Assistant, Michael Harrison whose contribution to this event was awesome.
I was on the float waving furiously together with the Senior Warden and Jane Davies, the Head Mistress of St Dunstans, and the school's Head Girl, plus four Prefects, all waving furiously.
At the halfway point outside the Royal Courts, where the Lord Mayor has to take time out from the parade to swear allegiance to the Queen in front of the judges, I had to disembark in order to get back to the Mansion House to be one of the 22 Masters chosen to form the Guard of Honour welcoming the Lord Mayor back.
Before that I managed to drop into the Wine Tun and the Capital Club to say hello to the 220 people who had accepted our invitation to join the party. The logistics of organising 220 people and their menu choices fell to Lesley Wilson who unflappably did a superb and glitch free job.
A wonderful and memorable day was completed by Marianne joining me for lunch with the new Lord Mayor in the Mansion House.

Blessing the new Lord Mayor

Late on the 11th November, following the Lord Mayor's official installation at the Silent Ceremony, there is a Service of Prayer and Blessing for the new Lord Mayor held at St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall. It was a simple service when the Guild Vicar, Canon David Parrot, skillfully found ways in his sermon to mention all the Livery Companies of which Lord Mayor Wootton is a member. It is probably well known that Roman Generals returning in triumph made processional entrances into the city and had at the back of their chariot a slave whose only role was to lean forward at periodic intervals, as the enthusiastic crowd waved and shouted, and intone ''remember you are only human''. A similar sentiment, more subtly and delicately put, came through the sermon via the biblical reference ''to whom much is given much is expected''
There is no doubt that like his predecessor David Wootton will meet these expectations as he gives everything he can to his role as Lord Mayor.

Presentation of Addresses Ceremony

A short while after the Silent Ceremony Marianne and I had kindly been invited by our Clerk, Adele, to witness the Presentation of Addresses ceremony which was held in the upper foyer of Guildhall art gallery. This is a very strictly 'invitation only' affair. Both Sheriffs and the Lord Mayor attend since it is to them that the 'Presentations' are made.
These are presentations of gifts of appreciation and congratulation from members representing the various Livery Companies, City Wards, or other organisations of which the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs are members. The gifts presented varied from inscribed silver trays to decanters, pens, glasses and silver photograph frames. Each gift was announced by the Remembrancer and formally presented. Adele presented a gift as President of the Aldgate Ward Club. An unusual event to be able to witness.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Silent Ceremony

Last Friday the 11th November I was in the Great Hall at Guildhall to witness the historic Silent Ceremony when the new Lord Mayor, already elected, is officially appointed. Apart from a short declaration of office by the in-coming Lord Mayor not a word is spoken. The lights are lowered for an atmospheric occasion. It is one on which the new Lord Mayor is sworn in and the retiring Lord Mayor passes on his symbols of office to the new Lord Mayor.
The principal items passed include the sword, sceptre, seal and inventory of the Corporations possessions (for which the new Lord Mayor takes responsibility) It is a ceremony full of dignity and ritual with much bowing, or 'reverences' as they are called, as the symbols of Mayoralty pass from the old Lord Mayor to the new one.
The ceremony was filmed and Stephen Fry was a guest since this ceremony will be incorporated into a TV film about the City to be aired later and he will be the narrator. Study the TV guides!

Gardening Leave

It is a privilege of the Master to be allocated by the Marketors' Trust the sum of £2,000 for a charitable donation of his choosing. I have reflected for some time on the choice. It seemed to me that such a sum would be most valued by a small charity with real focus where it would have a greater significance than if given to one of the major charities. With this thinking in mind I have given the donation to to a small, fairly new (founded in 2007) charity called Gardening Leave. The charity aims to improve the mental and physical well being of ex-service people by offering horticultural therapy in walled gardens. They provide peaceful, unpressurised environments where mentally damaged veterans can participate as much or as little as they like in the life cycle of the garden. Many who attend at the sites have difficulty making the transition from military to civilian life and also suffer from combat stress reactions. Gardening Leave offers them structure, routine, being with like minded individuals , being outside and having something constructive to do.
So it was with pleasure that I handed over the Trust's cheque to Anna Baker Cresswell, the founder, at the charity's walled garden within the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. There are sites elsewhere in the UK and over the next 5 years the charity aims to open new projects in walled gardens throughout the country to bring companionship and reassurance to more traumatically stressed veterans young and not so young.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Garden of Remembrance St Pauls

The City's Garden of Remembrance Service was held on Monday in the Garden on the North East side of St Paul's . Unlike last year the weather was clement. I was privileged to be there.
We gathered in the Crypt to begin and after refreshments were briefly addressed by the President of the Royal British Legion, John Kiszely. Explaining that this event was very well attended, as indeed it was, he commented wittily that there were even people camping outside to try and get in. . More seriously he told us that the annual one day collection in the stations and streets of the City had raised over £400k significantly more than the £250k raised last year.
The service in the garden was short but moving with the band of the Scots Guards and the Royal British Legion Flag Bearers adding to the occasion. The crosses on the Remembrance Garden lawn were planted by representatives of almost all the 108 Livery Companies together with representatives of of other City Organisations.
The service finished with the Kohima Prayer :

''When you go home, tell them of us and say,

For your tomorrow we gave our today''

It was a ceremony that allowed all who were there to reflect and demonstrate in a small way gratitude for the sacrifices made on our behalf in the past and today

Saturday, 5 November 2011

At Home

My wife Marianne, our Clerk Adele, and I went to a very happy ''At Home'' in the Egyptian room of the Mansion House last Thursday at the invitation of Lady Mayoress Barbara Bear. It sandwiches, cakes and tea which never stopped coming. There were quite a few Masters of other Companies there whom I knew but in the main they had recently become Past Masters. It is very common that Masters' years end in the autumn.We are unusual in having a middle of January change of Master.
I was able to chat to Barbara Bear and it was the perfect opportunity for me to give her the cheque for all the money that was raised in our Prize Draw for 'Bullet Bear'. As the afternoon went on champagne duly appeared. There were no speeches, it was a simple and informal affair and all the better for that.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Miss World :Beauty with a Purpose

If you are a man you might think 'Miss World' is frothy fun with very attractive girls; if you are a woman your feminist hackles might rise with a feeling that naive young women are being exploited. Both wrong. Very wrong. At the heart of Miss World is the charity, Beauty with a Purpose, which works tirelessly across the world and raises hundred of millions of pounds mainly for the benefit of disadvantaged children. From funding cleft palate teams in South America, Russia and Sri Lanka, supporting the Nelson Mandela Trust in South Africa to fund raising for the Vietnamese Red Cross and special childrens' villages catering for abandoned and neglected children the charity operates world wide. Miss World Country representatives actively support and promote these charitable causes and raise funds in their own countries.

All this has been instigated and is run by the charming but irrepressible Julia Morley, a long standing member of the Marketors. Why she has not received public recognition for her colossal charitable efforts I do not know. She kindly invited four of us with wives to the Miss World Charity Dinner on Monday night. The 120 contestants from around the world were there, the final of the competition is on 6 November. The contestants mingled and chatted with guests before dinner and sat with them at dinner. On our table we were graced with Miss Denmark and Miss Czech Republic.

Like all the contestants these were mature and intelligent young women. None of the contestants aspire to be hairdressers. Many are studying law and medicine; some are already qualified teachers; they are bright as well as beautiful. It was a very happy dinner which with a charity auction probably raised £100,000. Beauty with a Purpose indeed.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


There are now 17 of the 108 Clerks of Livery Companies who are female(and several Assistant Clerks). They met yesterday for lunch as they do every Halloween----as a witches coven (I'm not making this up, I was told by our Clerk). With great wit they decided that the main course which was most appropriate was grouse. 'nuff said.

For the avoidance of doubt, as my lawyer has advised me to make clear, I must state that the picture to the left bears no relation to any known Livery Company Clerks.