Sunday, 3 February 2013

Installation Dinner 23rd January 2013 at Merchant Taylors' Hall

Marketors and their guests had flocked in unusually high numbers to this stunning livery hall to be received by me and senior members of the Company for the traditional Installation Dinner that marks the start of a new Master’s year. It was a record attendance and a hall packed to capacity, with not a seat to spare. One memory I will cherish was to see cadets from the Naval Section of St Dunstan’s College lining the steps at the entrance to Merchant Taylors' Hall each being personally addressed by the First Sea Lord.
At a Ceremonial Court earlier in the evening, I had been delighted and privileged to be installed as Master for the ensuing year, making my oath as follows, prior to signing the Declaration Book: I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare that I will, as Master for this present year, well and truly order and govern all the fellowship of the mystery and Company of Marketors, according to my best skill and knowledge. I will keep and see kept to the best of my power the Royal Charter and Ordinances, Policies and Procedures of this Company.

After the new Master’s declaration, it is custom and practice for the outgoing Master of the Company to be divested of the Master's robe and chain of office and then, with the assistance of the Clerk and the Beadle, the new Master is ‘clothed’ in the robe.  My predecessor John Flynn held the lapels of my gown with both hands, almost lifting me off my feet!  The traditional words were spoken: 'I clothe you with this gown in the name of the Worshipful Company of Marketors'.  He then invested me 'with this Chain and Badge as the insignia of your Office as Master.' 

And so the leadership of the Company passes and my first duty as Master was to present the Immediate Past Master with his badge.The Court was now mine to Chair and it gave me great pleasure to immediately install two new Court Assistants, senior members who will sit on our governing body – the Court.  I was then delighted to admit our former Learned Clerk as an Honorary Liveryman of the Company and to also admit two new Liverymen.  Following this six applicants were presented to me for admission to the Freedom of the Company. I was also delighted to present an Award for Exceptional Service to an outstanding individual.  The Ceremonial Court finished with a flourish as we all shuttled into place for a Court Photograph and other photographs.

There quickly followed a receiving line of Master and Wardens with over two hundred and fifty members of the Company and their guests to personally greet, including our very own liveryman, the Rt Hon Theresa May, Secretary of State for the Home Department, our principal speaker, accompanied by her husband.
My personal guests were Admiral Lord West of Spithead, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Massey, Sir Robert Worcester, Air Commodore Stephen Skinner, Mr Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, Adam Holloway MP, Patrice de Vivies, Chairman, Total along with the Masters of the Worshipful Companies of Tylers and Bricklayers and Fuellers.
After entering the Hall to the traditional playing of Scipio, played here on the magnificent Renatus Harris organ, I received the Masters Blessing from our Honorary Chaplain, the Venerable David Meara, Archdeacon of London.  Grace then followed in the Chaplain’s customary wit and style and dinner commenced.

Following dinner the traditional sharing of the Loving Cup took place, accompanied by appropriate drinking songs from The Student Prince and La Traviata, delivered with gusto by a final year graduate Dominick Felix at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where I had once studied myself.

The Home Secretary delivered an excellent speech without notes – showing that politicians always know what to say and it was very well received by those present.

In my response, thanking our Principal Speaker, I announced the theme for my year as Master to be ‘Great Brands make Britain Great’.  We will explore Global Brands as well as British Brands – and see how both can help get our economy back on the road to growth. 

Dinner over, we all retired to the Parlour for the traditional Stirrup Cup and to spend some time with my personal guests, but as Master you first thing you find is that there is a lot to do and to think about at a major event – and that everything has to run to time, as it did with the help of our Beadle.

So the start of a year and with tomorrow to look forward to......

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