Thursday, 18 April 2013

Subalterns Dinner Wednesday 17th April 2013

It was excellent to visit Fujitsu Defence who once hosted us at Baker Street for what has become an important event in the Marketors annual calendar. I was accompanied from the Company by Past Master Roger Hood and the Senior, Middle & Junior Wardens , as well as representatives of our own Freemen.
Our host for the evening was again the non- executive Chairman, Simon Blagden MBE, who had literally just stepped off a flight from Japan. He welcomed us all and, in response, Court Assistant Richard Christou, Chair of the Armed Forces Committee spoke of the continuing work of the Company in its support to 151 Regiment and HMS St Albans, a type 23 frigate.
I was delighted to thank Fujitsu for their hospitality, the dinner now in its fourth year, and explained how the Company had expanded its support to the Armed Services, no less because as Freemen we have a historical commitment, no longer permitted, to bear arms in defence of the Lord Mayor, also reporting any treasonous activity in the City of London that might give cause for concern.  With Baroness Thatcher’s funeral having taken place that day there was little need to emphasise how well our professional Armed Forces support and protect our country with no assistance required from itinerant Freemen!
It was a pleasure for me to ask Captain Rebecca Hudson, Adjutant of 151 Regiment to read the citation for Staff Sgt Leeming who received the Worshipful Company of Marketors 2013 Award for his outstanding work in the recruiting and marketing of the Squadron, a vital activity in considering the increasing demand and planned dependency today on our reserve forces at a time of more restricted financial resources for Defence.  The Territorial Regiments are to be renamed the Reserve Army.
I spoke briefly about the challenges faced by potential employees today to not mention or draw attention to their reserve commitments when applying for a job. They have been conscious of a reducing willingness of employers to offer promotion to those necessitating leave of absence with what might often seem endless and recurrent tours of duty. Major General Mark Poffley OBE responded by talking about Future Force 2020 and the increasing opportunities and challenges this initiative presents to all reservists.  However, the upside of the opportunities available for training and active service continues to be attractive to so many dedicated men and women.
I talked of the need to encourage the next generation to serve and how delighted the Company is with its affiliation with the St Dunstan’s College Combined Cadet force.  Providing young people with the opportunity to be involved annually with the Lord Mayor’s Show each November and, more recently, to provide a carpet guard for the First Sea Lord at my Installation Dinner as Master in January, offers encouraging experiences for future young men and women to serve our Country in uniform.  My personal support to the MOD as guest speaker at First’s conference last April at HMS Collingwood on strategic communications, is just one example as to how the Marketors can contribute.
The evening ended with thanks and coffee, to which we all subscribed!

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