Monday, 30 September 2013

New Sheriffs admitted into office Friday 27th September

The annual election of two Sheriffs for the City of London took place three months ago back in June at Guildhall, Alderman Sir Paul Judge (Ward of Tower) and Robert Adrian Waddingham CBE being elected into office for 2013/2014. 

The new Sheriffs are formally admitted at Michaelmas and on Friday 27 September I lined up with the Master Actuary in the front row at Guildhall to see our respective Sheriffs take on their new duties.  The Marketors is the Mother Company of Sir Paul (a Past Master) and the Actuaries is the Mother Company of Adrian Waddingham.
Earlier I had been delighted to meet Sir Paul at Clothworkers Hall to view his Shrieval Chain. It is most skilfully created, and financed by many supporting donations across the Livery Companies and many from individuals.  The Sheriffs are now installed into the positions they will hold for a year and ready to preside at the Election of a new Lord Mayor on Monday 30 September. 

The office of Sheriff, a pre-requisite to becoming Lord Mayor, is one of the oldest in existence and dates back to the Middle Ages.  Their duties today include attending and assisting the Lord Mayor in carrying out his official duties, attending the sessions at the Central Criminal Court in the Old Bailey and presenting petitions from the City to Parliament at the Bar at the House of Commons. The Master’s blog records my visit to the Old Bailey and lunch with the Judges earlier this year, hosted there by former Sheriff Nigel Pullman.

Alderman Sir Paul Judge was born in South London, studied in Catford, and has worked in the food industry and the not for profit sector, as well as taking public service jobs such as Director General of the Conservative Party and Ministerial Advisor at the Cabinet Office. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1996, became a freeman of the City of London in 1970 and chaired the Lord Mayor’s Appeal during Sir John Stuttard’s Mayoralty, and elected Alderman in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from Cambridge, City and Westminster Universities and is married with two sons.

Buckinghamshire resident Adrian Waddingham CBE qualified as an actuary in 1975, founding Barnett Waddingham LLP in Cheapside in 1989.  He is a member of the Occupational Pensions Joint Working Group and was appointed CBE in 2012 for services to the pensions and actuarial professions. He is a member of a number of City clubs and a trustee of a variety of charities including the Skeletal Cancer Action Trust, Sustrans and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He is married with three children.

Afterwards a big lunch followed at Plaisterers’ Hall, also the home of our Marketors’ office.

Friday, 27 September 2013

House of Lords Tour and Dinner Wednesday 25th September

Organised by Liveryman Simon Campbell-Davies, some eighty Marketors and guests wended their way through Black Rod's entrance into the Palace of Westminster, through to the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace for the Master's evening at the House of Lords.  Five tour guides whisked us off in groups to see this "Palace of Variety" from Bar to Bar (from the Lords to the Commons) allowing us to soak up the many interesting features of both Houses.  Why does only one of the red benches in the House of Lords have arms and which is it? We found out.  It was interesting to note that the opportunity was being taken for replacement of some of the many floor tiles, Pugin's patterns worn off by the passage of many feet. 

Parliament was in recess, MPs and Peers have headed off to Party Conferences or else a spell away from the onerous daily work of running the country. It was a beautiful evening and on return from our tours, including the chambers of both houses we had a spell on the terrace, all to ourselves, accompanied by a glass of champagne, looking at a tranquil Thames in the twilight, with Lambeth Palace on the far side of the Thames (we are visiting there on 1 October) set the scene for dinner.

Dinner was served and musical accompaniment was provided by a pianist and singer from a local London church.  Our host for the evening was Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE.  Michael is Global Head of Corporate Citizenship and Diversity for KPMG, and was formerly Head of Corporate Responsibility and Public Affairs at the BBC and on the Board of several significant charities. Michael and I found that we share a Degree in Theology.  Lord Hastings gave a sterling and often amusing exposition of the workings of Parliament, particularly the House of Lords, ending his talk with a toast to the Company. One guest remarked afterwards 'I don't think I have ever heard our Constitutional arrangements expounded so succinctly and so positively, as they rightly deserve'. After dinner there was much discussion on the subject of democracy, particularly after noting that 80% of our legislation now comes from Brussels and is rarely debated at all in either house! A thoroughly good evening of fellowship and good humour, as well as some education in both the fabric and the practices of Parliament. Pugin abounds! The picture below is with Professor Andrew Briggs of Oxford University, one of my distinguished guests.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Smithfield Market and Champagne Breakfast Wednesday 18th September

A very early start was required for this visit to Smithfield and at 6.30pm the first group was assembled outside Barbican Station.  Our guide, Peter Twist, marched us off via the winding passages of East Street and Cloth Fair to West Smithfield, past Saint Bartholomew the Great, one of London's oldest churches. Founded in 1123 as an Augustinian Priory, it has been in continuous use since 1143. The Smithfield area, which includes St Bartholomew's Hospital and what is now called the Central Markets, has at the heart of it all a church built when Henry I, son of William the Conqueror, was King. It survived the Great Fire of 1666 and both World Wars unscathed. The Church is noted for its wonderful architecture, traditional formal worship and marvellous music. It has also appeared in numerous films including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Amazing Grace, as well as in several television programmes, including The Hollow Crown.  Leaving this treasure behind we progressed across Long Lane to the Market itself which was founded in Victorian times, replete with railway systems beneath, now being restored to form part of Crossrail.  Entering the original Market (open to everyone), with its massive wrought iron gates, we met many friendly members of the Butchers' Company at the end of their working day (having commenced at 1am).  The fantastic range of meats on offer looked completely different to our supermarket purchases and the prices also seemed lower.  We progressed through to the Poultry market which had been rebuilt in 1962 after a fire had completely destroyed the original building.  A three-inch thick concrete roof sufficient to span an Olympic size swimming pool, invisible from the road outside, seemed to represent an attempt to be modern, in line with the Barbican buildings.  The many other Victorian buildings, including the fruit and fish markets, the coal store, the Gentlemen toilets and the enormous cold storage areas all showed signs of extreme disuse and neglect.   The lure of the property developer is putting marked time on potential restoration of these historic buildings to their former glory. We all retired to the local Hope Inn at 8am, in the hope that the Corporation of London will be wise enough to guard their precious heritage. A glass of champagne, a strong coffee and full English breakfast restored us to a more sanguine view. Many thanks to Jane Wharam and Lesley Wilson for their organisation of such a fascinating glimpse into the history of streets that are walked daily by so many of us, yet rarely noticed. On conclusion of the visit I imagined that I whizzed off to the IOD Annual Conference at the Albert Hall in my new car!  Two great brands in one day - Smithfield and Jaguar.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Modern Companies Autumn Dinner Thursday 12 September

The first 'modern' Livery Company was the Master Mariners, formed in 1926, and number 78 in numerical order of precedence.  Every Livery Company formed from then on falls into that category. The Worshipful Company of Marketors became number 90 in the City of London Roll of Livery Companies in 1978. Modern Companies Dinners have taken place twice a year, in the Spring and Autumn, since 2006 and it was the Marketors turn to host the dinner in Spring 2012.  As Senior Warden I had the privilege to be the host for this dinner owing to the Master's indisposition.  Since then the dinner has been hosted by the Actuaries and the Insurers. It was the Arbitrators turn this Autumn and the Engineers will host the dinner in the Spring of 2014.  Master Arbitrator, Karl Davies, was a splendid host, more so because he had invited Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE to be his guest speaker. As always, Fiona gave us a tremendous presentation on the state of the Country, the City and the economy. Sitting opposite the Master Furniture Maker, I was appreciative of the need for house prices to encourage movement in the market place, while sitting between the Master Solicitor and the Master Actuary!  I was encouraged to be in the company of Master Firefighter, Master Environmental Cleaner and Master International Banker, all fantastic and talented ladies, complementing our own, our very own Fiona. We were dining in Armourers Hall and the Guild of St George of the Armourers was instituted by an ordinance of the City of London in 1322 which laid down the regulations for the trade. King Henry VI awarded the first Royal Charter in 1543 and in 1708 Queen Anne presented the current Charter. This gave the Brasiers, workers in brass and copper who had long been involved with the Company, equal status with the Armourers. Since the industrial revolution in the 19th Century, the main focus of the Company has been charitable, concentrating primarily, but not exclusively, on supporting education and research in metallurgy and materials science. The Company has been on the site since 1346 and has a stunning display of armoury in the Hall.  Many of the Masters present that evening had been with me and David on our visit to Ironbridge with the Lord Mayor in June. Those eighty or so Masters have now formed a Past Masters group called the 'Great 13' and, as Marketor, I was tasked to create the logo! The Great 13 look forward to getting together in November when many of us will be past the Chair and others like myself will be getting towards the end of our year.  A great evening.

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Master's Garden Party Saturday 7 September

After our very interesting visit to the City and Cathedral of Canterbury, intrepid Marketors ventured a little further to the South East to join David and me at our country home in the village of Tilmanstone. Our home sits in glorious countryside sheltered in the lea of the reclaimed spoil of the local Tilmanstone Colliery, one of the several former mines that comprised the Kent Coalfields, this year in 2013 celebrating, or rather reflecting on, a centenary since coal mining started, extraction ending in 1978 with the closure of all the pits after the Miners strikes. We moved in 1999 to this beautiful area, close to the Cinque Ports of Sandwich, Deal, Walmer and Dover, when I returned from my posting to South East Asia with Cable & Wireless, also retaining a home in London.
We were blessed with continuous sunshine on the day of the Garden Party and, after a picnic together, we were entertained by the very well known Betteshanger Colliery Welfare Band, brass bands being a wonderful tradition and legacy of the mining community.  Enterprisingly, Liveryman Mike Kearsley had contacted John Gould, the Band Director, and offered to play the tuba on the day.  His offer was gladly received and we had one of our own who performed brilliantly  - without practice, so Annie advised me!  With a brilliant repertoire, the concert consisted of some stunning arrangements of well known pieces, including film themes and a specially composed medley from Les Miserables.  The concert was followed by champagne and a traditional cream tea served to everyone by our daughters and friends. Some Marketors had to leave promptly for a long drive or train ride home.  It was wonderful to see everybody and to enjoy the relaxing fellowship of each other's company without any formality.  If anyone would like to comment on the afternoon or add a photo, please do so.