Friday, 25 October 2013

Bowden Charter Dinner Thursday 24th October Plaisterers' Hall

The Bowden Charter Dinner held annually in October was instigated to celebrate the achievement of Reginald Bowden, founder Master to both the Guild and the Livery Company he helped create.

Reginald Bowden was selected from a group of seven Fellows of the Institute of Marketing, five of whom former Chairmen, to lead a working party in 1973 with the aim of establishing a City Guild to represent the profession of marketing.   In just two years such a Guild was founded, and just two years after that we were a full blown livery company, obtaining the approval of the Court of Alderman to progress to full livery status in December 1977.  The working party not only had to negotiate with the City, but also find the members prepared to join and help fund the proposed Guild and Livery Company.  Financial viability lies at the heart of what is sought prior to establishment of both Guilds and Livery Companies.  At the dinner I really wanted this year to re-establish the huge importance of Reginald Bowden to the existence of the company - something that I thought had perhaps been rather lost in recent years. This is a particularly good time to do it as it is forty years since the establishment of the working party and some of our founders are still active in the Company and wish that their work be recognised and fully appreciated by the current membership.

Viscount Younger is the Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and is the Business Minister in the House of Lords representing his department.  In his speech at the start of the evening Lord Younger stressed the role that Professional and Business Services (PBS) need to fulfil in the new economy that will emerge in the wake of the financial crisis.  It is expected that a further 600,000 jobs will be created in this sector in coming years - representing a huge transition in employment opportunities and the skills needed in the modern economy.

My after dinner speaker is a personal friend Dr Gillian Tett, Assistant Editor to the Financial Times and a well known journalist and author on financial matters.  She stressed the fact that even experts such as Alan Greenspan can "get it wrong" and that there is no monopoly on wisdom.  The origin of the word "credit" is CREDO - the Greek for trust and that implied that personal relationships must again come to lie at the heart of transactions in the City. With her anthropological interest in the motivations of people she said that livery companies have importance in the city - representing as they do a connectedness between professionals.

The Bowden was very well attended - over 200 - and this was my fourth "Great Event" during my year of mastership.   The Masters of the Mercers, Plaisterers and International Bankers were also in attendance as guests, along with Mr Nicholas Woolf who will shortly be assuming the role of consort to the incoming Lord Mayor.  Our dinner was reported today in the Daily Telegraph under Court and Social.

Prior to the dinner a Ceremonial Court was held at which I had the pleasure of installing a new Court Assistant, admitting four freemen into the livery as liverymen (sometimes described in livery companies as clothing or clotheing), and admitting eight into the Freedom of the Company.  These eight Freemen now have the opportunity to apply for the Freedom of the City of London, sponsored by the Marketors' Company.  The procedure at Ceremonial Court is very formal with each person admitted or installed reading a declaration in front of the Court. I also awarded four Pioneer Medals and two academic prizes so it was a very full Court Meeting.

The Bowden Dinner marks that I am three quarters of the way through my year but still with plenty of other events still ahead of me, and of course the Company - Autumn is always a busy period for all livery companies.      


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