Friday, 17 January 2014

Presentation by the Master on the City Livery Companies of London at the Royal Over-Seas League Club, Mayfair Thursday 16 January 2014

Over-Seas House, where I was once a member when heading up Cable & Wireless' Asia Pacific Region, based in Singapore, had been a home from home for me in the 1990s on my visits back to Head Office. Alas, returning to the UK's often dismal weather and staying in a very pleasant room overlooking St James' Park somehow lacked much merit, particularly when meeting my rather gloomy and envious colleagues in Theobalds Road who were obliged to hear me relate my exciting adventures around the islands and countries of Asia Pacific. As I always looked rather tanned and relaxed, despite having a huge portfolio to manage, I hope I was at least some inspiration to my UK colleagues to understand that working internationally can be a positive and useful step in one's career. It certainly was for me. So here I was, back in the building that in November 1975 was where the Marketors, under the leadership of Lord Mais, member of this Club, Lord Mayor in 1972/3 had held their Inaugural Dinner - the first formal event of the Marketors.  Earlier that year on 1st April 1975 the Guild of Marketors had been formed and had started a process of inviting Fellows from the then Institute of Marketing to join the Guild of Marketors.   The first meeting of these Fellows, many eminent in marketing, therefore had taken place in this very Club, a successful event that now forms a significant part of our history. It was interesting to note from the early records that the Guild of Marketors was promoted as an association of Gentlemen in senior marketing positions (ie: no ladies need apply!).  I informed my present large audience of members of the Over-Seas League Club that well over half of those graduating in Marketing today are women! I did say that if the livery companies did not exist, there was very little chance that anyone would invent them today.  Indeed, venture far from the City of London, even into the neighbouring City of Westminster, or maybe even into Parliament (save that we do have Theresa May and Cheryl Gillan MPs as members of the Company) and you will find people who know absolutely nothing about Livery Companies at all. I talked about the Guilds found in most large towns and cities across Europe from which we derive, the long history of the Livery, as it is known collectively, and the present 109 City of London Livery Companies. I explained the Corporation of London, the freedom, patrimony and also the historic origins of the words such as 'masterpiece, and 'hallmark'.  I also,of course, spoke of the work of the Modern Livery Companies (those founded since 1931) and my own Company's Outreach, our collaboration with the Mercers, Stationers and Haberdashers.  With the 25,000 liverymen and 16,000 Freeman within the square mile, the Livery Companies are seen to be flourishing today and are not so much a City feature but more a City survival. I concluded by mentioning the events and activities in my year as Master and the several Cs I see in the work of our Company, built on the words of one distinguished Lord Mayor in the 19th century who talked of the Five Points of Fellowship:  Charity, Citizenship, Comradeship and Conviviality. Personally I would add three more Cs: Collegiate, Church and Corporation.  I concluded, after answering many questions, by stating that I had greatly enjoyed the enormous privilege of being Master for this past year and how delighted I would be next week to install my successor on 23 January so that I can disappear with my husband to the Caribbean, with so many very happy memories.  All the year is recorded on this blog!  I will return from my holiday suitably refreshed to take up my appointment as a Church Commissioner with the responsibility that this entails in managing the £5.5 billion assets of the Church of England. To that effect I shall be guest Preacher at Evensong in St Paul's Cathedral on Sunday 2 March. Everyone is welcome to attend! I thanked the assembled company for listening and discovered that one Liveryman was present, from the Security Professionals. He had decided to keep his powder dry.  It was a delight to know that there were two Liverymen in the room and, maybe, a few more now interested to become free of a Company.

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