So the journey starts. I had two visits to the Old Bailey in the first month of office. First I showed liveryman Edi Etter and his wife around the courts with the help of the IPM and Sheriff Fiona Adler. Edi is Master of the Swiss guild of wine growers based in Basel. Later in the month I was honoured to have lunch with the judges and sit in on a case of death by dangerous driving. The prosecution did not ask the key question, but luckily the judge asked it.
I did not distinguish myself at the Icicle Golf day at Swinley Forest but my playing partner Mike Keiller won with a very steady game.
There were two trips to Edinburgh. First for a Scottish Committee meeting where we presented the freedom to Raymond Davidson, Stuart Urquhart and Peter Prentice followed by lunch at the Caledonian Hotel – I know it is a tough life. Then a week later I presented the Distillers’ Quaich at an awards ceremony to 603 Air Squadron. It was great to have a chance to meet a few of the squadron and plan events for the RAF’s centenary year in 2018.
We are carrying out quite a deep dive into how we manage the Company so there was a morning spent planning questions for the Committees and checking liverymen’s responses to our membership questionnaire. The need for informal, inexpensive evening events is clear. We are also heavily into the arrangements for next April’s whisky auction. Luckily there is an auction team who are doing the hard work. However I needed to sign 50 letters to liverymen asking for possible donations of lots.
The Carol Service is always a lovely way to bring the Company’s year to a close. The Distillers were in good voice and we continued last year’s precedent of dining in the Guildhall Library afterwards.
However this year the Carol Service was not the final event of 2017. Turfistes ventured to Newbury Racecourse for lunch and an afternoon of racing. We sponsored one of the races. The Mistress and Amanda Rolls (daughter of Past Master Norman Burrough) picked the best turned out horse in our race from a field of 21. The horse then duly won the race at 7/1, the girls clearly know how to spot the good ones.
My first month highlighted how much hard work goes on behind the scenes from the Assistant Clerk, Kim Lyons, and the Learned Clerk, Ed Macey-Dare. Invitations to respond to, committees needing advice and the delights of data protection and tax are just a few parts of everyday life for a Master.
I look forward to the New Year with great relish, and our February lunch, which is a popular occasion to celebrate our support in educational causes.
May I wish all liverymen a happy and prosperous New Year.