As I write this, snow lies thick on the ground. I hope people haven’t been too disrupted. February has been a busy month. A number of things stand out. I had an uplifting visit to the Treloars School for children with severe physical disability, principally cerebral palsy. We were greeted by the head boy and girl, neither of whom could verbally communicate, but eye scanning technology allowed them to “speak.” A former Lord Mayor, Sir William Purdie Treloar, founded the school in 1908 and ever since it has been supported by Livery companies.
I had further chances to meet our military affiliates. I went down to Plymouth to present prizes to four of the sailors on board HMS Montrose. I saw their new Sea Ceptor missile system with a range of 25km. The enthusiasm of the crew was clear. Lunch allowed their catering team to finesse their offering (halibut bought in Norway when the ship was there the previous week), as they often have to impress on diplomatic missions. This is a contrast to their normal £3 per day per person catering budget. Later in the month I presented the Distillers Prize at the pipes and drums competition at the London Scottish Regiment. There was much bravado ahead of the Scotland v England rugby match, but it proved to be correct. I was only sorry to miss the game in Edinburgh having watched the previous France match there earlier in the month.
The presumptions is that a Master’s life is endless formal dinners and lunches. Not totally correct. However I thought our February Court lunch went well at Apothecaries Hall. The principal speaker Nick Charrington DL gave a witty and erudite verdict on the benefits of alcohol. It was also good to present our educational scholarships and golf prizes. I went to a Burns themed lunch at Carpenters Hall for the Butchers’ Company. The past governor of Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow, Robbie Glen, gave one of the funniest speeches I have ever heard. Finally I was invited to a great dinner to celebrate the 10 anniversary of the formation of The Last Drop Distillers, run by Beanie Espey and Rebecca Jago under the watchful eye of their fathers. All four are in our Livery Company.
Life is varied. I joined the Car Club on a trip to the Design Museum in London for a Ferrari exhibition. Sleek road cars developed from technology learnt from the track. I also listened to a fascinating talk by the Scouts Association organised by Alderman David Wootton. Scouting is a great way to get youngsters off their phone and computer. The evening was very fruitful with a chance to talk to the Master Mercer about our whisky auction, Liveryman Vincent Keaveny about his Aldermanic election and Fiona Adler, our link person with the Livery Committee of the Corporation.
Past Master Richard Watling is leading a Management Review project. I was able to join them for a meeting to plan how we manage the Company going forward. We have become increasingly active socially and within the trade and it is important that we have the right management structure in place going forward.