Probably the highlight of the month was the RAF 100 flypast. A number of us had been up to RAF Honington the previous week and Air Marshal Sir David Walker asked if we would be watching the flypast. We said yes, but did not know where to have a lunch. Sir David quickly volunteered the RAF Club and Richard Watling impressively summoned 19 people at a week’s notice. Amongst our number was Liveryman Nick Scade’s father in law, Geoffrey Hulett, who was 93 and full of beans and had flown Spitfires during the war. I watched the flypast by Buckingham Palace with my able Assistant and Master of Wine Lorne Mackillop. Little did I realise that Lorne had been an air cadet in his youth and proceeded to name all the aircraft as they flew overhead. The event will probably never happen again, partly because they have to close Heathrow for twenty minutes.
Clearly the other big highlight of the month was the IWSC tasting at Vintners Hall. Some amazing spirits and the Master Elect guided me on the Armagnacs, whilst David T Smith pointed out the right gins to try. It is one of the last events in the City before people head off on holiday and is a special way for us to show off our industry to the City as a whole.
The Out of Towners lunch at Ironmongers Hall remains a great way for liverymen to keep in touch with a relatively inexpensive meal. It was good to see some familiar faces but also some less familiar faces.
One of the City charities we support is the Sheriff and Recorders Fund. This charity provides small donations to help ex-offenders when they leave prsion. I attended the AGM at the Old Bailey and there were some fascinating tales from two female drug addicts getting back onto the straight and narrow after help from the fund. When you leave prison you are given £46 and very little help and universal credits can take 10 weeks to come through, so no wonder many people re-offend. This is an area that the Pan Livery Philanthropy group is looking at closely.
I also attended the church service of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor in the Crypt Chapel at St. Paul’s Cathedral. This celebrates all who have been knighted and much of the pageantry goes back well into history.
There was plenty of normal activity including an important executive meeting of the Masters & Wardens Committee. We are making a lot of progress on developing the management of the Company and so watch this space. I interviewed six new freemen among whom was a certain Assistant Clerk Kim Lyons. The Court have unanimously agreed that she should become a Liveryman by Presentation for all her hard work for the Company, but she still has to be interviewed! Kim was back on the day job the following day when she helped me and the Mistress do a dummy run of the food and wine for the Mansion House Banquet.
I was also honoured to be invited to a Vintners dinner, where they do a lot of singing led by the temporary clerk for the night – General Manager Steve Marcham. Later in the month I was invited to a dinner at our old mother company, the Apothecaries, where their Master proceeded to play the trombone as after dinner entertainment. Master Distiller was struggling to think what party piece he would try if required.