Master’s Blog – March

March began with a ceremony in Guildhall Yard with the Lord Mayor and Master Gardener hosting the Duke of Kent in the opening of a small garden in the form of a maze produced by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.  The maze symbolises the mental state veterans sometimes find themselves in when trying to reestablish their lives after combat and PTSD. This event was in support of the Big Curry Lunch, a charity event now in its 12th year which takes place in April.

The proceeds of the Big Curry Lunch are in aid of the Army Benevolent Lunch and will be focused on financing care in pain management in conjunction with King Edward VII Hospital. 

A visit to Glasgow at the invitation of the Visitor of the Incorporation of Maltmen – one of the 14 trades and craft guilds in Glasgow – was a lively event. Excellent hospitality with music, much singing and many speeches in the splendid Trades Hall. 

An evening of entertainment at the Old Bailey in Court Number 1 featured comic vignettes of famous trials played by former Sheriffs, Liverymen and legal luminaries in support of the Sheriffs and Recorders Charity Fund. 

The annual event with the Master and Wardens of the Vintners was this year a lunch hosted by the Vintners in their Court room was followed by a tour of their cellars. A most convivial event which cements the close relationship between these two great Livery Companies. 

A visit to Dagenham to see the new On Side Youth Zone building which will be opened in April. The preview given to members of our Charity Committee was as a result of the £50,000 contribution we made to the building from the proceeds of the Charity Auction last year and which is part of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal. A state of the art building designed to keep young people off the streets in a safe space contains sport and music facilities with people on hand to help them with any personal challenges and to develop opportunities. 

The positive, encouraging quotations and slogans which appear inside the building are chosen by young people themselves who have helped in the design of the building and present a, “Yes we can” approach to life. 

In the same week a visit to Treloars School in Alton, Hampshire with the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs along with Masters and Mistresses form many Livery Companies was equally inspiring. The residential school founded in 1907 by Lord Mayor Sir William Treloars is dedicated to educating and supporting severely disabled children from the ages of 2-22. 

All students there have complex medical conditions and the vast majority are constantly in wheelchairs. The school has been supported by the City Corporation and Lord Mayor and by Livery Companies including the Distillers. The staff of 800 are dedicated to improving the lives of the 183 residents with patience understanding and professionalism. 

The visit finished with a concert performed by some of the students using specially adapted instruments and supported by remarkable software packages which enable notes to be struck by the blink of an eye. 

The Lord Mayor hosted a banquet at Mansion House for Masters and Consorts and gave a speech which focused on the important role of Livery companies today. He highlighted the 3 “S “which define this role – skills / standards/ social responsibility. 

The following day was the annual United Guild Service at St Paul’s Cathedral. All the Livery Companies are represented – the Masters in gowns and chains of office and their Consorts sitting under the huge dome. Wardens and Liverymen also attend the service. 

Following this the Distillers traditionally go to Brewers Hall for lunch together with the Brewers and Coopers. This is a most convivial and relaxed event where beer is served alongside wine and the loyal toast is always made in beer.

I made a speech which celebrated the association between the Brewers Distillers and Coopers – not only because of the connection in our respective products but also the strong link reflected in our membership of the Cask Group which we all wish to build on.