First up in February was a road and boat trip to Alkmaar in The Netherlands where I had been asked as Master to open the 10th Anniversary of The Hielander Whisky Festival. This whisky festival has raised substantial funds over the years for a local Cancer Hospice/Charity The Praethuys in Alkmaar. Having opened the event dressed in Masters Gown, it was a quick change to take my place in the band for the opening event. Seamless!! I am very much hoping that some of the organising team will travel from Holland to be with us for the drinks party planned later this year on HQS Wellington.
Although Hurricane Ciara was to play havoc with many of the next week’s travel arrangements, we managed to fly out of Amsterdam just ahead of her and made it to Edinburgh for the Informal Lunch at 603 Squadron prior to The Calcutta Cup. Excellently organised by Hon Steward Michael Urquhart , the lunch was a relaxed an jovial affair with 18 attending consisting of Liverymen, families and guests. Thanks, as always, to 603 for generously hosting.
The aforementioned travel havoc started with my car, which was being driven home by other band members, being trapped on board a North Sea ferry for 10 hours longer than anticipated. The delay to our travel south and unavailability of any alternative transport meant the Mistress unfortunately was unable to attend the CLINKS visit to HM Brixton Prison.
I was pleased to make it to London, however in time for Michael Druitt’s memorial service, with a good number of other Liverymen, which was an excellent send off for someone I had known for most of my business life. He will be missed by many.
Later that week I had the slightly nerve wracking pleasure of chairing my first Court meeting as Master before moving on to the February lunch at Girdlers Hall, which proved to be an excellent venue.
The “Burns Night” theme seemed to be well accepted (If not universally understood by those from South of the border!) and I have to say I was delighted with the phenomenal turnout of over 120. It was also an amazing experience to witness the World Premier of the new Distillers song written and composed by The Learned Clerk and expertly sung by Hon Assistant Harris. At a personal level I was delighted to be able to catch up with The Master Brewer, Simon Theakston, on a number of mutual acquaintances and colleagues from our time in S&N
The Mistress and Consorts enjoyed a splendid parallel lunch in The Vintners Courtroom where they were entertained to an excellent tour by Steve Marcham who, on completion, high tailed it to The Girdlers to attend the Livery lunch. Commitment indeed!
The Mistress continued to enjoy the City life the following week as guest of The Mistress brewer an I was the happy recipient of a bottle of Theakstons Old Peculiar following the lunch!!
On the 20th of February we entertained Commander Ollie Hucker and three of the crew of HMS Montrose to lunch in Vintners Boardroom where IPM Martin Reilly presented The Sailor of the Year trophies for 2019 and 2020. Ollie also gave a fantastic insight of what it was like in The Gulf, as the ship became the first RN ship to be at full “battle stations” since the Falklands conflict. To say we were “In awe” would be a huge understatement!!
On the 21st February The Mistress and I attended The Mansion House Banquet of The Worshipful Company of Gardeners. A very nice evening with very friendly hosts.
An early morning start on Saturday meant that we were able to drive home in time for (at least) the second half of the rugby!
3 days at home for changes of clothes washing and the Long Distance Master and Mistress (with dog Rosa) were on their way back to London again for a Whisky tasting for our Corporate Freemen Mappin and Webb and members of The Royal Household including The Governor of The Tower of London. The two Master’s casks showed up superbly and were thoroughly enjoyed by all. Thanks to Karl and Mark for inviting us!!
The last event of the month left a deep impression on The Mistress and me. We visited Treloar’s School with The Lord Mayor ,Lady Mayoress and a group of other Livery Masters and Mistresses. Treloar’s is run by The Treolar Trust a Charity set up in 1907 by the then Lord Mayor. It cares for young people with physical disabilities and helps prepare them for adult life, providing education, care therapy and independence training. The young people and their teachers and care assistants were an absolute inspiration and its no surprise that the establishment is rated as ”Outstanding” by both Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission. A very uplifting end to the month, made even more memorable by finding that the current Chair of Trustees is a friend of Kathy’s family!