February Court & Livery Luncheon 2024

The February Court & Livery Luncheon saw the Distillers’ Company return to Vintners’ Hall, which is our home for the Installation of the new Master and Wardens in November. It was fitting therefore that at the Court meeting before the luncheon Alderman Vincent Keaveny, CBE KStJ was installed as Renter Warden and Alex Oldroyd was also welcomed to the Court.

At the Court meeting there were ceremonies to appoint Simon Collins (Chairman of MALT) and Stephen Russell (a member of the Finance Committee) as Stewards. Alexis Burgess, Ciarán Russell and Naomi Laurie joined the Livery and Alderman & Sheriff Bronek Masojada was formally introduced to the Court. He had joined the Livery in September 2023 just before being appointed as Sheriff.

There was the welcome return of Rev’d Canon David Parrott who deputised for our new Honorary Chaplain, Fr. James Titley who was unable to attend. I felt very honoured that I found a place in one of David’s famed graces:

We meet today in this fine hall
Distillers livery one and all
To eat some food and drink some wine
Provided by our God divine.
When last we met t’was my desire,
From saying grace I should retire
But then a call from tyrant Kim,
And once again for lunch I sing

We were treated to a wonderful menu comprising poached sea trout, Lake District lamp rump, and rum & coconut parfait served alongside Hugel Classic Pinot Gris 2019 and Château de Fonbel St Emilion Grand Cru 2018. There was Graham’s ‘Six Grapes’ Special Vila Vehla Edition Reserve Port for the toasts.

The luncheon had a military theme, with guests attending from various areas of the armed forces, the Royal Navy (825 Naval Air Squadron and HMS President, Naval Regional Commanders organisation), and the British Army (The Household Cavalry and London Scottish Band of the Pipes and Drums). The military theme continued with Steward Matthew Russell as Company Speaker. Matthew is a member of MALT (our Military Affiliation Committee) and our liaison for 825 NAS.

The guest speaker was Lt Gen James Bashall CB, CBE who provided an overview of the British Army today, his view on its challenges and the importance of the Armed Forces to Livery Companies to the Armed Forces. 

During the Master’s speech he made a presentation to Leading Air Engineering Technician Matthew Spicer who was the winner of the Distillers’ Prize for 2023 which is awarded to the best performing Engineering Technician in 825 NAS for the entire year. 

The Master also presented the Claret Jug for 2023 to Honorary Steward Geoffrey Bush who was the winner of the golf knockout competition 2023. Geoffrey has now won the trophy 3 times since the inauguration in 2010.

After the speeches, everyone retired to the Drawing Room for the Stirrup Cup and a chance to catch up with both new and old friends, where we were joined by the Mistress and her guests who had dined at Innholders’ Hall where they were treated to an insight of City life by Fiona Adler, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders and non-Aldermanic Sheriff in 2014-15.

Fiona Adler had given a fascinating account into her role as Secondary to the City of London, a permanent position working alongside the Sheriffs and Aldermen and supporting their year in office. Given the fire at the Old Bailey the day before, in which some 2000 staff, jurors and offenders had to be evacuated, we were delighted Fiona could attend. She gave an inspiring speech about the work with young offenders or those at risk to tackle knife crime.

The Consorts had a most delicious lunch starting with a chicken leg Caesar salad, followed by pan fried spiced Cod loin, finishing with a deconstructed Greek yogurt, lime & white chocolate cheesecake. Clean plates all round!

Kim Lyons
Assistant Clerk