Monday, 23 February 2015

The Master's half yearly report

Master’s Report - five months in office … 17th of September 2014 to 17th February 2015 … from my Installation to our Company’s Banquet at Vintners’ Hall.

September 2014  

We had agreed a new format for the Installation Ceremony. A late morning Court Meeting was followed by my Installation service at St Lawrence Jewry, Guildhall, which was attended by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Reverend Martin Wharton. Following the church service, lunch was held at the Armourers’ Hall with a speech by the Bishop. The new arrangements were well received and I anticipate similar arrangements will be planned for my successor later this year.

The following day I took part in the Master’s Walk, and in full regalia over 30 Masters proceeded around most of the Livery Halls in the City. It was a good introduction to many newly appointed Masters, many of whom I have continued to see regularly at dinners and functions over the ensuing five months.

The Joyce Kennedy Memorial Lecture on tax affairs was held at the Launderers’ Hall with splendid views of the Thames and the drinks reception which followed provided the best canapés that I have been served so far during my year to date!

A musical evening at Mercer’s Hall with a piano recital by Mei Yi Foo, winner of the BBC Best Newcomer Award 2013, and a superb German baritone, Benjamin Appl, former Mercer’s Scholar at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama allowed Mercer’s Hall to showcase their new Italian Fazioli grand piano.  

Common Hall was a great experience and it was a privilege to witness one of the great traditions of the City of London – the Installation of the new Lord Mayor.

October 2014

Another musical evening this time at St Paul's Cathedral provided a spectacular setting for some wonderful choral music although the Dean alarmed all of us by fainting at the end of the service – fortunately recovering fully and we learned afterwards perhaps the reason was the result of having given blood earlier that day.

Dinner at the Leadenhall Building - hosted by Past Master Michael Welbank in his role as Chairman of the City of London Planning Committee – provided a spectacular panorama of London from the 39th floor. What a marvellous building! I wonder how the architects settled on the floor to ceiling height? With a diminishing floor plate area as you rise up through the building an open plan format offers interesting architectural challenges regarding awareness of the ceiling height.

The Prize-Giving ceremony at the Guildhall for the City of London Girls School was enhanced by the pomp and ceremony of civic dignitaries attending the event. The highlight of the afternoon for me was the exceptionally talented sixth former who played a movement from a Mozart violin concerto accompanied by the school orchestra. She gave a performance of professional concert hall standard which was breath-taking – what talent!

A fundraising gala dinner for Treloar’s School at the Mansion House raised over £125,000.00. The school founded by a former Lord Mayor, provides specialist support for mentally and physically handicapped young people. 

A happy band of intrepid explorers ventured north for a weekend visit to Newcastle. Exploring Tyneside and a taste Northumberland we were fortunate to have superb weather. An eclectic mix of architecture at the Newcastle University campus was described by the Upper Warden as a zoo of buildings – a contrast to the splendour of Sir John Vanburgh’s Seaton Delaval Hall and the Duchess of Northumberland's latest attempts to create a spectacular water garden feature at Alnwick Castle. 

The Members exhibition at Painters and Stainers Hall concluded a busy October.

November 2014

This month started with the Remembrance Day Service in the garden of St Paul's Cathedral.

A dinner was held at Temple Bar – an initiative by the Upper Warden to stimulate interest in a new award scheme for the WCCA. This is a venue we should use again without doubt!

Dinners and events followed apace leading up to the weekend at High Wycombe for the Teambuilding competition. Personally, I found this to be a very interesting and valuable experience although I understand some of my predecessors found it less rewarding. A concluding Wash-Up Dinner was held at the Caledonian Club at the end of February – the last event of my five months in office.

The Lord Mayor's annual address by the incoming new holder of this ancient post, Alan Yarrow, gave a welcoming and inclusive speech – and I hope we can build on his open and receptive tone by promoting the WCCA’s Global Hub Initiative. 

The Silent Ceremony, another great traditional event proceeded the Lord Mayor's Parade on the following day.

Amid tight security there was a great atmosphere of excitement and enjoyment.

My Master’s Reception at Lambeth Palace was oversubscribed and we enjoyed a comprehensive tour of the buildings and gardens. Simon Ablett is the architect responsible for the recently commenced repairs to the 1650's Great Hall and lantern, to include a new stone floor with underfloor heating.

The highlight lunch of December was at the Old Bailey with the Judiciary hosted by Sheriff Fiona Adler. 

Our Carol Service at St Lawrence Jewry held jointly with the Constructors was well attended and we enjoyed hearing Catherine Ennis play the organ and lead the choir through the inaugural performance of a new carol I had commissioned – ‘Hodie’

Struggling with a viral infection early in the New Year I attended the New Year Service at St Michael’s, Cornhill with the first lesson read by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England – just across the road from his office!

This short summary of an extremely busy five months of events and functions was rounded off by our Annual Banquet at Vintners’ Hall with the Thames Fanfare Brass Ensemble providing a lively and sparkling musical interlude. Lord Shipley gave a lively and challenging speech on behalf of the guests.

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