17 December 2018

As I sit down to write my seventh Blog since having the privilege of becoming Master, I will this week attend my 100th function of the year. Fittingly, this is our Alumni Christmas Evening, where I have foolishly challenged Max Hacon, one of our newest Paviors, to a ‘Yard of Ale’. Max was our first Arkwright Scholar, and how wonderful it is to see him now join us as a Pavior in his own right. This is surely testimony to the success of our educational initiatives.​

Equally, one of the proudest moments of the year was during Paviors’ Week, when we celebrated the success of our educational charities, with students from the Construction Youth Trust and our Academy, potential employers and Paviors all in the same room. In my mind, our work in this area is one of the best things we have done in over 700 years. Thanks to Chris Plant and all involved in organizing the day. We have been approached by a BBC filmmaker to be involved in their Day that changed my life programme to include one of our Academy students. Let us hope that this will not only celebrate success but will lead to raising awareness of our initiatives to create more opportunities for future students.

Glesni and I have attended dinners at the Mansion House, courtesy of the Engineers and Builders Merchants, and at Cutlers’ and Mercers’ Halls, courtesy of the Cutlers and Masons. Last week, we attended a wonderful Christmas Dinner organized by our Luncheon Club at Stationers’ Hall, where talented singers from my homeland accompanied dinner. We have both been fortunate enough to attend several other events, which all add up to a great year for which we are both extremely grateful.

There has been considerable coverage of our ‘iconic inflated pig’ as part of the Lord Mayor’s Show. My thanks go to the Liverymen’s Committee for their incredible work organizing our involvement. At a time when our world is facing so many modern-day challenges, and when we remember our brave soldiers from 100 years ago, it was indeed wonderful to be parading around the streets of our City with such joy and happiness.

The Autumn Livery Dinner was held at Drapers’ Hall, one of my favourite halls for the winter. It was a marvellous evening and, judging from the messages I have received, was genuinely enjoyed by so many. Two-hundred-and-forty-two attendees saw Sir John Armitt CBE receive the Paviors’ Medal for Excellence, heard an elegant and interesting speech from Ian Wilson from Alzheimer’s Research UK, and rejoiced in the trumpeters playing the popular Post Horn Gallop. I had arranged for Trystyn Llyr, from my village in West Wales, to come and sing on the evening – but he had to give apologies at the beginning of the week as his wife was 12 days overdue with their first baby and the midwife had understandably pinned his feet to the floor. He had however organized for a friend of his to be a last minute-replacement – and what a replacement was Elgan Llyr Thomas, who brought the house down with his talented tenor voice. No wonder he is an English National Opera Harewood Artist of the Year.

It continues to amaze me how much work our committees put into our activities, and there is no doubt that this is currently making our Livery so successful. Each chairman will report to Common Hall on 17 January at Trinity House and this provides a great opportunity for each Pavior to contribute to the future direction taken by our Company. So I would encourage you to attend if you can.

Our biennial fund-raising dinner is a Masked Ball at Plaisterers’ Hall on 1 February. Sue, the Upper Warden, and I are asking for your help to support this event to raise funds for our Paviors’ charity, the London Construction Academy, and our chosen Master’s Charity for two years, Alzheimer’s Research UK. It promises to be a wonderful evening of fun, excellent food, entertainment and dancing. So if you have not booked yet, please do so with the Clerk. It would also be great if you could donate silent auction prizes.

As Paviors, we have been building and maintaining roads since 1276 and, particularly at Christmas time, all roads lead to home and family. May I wish each and every one of you and your families a very Happy and enjoyable Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year.

Dyfrig James