20 March 2020

In view of very real problems being experienced on the ground elsewhere, and the many letters and emails we are now receiving about Covid-19, the Paviors Company may not be uppermost in your mind, but I thought I would report briefly to you anyway. Many Members have been in touch with me in recent weeks since I was installed to express many kind thoughts ranging from congratulations to commiserations! Indeed, we have all been through the whole range of emotions in many ways in different contexts over the last few weeks, since this national health and consequent economic crisis erupted as if from nowhere. So I thought I should write to all members in the hope of reassuring you on a number of fronts that your company was presently in safe hands, and in good heart. ​

My Installation Service at St Martin-within-Ludgate and Dinner at the Stationers’ Hall
This took place on 4th March in what seems like another era now. I loved every minute of it and many of you were kind enough to attend and offer your support. I was very touched. This said more about the strength of the Paviors Company than about me, I know.

Paviors’ Golfing Society AGM and Dinner 9th March
I was kindly invited to this event by Paul McCracken the Golf Captain. His speech was much funnier than my Installation offering! As usual the Cutlers’ Hall looked after us royally.

The Charity Golf Day at Camberley Heath on 16th July
This is planned for the day before my daughter’s wedding and I am hoping that neither of them will be unduly affected by the present crisis – but we must obviously keep all such plans under close review. Please contact the Clerk to enter teams of four or to take part individually.

Clothworkers’ Hall – Meeting with Professor Theresa Goble of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama 11th March
This meeting with an old friend of mine was to plan the musical interlude for the Spring Dinner, now abandoned. The time was not wasted and the progress made can be used for other dinners later in the year.

Carpenters Company Livery Spring Dinner 11th March
This was very grand and white tie with some amazing wine. Lord Flight of Worcester, the Master Carpenter, spoke and was very kind about me and other guests.

London Construction Academy graduation day 13th March
I presented the students with their vocational certificates and they were all so bright eyed and bushy tailed about them, that they could not resist reaching out their hands to shake mine, and I didn’t have the heart to refuse their greetings. If ever anyone would like to see what good the Paviors’ Charity can do for a very diverse and grateful group of young individuals, they should join me at a future graduation ceremony. I should say the group this time was not gender diverse, by the way – all boys, and this needs to be looked at. The April/May course has been cancelled, but there will be two or three more during the year.

Master’s diary engagements – all cancelled or postponed

o United Guilds’ Service, St Paul’s Cathedral/Cutlers’ Hall
o Lord Mayor’s Banquet; Masters’ Prime Wardens’ and Upper Bailiffs’ dinner, Mansion House
o Lord Mayor of London Big Curry Lunch, Guildhal
o Masons’ Banquet, Mansion House
o Rochester Cathedral Reception, Saddlers’ Hal
o Paviors’ Wine Circle, Travellers Club
o Paviors’ Prospective New Members evening
o Liverymen’s Committee meeting
o ICE Visit with Neil Sandberg
o Engineers’ Dinner, Merchant Taylors’ Hall
o Museum of London visit
o Apothecaries’ Spring Dinner
– and several other events ejusdem generis

All a great shame, but much worse things are happening elsewhere to other people.

Paviors’ Charity
There is a routine Charity Committee and Trustees’ meeting coming up on 7th April to review matters, chaired by Renter Warden and Chair of the Charity Committee, John May. This may have to be a telephone conference. A working party of the Master and Wardens is also meeting regularly to update the governance of the Paviors’ Charity and relevant Standing Orders and Ordinances. Much work has already been done on this, and the result of these deliberations will in due course be presented to the Court for approval. The next meeting of the working party takes places on 15th April and may have to be conducted remotely depending on events.

As promised at the Installation Dinner, I also intend to send out to all members a copy of the new edition of the book Children of Stones (the scholarly account of our history largely written by past master Ian Dussek). And I will at the same time be asking all members to reconsider their annual voluntary charitable donation to the Paviors’ Charity which is now in need of funds to assist the very valuable work of the London Construction Academy. Now may not be the easiest time to ask for more generosity from the membership, but we have to take a long term view, if our philanthropic work is to continue. I shall also be sending out a revised and updated paper on testamentary legacies to remind the membership that a donation in their wills can enormously assist in the work we do.

Paviors’ Ball 5th February 2021
The Upper Warden, Neil Sandberg, and I have set the date for the biennial Paviors’ Ball. It may possibly take place at the Institution of Civil Engineers in Great George Street. In the meantime, please put the date in your diary and think of lots of friends or colleagues to invite!

Paviors’ Company Finances
The Paviors’ short term finances are in good order but will be reviewed again shortly. I was able to obtain considerable sponsorship before my year began, and this has ensured that we start with a strong opening balance on current account. If we achieve a surplus, I shall ensure that part or all of it is mandated to the Paviors’ Charity for the furtherance of our main objects – chief of which is the London Construction Academy. The Long Term Finance Subcommittee, chaired by Carolyn Dwyer, meets again shortly to take matters in that regard forward. Hopefully the present major economic crisis will make it even more apparent to individuals and organizations like ours that, to survive and flourish (root and branch!), one needs to save for a rainy day.

May I wish you all a safe and hopeful onward journey in your lives wherever you may be, and I shall look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during my year ahead.

Hugh MacDougald