First and foremost, many thanks for putting your trust in me. I will take on the honour with enormous enthusiasm and pride, and of course with a great sense of duty.
It’s been a marvellous start to my year as your Master as, in just over two weeks of my term, I have attended 15 functions and meetings. Glesni, as Mistress, has attended six of these events with me and an additional four Consorts’ meetings. We have thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
The Installation Service and Dinner at Stationers’ Hall proved highly enjoyable with many of you writing to wish me well and thanking me for the organization: this is in fact all down to the Clerk, John, who masterminded the whole event. Hugh, the Chaplain, gave a wonderful address in the Church as we raised the roof with some excellent singing of well known Welsh hymns. You know once us Welsh start singing, you cannot stop us! The Dinner itself was most convivial, with good food and excellent wine with a Burgundian Pinot Noir from Savigny being kindly supplied by Christopher Laing.
The Dinner gave me the opportunity to thank Immediate Past Master Miles for his excellent year and for me to lay out my plans for the coming year. These include communicating extensively our charitable educational initiatives so that each and every Pavior is aware of the programmes and how they could be involved by offering jobs, work experience, mentoring or acting as role-models. To give focus to this initiative, we have planned a Paviors Week to coincide with our Academy course in October and I have set up a Task Force for this, headed by Chris Plant and involving two new Liverymen, Renu Gupta and Darran Reid. My thanks to them. My strap line for the year is ‘Innovative Thinking …. Traditional Values’ and I will link many of the activities to this and none more so than my chosen charity Alzheimer’s Research UK. Dementia is now the number-one killer and we urgently need some innovative solution.
So, let me tell you about some of the events that I have attended so far. After a positive Admissions Committee meeting on 13 March, where we seem to be attracting high-class applicants, I attended the Paviors’ Golfing Society’s AGM on board HQS Wellington. Lynda Chase-Gardener gave a review of 2017 and handed over to Damien Tiernan, who will captain a full golfing programme for 2018. Despite my lack of skill, I will attempt a few rounds with them in my year.
Wednesday 14 March saw the opening of the Guildhall Yard Garden with the Lord Mayor. This commemorates the 100 years since the end of WW1, a very poignant and well-designed tribute. That evening, Glesni and myself, along with the Clerk and Penny, attended a sumptuous dinner as guests of the Carpenters Company in their wonderful Hall. When I looked at the wine list, I thought that I had died and gone to heaven! Talking of wine, I was invited to our own Wine Circle Meeting the next day and found that our cellar was in the loving care of some Paviors who were not just enthusiastic, but really experienced and knowledgeable individuals. Watch out for some interesting evenings ahead. That evening we attended the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Mansion House, along with other Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiffs, where we were very well entertained by the Royal Artillery Company Band and some first class speeches.
We were up early the next morning for the absolutely spectacular United Guilds’ Service at St Paul’s Cathedral. There is something quite special about the pomp and ceremony of the occasion. Afterwards we joined with the Cutlers Company at the extremely convenient Cutlers’ Hall for a joint lunch. The warm welcome we received reflects our long association with the Company going back to 1476, when Paviors laid a flagstone floor in the kitchens of the then Cutlers’ Hall. Together, we enjoyed a relaxed and convivial lunch.
Wales narrowly beat France at rugby on the Saturday, but I will not mention any other rugby-related matters that weekend, other than to congratulate Ireland on becoming well-deserved Six Nation Champions.
On Monday 19 March, I attended the Liverymen’s Committee meeting and it is great to see new Liverymen putting forward ideas for the future, including the suggestion of an induction video, which is an initiative we hope to take up soon. A full programme of events is once again planned. As the meeting was held at the Caledonian Club, I joined the prearranged Luncheon Club’s gathering which I thoroughly enjoyed. This was well organized as always by Chairman Tom Barton. If you have not thought of becoming a member, I would recommend it to you. I attended a Parliamentary function in the evening organized by Alzeimer’s Research UK, supporting their lobbying activities for research funds.
Tuesday 20 March was a special day as Glesni and myself, along with The Clerk and Ian Lumsden, were invited to visit our affiliate 29 Squadron at RAF Coningsby, where we witnessed a Typhoon display to take your breath away. This was only eclipsed by the privilege of presenting the Airman of The Year award to Cpl Andy Gillespie and being accompanied and welcomed by Wing Commander Andy Chisholm. This was followed by a private tour of The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, where we experienced standing next to a Lancaster Bomber, Spitfires, Hurricanes and Typhoons. This year is the RAF’s centenary, so many special events are planned including a fly-over of The Mall on the 10 July.
I attended the recently established Education Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of Miles Ashley on the 22 March. Our Academy is really very special to us and one of the best things that Paviors have, in my opinion, ever done. We have extended our commitments to the Construction Youth Trust and Arkwright Scholarships this year, and the Committee endorsed the enhanced communication programme planned.
Last but by no means least, I attended on Saturday evening 24 March a celebration of the Battle of Kohima, a dinner at the Third Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment barracks in Canterbury. I met the new Commanding Officer, Lt Col Dwyer, who is keen to maintain and strengthen our relationship. He has invited Paviors to join the Regiment at a training camp in Michigan this summer. If you are interested, please speak to myself or the Clerk. The highlight of the evening was presenting The Kohima Goblet to Corporal Umpelby for his remarkable achievements.
Sunday morning saw me drive to West Wales for an Easter break, but also some training for my Master’s Challenge of walking the West Wales coast line in June to raise money for Paviors’ charities and Alzeimer’s Research UK.
We now have a Master’s and Paviors’ Twitter feeds and a new Paviors’ Instagram page, as well as our web page, so hopefully, one way or another, you will be kept informed of all our activities. So here, signing-off from West Wales, where it’s walking and nil-by-mouth for me for a few days, may I wish you and your families a very relaxing and Happy Easter.