Another eventful month, started in great style, when I attended the annual Kohima Dinner, courtesy of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment’s Commanding Officer, Lt-Col Brennan Dwyer. Arriving at Canterbury was also a revelation, having never visited before; this is somewhere I absolutely will return to explore its history and wonderful streets and buildings. The event is held at the Regiment’s barracks and, whilst celebrating the success of the Battle of Kohima in 1944 against Japan in Burma, it also acknowledges the losses and heroism needed to achieve such success. LCpl Harman of the Regiment won a VC in the Battle, and the sheer enthusiasm of the men in reading about his deeds, encouraged by much cheering and applause from their fellow soldiers, was infectious. I was honoured to present the Paviors’ award for Corporal of the Year to Cpl Tullett, and the Regiment take great pride in receiving this. The relationship with 3PWRR is one to consider and cherish in these days of cut-backs to military spending, and in a time of world change.
There were two most enjoyable dinners with other companies, when I joined the Upholders at Goldsmiths’ Hall and the Apothecaries at their own hall; both beautiful venues and a great opportunity to get to know fellow Masters for the year. I was honoured to be seated next to former England Cricket Captain, Mike Brearley, much to the envy of my consort, Maurice, and the Clerk. Mike was a most charming and entertaining dinner companion and, perhaps surprisingly, the subject of cricket did not arise. But, after dinner, he was immediately ambushed by Maurice and the Clerk to relive the glories of England’s 1981 cricket triumph!
And of course there was our own Spring Dinner, a most enjoyable event. Katherine Bew was our principle guest, alongside our own Dame Fiona Woolf, attending as Master of the Plumbers, as well as the Masters of the Joiners and Ceilers, and the Chartered Surveyors. A new note was sounded that evening, with a short jazz set played as our musical entertainment, which immediately had everyone’s toes tapping.
However, quite a lot of time was occupied this month in the build-up to the Moonwalk – team discussions, fund-raising, the creation of our decorated bras and other accoutrements, and ever-longer walks to build up strength and stamina.
The night of the walk arrived: very cool and becoming colder but, thankfully, no rain. Our team of 20 assembled at Clapham Common by a giant pink marquee, where over 16,000 participants entered the arena ready for the start. Our team was accompanied by a range of inflatable pigs, and ‘piggy’ accoutrements to our outfits. Some splendid outfits were worn by Rebecca and Alison Laing, and their friend Judy, but full credit must also go to Jim Morgan and Daniel Rowe for donning their bras, decorated with pig faces. We were in the final wave to leave at midnight amid the band playing and everyone cheering.
The early hours were easy, as the crowd spread out, and we all found our appropriate pace. Walking through London’s streets and parks at night is a most enjoyable experience, especially with the encouragement from passing motorists, with their cheers and tooting horns. Even the London Eye turned its illuminations pink for the night to spur us on! However, by 3am, it had become really cold, and the relentlessness of walking non-stop on hard paving started to set in; but perseverance and snacking on nuts and chocolate, plus good conversations with the team, kept us all going.
The relief of seeing the final three-mile marker was huge, with the birds starting their dawn chorus, and the final mile-marker was even more welcome – despite the long rise back to Clapham Common, with many of the 20 year old participants striding past us with seemingly little effort! However, it was all worth it, and the sun crept over the edge of the pink marquee just as we reached Clapham Common. As the various walking groups reached the end, our team gradually assembled to warm up with hot drinks, space blankets, and the relief of having finished in the early morning sunshine. All were glad to have done it – but with the collective view of ‘never again’! A fabulous team effort, for which I have to thank the whole team, as together we have now raised over £15,000 in total. However, if anyone hasn’t yet sponsored us, but wishes to, then please visit the Just Giving website by clicking here.