31 July 2017

July opened with our Court meeting and dinner at Cutlers’ Hall. I was particularly pleased to confirm Matthew Pryor as a Liveryman (my first) and Neil Courtier as an Honorary Freeman. The meeting confirmed, not only our accounts for last year, but also the Marketing Committee’s proposals for our new approach to sponsorship, which is the result of some dedicated and hard work by that Committee. The meeting also discussed the Finance Committee’s ambitious proposals for a long-term Paviors’ fund and agreed that we should carry out some further work to advise on how this can best be implemented.​

I was pleased to welcome Nick Baveystock as my guest and speaker at the Court’s dinner. Nick is the Director General of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has had a sparkling military career and he entertained us superbly within the Clerk’s demanding time limits. I was also pleased to report back on my visit to the London Construction Academy at the end of June, and how inspiring it was to see the really excellent outcomes being achieved by our apprentices.

The following evening, the Mistress Pavior and I were back at Mansion House for the Lightmongers’ Annual Banquet, an event which was immaculately organized by their Clerk and your fellow Pavior, Phillip Hyde. Their Master, Michael Simpson, gave a rather good speech as did our Lord Mayor, and they presented prizes for craftsmanship to a number of young designers (one only 15 years old) for the lighting products they had created.

The following week, I was in Plymouth with the Clerk, thanks to an invitation from Pavior John Smith for the naming of a GB Railfreight locomotive as ‘HMS Argyle’. It was a wonderful ceremony, despite the vertical rain. Commander Toby Shaughnessy and the crew of HMS Argyle made us warmly welcome, gave us a tour of the ship and a very good lunch only days before she was due to go on exercise. Argyle has recently had a substantial refit and had her missile system replaced. She is due to visit London in September, so look out for her!

During much of the early part of the month, I had been at the driving range, having not played golf for 20 years I had decided to rescue the clubs (now a little rusty) from the cellar and play at the Paviors’ Charity Golf Day at Moor Park. It couldn’t have been a better day and fabulously organized by past Clerk, John White. Apart from my golf, it was an excellent and most enjoyable event. John was unflappable when the auctioneer and entertainment were unable to attend at the last minute due to illness, immediately locating an alternative, whilst simultaneously monitoring the ‘nearest-the-pin’ competition – I imagine I was ‘furthest-from-the-pin’! The greens were wonderful when you eventually arrived there and Moor Park is just a very impressive venue. It was particularly pleasing to see 29(R) Squadron in attendance and, even more so, to get a good result at the auction.

And then the day dawned…It had seemed like a good Master’s Challenge some months earlier to row down the Thames but, on the morning of 26 July, with the rain dripping off the end of my nose and the wind blowing me backwards, my error was brought into sharp relief. For the four days that followed, the rain hardly stopped but, shrouded in the best waterproofs I could find and a very large hat, I managed to keep relatively dry. The first day of 20 miles proved frustrating, but my technique gradually improved and, despite having rather underestimating the challenge (distance has a habit of being longer than estimated), Day 4 saw Teddington lock appear, and my challenge was completed. Teddington is where the tidal Thames commences and a small rowing boat has no business beyond here. Friends, family, but especially Paviors, have been extraordinarily generous and the total raised at the moment stands at about £4,500, broadly equivalent then to another six apprentices being able to attend our amazing Academy. When thought of that way, a few blisters and a rather stiff back seems a small price to pay. If you did sponsor me, I thank you for your generosity and, if you did not, well you can still make a donation via my JustGiving page by clicking here., or contact the Clerk (details below) who will be happy to help relieve you of your money!

I wish you all a fine summer break and, if you are staying in the Northern Hemisphere, a little luck with the weather.

Miles Ashley