31 March 2017

Past Master Ian Lumsden said it would be busy, and whilst I hate to admit it… he was right! I’ve been in post for just a few weeks and there is much to tell you about.​

My Installation on the 8th of March seems all rather distant now. It was a moment of reckoning because, however you prepare for the Installation itself, the responsibilities of Master rather land on you with all their force of obligation and privilege (even the badge is rather weighty)! We had a wonderful service at St Martin-within-Ludgate and the Chaplain managed to introduce my theme for the year of ‘craftsmanship’ with his usual style. Later at the dinner at Stationers’ Hall, surrounded by my family, I was able to speak to thank the Immediate Past Master and Mistress who have done so much for the Company over the last year and built great friendships between this Company and the City, particularly with other livery companies. Their contribution to the Company has been significant and their theme of ‘family’ has helped us to refocus on our wider Pavior family: something that will be sustained.

Sadly, my first request to the Paviors at the Installation supper was to toast Past Master Nigel Kempner, prior to many of us attended his funeral the next day in Henley-on-Thames. He will be very much missed by the many people whose lives he touched.

The Marketing Committee, and particularly David Ing, have been working hard on the first edition this year of The Pavior magazine, which will hit your doormats any day now. We are already looking forward to production of the next edition and the Renter Warden, Sue Illman, David and the Committee have helped to bring a new approach to how we schedule the production of the magazine, for which I am very grateful. We are also looking, with the Committee, at how (and when) we can use social media more effectively and Tim Fitch, as part of the Marketing Committee, is busy developing a strategy for this.

My first few days after Installation were spent at home and, ironically, we were replacing the paving the front of the house. George and Jason, my builders, insisted on calling me ‘Master’, but also ensured that I laid a few blocks too. All in all, a very practical start to my year!

One of my first activities has been to look at how we approach the financial sponsorship upon which we are dependent. I have been working with the Marketing Committee and the Clerk to see if we can make the approach more attractive to those who support us, and hope to tell you more on this in my next blog.

On Tuesday 14th, I attended the Admissions Committee meeting. We came away quite inspired by the quality of the candidates. They had a range of backgrounds, interests and capabilities but, as they spoke, you could see how they could all make a significant contribution to the Paviors. I will look forward to introducing them to you as they progress through the process and become liverymen. Introducing new liverymen is going to be one of the many pleasures of my role.

Afterwards, the Clerk and I met with the Brian Downes to review the partnership with the Institute of Asphalt Technology. We agreed we could provide clearer guidance to the branches to ensure that, where we give awards, we get the right candidates recommended to us. That guidance is now in place and already some quality recommendations are coming forward.

On the evening of 15th March, the Mistress and I attended a Spring Livery Dinner with the Carpenters Company at their Hall. The Master Carpenter made us most welcome and, soon after, I received an invitation to the Carpenter’s Craft event at Stratford in June, which I’m looking forward to greatly. As the evening progressed, I sensed that there were rather more questions about how I lost my finger than usual – probably a carpenter’s special interest….

In the middle of all these day-to-day (or at least night-to-night) duties, I am busy arranging the Master’s Jolly which, this year, will be to the Isle of Wight. I am trying to feature this less populated, but rather wonderful, part of the UK. This annual excursion is organised by the Master and Mistress and open to members of the Court. Although the event is, as the name suggests, a ‘jolly’, over the years we have come to see it as an essential part of building strong personal relationships across the Court, but outside of ‘business’. This year I hope to feature some of the island’s craftsmanship and, if the people come away with a different and more positive view of this beautiful place, Judy and I will have succeeded.

On Thursday the 23rd, the Mistress and I attended the Master Mason’s Banquet at Mansion House. It is always a privilege to attend Mansion House and walk past picture after picture that you are already half familiar with – I think the Mistress may be planning a Paviors’ event to view the art in more detail….more news on this later..

On the Tuesday of the following week I attended a Royal Society of Arts meeting in my home town of Salisbury. We discussed particularly the need to support younger people and I was rather pleased to speak about what the Paviors had achieved with the London Construction Academy in partnership with F M Conway and, particularly, how successful it had been in getting people into work in a sustainable way. Many are now interested if such a model could be reproduced in the Salisbury area.

On the 30th, I held some meetings to discover a little more about the London Construction Academy and our wider educational endeavours. It is very heartening to get close to the totality of what we are doing, and I have some ideas around education that I know the Charity Committee is keen to support. These will be discussed at their meeting in early April.

That evening, the Mistress and I attended The Masters’ and Prime Wardens’ dinner at the Mansion House. This is a spectacular event attended by nearly every Master in the City and their consorts (how could you miss it). We were sitting near Alderman and fellow Pavior, Tim Hailes, and I was warmly welcomed by the Lord Mayor and by Sheriff and Honorary Pavior, Alderman William Russell, who has subsequently invited me to lunch at the Old Bailey. The Lord Mayor gave an extremely entertaining and warm speech. It was an evening, the memory of which will, I think, stay with us forever. It is at moments like this that you get a real sense of the extraordinary privilege you have been granted.

The next morning, after a very comfortable evening spent at Charterhouse, the Mistress and I attended the United Guilds’ Service in St Paul’s Cathedral alongside fellow Paviors and the Clerk. While we waited for the ceremony to start, Michael Bear was recalling some of the Lord Mayor’s jokes from the evening before, which were really rather good. The service is extraordinarily moving and, when the city is gathered in force, it is a most impressive sight. If you have not been to this event (as I hadn’t), then I really urge you to attend and experience the splendour of it all.

My last engagement of the month was immediately after the United Guilds’ Service, when I attended the Cutlers’ Hall lunch where Paviors were guests of the Master. It was a great pleasure to speak at the lunch about the very close relationship that we have had and that we still retain with the Cutlers Company. My livery journey started with my interview in Cutlers’ Hall and I think it remains a genuine ‘special relationship’.

The Master and Mistress of the Cutlers also live in Wiltshire, also with four children, and he is also a keen workshop owner (you have to make your own entertainment in Wiltshire). It was getting late on a Friday afternoon, so the month ended with the four of us dashing for the door and for our transport west….
Miles Ashley