It’s exactly a month today since the Installation ceremony, and the time has flown by, as every Master will tell you. However, the highlight of this month has to be presenting the certificates at the London Construction Academy on Friday. If anyone ever doubts whether we are spending our money wisely, then please catch a train down to Elephant and Castle, and visit the Skills Centre in Heygate Street when the next cohort of students graduate.
To hear how, in two short weeks, a group of people can change from individuals with little direction in life, to a group who individually and collectively just want the opportunity to start work on Monday (and even start their own businesses in due course), is a magically rewarding and heart-warming experience. When asked ‘how have these two weeks changed you?’, one replied ‘I now understand what I need to do in life, and how to go about it’ and ‘learning here has been so easy compared to school’. Another responded ‘I‘ve made friends here that I want to know for the rest of my life’. Their pride in their success was obvious, even if masked initially by typically youthful shrugs and grunts! We just need to help them find the jobs they need to keep that enthusiasm going – whether scaffolders, pipe-welders or electricians; careers that a few told me that they now wished to follow. The LCA really does an amazing job.
Continuing on the business and craft front, my first duty as Master was to join the Lord Mayor in presenting a certificate to Mike Temperton, who won the Paviors’ prize for the City and Guilds of London Institute and Livery Companies Skills Council Awards. The skills and accomplishments of those who achieved the Master’s Certificate was quite extraordinary, particularly the stonemasons. I usefully met the Master Mason at the same event, as I then attended the Masons’ dinner the following week at the Mansion House.
Fellowship, food and drink is pretty much always on the agenda at events that I have had to attend, which is clearly an arduous duty! My second dinner at Mansion House was by invitation of the Lord Mayor to his Annual Banquet, when all the livery companies are invited to join him for dinner. Such a marvellous collection of gold badges-of-office and chains is rarely seen, and I had the pleasure of sitting next to Haberdasher (and Pavior) William Russell, who will be our next Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor spoke about his theme of diversity, which sits well with ‘The Conversation’ (a discussion on the people the industry needs for its future) that we are going to host in the autumn.
The United Guilds’ Service is a long-standing annual event in the livery calendar; the only event that all livery companies attend, and another splendid affair. It is quite extraordinary actually to be part of a service in St Paul’s when it is full of participants (rather than tourists). The service was followed by a delightful lunch with the Cutlers, with the Paviors turning out in force. In complete contrast, last week I listened to a conversation between Lord King (Mervyn King, ex-Governor of the Bank of England) and Lionel Barber (Editor of the Financial Times), hosted by Alzheimer Research UK, which ranged from Alzheimers to Brexit and the state of the NHS. The conversation was, in turn, fascinating, illuminating, disappointing and hopeful as an analysis of the current political and financial state of our country. My time was very well spent.
My Consort has also been playing his part. Maurice has accompanied me to the Mansion House and United Guilds’ Service and lunch, as well as attending a Chinese cookery demonstration with the Constructors and, of course, Mistress Glesni’s excellent tour of Charterhouse and lunch prior to the Installation.
And finally, I have spent as much time as possible walking: both round the City to events, on the Cotswolds and around Cheltenham to prepare for my Challenge, the Moonwalk. I hope you all will have seen the email explaining my Challenge, as this year we have a team event, with 17 of us currently intending to dress up and walk around London on a circular tour that starts and finishes at Clapham Common overnight from 11-12 May. Inflatable Pavior piglets will be very much in evidence as part of the team, so I think we will be noticed! I am now up to 10 miles on my long walks, so slowly getting there, and am pleased to introduce my own accompanying pig, who comes along on all my long walks – not quite the same as Dyfrig’s Monty!