John William May was installed as Master of the Worshipful Company of Paviors in the 747th year since its formation, at a ceremony held in the Wren church of St Martin-within-Ludgate on Wednesday, 8th March 2023.
John is a Man of Kent, born at Rochester during a Test Match against South Africa – and a train strike – events that have set the path for his life. The sound of bells from the Cathedral tower began a connection with Rochester Cathedral that is at the root of his Anglican faith. The train strike set off a deep interest in transport that continues. The discussion on Test Match Special that was taking place as he entered the world began a love of good conversation coupled with the suggestion of the imminent opening of fine wine. England’s victory over South Africa – by an innings and five runs – set the scene for marriage to Lizette van Tonder – also in Rochester Cathedral. Her Afrikaner heritage and sketchy ideas on the outcome of the Anglo-Boer War provide invigorating challenges which they share at their cliff-top home near Dover and their flat in the heart of the City.
John qualified as a solicitor in the City, at an office conveniently fronting El Vino’s wine bar in Fleet Street where consideration of legal matters would only occasionally interrupt enjoyable conversation. After further experience in the Cities of London and Westminster, John became head of the commercial property department at a leading Knightsbridge firm before setting up his own practice and he continues as a consultant solicitor and Notary Public.
John has participated in all aspects of the Paviors since being admitted to the Livery in 2003, including leadership of the Lodge and Chapter. John has had long service as a member and later chairman of the Charity Committee, in particular promoting support for the London Construction Academy which provides a route to employment in the building industry for those not in employment, education or training.
A focus of John’s work in the Livery over many years has been developing relationships with our military affiliates, particularly with 29 Squadron RAF who allowed him the privilege to fly supersonically in their Typhoon Eurofighter aircraft.
As a practical Pavior, John has organised his neighbours in the private road where he lives to convert what had appeared the relics of trench warfare into a finely paved roadway. He now seeks guidance on slowing the speeding traffic that has resulted.
John’s Master’s Challenge during the year is obtain sponsorship to try to qualify as a building labourer at the London Construction Academy, to experience the work long supported by the Paviors Charity. His personal charity for the year is The Remembrance Trust, which works to preserve the memory of those killed in action before 1914 and so are outside the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.