Neil Christer Duncan Sandberg was installed as the new Master of the Worshipful Company of Paviors at a ceremony held in St Martin-within-Ludgate on Thursday 3 March 2022. Neil succeeded immediate Past Master Hugh MacDougald. Also installed were John May as Upper Warden, Melanie Hampton as Renter Warden and Jennifer Athill as The Learned Clerk.

Neil was born in London in 1965. Following his two elder brothers, he was sent to boarding school aged 7. Aged 12 he went to Eton, leaving 5 years later with science-based A levels and a place at Exeter University to read Engineering Science. Exeter had many benefits for him, especially meeting his wife, Milly.

After Exeter he joined the Contractor, Mowlem, with his first project being London City Airport where he was working as a site engineer, mainly setting out structures, sometimes in the right place. To get the necessary design experience to become chartered, he was seconded to Arup for a year working on projects such as Stockley Park near Heathrow.

5 years after graduating he joined his family’s firm as the fourth generation. He also completed a part time MBA at Imperial College.

The Sandberg firm has a particular skill of providing practical technical solutions to often very challenging engineering situations. This suited Neil, who from childhood always wanted to know how things worked, sometimes to the frustration of his mother as, for example, bits of outboard engines under repair were cleaned in the dishwasher!

Neil and Milly spent a year working in the States, followed by two in Hong Kong where the firm was working for the government on some of the new bridge projects to the then new airport. In 1996 they returned to London for him to work with his father, as responsibility for the family business was slowly transferred.

Neil is a Fellow and past Council Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and is a past Chairman of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering. He spends significant time promoting the profession of civil engineering, which in his view is under-valued by society, when compared to other professions. One of his missions is to change this!

Neil and Milly were married on the Isle of Mull in 1989. They have two sons and a daughter, Tom, Archie and Ione, all three having been brainwashed into doing engineering degrees at Exeter, Bristol and Edinburgh.

When not working, Neil wants to do anything in or on water, be it sailing, motor boating, lobster potting etc. He races a Swallow (a 1948 Olympic class classic keel boat) which brings him great pleasure and Milly some time off. They have recently become the owners of a Nelson classic motorboat which they took up to the Hebrides last year via the Scilly Isles, Wales and Northern Ireland for some very enjoyable exploring. He enjoys classic cars and is the proud owner of a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible as well as a 1967 Land Rover which he is restoring with his children.

Other interests include many ‘Heath Robinson’ projects, family holidays, skiing, dogs and learning to be a farmer on the Isle of Mull where he and Milly have a farmhouse on her family’s farm.

Past Master’s Recollections

As any Past Master will tell you, the year flies by incredibly fast. When we stopped for Christmas, we were thinking how the previous Christmas seemed ages ago, but we decided that was because so much has happened since then.

Just as the last edition of the Pavior Magazine was going to print, we had the sad news of the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I am increasingly realising how much the vagaries of timing and events can dramatically affect outcomes. One of the results was that all official events were cancelled until after the funeral. Still, we were able to go ahead with our fantastic Mansion House dinner, and in fact, this was the first time that the Loyal Toast was to the King in almost all of our lifetimes. The dinner itself was spectacular, and we had an excellent guest speaker, Andrew Jones MP, who has worked in the Department for Transport. We were also joined by Cmdr Charlie Wheen RN from HMS Argyll, and Lt Col Petransky from Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

We have had further dinners at wonderful locations. Our Autumn Dinner was at Drapers Hall which has to be amongst the grandest of the halls and we were very fortunate to have Professor Lord Robert Mair as our guest speaker. Robert is a cross bench peer in the House of Lords, has been President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and is currently a member of the Select Committee on Science and Technology. We also had Fergus and Catherine McAlpine providing the wonderful musical entertainment. They are both internationally renowned musicians who had come over from Holland and also happen to be the son and new daughter-in-law of Sir Andrew McAlpine, who also attended in case a musician stand-in was needed (luckily, he wasn’t needed).

I was also particularly thrilled that night to have a ‘carpet guard’ provided by our latest affiliate, the Kingston Sea Cadets. For many years we have been trying to re-establish our Sea Cadet link, so I am very pleased that we have now done so, and I am sure that this is the start of a long-term connection from which we will both derive benefit.

In October, I am pleased to say that we have continued our support of the Arkwright Scholarship Scheme by awarding scholarships to Selsabil Bouraoui and Rex Weber- Brown. I look forward to welcoming them both to the 2023 Paviors Lecture.
On a brisk and mainly dry November morning, starting with breakfast in the crypt at St Pauls’ Cathedral, Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiffs, along with the mayoral party and armed forces representatives, attended the Royal British Legion City and Livery Garden of Remembrance Service. It was a lovely but solemn and poignant ceremony, where all Masters laid crosses in the garden.

Some of you were able to attend the Lord Mayor’s Show in November. We were incredibly fortunate to have a wonderfully warm and sunny autumn morning and it was great to see the pig floating again (not fully appreciated by the military horses who were supposed to follow us but decided the pig should be behind and out of sight!). Our involvement in the Lord Mayor’s Show requires a great deal of coordination and hard work on the part of many, but I would particularly like to thank James Atkins for making it such a success … and for keeping Phill Hyde’s lunchtime KitKat tradition. I would also like to thank the very generous sponsors and Jacqui Davies’s musicians for their support.

It is easy to get a bit blasé about something which (under normal circumstances) is an annual event, but what made it particularly special for us this year was the obvious delight the two Ukrainian families (living with Paviors) who joined us, took in being included in the procession. Their wonder at the occasion was very refreshing and a timely reminder of how very lucky we are to be able to have our armed forces marching in a parade of celebration as opposed to war.

In the run-up to Christmas, we attended many carol services, including the PWRR service in Canterbury Cathedral, which was an extraordinary privilege. One of the things the Mistress and I continue to be bowled over by is the history of the buildings we are lucky enough to visit. We have just had our Common Hall dinner onboard HQS Wellington. I have met the Master Mariner a number of times, and when he told me that their livery hall is in fact a ship, I had to jump at the opportunity to have our dinner there. Again timing played its part – 2 days before the dinner, I received a call saying it would have to be cancelled
because Wellington was being closed for urgent repairs. With some enthusiastic encouragement (and risk assessment of course), we persuaded them to allow our dinner to go ahead as the last event for some time on that historic boat.

I am reflecting on what an extraordinary year it has been. We have had some wonderful experiences, made many new friends within our livery company and in other companies and thoroughly enjoyed the whole adventure. I could not have done this without the constant and tireless efforts of our Clerk, Jenn. We have both benefitted enormously from the advice of Past Masters and our Past Clerk. We have learned our roles together, and I am incredibly grateful to her for all her support. I was delighted that the Court has approved Jenny White, Jill Hyde and Kim Conway becoming honorary freemen following the deaths of their husbands, who were all much respected Paviors. I am very pleased that we will keep the three of them in the Pavior family.

I hope I have achieved my goals of having engineering at the centre of all that I have done and ensuring that the younger members feel that they have a voice and are crucial to our future and I look forward to seeing these continue in the coming years.