Speech by Past Master Harry Druce on the occasion of The Marketors' Court Dinner held at Innholders' Hall on 28th November 2018
As Master I often said that while we need always to look to the future of the Company, we should never forget its past. I was therefore delighted that our most senior Past Master Harry Druce accepted my invitation to speak at our 2018 Court Dinner on the subject of the history of the Company and the events surrounding its formation.
Set out below is the transcript of Harry’s speech.
Master, Past Masters, Wardens, fellow Liverymen, Ladies and Gentlemen
The Master asked me to say a few words about the early Marketors, ….
to decide how much and how long I was reminded of an early Mansion House luncheon with the Lord Mayor and his Equerry who was seated next to me at the foot of a sprig. As one of the speakers rose the equerry removed his spectacles and watch, placed both of them in front of him, closed his eyes and settled back in his chair. When the speech was over he opened his eyes and took a notebook from his pocket and wrote something.
I was fascinated - when I enquired what this was all for he replied that eight minutes or less are acceptable for speeches in the square mile. So you can all relax in the knowledge that I have only another six or seven minutes left to enlighten you about the Early Days.
Well, it was a group of dedicated Fellows of the Institute of Marketing, mainly from the Royal Counties Branch who individually thought a City based Guild would be an ideal way to promote Marketing in the City. They were: Reg Bowden, Bill Geffers, Roy Randolph and Jack Rook.
So a Guild was , and was initially called “The Guild of Merchant Adventurers”. At that time, 1975, only five Guilds had been granted a Charter since World War II. As you all know the Marketors were granted their Letters Patent on 13th December 1977. They were presented to the Company on the 14th April 1978 at Mansion House. I was privileged to attend both of these events.
So we were only two years in the process of moving from Guild to a Livery Company
This said much for all the work and effort of our early pioneers. Who were they?
Reg Bowden - never far from his pipe, Chairman of the working party, who led it with great determination and purpose. Founder Master from 1975 -1978 and remembered each year in October at the Bowden Dinner.
Ron Edward - Liveryman of the Horners Company, had many contacts in the City.
Tony Bellm - who served in World War II in Holland where he met his wife Jos. His Passion was Racing - Formula 1. Tony had a great collection of model racing cars. He had a cast model made of each winner, and displayed them all in his study at his home. This remarkable collection was left to McLaren Racing Car Company.
Tony wrote his remarkable life history, and, because of our close personal association, asked if me if I would print and case bind enough copies for his family. He was on constant medication, and when the book was finished he asked his doctor how long he was going to live. He was told that it was his medication that was keeping him alive, and that he would be dead within 48 hours if he stopped taking it. Tony planned a party for all his family and friends, gave them the story of his life, stopped taking his medication and two days later he passed away.
This wasn’t quite the end. The funeral held in the local crematorium was special. All his friends and family were present and when the service concluded, the coffin remained in situ. The mourners walked past to say their last goodbye, and, as they filed past his coffin, (he insisted the curtains remain open) the final music was the sound of a Formula 1 McLaren revving up on the starting grid at Silverstone.
He asked in the year before he died for all Past Masters and their wives to join him for lunch to commemorate the forming of the Guild and Livery, and this will continue annually until the legacy that he left for this purpose expires. Many of you enjoyed that special luncheon only two weeks ago at the Bellm luncheon.
The bow tie I am wearing today is in his memory. He had a small number handmade for those Marketors who, like him, wanted to be different and recognised as a Founder or Past Master. Tony’s wife Jos gave the Ladies jewel for the Master’s consort.
Roy Randolph - Deputy Chairman of Wilkinson Sword, a great Marketor and highly successful business leader with three Queen’s Awards to Industry, a great benefactor to the company, acknowledged in the current Court minutes by way of a donation towards the new Master’s Badge. He arranged for a Horse Chestnut tree to be planted in the Queen’s Drive, Windsor Great Park to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
He made a major cash gift to the Marketors and also gave the company its ceremonial sword of honour.
Lord Mais - Honorary Membership of the Company was given to him by the Court for all his help in the forming of the Guild. When, as Lord Mayor, he chose as his theme ‘The World is our Market’, he asked the Institute of Marketing, under Tony Bellm’s Chairmanship for help. He reminded the Court that Company Dinners must be held in the square mile. We believe it was this close association that gave us our acceptance as a Livery Company in two years!!
Delwyn Dennis - O.B.E. for services to the Insurance Industry. He was a very strong character and Chairman of the Company’s Finance Committee and its Charitable Trust. He insisted that no Master should leave his year of office without a surplus; and, should he not, be prepared to meet any shortfall.
Lesley Smith O.B.E. - Founder of Lesney products and Matchbox Toys and Crafts. His was one of the great Marketing success stories. He was my guest speaker when I was Chairman of my branch of the CIM. A great sailor who frequently competed in the Fastnet Race. (His stories were breathtaking, particularly of the rough seas in the western approaches.)
Every year he would ask his Market Research department about growth prospects. The answer was always the same: “make more cars”. Five factories were devoted to making model cars. What they didn’t tell him was that he had a competitor in the States who had just invented the Hot Wheels model. This was a major blow and meant the closure of two factories and back to the drawing board. A valuable lesson - not all Market Research can tell what others are thinking or planning. Within two or three years of new development Matchbox were again a great success.
Ray Tarrant - First Clerk, was MD of Hoover and spent much time helping to form the Guild and Company. Letters were sent from Ray and Reg inviting 42 Fellows of the Institute Of Marketing to join the Guild. I was No. 27, and these first members at the end of 1975 would be known as Founder Members.
His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh accepted our invitation to become the first Honorary Freeman of our guild.
Dewi Morgan, rector of St Brides accepted the invitation to become the chaplain to the Guild.
The following were appointed Honorary Liverymen of the Guild:
Sir Peter Blood - Director General of the Institute of Marketing
Bunny Morgan - President of the City Livery Club
Past Lord Mayor Sir Ronald Gardener Thorpe,
Past Lord Mayor Sir Peter Gaddesden
Admiral Sir John Hamilton
Sir Ralph Berring
Jack Rook, John McPhie, Austin Nunn, John Briggs, Stan Ray and William Geffers all played an important part as Court Assistants.
This ended the first year of the Guild. The petition of the Master, Wardens and Court of the Guild to the Court of Aldermen, had been approved. The petition advised that the Guild had a fund of £1635.00. All this time running costs were met by Tony Bellm, but we thereafter had to start our own contribution, so the first quarterage was £15.00 per annum.
No speech to the Marketors would be complete without mention of other great Masters who left their mark. Eric Morgan who preceded me in 1988 as Master, was a great scholar and humanist, a man of fine principles . He promoted the concept of the Master and Wardens Committee to the Court and promoted the standard of Excellence in all of the Company’s activities. David Thomas, who took us to Dubai and Oman, and cleverly disguised himself as Sheik Ma And at our Dinner reception.
David Collischon, John Petersen, Roger Hood. I am delighted that Roger is joining the Master and Wardens Committee as Mais Past Master……Prima Donna Master. Ian Blythe, Brian Scanlon, Geoff Darby, Tom Corrigan …..The Company owes so much to Tom for his valuable advice over many years. David Pearson and Venetia Howes.
1989 was a Special Year, the 800th year of the Mayoralty, and my year as Master was one of the greatest in our history. The Charity Concert, held at the Guildhall raised over £50,000 for three charities, including our own Trust.
So, the Marketors had some great people, and the company has grown from a fledgling to now a major member of the ‘New Livery Companies’ , held in high regard in the City with substantial reserves in the Company and Charitable Trust. A Great Success Story.
What of the future? Only two weeks ago Valerie and I were given our ‘carte du sejour’, which gives us permanent residency in France. Why did we leave the UK in 2003?!! Mainly because of the Iraq war, a protest to the Government, eventually proved right by the Iraq Enquiry.
Marketors need to be at the head of Global Warming and a leader in the reduction of plastics . Marketing must be at the head of these two major problems that faces the world, not just the UK. So your world is all our futures.
Please may I ask you to rise and drink a toast to the Worshipful Company of Marketors, coupled with the name of the Master: ‘Floriet Marketors’