On the 7th July I made a trip back to my alma mater, Unilever House; this Grade II listed building with its enormous curving façade was built in 1933 and while it still retains its fantastic Neoclassical Art Deco frontage, the insides have changed radically since my day. There is no sign of my old haunts as gone is the rabbit warren of corridors and cubby holes – it is now light and modern and well able to cope with today’s way of working. I was visiting Unilever House with our Clerk to check the arrangements for our Annual City Lecture and Supper on 30th September. Liveryman Keith Weed, Chief Marketing Officer of Unilever Plc has kindly enabled us to hold this event in their Auditorium. You may already have heard that the City Lecturer this year is Brendan Tansey, a seasoned international marketer, having worked in Sydney, Hong Kong, New York, Paris and London. Brendan is the founder and JV partner of Havas Digital China and based in Shanghai. He is also a Freeman of our Company and is looking forward not only to the Lecture (much more detail available on our website) but also receiving the Freedom of the City of London during this visit.
7th July was also speech day at St Dunstan’s and I made my way to Catford with Junior Warden, Richard Christou to attend their prize giving. My first impression in the Great Hall of the school was the tables laden with dozens and dozens of awards for all sorts of achievements by the pupils at the school. The school’s strapline is ‘your child’s future starts here’ and looking at the way the school aims to recognise excellence in every area with healthy competition and public acknowledgement of achievement – the pupils are all receiving a very good launch into real life. Professor Jane Glover CBE MA D Phil FRCM who gave the address to the school picked up on this theme. She spoke engagingly to the children about what it is like in real life and how the need for concentration and effort is so important. She encouraged them to apply themselves fully to do what they want to do, to shake up the norm and enjoy the competition of it. Jane is one of our foremost conductors and is Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music amongst many other things. Looking at her impressive biography, she is obviously a person who has applied herself with great rewards.
St Dunstan’s School reflects the complete multi-racial/ethnic mix of London and this contributes to its great success. They are going to be opening another St Dunstan’s in Dubai along the same lines at the London. We chatted about St Dunstan’s involvement with the Lord Mayor’s Parade – those of you who have seen this annual spectacle will know of their involvement in previous years. As part of their planned growth they are looking to recruit a marketing person; naturally we hope to be able to help them with the job specification!
Off to the Vintners’ Company on 9th July for a dinner the Installation of Simon Leschallas as the 521st Master Vintner. I was horribly, horribly late as the tube strike had caused bumper-to-bumper traffic through out the City. As I arrived at the Vintners’ Hall a security man met me and whisked me into my seat where I was duly served 3 mini courses in about 10 minutes. With their long history and as one of the Twelve Great City of London Livery Companies, the Vintners are well practiced at dealing with all sorts of eventualities! My consort for the evening was Jean Harrison, who had wisely travelled in by train with no problems. After dinner I was waiting for my car only to be told it would be another hour – again the traffic was just as bad as at the start of the evening. Another guest was heading in the same direction as me called for an Uber car – it arrived in 15 minutes and got us all home. This Uber driver comes down from Birmingham to make his living in London – a definite reminder of this whole new taxi market which as we know has some questionable aspects, but despite this I was grateful for Uber that evening.
On 13th July, with our Clerk, I attended the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund AGM at the Central Criminal Court. This charity was founded in 1808 and offers small grants to ex-prisoners and their families to ease the way as they start their new lives. The work this Fund does recognises the innocence of offenders’ families and aims to give practical help, for instance it could pay for a new sofa or a dining table for the home. One of the direct beneficiaries of the Fund, a member of Bounce Back, told us about his experiences in a most moving and life reinforcing way. Bounce Back is a painting and decorating social enterprise which Francesca Findlater, a Freeman of our company, founded. This charity aims to build a bridge for ex-offenders from prison to full time work – it gives people a chance and helps them gain confidence. Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court of the UK then talked about the law as it is today, commenting on how it is interpreted and the importance of having a consensus of opinions from the Judges of this new Court. He referred to the sentences guidelines and mandatory sentences and the complexity of keeping these aligned with the expectations of the general public whilst making sure that those who offend are treated fairly, receive proportionate sentences and are given the opportunity to come back into society.
The next evening (14th) I was guest at the Worshipful Company of Engineers Awards Dinner at Drapers’ Hall. The Engineers, like the Marketors are one of the 31 modern livery companies and attract their membership from all aspects of the engineering profession. Each year through their charitable trust, they recognise a very wide range of achievement in academe, business and the services. The Master Engineer, Air Vice-Marshall Patrick O’Reilly announced the awards and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some very interesting people that evening. One award stood out to me and that was to a young women engineer who had managed to reduce the turnaround time of helicopters in service in Helmand by 40% by some form of engineering brilliance.
That Thursday (16th), I attended the annual Service of Rededication of The Knights Bachelor in their Chapel at St Paul’s. The Imperial Knights Society was established in 1908 by King George V to recognise civilian contributions and within its Chapel the names of all knights of the realm are recorded, going back to 1257. The whole event was full of the classic pageantry you expect from our older traditions. All the Knights Resplendent in their scarlet and gold robes led the service and the Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Lord Bishop of London gave an insightful speech on the concept of service to society. It was a lovely sunny day and this accommodated a gentle stroll to the Apothecaries’ Hall on Black Friars Lane. This is the oldest existing Livery Company Hall in the City and it is gorgeous. There is a courtyard in front of the Hall and this was a perfect place for refreshments!
On the initiative of one of our Liverymen, Karina Dostalova who is also a Common Councillor, I met the Town Clerk and Chief Executive of the City of London Corporation, John Barradell on 22nd July. We talked about the newly created post of Director of Communications and I offered our assistance with the recruitment process for this important role.
The next day (23rd) I set off to Portsmouth to meet HMS St Albans. The Royal Navy frigate had a ‘Golden Ticket’ for the America’s Cup with the role of leading the international parade of sail headed with the AC45 catamarans. The America’s Cup is the oldest and most prestigious sporting trophy in the sailing calendar and this year HMS St Albans was Guardship to the America’s Cup World Series of Racing. It was a great day out with the added frisson of fully armed sailors and circling police boats looking after us and indeed the whole event. You can read the full write up with lots of photographs by Liveryman Hugh West on our website.
It was great to see so many of you at the Banquet to the London Mayor in the Mansion House on 28th July – the most we have had at this great event by all accounts. There will be a full write up of this in the Marketor in due course.
And finally, my last event for July (29th) was a guest of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators for their annual church service at St Giles Cripplegate. Now this is a medieval church in the middle of the Barbican and it has an interesting thousand-year history. It has survived fires and the Blitz and is still very much thriving in the heart of our City. Worth a visit, in my opinion. This service was simple and meaningful; the Chartered Secretaries are a newer livery company created along the lines of the Management Consultants and the Marketors. As such they do not have their own hall so following the service we all walked in formal precession to the Barber-Surgeons Hall situated in the calmness of Monkwell Square. This is a modern hall rebuilt in the late 1960s with its own physic garden created in the late 1980s.This was Master Sandra Worshall’s last public event of her year and I really enjoyed listening to her talking about what she had been up over her term as Master all expressed with such warmth and sincerity.
So probably less busy this month and I know things will be quieter in August. For me, I am off for a couple of weeks holiday and look forward to seeing you all around and about the place towards the end of the month.