Despite its implacable weather, November was a busy month and a month of change. With a new Lord Mayor and all the incumbent jollities of this annual event, once again I was out and about enjoying good company and some new experiences.
On Monday, 2nd I was invited by the Headmistress, Sarah Fletcher to the City of London School for Boys for their prize-giving. As many of you will know, the school itself sits by the Thames at the Millennium Bridge; however, the prize-giving was held at Guildhall. Owned by the City of London, the school’s board of governors is a committee of the Aldermen and the members of the Court of Common Council. And as you might expect, the Livery give many of the prizes. As Marketors, we give a prize for excellence in economics. The prize-giving covered a whole range of achievements across all levels – recognising excellence at all ages – boys attend this school from 10 to 17 years old. I was most impressed by the Head Boy; he gave a very articulate, well put together and beautifully delivered speech. To me, he typified the positive attitude and approach of all the pupils I met at the school that day.
From the corridors of education to the City of London’s very own gin distillery, I really enjoyed learning about London Dry Gin the following evening (3rd). Organised by Debra Marmor and Herb Danner, we had an excellent evening exploring the delights of the only gin still made in the City of London. Of course, branding plays a huge part in the world of gin – then you would expect me to say that as a Marketor. There will be a fuller write up about this event on our website – but suffice to say that I left the event with my own Marketor-branded, albeit miniature, bottle of Dutch Courage!
The next day, I had a most gracious invitation to tea from the outgoing Lady Mayoress, Jenny Yarrow. It probably won’t surprise you to know that the Lady Mayoress has as full a programme as the Lord Mayor. While she doesn’t go on all the Lord Mayor’s overseas tours, there are lots of visits to schools and charities not to mention the role of hostess at the Mansion House. I was delighted that I managed to persuade Pam Bulmer who has been my PA for many years, to come with me to this event. Pam has been doing a brilliant job of supporting me this year as Master. If you have read even a few of these blogs you can see just how busy the diary is and it is fantastic to have someone like Pam to rely on and to get me to the right place at the right time!
So the Yarrows have now left the Mansion House; as Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress they were a genuinely open and welcoming couple, both of whom worked hard for our City. I have very much enjoyed the time I have spent with them.
On Remembrance Sunday (8th) I laid a wreath on behalf of the Company at St Bride’s. As ever, the choir and music at St Bride’s were glorious. I feel proud that we are associated with this wonderful church and to be there with some of the Wardens and other Marketors on this important day.
On 11th, we were delighted to have the guru John Billett speak to us on the theme of who owns the media. Knowledgeable and pithy, John has great insights and gave an informed overview of this complex subject. As you might expect, John’s reputation preceded him and we were so over subscribed that we had to move the event from Plaisterers’ Hall to the RAC Club to accommodate the demand for seats at this event.
On 12th, back to the City of London School for Boys – this time at their school building. I was invited by the Senior Deputy Head, Dr Michael Brookes to talk about marketing – what exactly it is and what careers there are to be had. Before my talk we had a mini dragon’s den scenario over lunch with some 8 pupils chatting through their economics projects or really their nascent business ideas to us.They were an impressive bunch with some very bright questions that certainly kept me on my toes!
That evening, Andrew Cross and I were off to Farnham to had dinner with the team at Whiteoaks PR – they have worked so hard for us this year and the great news is that they have confirmed that they will carry it on next year.
Friday the 13th was another busy day and no ill luck crossed my path – thankfully! The Tony Bellm Luncheon took place at Guildhall. This is an occasion where the Past Masters and widows of Past Masters of the Company have lunch courtesy of a legacy left by Past Master Tony Bellm. This year, Jean Bowden Rose (daughter of Reggie Bowden, one of our Founders) joined us. I was delighted to report on the Company’s progress to date – which can of course, be a little daunting as everyone present was all too familiar with the role and responsibilities of the Master.
After that, I went on to the so called Silent Ceremony again within Guildhall. This is where, amid much City pomp and ceremony, the outgoing Lord Mayor salutes the incoming Lord Mayor by doffing his hat, then the incoming Lord Mayor’s tips his hat to the outgoing Lord Mayor and hey presto a new Lord Mayor is in place! It is a very ancient ceremony involving much bowing and the passing over of the emblems of power – the mace, the keys and other articles of office and all done in complete silence. A real piece of medieval England in the 21st century. Wonderful to see.
The Lord Mayor’s Show took place the next day (14th) and lunch at the Mansion House after the Show itself fair compensated for the soggy state of my garb with all the rain. Again there’ll be more in both Marketor and our website.
This year I took my niece, a young trainee journalist along and she was amazed by the pageantry of the Lord Mayor’s Show. Over lunch she had the good fortune to chat to previous Lord Mayor, Dame Fiona Woolf at the Mansion House. My niece was delighted to know that in the 800 years of Lord Mayors of the City of London there had been two women, Dame Fiona being the most recent. One amusing incident, the gently aging gentlemen of the HAC, in their thick wool uniforms and hugely heavy armour, were of course soaked to the skin and as they sought permission to march off their last response to the new Lord Mayor was “ We remain determined … but damp”. It pays to have a sense of humour of these occasions.
In my capacity as a Trustee of Marie Curie, Samantha Cameron invited a number of us to No 10 Downing Street on Tuesday 17th. I am lucky enough to have been there a few times but one of the most memorable was with Maggie Thatcher at a time when No. 10 had just been redecorated. As she was showing us out, she noticed a dirty mark on the new carpet and proceeded to try and clean it up!
This time, it was quite different, it was a very friendly evening and I was delighted to see major donors to Marie Curie in attendance and just to allow myself one more name drop – I had a great chat with Hugh Grant a long time supporter and a most charming man.
The next evening (18th), I was Alderman Dame Fiona Woolf’s guest in her role as The Master of The City of London Solicitors’ Company. This took place at Haberdashers’ Hall. After a lovely meal, the former CEO of the London Transport Authority gave us an insight into the scale of what they have to deal with. The number of commuters grows each year by around 100k and even the massive investments in Cross Rail etc things remain a challenge – but even so most of the system runs to schedule.
It was Bakers’ Hall on the 19th and this time for a City Lecture organised by the Guild of Entrepreneurs as part of Global Entrepreneurs’ Week. The theme of the evening was EQ (Emotional Intelligence) V. IQ (Intelligence Quotient) for entrepreneurial success. English former cricketing professional turned entrepreneur, Tim Munton and Vernon W Hill II the American founder and Chairman of Metro Bank spoke before a discussion with a panel of five leading entrepreneurs including Piers Linney of Dragon’s Den fame. It was quite an evening. Needless to say there were references to Bakers’ Hall with next year being the anniversary of the Great Fire of London – reputedly started in Pudding Lane by a baker. Presently, the Company is in their modern hall situated in Harp Lane following the previous hall’s destruction in WW2.
On 23rd I was back at the Mansion House for the new Lord Mayor, Lord Jeffrey Mountevans briefing to the Masters. This is where the Lord Mayor sets out his plans for his year in office and is attended by the Masters and Clerks of all the Livery Companies. Lord Mountevans has a background in shipping and it seems almost natural that he will be supporting the Sea Cadets; his other charity is JDRF, which supports research in to Type 1 Diabetes. Lord Mountevans’s theme for the year is ‘Innovate Here. Succeed Anywhere’. With his knowledge of the seas and shipping, I think he is well placed to lead on this.
The Guild of Entrepreneurs installed Dan Doherty as their new Master on Wednesday, 25th. As you will know, Dan is also a Marketor and indeed there were many fellow Marketors in attendance at painter Stationers’ Hall that evening for this very special event. On behalf of the Company, I presented our very own Sir Paul Judge as Foundation Master of the Guild of Entrepreneurs with a gavel – this is a traditional presentation from one company to another signifying support. Sir Paul then installed Dan as Master, and Lee Robertson another of our members as Junior Warden. A very moving ceremony.
Straight after this, with a taxi on standby, I quickly headed to Inner Temple for dinner with our Court. This was an informal farewell from the Court and made extra special when I was presented with a pair of City of London cufflinks from the Wardens. As some of you will know, I truly enjoy harp music and that evening we were delighted to have Anneke Hodnett on her harp and Lindsey Ellis playing the flute – they both added a touch of magic to the evening.
The next day (26th) after a very full agenda there was a formal farewell from the Court. It was good to see all the names of the new Committee Chairs for the coming year and such an exciting programme from the Master Elect. I was very pleased to again be presented with another gift from the Wardens – a City of London tie, which will of course, go perfectly with my new cufflinks.
And my last event on the last day of the month took place at the magnificent Mercers’ Hall with a concert and dinner. The concert featured five different musicians including one person playing a viola made in 1740. Needless to say the music was superlative. It was the Mercers’ Company at its best with everything done so well, in the finest tradition and yet gently understated. A delightful evening and with many Masters in a period of handover there were new Masters to greet and others to bid farewell to…at least for now.