The October dinner this year was held at Grocers’ Hall (by kind permission of the Grocers’ Company). Karen Watts and Peter O’Malley were installed as Assistants on the Court. Michael Carver and Alistair Marshall were admitted to the Freedom of the Company as well as being Clothed in the Livery. Ramji Chauhan and Xavier Walker were also Clothed in the Livery of the Company. Elisavet Messi and Matt Powell were admitted to the Freedom of the Company by redemption via the Trade Route. Apprentice Christopher Edgcumbe was unbound and admitted to the Freedom by servitude (master Past Master Emeritus JC Edgcumbe). Fourth Warden Brian Turner Proposed ‘The Guests’ which was Responded by The Rt Hon Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Principal Guest. The musical interlude was provided by Jack Holton (Tenor) and Michelle Santiago (Piano) (by kind permission of the Principal, Guildhall School of Music and Drama)
Our Mistress Amanda Walsham held a wonderful Consorts’ Luncheon at the Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge on Monday 17th September. The Lady Mayoress Samantha Bowman and journalist Eve Pollard OBE, Vice-Chairman of the Wellbeing of Women Charity’s Board of Trustee attended. Assistant Karen Watts gave another of her very interesting talks on the history of the Livery.
The Master and Assistant Air Cdre Paul Hughesdon attended the Royal Air Force Northolt Annual Reception held at RAF Northolt Officers’ Mess on 6th September. They were greeted by Group Captain Mike Carver, Commander of RAF Northolt, and Squadron Leader Ben Alcock, of the Queen’s Colour Squadron. During the evening they watched a Hurricane Aircraft take off as the Band played.
We were privileged to enjoy a private visit to the RAF Museum which was celebrating the RAF’s 100th Anniversary with a Centenary Exhibition. We were greeted by Malcolm White - Trustee since 2004, Former RAF and Master Elect for the Honorary Company of Air Pilots; Vanessa White - PA to CEO RAF Museum and Malcolm’s wife, Karen Whitting - CEO’s deputy, Director of Content and Programmes, Seb Cox - Head of RAF Historial Branch and an outstanding military historian, David Keen - Former Head of Access and Learning at the Museum, Nick Goodwin - Warden to Air Pilots who has a strong RAF background. We were really well looked after with David Keen giving us a fascinating tour of the WW1 aircraft. After the visit we went to the Haven Bistro where we were treated to a delicious 4 course lunch by Assistant Julius Oberegger who donated all the proceeds to the GSWD Second Charitable Trust.
The Master and Mistress attended the end of year performance given by the very talented Royal Ballet School students which took place at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in July 2018. This was followed by the Prize Giving and Graduation of the ballet students at the attached London School in Floral Street. Our two Prize Winners were Gearoid Solan and Amelia Townsend.
On 2nd July the Court Meeting and Dinner were held at Skinners’ Hall. Xavier Walker, Stuart Finn RN, Ramji Chauhan, and David Hedderwick were admitted into the Freedom of the Company. Patrick Davison was admitted to the Freedom of the Company by Redemption via the Trade Route. Sebastian Budd, James Howarth and Stuart Finn RN were clothed in the Livery. Liveryman Dorothy Rochester piped in the Master, Wardens and Principal Guests. Third Warden, Gordon Warren, welcomed and Proposed - The Guests with Principal Guest, Mr Jeremy Swan, Responding on their behalf with a very amusing speech.
The GSWD held a special dinner at the London Zoo on Saturday 16th June 2018, exactly 325 years to the day that we received our Royal Charter from King William and Queen Mary. That year was 1693, although some 70 years earlier in 1623 the Company had initially been incorporated in the reign of James 1. The evening commenced with a Sparkling Reception on the wonderful Penguin Beach. One of the Zoo Keepers gave a great insight into Penguins, after which they were fed their evening fish dinner. Our dinner, in the regally decorated Prince Albert Suite, built in the 1830s, began with the Master welcoming GSWD Livery members and all guests as well as 12 Masters from other Liveries who were invited to join our celebrations:- Cooper, Engineer, Fruiterer, Glover, Hackney Carriage Driver, International Banker, Management Consultant, Marketor, Plaisterer, Playing Cards, Tax Advisor and Turner. This was followed by Karen Watts, our Company Archivist giving a short talk on the history of the Anniversary which included a very amusing anecdote. After dinner dancing took place to the music of David McTea and the Swinging Magpies.
On Friday 25th May the Brigantes City of London Liverymen in the North held their Breakfast at The Royal Armouries Leeds. This year the attendance of the City of London, the North Liverymen and guests increased to 400. Our Master and Mistress with PME Ken Blundell, PM Vernon Knapper, PM Michael Powell, Lesley Blundell and Christina Knapper represented the GSWD together with our Archivist, Dr Karen Watts, a professor at Leeds University, who, in the Royal Armouries Museum, gave 160 of us a fascinating, amusing and excellent lecture on the history of Armour. At the Breakfast the Speakers were Nick Gale, Past Master Plumber; Sheriff Neil Redcliffe, Past Prime Warden Basketmaker, World Trader, Pavior; Adrian Waddingham CBE, Sheriff 2013/14, Past Master Actuary, Haberdasher; General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, Chairmain - The Royal Armouries, Security Professional, Builders Merchant and David Bently Past Master Baker.
On Monday 9th April the Court Meeting and Master's Dinner was held at Skinners Hall. The dinner was preceded by the annual Church Service at St James Garlickhythe by kind permission of the Reverend Tim Handley Parish Priest and the Church Wardens. The service was taken by our Honorary Chaplain and Third Warden The Reverend Gordon Warren. Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley was clothed in the Livery as an Honorary Liveryman. Admitted into the Freedom of the Company by redemption were Michael Whitson and James Howarth. Admitted into the Freedom of the Company by redemption via the Trade Route were Chen Cheng and Hazel Thorn. Clothed in the Livery were Andrew Brown, Mark Hythe, Lewis Speke and Michael Whitson. Second Warden Michael Gunston proposed the Guests which was responded by Andrew Morgan, Principal Guest who proposed the toast to the Company. The Master presented a cheque to Miss Melanie Moughton CEO Felix Fund.
The Master and the Mistress attended the King Edward's School, Witley Foundation Day Service at St Bride's Church, London which was followed by a reception in the Guildhall Library. Each year the GSWD gives one of the end of year school prizes. In the picture from left to right is the Master of the Makers of Playing Cards Anthony Komedera, The Head Boy Umair Qasmi, The GSWD Master, The Head Girl and an Ex Pupil who is a great supporter of the school. The School's Governing Body is known as The Court of Bridewell, reflecting the historic foundation of the School as Bridewell Royal Hospital in 1553 during the reign of Edward VI.
The Master presented the GSWD Jewellery Awards for the innovative use of gold and silver wires. The ceremony was organised by the Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council and held on Monday, 26th February. Judith Cobham-Lowe OBE, Prime Warden Goldsmiths, presided and was the Master's guest at the special private viewing the following day of all the prize winning entries. Our two winners were Elisavet Messi, a Greek jeweller, who handcrafts limited collections and bespoke pieces from her London based studio and Kyosun Jung from Korea who completed BA Hons, Silversmithing, Goldsmithing & Jewellery at University for Creative Arts in Rochester UK. She is currently working in the UK in the workshop of the internationally renowned Clive Burr at the Goldsmiths' Centre in London. Our party consisted of almost 50 people, which was excellent considering the very bad weather. The viewing was followed by a supper at the nearby Haz St Paul's Restaurant.
On Wednesday, 31 January the GSWD were treated to a private visit at the Charles Dickens Museum, Doughty Street. We had three excellent guides who uncovered for us the private world behind the author's public image. We explored his study, reception rooms and family bedchambers. We saw Dickens's desk, handwritten drafts from the novels he wrote there and his young wife's engagement ring along with furniture, portraits, etc. The event was organised by our Clerk, Mark Charles Dickens, who is the author's great great grandson. Prior to our tour he told us personal stories about the great man.
Common Hall and Installation was held at Skinners' Hall on 8th January 2018. The Master, Paul Constantinidi witnessed the unbinding of Apprentice William Colgate and then admitted him to the Freedom by servitude (master Liveryman JRL Nuttall). The Master then welcomed into the Company new Liverymen Karen Brewer, Sean Eley, Ronald Ng, Laura Warren and Alistair Whitehead before handing over the reins to First Warden John Walsham who was then installed as The Master for the coming year. Brian Turner was sworn in as Fourth Warden, The Rev. Gordon Warren - Third Warden, Michael Gunston - Second Warden and Malcolm Craig - First Warden. The Guests Toast was Proposed by Assistant Nick Sillitoe with the Response by Nigel French, Principal Guest. He then Proposed the Toast to the Company with the Response by The Master, John Walsham.
The Worshipful Companies of Needlemakers - Master Colin Tiffin Esq and Gold & Silver Wyre Drawers - Master Paul Constantinidi Esq held a combined Carol Service at St James Garlickhythe by kind permission of the Reverend Tim Handley. Honorary Chaplains were The Rt Rev Christopher Chessun The Bishop of Southwark - Needlemakers and The Rev Gordon Warren and Fourth Warden - GSWD. The Organist & Director of Music was Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley. The congregation bought presents to be distributed to deserving children by the Salvation Army on Christmas Eve.