As a child we all heard the saying “the streets of London are paved with gold”! The saying expresses the idea “land of opportunity.“ Leaving Northern Ireland in 1972 to seek a career in the City of London, little did I know the streets would be paved with gold (and silver) - wyre!
This year has gone past so quickly, it seems a short time since Immediate Past Master, Paul Constantinidi presented me with our much admired Master’s Badge. I now only have 3 months left of this very privileged Livery year. With the RAF celebrating its Centenary, as I reflected in my speech at our October Dinner, I have been able to enjoy numerous visits to RAF establishments.
At my first lunch at Innholders’ Livery Hall in April 2000, I never believed I would have the honour and privilege of being your Anniversary Master in 2018. This is all thanks to our late Past Master Frank Saunders and Past Master James Simmons who proposed and seconded me to join this marvellous Livery Company.
This year we have participated in a number of events raising money for various Charities and Good Causes. We have visited Wrotham Park followed by lunch at the Haven and had a Blue Badge walk around the Insurance section of the City. (See separate articles). We also participated in Jailed & Bailed, (pictures), The Annual Sheep Drive and The Lord Mayor's Abseil.
Thank you all for your kind support and allowing me the honour of becoming your Master for 2017. When Past Master George Constantinidi and Past Master Rodney Fitzgerald proposed me to the Livery in 1989 and then the Court in 1998, I was a young, single man in the City; now 28 years later on, still thinking of that young single man in the City, who is now a happily married, overweight, white haired father of two amazing children, I am very excited and somewhat bemused at the thought of finally having a mistress in the twilight of my years and aIso finding myself Master of our illustrious Livery Company.
I am absolutely delighted to be appointed as your new Clerk and I look forward to getting to know you all as soon as possible. I have been most fortunate to have had a meticulous coach in Robin House who has given me an excellent turnover, but please don’t expect me to know everything straight away.
Many of you will have read my email earlier this year, but for those who didn’t I now offer my thoughts. Firstly, I would like to say how great an honour it was for me to be installed as Master of our Worshipful Company on January 11th in Common Hall at Skinners’ Hall. Back in 2002, when I joined the Livery, little did I think that one day I would become Master.
It is such an honour and privilege to be Master of our great Company. I am aware that as Master you are the ambassador for the company and I am very conscious of the responsibility I have to maintain our reputation amongst the other livery companies, our military, cadet, trade and art affiliations and anywhere else I may be representing the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers.
This year is going very fast. We remember the outbreak of the Great War, and the awful consequences that followed. As Master one is invited to many lectures by other Livery Companies so, with an interest in history, I have attended as many as possible. The most recent, by the City Corporation, was entitled ‘London from Peace to War’ by the well known military historian, Professor Jeremy Black.
I would like to dedicate my year to the memory of my late father-in law Norman Harding. It was at his suggestion I had the privilege of joining this Worshipful Company in 1975 with absolutely no idea that one day it would lead to being installed as Master. I am very conscious of the honour bestowed on me, and am firmly resolved to serve you, the Livery, to the best of my ability.
We marched purposefully up the gangway in Portsmouth Dockyard onto the oldest commissioned warship in the World. It was mid May and the major Fundraising Dinner of 2013 beckoned.
My year so far has been hectic, challenging and rewarding. There have been so many memorable events.
We have had good contacts with all our service connections including visiting our new affiliation, 101 Squadron RAF at Brize Norton. We have also attended many City sponsored events and I have enjoyed visiting so
many other Livery Companies, often as a privileged guest – an opportunity not normally open to me.
As a provincial lad I had no City connections but, once introduced to the Liveries, I was quickly caught up in their history, tradition and fellowship. I hope to carry these values through my year. My interest in the Livery has been rewarded by an abundance of fellowship, which I feel we Liverymen should encourage others to experience, as well as to increase our membership.
We are now well through the year and I have enjoyed enormously representing the Livery at a wide range of City and Service functions. We have seen great change with the closure of RAF Uxbridge and the move to RAF Northolt for our two affiliates, the Queen’s Colour Squadron and the RAF Central Band.