My year started well, I believe, with the dinner following the AGM at Gresham college. Everyone seemed happy with the venue and the food, and professor
Mainelli’s talk on the College and its history – a great
city institution providing free public lectures for over
400 years – was food for thought. My thanks to Michael.
Our new members evening turned out to be quite a party.
Very well attended and nobody refused a welcome drink.
Our visit to the cabinet war rooms drew reasonable
numbers. We enjoyed the lecture at the beginning with
its nostalgic display of wartime rations and household
artifacts. Not all of us were too young to remember!
Several of our party said they would return to see items
they had missed. I commend the war rooms to those who
could not join us.
Then came the Civic Banquet, which I shall talk about
after the treasurer’s report.
The trip on the Lady Daphne Thames Sailing Barge 2 days
ago, courtesy of Elisabeth and Michael Mainelli, was a
joint event with Broad Street ward, of which Michael is
also a member. This limited us to only 26 people. With
hindsight, we should perhaps have restricted numbers to
members only, and no partners. We were blessed with
superb weather, a rarity this summer. The two clubs
mixed well, and the food was of an excellent standard.
No-one complained about my choice of wines, and very
little was left.
As there was a waiting list of some 40 people, the
Mainellis have kindly agreed that we can have an
additional cruise. The secretary is trying to find out if
we have enough support to make this on July 23rd, or
whether we should postpone until late August or
Barbara and I attended the Civic Luncheons of Aldgate
Ward, attended by the Lady Mayoress, who seemed
relieved to see familiar Lime Street faces, and I went
alone to Bishopsgate Ward at the HAC.
The Upper Warden will represent the Club at the Civic
Lunch of Langbourn Ward next week. I cannot attend as I
shall be abroad.
I have agreed to follow the path of some previous
Masters and Members and have joined Langbourn Ward Club. Also,
my office is now situated within their boundaries. Their
Master, Charles Catt, joined our club recently and
attended the new members meeting, although he missed
our Civic function – seems like reciprocity! – and was
represented by our good friend Dickie Bird.
The high point for many past and present officers was the
invitation to lunch in the private apartments at Mansion
House. This event was preceded by a tour of the living
quarters of John and Lesley Stuttard, with life-sized
stuffed cats in evidence – perhaps as a continuation to
the Dick Whittington story of which our Lord Mayor is so
proud. We were delighted to have John Cohen with us,
accompanying his wife, Deputy Christine Cohen, on the eve
of her election as Head of planning of the City of London,
and all too shortly before his sad death.
The Lord Mayor made it very clear that we are his
“family” and how much he appreciates the support since
his election as Alderman in 2001.
I look forward to the events of the second half of my
year, and will deal with these under item 7.
I am not at all sure that any of us realised last January
and February quite how this would turn out. You will
recall that we thought we needed 200 people to turn up
to limit our losses. All were asked to bring friends and
relatives to make the event a success. In fact, we were
worrying the wrong way!
Ann Benson was deluged with applications, and before the
cut-off date we had to refuse new ones, having reached
the maximum number of 348 which the Egyptian Hall at
Mansion House could accommodate
Sadly, later applications included those of Committee
Members. The officers discussed the problem – should we
give anyone preferential treatment? – and decided that
we had to adopt a first come, first served approach. This
resulted in the resignation of one valued member of this
committee, which I personally greatly regret.
The organisation of such a large event fell almost
totally on Ann’s shoulders, with assistance, of course,
from Wendy and also Rowland. This was totally
unreasonable, but we had not foreseen such a large take
up. In retrospect, we should have had a sub-committee to
spread the load. All I can do is thank those who
contributed so much, as I and the Lord Mayor tried to do
at the banquet, and hope that Ann has enjoyed and
recovered from her much deserved breakdown.
But wasn’t it worth it? We pushed out the boat, and chose
the best menus and good wines – Ann and Stanley Liu were
most helpful at the tasting. The lower warden arranged
the Pikemen and Musketeers to be in attendance which
added colour to an already glittering occasion. Those
of you who have looked up the Gerald Sharp
photography website will have seen that many people
posed with them.
I would like also to thank my wife, Barbara, who went to
Covent Garden at 6am on the morning of the event to
purchase the flowers and special holders to go into the
candelabra. She spent most of the day at home and at
Mansion House doing the arrangements. And then she
managed to look great and fresh all evening. I am very
We were allowed to complete the decoration with the
Mansion House plate. Breathtaking.
For Barbara and myself, the irony was being asked to
welcome our Lord Mayor into his own home. John
Stuttard gave the impression throughout the evening
that he too was having a whale of a time, and I want to
read out his letter to you.
I received similarly handwritten letters from the Lady
Mayoress, both Sheriffs and the City Marshall, and our
other guests All effusive in them praise of the event.
Like many of you, I have attended livery and other events
in that room, but this was brilliant. The music was
excellent and not intrusive. The post horn gallop sent
shivers of pleasure around the room.
To walk into a room full of friendly faces with the Lady
Mayoress was almost overwhelming. The view from the
Master’s chair looking down the line of chandeliers is
The loving cup was a first-time experience for many
members and them guests. I am sure I shall never again
have the chance to taste 2 loving cups at one occasion.
The Lord Mayor’s speech was rewritten as we sat, and
clearly came from the heart, as well as being amusing.
The Upper Warden’s speech was much appreciated, and I
had several comments in letters received.
My Guest of Honour was to have been am Marshal Lord
Garden. He warned me three weeks beforehand that he
was feeling unwell and was undergoing tests at the
Royal Free. Sadly we now know that he has terminal
Lord John Alderdice stepped in late in the day. A
psychiatrist who was Speaker at the First Northern
Ireland assembly and important in the peace process
there, He was able to mix good humour with interest in
his speech. He and the Lord Mayor have continued their
conversation since then about the role of the City-
funded Irish Society, which has existed for hundreds of
In conclusion, a truly wonderful night, and we owe a
huge debt of gratitude to Ann Benson and Wendy Kiernan.
You both look great in that photo with the Lady
Mayoress and Barbara, holding your bouquets.