18 April 2013 - Annual Banquet
Anyone who felt a slight tinge of disappointment that this year’s banquet was not at the Mansion House must have had their fears allayed as soon as they entered the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall.
Smartly uniformed cadets from the West Ham Sea Cadet Corps lined the staircase as everyone moved to the reception to be greeted by the Master and Wardens and then into the Drawing Room for a very welcome drink and, more importantly, a chance to mingle and chat with fellow guests. The Drawing Room and Exhibition Room contains some of the treasures of the Goldsmiths and on examining them closely (not casing the joint as one Liveryman suggested unkindly) one became aware of the privilege of being in such stunning and historic surroundings.
As the Beadle called the company into dinner, past the reassembled Carpet guard, there were a few gasps of wonderment at the beauty and sumptuousness of the fully laid out Livery Hall. The procession of Master, Wardens, Clerk and distinguished guests, led by the mace bearing Beadle, was received traditionally before grace was said by the Hon. Chaplain and around 220 people were seated for dinner. The menu and wines had been chosen expertly and served immaculately by an army of staff supervised by the Hall Manager. I am sure that some of the waiting staff were full-time students doing part-time work – must go down well on their CV when eventually entering their careers. (Somewhat different from the writer’s own student part-time job of being a skinless sausage maker in a Walls factory!)
After the meal, and the sung grace, the Loving Cup tradition was conducted, mainly with panache and a flourish but occasionally with confusion, during and after which excellent entertainment was provided by the two very talented musicians, Chris Eldred and Ellie Lovegrove with whom the Master took wine. A very nice touch this year was for the Master to invite the Carpet Guard of West Ham Sea Cadets into the Livery Hall to receive thanks.
Following the Royal Toasts, the first speaker was the Senior Warden who welcomed all the Company’s guests (what an impressive list) and concluded with the Civic Toast.
The first guest speaker was Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley whose very entertaining speech went down even better than the port which had just been served and was concluded with a toast to the Company.
The Master’s speech followed in which he emphasised his theme for the year of involvement and participation. He also managed to make reference to Dr Who and to James Bond (can any hidden desire on his part be read into either of these?). The Master’s charities for his year are WaterAid and London Youth. Some year 10 boys from Rokeby School, the Academy we support in the London Borough of New Ham, have formed a link with WaterAid and will be fundraising for them. A happy coincidence of our being in Goldsmiths’ Hall is that the Goldsmiths’ Company generously gifted Woodrow High House near Amersham to London Youth, which is now used as an outdoor activity centre for youth clubs and schools where the Master serves on two of its committees. Before introducing the final speaker, the Master took tremendous pleasure in presenting an award to Mark Tanguy from Jersey for the top student in the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators’ final examination. In introducing guest speaker, Joe Garner, the Master outlined Joe’s recent impressive CV with HSBC, where he was responsible for HSBC Bank UK with a staff of 37,000. Finally the Master invited all Liverymen to stand and toast all guests.
Mr Garner’s speech was informative and entertaining and made reference to his connection with, and admiration for, the City and the livery fraternity. One was left with the impression that whatever route his future career may take, he will be incredibly successful.
The evening concluded with the Master thanking the guest speaker, the caterers all involved, and particularly the Company’s Clerk and Assistant Clerk for their tremendous effort and organisation, a sentiment that was endorsed enthusiastically by all.