I write this Blog having just attended our Annual Banquet at the Mansion House on October 28th, a very enjoyable conclusion to a busy month. October commenced with John and I attending the Worshipful Company of Musicians Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral where I joined the Masters, Wardens and Clerks in procession to sit under the Dome.  Here we enjoyed a splendid evening service of music and moments to reflect on the year and it’s challenges.  After Evensong, we repaired to the crypt for refreshments and an opportunity to meet other Liverymen attending the service from across the Livery.

The annual lunch for Consorts, Partners, Companions (and their guests), organised by the Master’s Consort took place on 6th October.  Before lunch 21 members of the party took a guided walk through Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn, before joining a further 10 members at Brasserie Blanc for a very interesting talk by Consort Christine Holmes.  Christine spoke on her time as the High-Sheriff of Shropshire. Following the talk a superb lunch was enjoyed by all.  John reports this was a very convivial event, where he greatly enjoyed welcoming a wider cross-section of our members, including three gentleman Consorts.

The October Court meeting was truly memorable.  It was held in the oldest surviving Hall in the City, amidst a fascinating collection of ancient medical equipment.  The meeting opened with a presentation by Alderman Robert Hughes-Penny, Ward of Cheap, who took time out to explain how the Company could better support the City.  Following the standard business, Colonel David Swann formally stepped down as Clerk, to be subsequently re-admitted as Honorary Freeman.  Commander Peter Gracey made his formal declaration as Clerk.

Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli made his formal declaration as Honorary Liveryman.  In addition, we saw one member of the Court elected to Assistant Emeritus and the admission of a bumper number of new Freemen and Liverymen. The after dinner speech was delivered by Pro-Vice- Chancellor of University of Oxford (People and Digital), Professor Anne Trefethen on the far reaching implications of digital technology.

Professor Anne Trefethen with the Master and her Consort

On the 19th October I was pleased to be at the Mansion House for the Lord and Lady Mayoress’ lecture on Defence and Security, presented by the Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.  The annual lecture is attended by local councillors, as well as the Livery. It was fascinating to hear about the ability of the Armed Forces to support our national interest in all its forms.  It was also interesting to hear how strategy investment is evolving following the experiences of the war in Ukraine.

The following night saw me representing the Company at the annual dinner of the Corps of Royal Engineers at their HQ in Chatham Barracks.  A most entertaining evening, even if the Corps’ song includes several lines in Matabele.  I was also pleased to meet the Master Tyler and Bricklayer and Dame Sarah Springman who were also guests of the Corps.

On the morning of the Banquet, I was once again in the Company of the Armed Forces, this time the Commandant of the Air Cadets at the annual presentation of Arkwright Awards at the IET.  I was extremely proud to meet our two sponsored students, Eleanor Quick and Christopher Malagala (left), really inspiring young people, and to hear about their plans for higher education.  ‘Space’ seems to be the career of choice these days in engineering! 

In line with tradition, our Annual Banquet took place on the last Friday in October. Despite the potential roadblocks (train strikes, Covid…..) I am delighted to report that for the first time since the start of the pandemic we had no last minute cancellations.  We were hosted at the Mansion House by Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, Lord Mayor ‘Locum Tenets’.   We were delighted to welcome in addition both Sheriffs, eight Livery Masters, the Past Master of the Hallamshire Cutlers, the CEO of Rolls Royce, the Chief Engineer of TfL and their Consorts. 

The after dinner speeches were given by the Honourable Member for Newcastle Upon Tyne Central and Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Chi Onwurah (left) and Dame Sarah Springman, Principal of St Hilda’s College Oxford (below).

Download Chi Onwurah’s speech here. 

The food and wine were top notch, the atmosphere convivial, and the speeches riveting, demonstrating how the Worshipful Company of Engineers is fully aligned with the Mayoral theme of ‘People and Purpose, Investing in a Better Tomorrow’ focussing on skills, social mobility and the use of finance for social impact.

Master Audrey Canning