Master's Report

From The Master 
Monday 05 June 2017

Dear Members of the Court and fellow Liverymen,

Firstly, thank you everyone for voting for me at the "other" Election on 17 May and for your support and encouragement in the six years since I was first admitted to the Court at the beginning of the Company's 450th Anniversary year 2011-12.

As the Confraternity of the Holy Ghost, the Master's year always begins on a convenient date near to Pentecost, which fell yesterday. This means that newly installed Masters of the Broderers parachute in to a crowded City Livery calendar and, quite literally, hit the ground running.

I owe considerable thanks to Peter Mosse, as our previous Master, for not only setting a high standard of commitment and leadership in his year, but also for preparing the ground for me and ensuring a smooth handover. Both of us have enjoyed fantastic support from the other members of the Officers' Group, which now functions as a form of executive committee supporting the work of the Court and of the Company. In addition, as Warden last year, I also enjoyed the fellowship and support of the Livery committee in my year as its chairman; I shall miss this particular aspect of the Company's work, having been a member from the time I first joined the Broderers in 2005. I would urge all new Liverymen and those who have joined the Company in the past five years or so, to get involved.

The past year marks a watershed in the Company's recent history, with our Warden, Peter Crouch, completing his final and 27th year as Clerk of the Company. Peter has had a difficult time health-wise in the past year but has, nevertheless, continued to guide us and help me in the task of advertising for and recruiting his successor. We were delighted to welcome Brigadier Bill Aldridge CBE last month who joined us from 05 May; Bill has also hit the ground running, is already making a significant contribution to Broderers’ life, and is due to complete his formal handover after the Election Dinner on 19 June. In case some liverymen did not receive Bill's CV circulated at the time, his details are attached again now.

This brings me to the year ahead and to the Broderers' business plan for the next 5-10 years. The Court and Livery committee will be aware that the Company is now committed to expanding its membership base and to continuing to reach out to the fashion industry and related crafts. Our traditional contacts with the Royal School of Needlework, Fine Cell Work and the Embroiderers' Guild are going from strength to strength; the latter in particular is now re-established with strong governance and a new permanent home in the Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury, from where a new exhibition is due to open later this year. We are building upon the excellent new contacts established through the Broderers' Charity Trust's sponsorship of the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the V&A earlier this year; this is taking the form of new avenues of communication with other related craft-based Livery companies, and with expanding our contacts in the fashion and embroidery worlds.

However, what does every Liveryman need to do as well? Our goal is to grow our membership from the present 120 to 180 within 5 years or so. We have a healthy pipeline of over a dozen candidates, which we are now about to unblock, but we also need every Liveryman and every member of the Court to try to recruit a new member once every 5 years. This will provide the Company with more scale and a more resilient financial base, although our investment funds currently are in a very healthy state. Please invite prospective candidates to at least one dinner, prior to making an application, and liaise with the Clerk if you have submitted details previously and heard nothing back since. The Clerk will shortly have a supply of the updated edition of “To Be a Broderer”.

Finally, the year ahead and some key dates for our diaries:

  • Monday 19 June - 18.30 black tie Election Dinner at Mercers' Hall. Some surprises in the evening, with many visiting Masters and a tremendous raconteur as our guest speaker. The Very Rev Victor Stock, Dean Emeritus of Guildford Cathedral and formerly in charge of St Mary Le Bow ("Bow Bells"), our local church to Mercers' Hall; was a chaplain to two Lord Mayors and is the author of a famous diary - "Confessions of a City Priest".
  • Friday 23 and Saturday 24 June - the Lincoln Cathedral Heritage Skills Festival running from 10.00 to 16.00 each day and an easy day trip by rail from Kings Cross. The Broderers are there in force with our own stand, plus ones from the Royal School of Needlework, Fine Cell Work and the Embroiders' Guild - all showing how it is done and selling off items of handiwork. The Lord Mayor is playing the organ at Friday Evensong and we are involved with the auction on the Saturday. Please feel free to come along if you have yet to become involved. Further details are attached; there are 25 City Livery companies exhibiting.
  • Wednesday 18 October - our white tie Associated Companies Dinner, also at Mercers' Hall, with the Lord Mayor, Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley, and his sheriffs, as principal guest; the Lord Mayor will be accompanying me on the piano for the Master's Song - not to be missed!
  • Friday 08 December - the Associated Companies annual Carol Service. It is the turn of the Broderers to host this year's event with the Mercers, Masons and Cooks all turning out to support what will be a tremendous and unusual evening at St Margaret's Westminster, followed by a hot food and wine reception at Westminster Abbey. Get the date in your diary now!

We lost a very dear friend to the Broderers, and an exemplary past Master, in January, Lt Col Gordon "Fluffy" Birdwood, who masterminded our successful 450th campaign in 2011-12. He penned an additional final verse to the Master's Song for his year and I propose to include it in both of our formal dinners this year. The verse reads thus:

"Oh! Thank you for coming this evening

To dine in this wonderful Hall

And now that it’s time for our leaving

A safe journey home to you all”


So, there we have it: growing our membership and our connections with the worlds of embroidery and fashion; supporting more apprenticeships and our charitable objectives; and in the process turning the Broderers in to a modern and relevant 21st century Company, whilst having some fun and proving that we are the very best of "plain dealing fellows"!

With my thanks in anticipation of your support and fellowship, and my best wishes,