Master's Speech - Associated Companies Dinner 18 October 2017

Associated Companies Dinner 18 October 2017

My Lord Mayor
Chief Commoner
Visiting Masters and Wardens
Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome to the Broderers’ annual Associated Companies Dinner and an especially warm welcome to the Master Mercer, the Master Cook, the Master Mason, the Master Innholder and the Master Insurer; and a number of guest Past Masters, including those from the Horners, the Tylers and Bricklayers, and the Drapers. Also, welcome to the Canon Treasurer of Westminster Abbey, who has stood in for the Dean at short notice, and to my personal guests who are fellow Honorary Stewards at the Abbey.

I would also extend an especially warm welcome to the representatives of our two military affiliations. Firstly, to Lt Col Matthew Lewis, the new Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment and Warrant Officer Christopher Walker, RQMS of the 1st Battalion, together with a Bugler and a Piper – all from Tern Hill Barracks in Shropshire. I had the great privilege of attending their annual Medal Parade in August, after which I presented their new Pipe Banner, which is embroidered with the Royal Irish insignia on one side, made by a now ex-prisoner called Clive through Fine Cell Work, and with the Broderers’ Badge on the other, made by the Royal School of Needlework. The sharp eyed will have seen it in full use when we processed in and there will be another chance soon! I also welcome Lt Commander Serena Davidson and Lt Commander Cheryl Jones from 849 Squadron Naval Air Station Culdrose but now based also at Portsmouth, preparing to be the first helicopter squadron on board the new HMS Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier. Welcome all.

The Broderers’ Company supports the traditional craft of embroidery – referred to in our second Royal Charter of 1561 as the “Mysterie of Broderie” – and its application in the modern era, hence our growing involvement with the world of fashion, where the skill of hand embroidery is now much sought after.

The Broderers, as the Confraternity of the Holy Ghost, have a reputation of brightening up proceedings, which I hope we will achieve this evening. Our embroidery certainly brightens up clothing, so I am particularly pleased to welcome guests from the fashion industry, as well as from the world of embroidery, including Lisa Redman, the fashion designer, Dr Susan Kay Williams, the Principal of the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, and Anne Toomey, the Head of the Textiles Programme at the Royal College of Art. Also welcome are Victoria Gillies and Katy Emck OBE, the Managing Director and Founding Director respectively of Fine Cell Work, one of our major charities.

Mr Alistair Macleod, chairman of Hand and Lock; and Mrs Michelle Humphries, CEO of De Vere Yarns and a Past Mistress Weaver, are among the six candidates who delivered their Freedom Oaths at a record-breaking Court meeting earlier this evening. I welcome them as Freemen, along with Mr Nigel Birks, Colonel Peter Merriman MBE, Ms Sophia Sladden and Dr Ruth Holt – who was also clothed as a Liveryman and from whom we shall be hearing later, as tradition demands.

Tonight marks another milestone in Broderers’ history, in that we admitted as Honorary Freemen in their own right, for the very first time, four of our Past Mistresses – having been the Lady consorts to a Past Master in his year of office. So, an especially warm welcome to Past Mistresses, Mrs Delia Hart (1998/99), Mrs Margot Chaundler OBE (2007/08), Mrs Cynthia Buchanan (2012/13), and Mrs Sarah Mosse (2016/17).

The Associated Companies is the title of a joint venture originally undertaken by five City Livery Companies in Ireland, led by the Mercers’ Company.

On coming to the throne of both England and Scotland in 1603, James I wished to secure his possessions in the British Isles, the most vulnerable of which was Ireland. He therefore devised a plan to transplant a number of his most reliable subjects, meaning the Scots, to the area of Northern Ireland which was to become known as County Londonderry. His main problem being funding, in 1609 he called upon the City of London to finance it. The City responded by initially agreeing to provide £20,000, to which each of the 12 Great Companies would be required to fund a proportion.

The Mercers, as one of the Great 12, were called upon to pay £410 in their first tranche, to which they strongly objected. This resulted in two of their Wardens being gaoled in the Tower who were released through the good offices of four lesser Companies, being the Broderers, the Masons, the Cooks and the Innholders. A deal was reached for the second tranche, with the Masons contributing £100, the Innholders and Cooks £200 each and the Broderers £153. Subsequently, in 1613, land for flax plantations was allotted to all of the participating Livery Companies totalling 500,000 English acres; the Irish acre being an unreliable measure for the amount of land required to graze one cow.

The Associated Companies, as the group led by the Mercers had become known, were granted an area of 21,600 acres in a deed dated 17th October 1618 (399 years ago yesterday) on the west bank of the River Bann which nowadays includes the small town of Kilrea. By this stage the Mercers had paid £3,920, the Masons £150, the Innholders and Cooks £300 each and the Broderers £233. There was however confusion over the areas allocated to the Companies, a shortage of immigrant workers, lack of funding, and poor returns on the investments. Sound familiar? At this point in the history, the Innholders seem to have withdrawn, although this is disputed, and the four remaining Companies continued their involvement until 1906, when the land was compulsorily purchased.

The four Associated Companies continued to enjoy fellowship together thereafter, leading to a failed fresh attempt in the 1950s at a Settlement in what was then Southern Rhodesia; and today continue their relationship both socially and charitably, each year deciding together how to support a joint award to fund apprenticeships.

This year it was our turn to select the recipient of the Joint-Venture Funding Award and the lucky applicant was QEST – the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, founded with the support of the late Queen Mother. The funding of £19,000 gave a three-year opportunity for an embroidery apprenticeship for an exceptionally talented individual with a clear training plan.

It is at this point that, talking of Apprenticeships, I am absolutely delighted to announce the creation of the Broderers’ Textile Innovation Fund. This has been made possible with the considerable help of the Monday Charitable Trust and the Helen Hamlyn Trust who, together with the Broderers Charity Trust, have committed to an initial five year programme of support to the Royal College of Art, totalling £125,000. Liverymen Stephen Lewin and Liz Elvin are to be especially congratulated on leading the negotiations on what is another first for the Broderers. The fund is to be used for new machinery and equipment, for supporting students and researchers, for establishing new textile and material teaching programmes, and for capital works leading to the creation of new materials and research facilities. Our support will be focused in the first year on a new member of RCA staff with a research proposal to develop graphene fibre antennae for wearable technology applications. This cutting edge development in graphene applications is an example of how the Broderers and the RCA Textiles Dept. will be promoting innovation in embroidery using new materials. Graphene will become an important component in a lot of technology, both new and existing, and supports the RCA’s message that “the real step changes in solving the world’s most pressing challenges are made when scientists, engineers, artists, designers, writers and historians work together”.

May I ask Anne Toomey, Head of the Textiles Programme at the RCA to come forward and receive our cheque for the first year’s funding of £25,000?

Those of us who had the good fortune to attend this June’s first ever Heritage Skills Festival at Lincoln Cathedral will never forget the sight of two dozen or so Livery Companies exhibiting not only their wares but also how things are made. The Broderers’ had four stands, showing off the work of the RSN, and our sponsored charities [Fine Cell Work, The Grange, and the Embroiders’ Guild]. It’s lovely to see as our guests, Carol Heidschuster (Head of the Works Dept. at Lincoln), her colleague Sally Edwards, and Jane Drummond from the Lincoln Embroiderers’ Guild. The Lord Mayor will not have forgotten his organ recital at Friday Evensong to a packed and rapt congregation and he is to be congratulated on giving this event his full support during his Mayoral year. We learned recently that Lincoln had incurred a modest loss on the event, a loss in financial terms maybe, but certainly not in other regards. The Broderers’ Court has offered to write off the debt and I would ask Carol to come forward to receive a cheque for £1,776 with our thanks.

Finally, before the toast, it is my very great pleasure to introduce and formally welcome our honoured guest for this evening: The Rt. Hon The Lord Mayor Dr Andrew Parmley. Arguably he needs no introduction, as he is so well known in the City and in the Livery Companies, and has made himself one of the most accessible Lord Mayors. Born in Manchester and brought up in Blackpool, where his first job was as director of music for Blackpool Pleasure Beach, he and Wendy his wife, are proud Lancastrians. By profession he is a Musician and Educator, being presently Principal of the Harrodian School in West London. His broad experience in the creative industries has led to a life of teaching, writing, composing and examining and his organ playing is now legendary, particularly after his performance in March of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony with the LSO at St Paul’s Cathedral. He is a past Master of three livery companies, including the Musicians, and has even found time to be Renter Warden of the Vintners’ Company this year. His energy levels are exhausting, including abseiling down the Cheesegrater, and he has been known to manage no less than 27 events in a single day! The LM has just completed his 13th and final foreign trip, which rather appropriately for tonight, was to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

My Lord Mayor, we feel privileged that you have made time in your final 3 weeks in office to be with us tonight and to mark the occasion, particularly as it was your birthday yesterday, we would like to present you with a memento; namely an embroidered cushion with the City skyline as its motive. This was made in prison by one of the 600 prisoners supported and trained by teams of volunteers from Fine Cell Work, the charity that also now places ex-prisoners in embroidery and textile training programmes in its new facilities in Battersea, where many go on to become employees or apprentices with a variety of businesses.

I would also ask you to accept a small gift for the Lady Mayoress, being a hand embroidered silk scissor case, sporting a red rose, and containing scissors from Sheffield. This was made by liveryman, Isobel Lattimore, who also helps, together with other liverymen at St Paul’s Cathedral, with the restoration and preservation of vestments.

The Broderers applaud your choice of “Educate, Support, Inspire” as your Appeal Charity, and I am pleased to present our cheque for a £3,000 contribution, together with our thanks for a memorable 12 months.

May I ask fellow Broderers to please arise? The Toast is “The Associated Companies, may they continue in friendship and flourish for ever, together with the Guests”.