29.09.23 Assistant Lyn Litchfield

A letter from the Editor


Hello dear readers of Coachlines, autumn greetings from your new Editor in Chief, Lyn Litchfield.

Our former Editor, my dearest friend and Honorary Assistant, Lesley Upham, handed her shining baton to me at the Election Court on 1st September, where I was elected the new Chair of the Communications Committee. Subsequently, I also became the new Editor for Coachlines.

Retired and relaxed – Hon Assistant Lesley celebrated her birthday in style

In July I approached Lesley (just as she often approached many of us during the past six years) to ask if she would write a piece for the September Coachlines on her career, her experiences of being the Chair and Editor, also about her other passions in life, not least, about what she was going to do to kill all that spare time once she has handed the responsibilities to me.

I assure you, I put in my request as persuasively and courteously as I know how, asking Lesley both as her good friend and as her successor. I thought after so many years of service, she might wish to reflect on her time with the organisation. Not to mention that Lesley has a beautiful turn of phrase. As some of you may know, she has written a novel set in Venice and is in the middle of her second book.

But Lesley’s answer was short and simple: “NO.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Lyn, you know as well as I, that being an editor is not about us. We are the catalysts. We’re there to give stories life, and readers some good reading.
“True, but don’t you think our readers would be interested in knowing more about who sourced and polished all those fascinating stories for them?”
Lesley’s answer was consistent: “NO.”

Clearly, I have found my equal in terms of strong headedness and singlemindedness.
So, here we are. I am writing this story by myself. Sorry, Lesley. I am the Editor in Chief now. I have the editorial independence and I am using it.

Besides being similarly strongheaded, my predecessor and I share many other important things: we were born in the same month; we are both petite and have the same shoe size (not to mention a passion for footwear!); and we are definitely vertically challenged. However, Lesley is larger than life. I do not know how I will be able to fill her shoes! But I will give it my best shot, that’s all I can promise.

This edition of Coachlines proudly welcomes our newly elected Master Coachmaker, Bettine Evans, another larger-than-life figure in our fantastic Livery family. Bettine is only the fourth female Master we have had in our company’s 346-year history. In this Coachlines, our new Master will share with us her key goals and priorities for our company in the next 12 months.

There is another major “thing” that is going to take place in Master Bettine’s year. Our beloved and most capable Clerk, Cdr Mark Leaning, will retire next July. For those who have been spoiled by Mark’s sensational storytelling skills and who have become addicted to his unique sense of humour, please don’t miss out on your final chances to read ‘Clerk’s News’.

As an active livery investing in young people, nothing gives us more pleasure than knowing how our award winners are putting their learned theories into practice. Assistant Giles Taylor presents the project insights from two of the award-winning design students of Royal College of Art in London.

Goodwood Revival is considered one of the finest motoring events in the UK. As it’s the 75th anniversary of motor racing at the Goodwood Circuit, the Revival was even more special this year. Liveryman Martin Derrick spent all three days there and has much to report. In Martin’s own words, it was three days of motorsport, aviation and fashion. But why highlight “fashion” alongside the “motorsport” and “aviation”, Martin? Read his piece and you’ll see.

Our very own Junior Warden Mark Broadbent celebrated his election by dashing out right after the Election Court Dinner in a £1,000 Mini to take part in the grand Banger Rally of Europe, crossing eight countries and clocking in more than 1,600 miles. Mark has set the bar high. How could any Junior Warden in the future match his extravaganza? Jokes aside, Mark and his wife Jo completed the event in support of a local charity. Take a look at the slide show in the story, and you will agree that none of them had any fun whatsoever.

This was not the only challenge our Junior Warden completed recently. Being a brilliant Coachmaker, Mark and his colleagues at Fenix Carriages took on more than 2,000 hours of restoration work for the most elegant C sprung No 2 Town Coach made in the 1880s for the Royal Mews. They were used for transporting important people in and around town. If you are interested in knowing the somewhat dark history behind this No 2 Town Coach, as well as finding out who its last infamous passenger was before it was sold, you definitely won’t want to miss Mark’s tale in this month’s issue.

Now let me conclude my first Editor’s Letter by saying once again a huge ‘thank you’ to my outstanding predecessor, Honorary Assistant Lesley Upham. Let me borrow her words to express our shared sense of duty: Being an editor is never about us. We are merely the catalysts. We are here to bring stories to life, and to give you something good to read.

Happy reading!

Assistant Lyn Litchfield