Coachlines - October 2023

30.10.23 Assistant Lyn Litchfield

Editor’s letter – October 2023

Dear readers, for those of you who live in the south, you must have enjoyed some unusual warm autumn weather. The sight of bright foliage is confusing when we sense the warmth on our skins at the same time. At least that’s what my excuse was after a few bad golf shots. The trees alongside the fairways are simply stunning. And now you know I am a golfer.

In September’s Coachlines, we said goodbye to our previous editor in chief, Honorary Assistant Lesley. I have to confess the little I knew only two months ago how much work there was to run a Committee as such. Because my wonderful friend had simply quietly got on with all the tasks at hand, she was and is so organised and extremely capable.

When I look around, and while browsing our website when composing and editing the new The Coachmaker – Our Livery Year (you can read about this publication in a separate article), I see so many names under each committee, so many committees run various essential tasks of our company, evaluate and issue many different awards, as well as support many charitable outlets each year. I have learned so much about our Company in the past two months than in the last six years as a Comms Committee member. I am sure this is just the beginning of my discovery journey.

While I marvel at our Company’s honourable pursuits and experience the euphoria of awakening, I realise that ‘An active Livery investing in young people’ is not just a fancy strapline. What I admire most, are those Coachmakers who sit on various committees, my fellow committee chairs, our experienced Master and Wardens, as well as our amazing Clerk and Assistant Clerk.

With a membership of circa 450, the Coachmakers is a mid-sized company among the City of London Livery Companies. However, we have a modest trust fund in the region of £2m of which enables circa £100k to be distributed among specific good causes and various awards and bursaries. During the Covid years we also donated extra funds to some organisations not usually supported, such as the Trussel Trust; and we increased donations to our existing outreach programmes at Kingston University and Imperial College. We all know that a company is like a household, however small a household is, we still need to have all the essential set-ups to keep it functioning and doing its daily chores.

I did a rough head count (have I ever told you that although a proud Finn, I was nonetheless born Chinese? As all stereotypical Chinese are, I am also good at maths!) There are about 90 of us sitting on the Court and various committees, some of the 90 people sit on anything between two to six committees. It’s mainly them who keep our Company afloat, and dare I say, charge towards our 350th anniversary year with big ambitions.

However, do we know who these 90-plus people are? Do we know exactly what they do and how they do it? Perhaps also, do we ever pause for a moment and wonder, why do they volunteer their time to do all this so generously? Time is the most scarce commodity we possess, and we can never buy back the time we have already spent.

From this Coachlines onward, for the rest of the Livery year, the Comms Committee is launching a new feature called ‘Meet the Team’. Every month we will give the floor to one of the committees or sub-committees, for which I have asked each chair to write a piece about themselves, their team and their committee’s main responsibilities. We want to bring you not only newsworthy stories, but also impactful insights into our own Coachmakers’ community.

Therefore I ‘command’ the Committee chairs to get creative in their own preferred ways, and to champion their teams and missions, and not to mention, to get personal and allow their personalities to shine through. We want the rest of the Company to get to know them better, and to be inspired. We’d like to see more people joining in the honourable pursuit we share.

My first guest writer is Honorary Assistant, Chair of the Livery Committee, Richard Robinson. Richard is probably one of the busiest and youngest committee chairs in our Company who has a full blown day job. The name ‘Livery’ doesn’t necessarily tell us what tasks the Committee is responsible for. In a nutshell it’s the Committee which puts on most of the events for us. I shall not steal Richard’s thunder by saying any more than this here.

Finally, you probably noticed, I said the word ‘finally’ before introducing any other piece in Coachlines, like I did in my Editor’s Letter in September. There are 13 stories in this edition, all well written and varied from each other. However, if I were to introduce each one, you would probably run out of time and patience before reaching the end of my Editor’s Letter. Therefore, instead, I shall just say, please go find out for yourselves what’s in store for you in this month’s Coachlines.

Next month, you’d be glad to know, you will have a little break from me and my writing. Liveryman David Barzilay, a member of Comms Committee, has been appointed as my co-Editor. So in the November edition you will have the pleasure of reading his Editor’s Letter. David is an experienced journalist and PR professional, he writes beautifully and English is definitely his mother tongue, unlike me.

I conclude my second Editor’s Letter by disclosing where I am. As I write I am on a British Airways flight more than 30,000 feet mid-air somewhere between London and Shanghai. The entire cabin is dark and quiet, most of the passengers are fast asleep, and I am typing on my tiny mobile phone screen. There are only a few faint lights dotted around the cabin, and it made me think about fireflies on warm summer nights. I feel so peaceful at this moment (not worrying at all about the fact that as soon as I land there will be a driver waiting to take me directly to the first meeting, and there will be a long day ahead after this sleepless overnight flight ends). I simply marvel at the wonder of our aerospace industry. The sound of the aircraft engine soothes my soul and makes me feel so very proud of being part of the Coachmakers’ Company, which supports the aerospace industry by encouraging more young people to study engineering and pursue a career in this field.