30.10.23 The Master Bettine Evans

Master’s message October 2023

Warm greetings fellow Liverymen. I do hope you’re all well and tolerating this sudden change in the weather. I feel that a gentle shift into autumn would have been kinder, but I suppose we shouldn’t grumble, having enjoyed a wonderful Indian summer earlier this month.

I must start by thanking all of you who have so generously contributed to my bail money last month. I wrote to everyone whose email address was listed in the directory, but sadly, a few addresses were missing, so please accept this letter as my expression of heartfelt gratitude. Between us, we raised more than £25,000 for the Red Cross, which was a magnificent sum for which the charity, and its recipients were extremely grateful.

I must confess that the whole day was most interesting and enjoyable, though the Old Bailey was a touch austere: Clive, the head keeper at the Tower, really failed to look particularly threatening, and there was no sign of either scaffold or gallows, but we quaffed plenty of Pol Roger, just in case the mood changed!

Our next excitement was to be involved in the Election of the next Lord Mayor, fortified by a huge breakfast provided by the Cook and the Butler at The Guildhall. After which, we donned gowns and badges and lined up numerically (we are number 72) and processed into St Lawrence Jewry for a most inspirational service. From there, we proceeded into the huge Common Hall to take our seats and become part of the ancient ceremony that left us feeling truly at one with this great City of London.

Whatever next? The wonderful Musicians’ service at St. Paul’s where all Livery Masters, gowned and badged, paraded through the Cathedral before taking our seats to take part in Evensong and listen to an Elgar piece. Later, in the crypt, we chatted with other Masters and Clerks, and learned how their Livery Companies worked, their histories and of similarities and differences to ours.

Next, a delightful luncheon at Tallow Chandlers Hall hosted by the Master of the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers, Jamie Berry. Once again, entertaining company with many interesting people, and a wonderful opportunity to meet our peers and enjoy cross-Livery interaction.

There is just one other event which I must mention. Last Wednesday, on a very, very wet evening, we Masters whose Liveries had been involved in His Majesty’s coronation, were invited to attend a special white tie dinner at Mansion House. What a spectacular evening it was. The venue glittered in all its internal splendor as we sipped Champagne awaiting the arrival of our ‘special host’. Dinner was announced and we took our places at one of the five tables, a fanfare of trumpets announced the royal arrival. We nodded to each other, the King and I, him in a regal sort of way. And Queen Camilla looked absolutely marvelous.

We have had some interesting meetings: I remain struck by how very hard all the committee members work, the huge efforts they all make on behalf of our members and would like to personally send a message of thanks to you all. We are discussing various ideas to streamline some aspects of the Livery during the next 12 months. Nothing sinister, just tiny steps.

We have enjoyed two candidate dinners and met some interesting and very worthy candidates to become Coachmakers; I sincerely hope they all join us. We’re continually wondering about ways to engage with those members of the Livery who, since Covid, no longer join us at dinners and events. If anyone has any ideas, do please contact me direct, or Commander Mark Leaning RN, our learned and gallant Clerk.