Coachlines - September 2023

29.09.23 The Master Bettine Evans

Master’s message September 2023

Good day fellow Liverymen. I am thrilled and excited to have been elected and installed as the Master Coachmaker this year, and I am so looking forward to working with you all during the next 12 months to make our great Livery Company even greater.

I must start by welcoming our new members who were sworn to the Freedom of the Company on 1st September, also the new chairs and members of the various committees, and to sincerely thank those who have stood down from those committees for all their hard work during the past years.

Since the Election Court, my feet have hardly touched the ground. While representing the Company at numerous events at the same time I am, apparently, expected to “eat my way around the City”, I am managing to achieve the aim so far but there’s a long way to go.

Seriously though, it is great fun but quite hard work although I have met such very interesting people. Masters and Prime Wardens of other Livery Companies, some much wealthier than ours with splendid halls, others on a par with us. Everyone I have met has been utterly charming and keen to be friendly and work together for the greater good.

The absolute highlight of my first fortnight was a trip to Pangbourne to spend a day at Purdey’s shooting ground as a guest of Navy Wings for its annual Charity Shooting Competition. Navy Wings is an entrirely self-funding charitable organization which relies on public donations to keep it going. It exists to keep alive the story of naval aviation heritage by restoring, maintaining and flying a collection of historic naval aircraft, which display to more than three million people annually at air shows and events up and down the country. As part of this process, it also employs young aviation engineering apprentices in the heritage skills needed to maintain their fleet of aircraft, one of which was a Coachmaker Aerospace Award Winner (twice) and is now a member of the Company.

Once the shooting competition had concluded, I was thrilled to see an amazing Fairey Swordfish bi-plane fly overhead. It is part of the Navy Wings collection and is an example of the type that was ultimately responsible for the sinking of the Bismark and the removal of the Italian Navy as a serious threat during World War II following the attack on Taranto in 1940. It presented the most overwhelming picture, coming towards us out of a cloudless blue sky. I really cannot describe how exhilarating this was; for once in my life, I was speechless.

After the Swordfish had departed, we retired to a marquee for lunch, after which I attempted to bid for a ride in that beautiful aircraft, but, sadly, was significantly outbid. But worry not. Our Banquet on 17th May 2024 will be themed on Navy Wings so that we can help support the work they do to train young people and keep alive the heritage skills necessary to maintain their old aircraft; on the night we shall hear more of their exploits and see a film of that beautiful bi-plane in the sky.

Thank you again to all those who attended the Election Court for your support, and I will end this short message by reminding you all that we are “An active Livery, investing in young people”. Please help us to support young people by giving generously of your time as and when you can, mentoring, volunteering to serve on committees or in any way that you are able.

Thank you all once again.