24.09.18 John Kendall

New Master targets support for apprentices and encouragement of innovation in industry

A new Master Coachmaker was elected by the Livery at the beginning of September, when Graham Cole CBE succeeded Tony Edwards. Graham, who has served as Senior Warden for the past year was installed in a service at St James Garlickhythe.

Speaking after his installation, the new Master stated his desire for the Coachmakers to start planning for the Livery’s 350th anniversary in 2027, during his year in office:

“Together with the Wardens and Court, I want to make sure we focus on this anniversary as a target to grow our Livery’s financial base, so we can continue to help new apprentices, encourage innovation in industry, and play our part in the life of the City of London.

“What better legacy can there be for today’s Coachmakers than to secure our Livery and ensure continuity of our work for the next 350 years?

“This will be a focus for me during these next 12 months.”

Graham paid tribute to his predecessor Tony Edwards, highlighting in particular two of his achievements as Master. Firstly, the success of the annual Banquet, which in 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. “For the Lord Mayor to confirm that your Banquet was one of the highlights of his year, is a measure of what was achieved”, said Graham. He also congratulated Tony on the extension of apprenticeship activities, “Due to your work, we now have a platform from which we can move forward to further support young people in our industries”.

Graham also paid tribute to Past Masters of the Company during the ceremony, noting the strength they bring to the Company. “A number of our Past Masters have willingly given me encouragement and wise counsel over many years. Without their support I would not be here this evening.”

Graham began his career by following in his father’s footsteps and training in the motor industry. From there he moved into the aerospace industry with Westland Helicopters in 1974, working in the international business area. This brought postings in Brazil in the 1980s before returning to the UK and the Westland Board, where he was responsible for government business.

He was subsequently appointed Managing Director of Westland Helicopters and Managing Director for the AgustaWestland Group worldwide in 2007. Four years later he became Chairman of AgustaWestland and was appointed to the board of Finmeccanica UK.

Graham has served as Regional Chairman of the CBI South West and a member of the CBI Chairman’s Committee. His contributions to aerospace brought him a CBE in 2004 and three years later, the President of Italy awarded him the Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietá Italiana for his work on Anglo Italian Business.

Other service includes a number of UK Ministerial committees, as a Pensions Commissioner reporting on the future of UK private pensions and in 2014/15 he chaired the Cole Commission on Exports.

For his contributions to business in the South West, the University of Exeter awarded Graham an Honorary Doctorate of Law in 2015. He also serves as a member of council at the university.

Graham maintains a particular interest in prison welfare. He has served as a member of a prison board and instigated a prison charity in 2005. He is also president of a charity for young children with autism in the South West.

Graham is married to Pat and they have two sons: David and Philip.