The Coachmakers’ Award to Industry Dinner was held this year at Saddlers’ Hall

22.02.19 The Clerk

The Coachmakers’ Award to Industry 2019

The Coachmakers’ Award to Industry Dinner was held this year at Saddlers’ Hall.

The Worshipful Company of Saddlers is one of the oldest of the City of London livery companies. The earliest surviving records of a Guild of Saddlers in London date from circa 1160 AD, although the Guild could well pre-date that.

Destroyed by the Great Fire of London and then bombed during the Blitz, the original Saddlers’ Hall dates back to the 14th Century and has been rebuilt several times. The current Saddlers’ Hall was built in a neo-classical style and impresses with bespoke period furniture, historical antiquities and paintings. The Great Hall provides an elegant backdrop for events of all types, being blessed with huge stained glass windows allowing the room to be filled with natural light. Among the remarkable features of the Great Hall is a charming musicians’ gallery, an exquisite silver display case and captivating portraits of Past Masters of the Company.

Today, the Saddlers’ Company still has a close interest in, and involvement with, its original trade. This is exemplified in its support of the Society of Master Saddlers, its leadership of the development of saddlery training standards, its support of saddlery trainees and apprentices through bursaries, awards and prizes, and its promotion of British saddlery.

In this most splendid of surroundings, the Master Coachmaker welcomed 108 Coachmakers and their guests to the event and during his address he highlighted the importance that the Company placed on the support for young people in the form of apprenticeships. He reminded the gathering that in days gone by, all the Livery Companies would have had apprentices training to be masters of their craft and the Coachmakers can be can be proud that the Company continues to support apprenticeships today. He went on to announce the following:

New Coachmaker Apprentice Awards

Honorary Court Assistant John Blauth, with the Charity Committee, has established three new Coachmaker Apprenticeships on behalf of the Livery with the following companies: Fairbourne Carriages of Kent, Xtrac Transmission Technology of Thatcham and Dowty Propellers of Cheltenham. Together these companies represent our three affiliated industries. The awards are worth £1,500 at the commencement of the apprenticeship and £1,500 on qualification.

Tom Castle – Fairbourne Carriages

Tom Castle of Fairbourne Carriages is an articulate and extremely dedicated young man who is passionate about his work. When Past Master Michael Kimber, The Clerk and Hon Assistant John Blauth visited Fairbourne Carriages to assess his work, they were extremely impressed by his knowledge and his obvious enthusiasm to learn.

Working in the traditional coachmaking environment and on cars made up until 1912, Tom will learn how to carry on those skills that are so vital to the tradition of coachmaking. Fairbourne Carriages’ relationship with the Coachmakers’ Company is soon to be further enhanced as both Duncan and Francis Wood, joint owners of Fairbourne, have applied to become Liverymen.

Stephen Gomm – Xtrac

Xtrac Apprentice Stephen Gomm, our new Automotive Apprentice, was chosen thanks to a wealth of achievements – both professional and outside work. Stephen impressed the vetting party of Coachmakers, which comprised Renter Warden Sarah Adams-Diffey and Ali Taylor, Secretary to the Charity Committee, with his straightforward manner, clear knowledge about and enthusiasm for his work and by demonstrating an indication of his future success. “The Coachmakers shares the same values as Xtrac in supporting and developing young people,” said Liveryman Joe Greenwell CBE, Xtrac’s Chairman. “The financial support awarded to Stephen, to support him in his studies, has been extremely well received. This support isn’t just financial though, as the Coachmakers will continue to engage with Stephen during his studies and continue once qualified.”

Dowty Propellers

At this time, the competition to select the winner of the Coachmakers Apprenticeship Award in the aerospace sector represented by Dowty Propellers is ongoing.

The Master Graham Cole CBE

The Master Graham Cole CBE

The Master went on to say:

As with our award, scholarship, and bursary winners, we want to keep supporting our apprentices throughout their careers. To that end, and under the leadership of John Blauth, we have introduced a new initiative – Coachmakers Connect.

The purpose of Coachmakers Connect is to link our awardees and apprentices with Coachmakers who work and are active in the aerospace, automotive, and coachmaking industries so that they can network. If you work in one of those sectors, do please join our LinkedIn group and be part of a growing movement of excellence. Just search for ‘Coachmakers Connect’ on LinkedIn.

The first social gathering of our young award winners under Coachmakers Connect will take place shortly. I am advised by John that the main items on the agenda are networking, pizzas and beer. I am very pleased with this initiative and I wish it well.

As an example of our work, I am delighted to report that one of our recent award winners from City University and then Imperial, Amy Chen, undertook an internship with Airbus Helicopters and has now been taken on full time by the company. I am delighted to further report that Amy has started the process to become a Coachmaker.”

The Master concluded by mentioning that the Coachmakers will be celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Charter granted by King Charles II in 2026-27. To that end a new group has been set up, led by Christopher Walkenshaw, to prepare for 2026-7 and beyond. He emphasised that he and the Wardens are keen that this Committee, known as 350+, draws from the breadth of talent in the Coachmakers. To that end, he requested that all Coachmakers consider getting involved in the preparations for the sesquarcentennial celebration.

If you would like more information or to put your name forward to help, please get in touch with Christopher, the Clerk, or the Master.

The Coachmakers’ Award to Industry 2019 was then presented to AB Dynamics PLC

The Coachmakers’ Award to Industry 2019 was presented to AB Dynamics PLC

The Coachmakers’ Award to Industry 2019 was presented to AB Dynamics PLC

Founded in 1982 as a vehicle engineering consultancy, working primarily on suspension, steering, noise and vibration, AB Dynamics has grown steadily to become one of the world’s most trusted suppliers of test systems. The company has become a key partner to the global automotive industry.

Today, its clients include the top 25 global vehicle manufacturers, all seven Euro NCAP laboratories and numerous government test authorities, having supplied advanced testing systems for R&D and production quality control for over 35 years. The company was listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London stock exchange in May 2013 and has a continuous record of steady, organic growth with over 95% of sales being exported.

Among its products are a range of driving robots for driving vehicles on highly repeatable paths with accurately controlled speed profiles, a machine for measuring vehicle kinematics and compliance (SPMM) and guided soft targets for OEMs to develop Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

In sum, AB Dynamics is a highly successful company and in competition against strong opposition was selected as this year’s winner of the Coachmakers’ Award to Industry for its international reach and the excellence of its product design, technical development, innovation and commercial significance within the motor industry.

The award was presented to Tony Best, Non-Executive Chairman of AB Dynamics PLC

Tony Best, Non-Executive Chairman of AB Dynamics PLC

Tony Best, Non-Executive Chairman of AB Dynamics PLC

Anthony Best Dynamics (ABD) was founded by Tony Best in 1982 with a vision to supply noise, vibration and suspension engineering services to the automotive industry, however its roots stem back to 1967 when he joined Moulton Developments after previous positions at Rolls Royce and Avon Rubber.

The company initially operated with a handful of staff at its headquarters in the Best family’s front room. Having outgrown the front room, Tony relocated the company to Bradford on Avon, occupying the factory that Alex Moulton built for bicycle manufacture back in 1963. The company built a reputation for excellence in suspension design and testing, counting much of the UK car industry among its client base.

Over the years bigger and more advanced projects were developed including work on the suspension components of the ground-breaking McLaren F1 supercar project, development of its first product, the Suspension Parameter Measurement Machine (SPMM), to this day a cornerstone in MIRA’s suspension test facilities and the SR30, the first direct-drive steering robot available and the first with a Windows software interface allowing tests to be created in seconds – to name but a few.

Success led to the company float on the AIM stock exchange in London and in 2017 the company moved into a purpose-built 39,000 square foot headquarters, not far from the original site, in which improvements to the lab based and track testing range mean that the company now offers a comprehensive suite of test equipment which work together in synergy.

Today, Tony Best remains the non-executive chairman of the company he founded in 1982 and thanked the Coachmakers’ company for bestowing upon it the Award for which he and everyone at AB Dynamics were thrilled to receive.

Our keynote speaker for the evening was Police Commissioner Ian Dyson QPM, City of London Police.

Guest speaker Police Commissioner Ian Dyson QPM, City of London Police

Guest speaker Police Commissioner Ian Dyson QPM, City of London Police

Ian Dyson has spent most of his life in London. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1983, working within many different areas including crime and drug squads, vice and strategic planning. For 11 years, Ian was a public order cadre trained senior officer and has extensive experience of commanding the policing of large public events. He then joined Surrey Police as Assistant Chief Constable in June 2008, overseeing some of the highest confidence levels in the country and improving neighbourhood policing.

Ian joined the City of London Police as Commander in September 2010 leading initially on organisational change, and later as the chief officer lead on economic crime, expanding the Force’s national fraud responsibilities. He was also the national police lead for contact management and led the national roll out for the 101 non-emergency phone number. Two years later he was promoted to Assistant Commissioner leading cultural change, leadership and performance within the force, embedding staff empowerment and innovation.

From June 2016 Ian stepped up further from his Information Assurance portfolio and took national policing lead for the information management & operational requirements co-ordination committee. The City of London Police is also national lead force for fraud and prominent in the areas of protective security and cyber crime.

He was promoted to Commissioner on in January 2016 and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours 2016.

Commissioner Dyson delivered a spell binding address about the dangers of corporate online fraud in the City and outlined what it is that the City of London Police is doing to counter the threat. He also provided some excellent snippets of advice to help individuals protect themselves from the risk of such criminal activity.

He spoke for about 10 minutes without notes and left his audience wanting more. However, as he said in the Stirrup Cup later, he could easily have spoken for five hours without repetition, such is his passion for the subject – perhaps next time.

Photographs from the evening are available to download free at: