01 July 2020

Master’s Report – Summer 2020

After the Court meeting in March – via zoom – I am not sure that any of us thought that three months later we would only now be seeing a slight relaxing of the lockdown rules. But this has been the case.

During the time since, all the Livery Halls, Guildhall and the Mansion House have been shut to any entertainment. This has led to difficult decisions being made and all the Loriner events have been cancelled for the rest of the year. It maybe that come December we might be able to have a small event, who knows at this point. However, the Clerk and Master and Wardens are keeping a watchful eye on the situation.

But, as you will have read in your Court papers, life has not stood still. The Master and Wardens’ Group have been looking to the future, considering all possible scenarios – the “what ifs” and how we can meet them. It is an ongoing watchful eye and I will make sure that everyone – Court members and the Livery – are kept informed.

The Charity Stewards were asked to contact their organisations to see if they needed help. I contacted the smaller charities and the Trustees have awarded emergency funds to three Charities where the horse welfare was the priority. In addition, a contribution was made to the Livery Kitchen COVID Initiative, the initiative of the Drapers Company, which is providing meals for two London hospitals. With the help of the Hackney Carriage Company the food is delivered and medical staff are driven to and from their place of work.

Whilst in normal circumstances I would be reporting on all the wonderful events I attended. Sadly, this is not the case. But there have been some interesting virtual events! 

We have had the two weekly informal social events on a Wednesday evening for Liverymen to get together. These have proved to be an excellent way of keeping in touch with younger Liverymen, those living overseas and those of us who welcome the chance to raise a glass with others. These will continue for the duration but at three weekly intervals. The intention is for these zoom meetings to continue even after lockdown is finished but monthly.

However, not is all doom and gloom. 

I was due to go to Ironbridge for the Masters’ weekend, which of course was cancelled. However, the Masters have had a virtual AGM and now have a new “past masters” group called “The Zoomers”. It was such fun and the Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress and the two Sheriffs were present. 

I attend the Armed Forces raising of the flag day. This was drastically cut down with two trumpeters, the Lord Mayor, The Chief Commoner, the Heads of the three armed forces and our own Chaplain, Reverend Canon David Parrott. It was a moving ceremony with talks afterwards by various people involved with the City of London service groups.

The Clerk and I attended the Lord Mayor’s afternoon tea meeting with the other Leathery Group Masters and Clerks. There was a full Agenda covering – Impact of Covid-19 on the Livery, issues around Diversity and plans for post Covid-19. The discussions were lively and interesting – especially those of the larger Liveries with halls, schools and property. I believe that we are, as Sir David Wootton said, ahead of the game albeit in a smaller way.

However, The Lord Mayor reported his concerns following his conversations with some of the large business in the square mile. Particularly, as these companies indicated that only 10% of staff would return to work in London by the end of the year with only 40% returning in 2021 and the impact this would have on the SMEs in the city.

An invitation was sent to Liveries from the Lord Mayor to attend the second of the culture discussions. This one covered the Design for the Museum of London. It was fascinating to hear the plans for Smithfield Market and how this would create a magnificent history and culture centre within easy access for public transport and indeed air transport for overseas visitors. The plan includes evening openings and more social interaction including a planned festival of food highlighting different cultures. It is hoped it will be open in 2024.

I am sure that all of us are looking forward to the time when we can all meet face to face and life returns to “normal”, whatever that may be. In the meantime, please stay safe and keep well. As Vera Lynn said “We will meet again”.

Master, June 28 2020

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