On Tuesday 14 July 2009 the inaugural Feltmakers’ Summer Luncheon took place at the Cavalry and Guards Club on Piccadilly. The purpose of this new event in our Livery calendar is to attract Liverymen who find it difficult to attend our more formal dinners. On this score alone the inaugural lunch should be deemed a good success: some 30 Liverymen sat down to lunch with the Master, Wardens and our Learned Clerk, accompanied by their spouses and partners. It was particularly encouraging to see a number of Liverymen whom we have not seen for many years and most enjoyable to get together without the distraction of formal speeches or external guests.
Ladies were encouraged to wear hats and there was a lovely variety of summer hats on display, from pale pastels and elegant straws through to bold and vibrant creations. After lunch, Eda Rose-Lawson, Third Warden, and Queen’s Milliner, Rachel Trevor-Morgan, introduced a show of 40 hats from their current collections, most expertly modelled by two students: Victoria Cardona and Kate Copson. Neither of these young ladies had ever put on a hat before, but under Eda and Rachel’s expert tutelage they wore the hats beautifully and modelled a wide variety, decorated with every conceivable trimming: beads, veils, ribbons, flowers, feathers and even a shoe!
The hat show concluded a most enjoyable and relaxed luncheon. Hopefully the first of many for the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers.
Once again, the company’s principal social event took place at the Mansion House and was attended by Feltmakers and their guests, which this year, we are delighted to say, included the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, who were, therefore, guests in their own residence.
Master Nick Heal put his own stamp on this event, which combined the traditional ceremonies and the splendour of the Mansion House’s Egyptian Room with a less formal atmosphere and with much good humour evident from all the speeches.
Nick, accompanied by his wife Ruth, led the receiving line and they and the wardens set the scene by making everyone feel truly welcome.
Whilst we enjoyed the relaxed reception drinks, we were able to view the winning designs from this year’s hat competition, which were laid out on the central table and each one modelled elegantly by Jasmine.This was accompanied by music beautifully played by the Ariss String Quartet of the Guildhall School of Music, who later also performed from the balcony during dinner.
An excellent dinner included a main course of fillet of beef, which had an interesting accompaniment of a watercress sorbet, and fine wines were served. The toast to the Lord Mayor and the City was given by Upper Warden Susan Wood with an amusing, witty and topical speech, which went down very well.
The Lord Mayor, Ian Luder, responded in style and highlighted the contributions of the livery companies.
The Master’s speech was delivered in the very personal and amusing manner that we have grown to expect with many witty off the cuff remarks, which prompted much laughter. He and Ruth had recently been guests at the annual Zunft Zur Waag in Zurich and he welcomed Rene Kalt, Der Zunftmeister Zur Waag as a guest to our banquet. Rene addressed us and then presented a bottle of his local Swiss wine to the Master.
The winner of the hat design competition, Melissa Pemberton-Pigott, was presented with her prize by the Lady Mayoress. Melissa’s winning hat, ‘The Alien Eye’, was modelled for us by Jasmine.
The final after-dinner speech was provided by Reverend Canon Roger Royle, well known writer and broadcaster and who has also been senior Chaplain at Eton, and Chaplain of Southwark cathedral. With a practised and brilliantly delivered presentation, Roger had the whole hall in fits of laughter as he shared anecdotes taken from his long and varied career.
A very fine end to a most enjoyable and memorable Banquet.
A number of courses are being organised by the Livery Committee and the City of London which are aimed at liverymen. Probably the most popular, and relevant to all liverymen are the City Briefings. Although these are aimed at new liverymen, any liveryman who has not already attended should find this very useful and are encouraged to take their partners if they wish.
Although several Feltmakers responded to an invitation from HMS Lancaster to join her for a day at sea, only 3 liverymen, Stephen Leslie, Andy Fish and Peter Shirley, battled down the A3 in driving rain on the 26 May 2009 to get to Portsmouth docks for an 08.00 start. The weather was still grey and windy when we went on board, where we were given a safety briefing by the bosun, and escorted down to the wardroom where a large dish of much appreciated bacon sandwiches was placed before us, with welcoming cups of hot coffee to wash them down.
Our host for the day, the Executive Officer, Lt Cdr Stephen McGlory, joined us and we were taken to meet the Captain, Rory Bryan, who welcomed us very warmly and showed us the hat presented by the Feltmakers to the Queen, but kept in a glass case on the ship. But this was a working day for Lancaster, and a comprehensive schedule of training exercises had been planned, not for our benefit, but to ensure that the ship, her officers and crew, were kept at full readiness for the range of duties and emergencies that they may be called on at short notice, to deal with.
The first task, however, was to leave Portsmouth and head out into the Solent. In order to leave the quayside with a strong wind blowing us towards the shore, two tugs had to be employed, but we moved off smoothly, with the crew making the traditional salute to other Royal Navy vessels as we passed them.
We had been moored just opposite the new navy HQ on Whale Island and the ship’s company must always be conscious that their every move can be studied by an observant Admiral or two. That this happens was well demonstrated by the Captain receiving a message later in the day from HQ congratulating the ship on its smart turnout.
We were looked after very well, being invited onto the bridge to take part in the Captain’s briefing, and also onto the main deck to get a real feel for what is involved in taking a warship to sea. The weather was still grey, windy with a slight drizzle, but after an hour the sun appeared and from then on the day improved rapidly.
We were even visited by several of the large numbers of Painted Lady butterflies that are migrating to England from North Africa, just now. Lt Cdr McGlory has been the ship’s main link to the Feltmakers for some years, but this is his last week as Executive Officer of HMS Lancaster, as he is leaving to take up another appointment on shore. Nevertheless, during a very busy working day for him and at a time when he was also handing over to his replacement, Lt Cdr Paul Hammond, he spent as much time as he could escorting us around and responding to our many questions.
We observed a training exercise in which a simulated fire inside the ship was contained and dealt with, being allowed into the crowded HQ room, where the Damage Control Officer, Lt Cdr Carolyn Lucocq, co-ordinated the response to the threat, making good use of all the information constantly updated for her, both electronically and by verbal reporting from individual crew members.
The next exercise involved recovering a man overboard. Mercifully, they didn’t seek a volunteer for this from us liverymen, but used a dummy, which was thrown into the sea. As soon as ‘man overboard’ was reported, a marker buoy was dropped and the ship put into a tight turn. Two methods can be used to retrieve the person and both were to be practiced, today. Firstly, a rescue crew jumped into one of the two inflatable power boats, which was quickly lowered into the sea and roared off towards the marker buoy, the position of which was kept under observation from deck by a man with binoculars who kept pointing to the buoy with what appeared to be a fluorescent orange glove stuck to the end of a broom handle, so others could see where the buoy was. Not very high tech, but definitely effective! Once the boat’s crew had reached the dummy, hoisted it on board and brought it back to the ship, the second method was deployed to retrieve the buoy, itself.
This involved a swimmer, dressed in a bright orange wetsuit and flippers, swimming out to it, and bringing it to the side where it was hoisted on deck. The swimmer was recovered using a special stretcher lowered on a rope into the sea, and once he was inside this, he was also hoisted on board.
We repaired to the wardroom for lunch and a discussion with the officers, after which Lt Cdr McGlory showed us all around the ship. We saw the crew’s quarters, visited the galley where for health and safety reasons we had to don paper hats, and then were shown the ship’s main operations centre deep inside the hull.
This room was filled with a perplexing array of hi-tech electronic equipment, vdu screens and even the controls for remotely firing the main gun.
We were taken up to the helicopter landing pad on the aft deck and into the hangar.
There was no helicopter on board that day as they had just said goodbye to the large Merlin that had been based there and were expecting a new smaller Lynx to arrive that very evening.
We found that instead of the ship returning to Portsmouth to allow us ashore, we were going to be put into one of their new powerboats to be whisked off at high speed back to base. Although bright and sunny, a brisk wind was blowing, which caused quite a swell and the Captain had some concerns about launching the boat and sending us this way, but the alternative would have been to spend the night aboard, as the ship could not be diverted back to Portsmouth just for our benefit.
It was decided to use the boat, and we were togged up in wetsuits, life-jackets and special safety helmets ready for the trip. The boat could be lowered from the deck with no more than 3 people on board, and it had a crew of 2, so I got the easy route of stepping in at deck level, whilst my brave companions, Andy and Stephen, had to wait until the boat was launched and brought up to the ship’s side, and then to climb down a none-too-steady rope ladder right down from the ship’s deck,
with both the ship and the boat still bowling along at speed. Happily, stout fellows that they were, they both made this descent without incident and then we enjoyed a very exhilarating and fast trip across the still very choppy Solent. Although the boat’s driver did his best to avoid the worst of the sea, we were batting along at high speed and still bounced across some waves, hitting the low points with quite a bang, which would have jarred the spine if we hadn’t been briefed not to sit down, but to hold onto the grab rail on the seat in front, whilst hovering over our seats with bent knees, which cushioned us from the worst bumps. I have to say that this was all great fun.
All too soon, we were back in the docks, standing on the pontoon and disrobing from our safety gear. We had had a wonderful day, and the captain, officers and crew of HMS Lancaster could not have been more welcoming and helpful. Special thanks go to Lt Cdr McGlory and we wish him well in his new appointment, and hope Feltmakers will be able to meet Lancaster’s new Executive Officer, Lt Cdr Hammond, at a livery dinner in the near future.
Once again, another memorable day was enjoyed by the judges and guests at the Feltmakers’ Design Award, expertly organised by Past Master Mr. William Horsman at Haberdashers’ Hall on May 27th.
Joining him in the judging, were fellow liverymen Mr. Frederick Fox, LVO, Mrs. Rachel Trevor-Morgan and Mrs. Eda Rose-Lawson, as well as Mrs. Carole Denford, the editor of The Hat magazine.
It was extremely encouraging to see the high standard of work achieved by the students who presented us with an exciting collection of fine quality felt hats, all professionally modelled by Jasmine, for our deliberation.
The first prize of £1000 was awarded to Melissa Pemberton-Pigott of Kensington and Chelsea School of Art for her clever idea entitled ‘The Alien Eye’, a natty number in black and royal blue felt with diamanté detail. Certainly eye-catching!
The second prize of £500 was won by Suzie Smith, also from Kensington and Chelsea, for her delicious little black leather and felt cocktail hat inspired by the shape of mussels, generously sprinkled with diamanté.
And the third prize of £250 went to Isabella Mazzitelli, an apprentice of the milliner, Marie O’Regan, for her well-executed piece inspired by the headgear of the Chinese terracotta army.
Four further awards of £100 each were made for:
Craftsmanship. This was won by Miriam Benitez for a most unusual helmet-like creation called, the ‘Alien Hat’, which was an amazingly intricate wire construction, supporting an outer shell of black melusine, surprisingly treated with washing-up liquid to produce an unexpected finish. Not easily wearable, but a triumph of construction.
Commercial Appeal. Drifting ice inspired Caroline Law, again of Kensington and Chelsea, to create a cute pale blue and cream felt blocked beret, decorated with beaded shards of ‘ice’, and very wearable.
Artwork and presentation. Each hat entry has to be supported by artistic interpretation, and this year, Lucy George of Northampton College, won the prize in this category. Her theme was endangered plant species entitled ‘Green Leaf’.
Last, but certainly not least in the Feltmakers’ Design Competition, was Innovative Use of Felt. The award went to Sarah Restrick of Leeds School of Art and Design for her jaunty grey felt blocked beret generously decorated with fine cut-out designs in navy felt, and featuring a side swept frill of felt. Very fetching!
The high spot of the hat judging day is always the delicious summer lunch in the beautifully panelled dining-room; a hidden gem and well worth taking a peep at, the next time you visit Haberdashers’ Hall. Joining us, and taking a great interest in the hats and the judging, were the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Lin Luder, accompanied by Miss Delva Patman, past master of the Chartered Surveyors and escort of Mr. Sheriff George Gillon, the Master, Mr. Nicholas Heal and Mrs. Ruth Heal, and liveryman Mr. Peter Shirley. The Clerk, Maj. Jollyon Coombs, joined us for lunch.
Once again, Kensington and Chelsea School of Art continue to produce winning students, which is a credit to Ms. Kirsten Scott, Head of Millinery and Fashion. Congratulations and hats off to them all! The winning hats will be on display as part of a hat exhibition at the museum, Wardown Park, Luton, until July 19th., except when they are taken to the Mansion House for all to see at the Feltmakers’ Banquet on June 12th.
The Inter-Livery Clay Shoot took place on the 20th May at the Holland & Holland shooting ground in Northwood, Middlesex. This annual event is organised by the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners and raises a significant sum of money for charity.
After a breakfast buffet, with bacon sandwiches and croissants on offer, a record 99 teams battled it out over a testing course and made it a very competitive year. Holland & Holland put on a very well managed, impressive layout and a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging shoot.
The Feltmakers entered two teams, and the guns comprised:
The Feltmakers’ teams were organised by Brian Minnighan. Both the Master, and Past Master Horsman joined them on the day to provide their support.
It was a fun day, the sun shone and both teams put in creditable performances, scoring 223 and 188, respectively; an improvment upon their positions in the previous year. The highest scoring team was the non-livery Security Professionals with 316 and the highest scoring livery team was the Horners no.2 team with 309. The second and third livery team positions were both taken by teams from the the Gunmakers Company.
With the experience of past years, when we didn’t finish the course until after 2.00 pm, Brian had encouraged the Feltmakers to make an early start, which allowed us to finish around 12.30. We then made our way to the specially erected marquee for a hearty lunch. The buffet included two whole roast pigs, which proved attractive to hungry liverymen, but many other dishes were also on offer.
The date for next year’s competition is already set as Wednesday 19th May, and this will again take place at Holland and Holland.
This year’s Masters golf day was a most friendly affair and very relaxed. Thirteen golfers took to Harpenden Golf Club’s 18 hole course ‘fore’ an afternoon’s round of golf. Handicaps varied from the early teens up to 28. This provided plenty of scope for some majestic golf and high points scoring.
The day was admirably supported by steward Brian Minnighan on his “Ben Hur” mobile chariot which was seen whizzing from hole to hole with the gift of refreshments.
The winner of the golf day was Peter Gartside, a guest of Edward Hutton with 32 points. In second place, and the winner of a bottle of champagne, was Catherine Farr, wife of past Master Geoffrey Farr.
The longest drive was won by past Master Peter Keens, outshining some of the younger and heavier golfers who had thought the prize was theirs for the taking! Peter Simeons won a prize for the best outward 9 holes and Jeremy Brassington secured a prize for the best inward 9 holes.
An excellent Dinner was laid on by Harpenden Golf Club in the evening, after which Master Nick Heal kindly presented his prizes.
I propose to hold next years golf day at Harpenden Golf Club, as they offer a very reasonably priced day for £70 which includes a ploughman’s lunch, the golf and dinner. Harpenden Golf Club is only 20 mins. from the M25. It is our hope that all Feltmakers who read this will be enticed to support the event next year bringing guests, if they so wish.