Shared memories of the many Feltmakers from the 2019 Lord Mayor’s Show

Out of the chaos came order!  Assembling in Aldersgate St., it never seemed likely that such a collection of colours, movement, noise and dress (whether costume or fancy dress) could be fused into a single parade.

Feltmakes and Band from Switzerland parade at Lord Mayor’s Show assembly at M Restaurant on 9 November 2019, London, UK. Credit to Picture Capital

Following excellent briefings from Adrian and the Parade Marshall, the cry of “we’re off!” went up. The three vintage cars in front belched into life, bands broke into rhythm and the steam whistle on the traction engine behind went off at full throttle.

At first, we were timid with the crowds lining the pavements but before long we were exchanging “high fives”, shouts of “good morning” and doffing hats randomly, or by way of acknowledgement, to fellow hat wearers in the crowd.

My favourite moment (moments!) was managing to catch that unlikely person in the public, who must have been standing and watching for hours, managing to catch their eye with a wave and a smile, and getting a wave or smile back.  Also the high fives going on behind me!

Arriving at our assembly venue, it was clear exactly how much thought and personal effort by many had gone into our float.  The “commander” already dressed and directing the ranks, our float leader very much in control, and a huge plan unfolding.

But best of all was entering the dressing room where the “Hatting Team” distributed cloaks and beautiful hats for the ladies from boxes, labelled with size of head, hair colour, height, designer and so on.  So, so professional and clearly a massive amount of detail.

We boys were guided to get our act together ourselves, but the ladies looked particularly fantastic thanks to the Hatting Team. It was quite clear at that point that our Livery is no ordinary one.  We didn’t just order placards off the internet and wander through the City streets; our Livery was there, writ large, with a fabulous float and Model T Fords to take the less mobile, in force with the WAAG!

Amid a joyous cacophony of sound, both musical and applause, the Lord Mayor’s procession wound its way around the City. We Feltmakers were delighted and proud to have one of our own Liverymen, Alderman William Russell, as Lord Mayor this year. The enjoyment and fun of being involved was unmissable – a very memorable day!

My overarching memory of the day was that the Feltmakers’ float was, once again, a “class act”, way ahead of any of the other livery company floats, with beautiful vehicles and banners serving as a stage for we, elegantly-attired, walkers to strut our stuff in front of the Lord Mayor and thousands of spectators looking on appreciatively.

I have a series of mini memories, including walking alongside Ian Wright, to my left, with his fearsome gauntlets, and Nick Lee, to my right, who quipped, when I observed that all the hand-waving was no good for my golf drive, that maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing! Adrian Gubby was magnificent as our commander, bringing serene order where there could so easily have been chaos, and Gilly, our Master, so warmly articulate in everything she said in getting us underway and thanking the Waag in M Restaurant for their magnificent hospitality. Finally, who could forget our agile photographer who seemed to be in about four places all at once?

It was absolutely incredible that such a huge show can run so smoothly without any obvious hitches – the planning that goes into organising such an event is phenomenal.

As well as being great fun, it is and was a huge privilege to be able take part in something so special as the Lord Mayor’s Show. As one of back row of marchers, who happened to be placed on the outside, it was a real pleasure to be able to greet some of those who had come to watch the procession with ‘Good morning’, sometimes to ‘touch hands’ with youngsters holding out theirs in greeting, and of course waving one’s hat to one and all in salutation. Located where we were, we could see all of our own float, our fellow marchers preceded by the three Model T Fords, and ahead of us, our friends from the Waag and their band.

I was later surprised and delighted by the coincidence of friends at home turning on the television news at just the right time, and seeing us all marching together, even recognising me waving my Tricorn!

But the most special moment, which really highlighted to me the privilege of being part of the day, was immediately after the march was over and we were walking back to refresh ourselves, and change. For a blind Asian girl and her ‘minder’, an older Englishman, asked me to stop so that she could actually touch my dark blue woollen cape, and its badge, and so experience at first hand just a tiny part of what her colleague had been telling her as the day progressed. I then leant forwards and invited her to touch my Tricorn hat, and she exclaimed with joy when she felt the feather in it, as well as remarking on the shape and texture. I asked her name and where she was from and learned that she came from South Korea, although her English was excellent. In response to my next question she confirmed that she belonged to the Presbyterian Church of Korea. We parted friends, acknowledging our common faith, and I felt humbled that we, who have so much and had enjoyed ourselves so hugely, can be taking part in something that is so special that someone from another land who cannot see, also wants to share in it so much.

What a great coming together of the Feltmakers and Waag kindred spirits.  It was a superb weekend and a great thank you to all the organising committee.

Experiences such as Saturday, make up my collage of ‘happy thoughts’.  I was most definitely privileged to be a beneficiary of the efforts made by the organising committee and the hospitality of the Waag, who’s energy was magnificent. A wonderful day indeed.

My most treasured memory [says Lady Gilly Yarrow Master Feltmaker]was probably being interviewed by the BBC and being able to put the Feltmakers and their support for hatting on the telly! Also marching along the streets of London to the jolly Waag band, which somehow put a spring in our steps and meant my feet didn’t hurt as much as I thought they would

THE FELTMAKERS’ NEW CHARITY – THE HELEN ARKELL DYSLEXIA CHARITY

On a sunny July afternoon at the Cavalry & Guards Club, the Feltmakers’ Charity Committee unveiled the Livery’s latest beneficiary, the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity.  Helen Arkell is one of the leading lights in dyslexia expertise, providing learning and skills support for all ages, as well as professional training for educators.  Those with dyslexia see words upside down or back to front, or perhaps swimming before their eyes.  There are many other symptoms and it is hereditary, affecting 1 in 10 people in the UK.  

PM, Jeremy Brassington, who chairs the Charity Committee, reminded us of our duty to offer more than simply financial help to the charities the Livery supports.  The goal with Helen Arkell is for it to become an integral part of the Livery as we actively participate in its endeavours.

Andy Cooke, the Charity’s CEO, explained how the organisation helps those affected by dyslexia to find coping strategies and offers personal, one to one consultation, mentoring and coaching.  All these services are offered free of charge to those from lower income backgrounds.  

This was followed by an impassioned talk by liveryman, Sam Gordon, who is dyslexic herself.  Her trials at school, as a result of her dyslexia, only served to make her more determined to succeed (she is now a lawyer).  Offering an insight into her personal battles, Sam praised the work of Helen Arkell and how it acts as a bridge, providing support to dyslexic individuals and their families.  She said that if dyslexia isn’t recognised and handled properly, it remains a disadvantage as people are misunderstood and accused of being lazy or unintelligent when the opposite is true.  Among the more well-known individuals with dyslexia are Albert Einstein, Richard Branson and Princess Beatrice.

On 1 October, the Charity Committee is to host a dinner at the Cavalry & Guards Club in support of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity.  

Summer Banquet 2019

The 2019 Summer Banquet was held on Wednesday 5th June, and this year was back in its favourite home, Mansion House.

Around 160 Feltmakers and guests joined the Master, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress to mark the occasion.  Mansion House is always a magnificent place and it looked absolutely resplendent on the night, with everyone in full evening dress.

Welcoming the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress and the Sheriffs to the Banquet, Feltmakers Upper Warden, Jilly Yarrow spoke eloquently.  She noted that he is the 691st holder of the role and had seemingly barely touched the ground since his installation, with a whirlwind few months in which he has visited nearly fifteen different countries promoting the City.  He commented that he looked very dashing in his tricorn hat, presented to him last November by the Feltmakers, and hoped that he and the Lady Mayoress were enjoying the cross-training machine donated to the Lord Mayor’s apartment by her husband, Sir Alan Yarrow, at the end of his term.

Lady Yarrow went on to welcome Alderman and Sheriff Vincent Keaveney and Sheriff The Hon Elizabeth Green, congratulating the former on his ongoing progression to the Mayoralty.  She commented that she was particularly challenged with how to introduce Sheriff Green in a more novel way, deciding to highlight her numerous sporting (rather than career) achievements – representing Gloucestershire and West of England in hockey, Hertfordshire in golf and a fully qualified scuba diver.

In his response, Lord Mayor Peter Estlin, thanked the Company for his tricorn hat which he described as being very close to his heart – although he did venture to suggest that as a tall man, wearing it on a hot air balloon, in close proximity to the propane burner, might not be recommended to future holders of the office!

The Lord Mayor spoke passionately about the theme of his Mayoralty, Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today, in particular, its emphasis on the role and importance of technology in maintaining innovation in the City and underpinning tomorrow’s business – Shape the future rather than be shaped by it.  He went on to talk about the charities being supported by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal; Place to Be, Onside Youth Zones and Samaritans and how each makes a significant contribution to wellbeing.

The Feltmakers Summer Banquet is notable for showcasing the winners of the annual Hatting Competition, and this year was no different. Rachel Trevor-Morgan oversaw and coordinated the display and modelling of the winning entries, with the overall winner of the Feltmakers Award 2019, Olivia Johnson Hilton, being presented with her prize by the Lady Mayoress.

The Winning hat

We also enjoyed the company of some special guests from the Coventry Cappers who generously brought a cheque for £4,000 for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and welcomed back our friends from Zur Waag in Switzerland.

The evening was capped off by the Ceremony of the Loving Cup and a fantastic flourish of a fanfare from the brass quartet of the Royal Marines Concert Band, who played beautifully throughout the evening.

A wonderful evening of great company, delicious food and wine, entertaining speeches and magnificent surroundings – in the words of my 23 year old daughter as we collected our coats, “brilliant!”.

Report by Louisa Vincent

Trip to Zurich – lively piece from Simon Wood

A visit to Zurich took place in April, following the kind invitation of Feltmaker, Rene Kalt, and the Waag Zunftmeister, Philippe Welti, to visit the annual Sechselauten. 

This is a cracking, three day cultural insight into the handcraft guilds of the city, ending with the parade and burning of the Boog on a bonfire to mark the end of the winter and, in folklore, determines the bounty of the harvest. We toured the city, enjoying the local gastronomy in the Waaghaus, which is a fine 16th century guildhall, and met members of several other guilds.  

The highlights must surely include the turning of the fountain from water into wine, which our Master, Bill Gammell, supervised very closely.

We also were guests for an amazing Ball on the Saturday evening, after which we moved on to other guild houses where Swiss techno and beat music was more the theme until the early hours.

Our experienced PM David Bentata, guided us through the niceties of Zurich etiquette and the city streets, and Gilly and Alan Yarrow led the Feltmaker contingent, along with Simon Wood and Lucy Wood and Mike and Gilly Dudgeon (Mercers Company). Assistant Wood also managed to row on the Zuricher See with the Grasshoppers Rowing Club.

We thank our hosts from the Waag, especially former Guildmaster Rene Kalt and Secretary Andreas Jaeger and his wife Suzanna for their terrific and warm Gastfreundschaft. 

We look forward to welcoming the 170 members of the Waag and their marching band to the City of London for the Lord Mayor’s Show on 9th November 2019.