IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

To misquote T.S. Eliot, a wet coming we had of it, as Feltmakers, families and friends, gathered for our annual Carols by Candlelight.  This year, we were joined by staff and supporters of Mencap, a charity with whom our Master, Gilly Yarrow, has had a long and significant association, and which is her chosen charity for her year in office.

This year’s service was a delightful combination of the traditional and modern. Much-loved and well-known carols and Gospel readings were interspersed with comic, yet reverential poems, such as Benjamin Zephaniah’s “Talking Turkeys”, delivered with great panache by actor, Tim Bentinck, and “Christmas Thank Yous”, by Mick Gower and read by Mencap volunteer, Lloyd Page.  Richenda Carey delivered The Annunication from St Luke’s Gospel and The Master gave the final reading from St John’s Gospel.

After steaming cups of mulled wine, we crossed Smithfield Square to enjoy a hearty supper of Shepherd’s Pie at Haberdashers’ Hall which was full to overflowing and ringing with conversation.  A truly magical and appropriate Christmas evening.

REBECCA NELSON

Liveryman Michael Stafford RIP

Michael Stafford passed away peacefully on 13th December.

His son, Liveryman Andrew Stafford, writes:
I think I am right in saying that my father holds the double distinction of having been, at the time of his death, the oldest living Feltmaker, and also having been the head of the last felt hat manufacturing company in England.
The family are very proud of the history of Wilson & Stafford Ltd, and the place it holds in the history of our industry. Having lost the wife he adored, Lorna, in 2015, he continued to be a wonderful father to 5 children, and a much loved grandfather to 7 grandchildren. He will be sorely missed by family and friends

Luton Lunch 20th February 2020

View this in your browser

The Mansion House, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3TQ

Thursday 20th February 2020 
12.30 Reception- 1pm Lunch
Welcome Cocktail, 3-course menu, a glass of wine
Exclusive Expo and Hat Show  
£55 per person
For all bookings, please contact
John Horn barforddyers@aol.com  Tel: 01582 720 371
Bookings – contact John Horn
Exclusive 5 Star Offer
19th & 20th February 2020
£175.00 per room
per night Bed & Breakfast
Please call Reservations directly
on 01582 698888
Quoting ‘The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers of London’
www.lutonhoo.co.uk/
Copyright © 2019 ‘The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers of London’, All rights reserved.

HMS Lancaster Rebuild Update

HMS LANCASTER returned from her last foreign trip in December 2015, after this the Ship was placed in extended readiness in Portsmouth harbour. In 2017 the ship was towed to Plymouth to start a refit period; due to the amount of structural work this was extended to two years. During this time the Ship has had over 2000 new steel inserts put into her hull to make her structurally sound again. This has been no easy refit, at one stage they had to stop cutting steel out as LANC was becoming structurally unsound and so they had to put more inserts back in before they could carry on with all of the work. 

The present Crew of HMS Lancaster

However, two years later in April 2019 HMS LANCASTER saw her first six crew members join, since then the crew has grown in numbers to over 130 to meet the first milestone of Ship Staff Move On Board. The Ships Company rose to the challenge and we successfully moved back on board HMS LANCASTER on the 14 August 2019. This success was down to the hard work and dedication of all the parties involved in the regeneration of the Ship. 

The Ships Side under repair

The next challenge is Ready For Sea Date currently planned for the 13 December 2019, between now and then we have to re-commission all of the Marine and Weapon Engineering systems to ensure we can safely proceed to sea to carry out the basic trials. Many of the systems have laid dormant for four years and we also have to integrate all of the new equipment which includes new navigational radar, sea captor missile system, RT997 radar, communications equipment and other systems. This will involve departmental training to ensure that the Ship’s crew know how to safely operate this and also the limitations of the new equipment. On top of all this we have to ensure that each member of the crew is safe to proceed to sea and so basic firefighting and damage control exercises are taking place daily to enhance the basic knowledge of the crew. 

Our new Captain, Cdr William Blackett RN joins on the 3 December 2019 just prior to taking the Ship to sea. This is an ideal time for him to join as he will get to know the Ship inside and out during the trials period in early 2020; prior to this HMS LANCASTER will enter Portsmouth under her own power for the first time in nearly four years.

Lt Cdr Mike Bray

Senior Naval Officer HMS Lancaster 

August 2019

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.  

Feltmakers’ Golf Day 2019

For the Feltmakers’ Golf Day 2019, which was held on 19 June 2019, we returned to the Beaconsfield Golf Club.  Beaconsfield is a beautifully presented, classic HS “Harry” Colt designed course.  The course remains essentially the same as when it was originally designed in 1913 and has many of Harry Colt’s trademark features. In particular, it is very well bunkered and has unusually large greens.

We had 12 attendees playing golf which included a good contingent of Past Masters and a couple of carefully chosen guests.  Unfortunately, unlike the previous year, which was gloriously sunny, the forecast was for heavy rain so we started our round with a good degree of trepidation and fully loaded with wet weather kit even though we were playing in the middle of June!  Luckily, the rain generally held off for most players until the last couple of holes, when it did then pour down. 

Once we had dried off and had a couple of warming drinks in the bar, we all enjoyed a very good lunch with prize giving with some additional guests, including the Master.

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.  

Spring Livery Dinner 2019

THE APOTHECARIES’ HALL PROVES JUST THE TONIC FOR THE SPRING LIVERY DINNER

At this year’s Spring Livery Dinner, the splendour of Apothecaries’ Hall was complemented by exquisite music emanating from a 1793 Mantegazza viola, played so beautifully by renowned recitalist and chamber musician, Virginia Slater.

Dinner was a perfect symphony of delicately fragrant Thai fishcakes, accompanied by a 2017 Bergerac, followed by loin of Salt Marsh lamb with spring greens and a lively Valpolicella, and to close, we were tempted by Sicilian lemon tart with orange boodle and lime sorbet.

The Master’s speech focused on the Livery’s charitable activities.  From his recent visit to Treloars College, where he witnessed the caring, yet stimulating, environment the young, handicapped students enjoy, to the charity lunch on 20th July at his East Sussex home, in aid of the St. Michael‘s Hospice in Hastings.  He also gave credit to PM Jeremy Brassington, on whose initiative the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Trust is now part of our charitable giving programme.

The Master acknowledged the work of Liveryman, Ted Andrews, a leading manufacturer of modern felt products.  He has been working with Lock & Co. to test a new felt product. In addition, Professor Chris Carr, Head of the School of Design at the University of Leeds, has met Jeremy Brassington and Nigel Macdonald to discuss possible collaboration between the University and our Company. The Master closed with a vote of thanks to PM, John Bowler, who has commissioned three important research papers into the early history of Feltmaking, assisted by Professor Harry Duckworth and Stephen Freeth. John’s daughter, Kathryn, collated and bound the finished work into three superb volumes.

After the Master took wine with new Liveryman, Samantha Gordon (daughter of Liveryman Graeme), Court Assistant, Anne Mannix, delivered a most eloquent welcome to the Master’s guests, proposed the Toast, and introduced David Simpson, the co-founder of Petplan, as the Master’s principal guest.

David related an amusing tale which illustrated how ill-prepared some politicians are for public service! One Alison Rudd, an amateur genealogist, discovered a colourful character named Remus Rudd among her forebears.  He had been a horse thief, sent to Melbourne jail in 1885, escaped in 1887, robbed the Melbourne to Geelong train six times, was caught by the Victoria police, convicted and hanged in 1889.

She wrote to Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister of Australia, to find out if he had any additional information. His staff sent back the following:

Remus Rudd was famous in Victoria during the 1880s. His business empire grew to include the acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and he had intimate dealings with the Melbourne-Geelong railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years to government service finally taking leave in 1887 to resume his dealings with the railroad. He was a key player in a vital investigation run by the Victoria police force. He passed away in 1889 during an important civic occasion held in his honour when the platform he was standing on collapsed.

This led David to question his own credentials for setting up Petplan. After all, he had a background in property finance, no pets and no knowledge of veterinary services or the insurance sector.

Over the past 20 years, his animal clients have generated many “tails”!  There was accident prone, Sinbad, the Chow Chow, whose 50ft plunge from a Cornish cliff may have been a suicide attempt and therefore might have been exempt from the insurance plan.  It wasn’t.  Or the Persian cat with a penchant for knickers, whose regular diet of lingerie lead to numerous visits to the vet.

More recently, David encountered a horse whisperer working in Guatemala.  A chance encounter led her to use her horse whispering techniques with youth gangs, where she introduces a 17 hand horse and asks a youth to hold it and monitor his own and the horse’s heart rate.  Initially, both readings are high but after three minutes simply standing in silence alongside each other, both heart rates drop. A simple demonstration of the importance of trust.

David closed by reminding us or the livery companies which have, for centuries, lead the way in their charitable work, supporting and encouraging the application of traditional skills in today’s world.

With the emphasis on helping all those who share our beautiful planet, we ended a superb evening with a stirrup cup before departing home, many to our faithful friends.

Inter-Livery Bridge Competition 2019

Inter Livery Bridge Competition

Elaine Howard and Carolyn Phillips with Sheriff The Hon Elizabeth Green

On a rather dull day in early March it was a pleasure to enter the warmth of Drapers’ Hall for the annual Inter Livery Bridge Competition hosted by the Makers of Playing Cards Company.  Carolyn Phillips and I had formed a new partnership to represent Feltmakers’ at this event and we were very much looking forward to a sociable evening.

We were welcomed on arrival by the Master Playing Cards Maker Michael Davis-Marks and shown into the Court Dining Room where tea and biscuits were offered.  Play began at 5.30 p.m. in both the Drawing Room and Court Room with players of differing standards and experience in each.  We played 24 boards in two sessions, breaking off in the middle to dine in the magnificent Livery Hall where the impressive collection of royal portraits sits under the splendid pre-Raphaelite ceiling painted by the 19th century artist Herbert Draper. The competition momentarily put aside, the conversation with our fellow players over a delicious dinner was friendly, lively and entertaining.

At the end of the first session Carolyn and I were placed in the top half but managed to reach a top position (E/W) at the closing of the second session.  Overall we finished 9th out of 56 pairs, which was a very pleasing result.  The occasion was great fun, albeit mentally challenging, and made all the more enjoyable by our winning the Improvers’ prize presented to us by Sheriff The Hon Elizabeth Green.

Elaine Howard