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.
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
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.
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.