Feltmakers head the Kew for guided tour of Botanic Gardens

On a bright and sunny November morning, a small group of Liverymen joined Master Neil Edwards, friends and family, for a guided tour of the breath taking Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew by a friendly and knowledgeable guide.

Kew lays claim to being the world’s largest collection of living plants, including the world’s oldest pot plant (dating from 1775), it is home to the world’s largest seed conservation project, and the smallest of the Royal palaces lies within its grounds.  Intriguingly, more scientists than gardeners work within its 300 acres!

Our trip included the Palm House, a magnificent construct which resembles the hull of an upturned ship.  This made sense once we learned that the architects had studied ship-building techniques because no glasshouse had ever been made on this scale before!

Then onto the Princess of Wales Conservatory, named after Princess Augusta.  Built on a N/W axis, it benefits from warm light even during the winter. Here we found out why genuine vanilla is such a valuable commodity – allegedly $600 per kilo! 

Horticulturalists hand pollinate the flowers because the natural pollinator, the Melipona bee, does not live outside its native area. We were also mesmerised by the Golden Barrel Cactus – which looked beguilingly inviting, like soft, plump cushions!

Although we didn’t visit The Pagoda, it was visible from a distance.  It was built in 1762, to boast a sophisticated knowledge of the Orient. Our trip included the 320m Broad Walk, flanked by cedar trees and herbaceous borders.

We were fortunate to see Kew at its spectacular Autumnal best.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022

It is with great sadness that the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers of London received the announcement of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We are immensely grateful for her dedicated service to our Country and Commonwealth. Our thoughts and condolences are with His Majesty The King and the other members of the Royal Family

The Summer Banquet – through the eyes of two Swiss guys – By Dominik & Robert Kalt

“Es isch soo unglaublich schön!” – Those were the first and only words that came to mind as we entered the double doors of the Egyptian Hall at Mansion House. Translated it means: “It is so incredibly beautiful!” And yes, it really was stunning: the white marble walls and columns with their golden Corinthian capitals, the coloured windows through which the evening sun flooded the room with warm light, the neatly layed table, the arched sculptured ceiling. All of it left us fascinated and nearly speechless.

It was an eventful 24 hours in London. Back in Switzerland the alarm rang at 4.30am to manage catching our flight at 7am. We arrived at London City Airport before 8am and had a whole day to go. Tired but excited we dropped off our baggage at Vintners’ Hall at Southwark Bridge, where we even got a little tour of the hall and its treasuries. Although not as splendid as the Mansion House, the Vintners Hall, with its history, its art and its incredible collection of wine labels, was a beautiful sight.

The rest of the day was composed of getting coffee, a haircut, a beer, lunch, new shirts and another beer before going back and getting ready for the Banquet. By request of our friends of London (and because we unfortunately do not have white tie) we all brought our traditional costumes. Peter, the Guildmaster of the Stadtzunft, wore his blue tails, Renato and our Father their Biedermeier vest and top-hat and Gian-Carlo and us wore the traditional working uniform of the weaver-apprentices of the 18. century in Zurich. We definitely did attract a lot of interested gazes on our way to the Ned, a bar in close proximity to the Mansion House, where we were supposed to meet up with some British friends for an apéritif and to make our way to the hall together. In fact, we were deliberately early to suck in the atmosphere and grab a quiet drink before the storm.

After everyone had arrived we went over the crossing to the Mansion House, made a photostop and were guided through the security check (!?!). We all went up the stairs with their beautiful and most certainly unaffordable paintings, through the hallway to the toastmaster, who shouted each of our names with a fierce and reverent voice, to the master and his wardens who welcomed us warmly. We were a little bit in a hurry because Robert was to be sworn in and given the Freedom of the Company before the official start of the night. In a quiet side chamber everything was laid out for the ceremony. Robert was quite nervous but stuck to his well learnt words: “So help me God”.

After a glass of champagne, we took our seats at the table. Next to us our friends from Zurich, plus Rebecca Nelson and Estelle Wilkinson who was our self-proclaimed guide through the evening and beyond. The band played the most beautiful compositions for brass and slowly but surely, we grew hungry.

After a splendid meal, good conversation and seemingly self-filling glasses we waited for the speeches to start.


The sentence Decus et Tutamen inscribed in the code of arms of our dear livery carried through the speech of the Upper Warden, which was addressed to the Lord Mayor on the one hand but on the other hand and, most importantly, to the Lord Mayor’s hat, which is gifted by the Feltmakers every year at the Lord Mayor’s installation.

Alison Cooper, overall Winner of the Feltmakers’ Design Competition 2022, flanked by the Lord Mayor and the Master, receiving her award.

It went on with the speeches of the guests of honour, the Bishop of London and the Lord Mayor, who delighted us with their beautiful choice of words. The Master spoke at last, presenting his gift, a replica of a coin of King James I Crown of 1604, and talking vigorously about the conflicts and difficulties of our time and enforced especially the opportunity and responsibility we all have to contribute to a solution, to unite instead of drifting apart and to make a difference helping those less fortunate. To conclude, the toasts were proposed. In Zurich one would expect that the whole community would lift their glasses and break out into a “drüüfach tunnernds Hoch” (a threefold thundering high) to celebrate the guests, the friendship and the city of Zurich. Here, in this marvellous hall, the toasts were more formal, but with the same heart and sincerity. To the Queen, to the Royal Family, the Livery and the guests of the evening. After, your national anthem, “God save the Queen”, sounded. If anyone was surprised that some of the Swiss guests knew the melody by heart, this exact melody, with different German lyrics, was also the melody of the Swiss national anthem between 1950 and 1961.

The evening drew to a close, as everybody stood up to go for a last stirrup-cup back in the hallway. Although nobody really had to stirrup his horse after, we all took a last glass at the Mansion House before making our way back to the Ned where the evening started. There our merry group of friends whiled for the remainder of the night, although we had to call it quits at some point because we were definitely not ready for the slightly hungover journey back home.

“Es isch soo unglaublich schön gsi.” – those were the first and only words that came to mind as we entered through the sliding doors of Zurich airport the next morning.  It had been so incredibly beautiful. All the time we are in London we are greeted by friends as friends and we are really looking forward to the next possibility, where we can be with you again. The Feltmakers, the friendship of our two liveries and our beautiful cities: “Si läbed Hoch, Hoch, Hoch”.

Via Thames Clipper to Tea Clipper

The Master’s Charitable Event 8 July 2022 at Cutty Sark

The sun was not quite over the yardarm on a glorious summer evening at Westminster Pier as our Thames Clipper slipped its moorings and headed downstream towards Greenwich where our Master, Nigel Macdonald, had invited us to a formal Dinner under Cutty Sark to raise funds for the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity.

After disembarking at Greenwich, we went on board Cutty Sark. Magnificent to behold with her raked back masts, she is one of only three remaining 19th century clippers of “composite” construction (ie a wooden hull on an iron frame). These were the fastest sailing ships of that century thanks partly to their narrow hulls which, being concave, slipped through the water easily.

Cutty Sark originally carried tea from Shanghai to London via the Cape of Good Hope but, in response to economic and technological changes, she then enjoyed a pretty varied range of deployments. Paddy Rogers, Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, recounted her history and what made her so special in a most absorbing presentation during dinner. Now in a prominent dry dock position by the Thames, Cutty Sark is listed as part of the National Historic Fleet (the nautical equivalent of a Grade 1 Listed Building).

During a tour of the upper and the main decks, we viewed many interesting artefacts and displays before descending to the lower deck to enjoy a very welcome and glamorous drinks reception and to peruse some of the attractive and varied lots which we were able to bid for in the silent auction.

We were then called to our tables for dinner directly under the stunningly beautiful copper-bottomed hull of Cutty Sark. What a wonderful and imaginative venue! The food we enjoyed over dinner was first class and, in another thought-provoking touch by the Master, was prepared and served, together with delicious wines, by young staff of The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton (https://theclinkcharity.org/restaurants/brixton

During dinner, Andy Cook CEO of Helen Arkell talked to us compellingly about how the charity has been able to improve the life prospects of an increasing number of children, young people and adults by helping them to develop coping strategies for their dyslexia. Together with a powerful short film, it was clear to us that this, the Feltmakers’ Company’s chosen charity, was very worthwhile and one where our support could make a radical difference. Our written bids for the lots in the silent auction were then collected; at the last count just over £13,000 had been raised for Helen Arkell.

Towards the end of the evening, we were once again treated to something rather special, this time a taste of 1811 Grande Armée Napoleon Fine Champagne Cognac. It did not disappoint!

A selection of memories of the evening:

“To travel to Greenwich on a modern day clipper and then to dine under a copper bottomed clipper from days gone by plus wonderful food and Feltmakers friendship made for a very special evening.”

“We all shared an enthusiasm for purpose of the evening. There was a real sense of companionship, friendship, renewal of friendships and common purpose all with a sunny disposition as the late evening sun set West across the City. If the spirit of 1811 was let out of the bottle that evening then the spirit of 8th July 2022 should be bottled to be reopened again and again when the Livery meets.”

“We were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to dine underneath the hull of Cutty Sark, the national treasure which dominates the Greenwich waterfront. The evening passed very quickly and all too soon we were getting ready to leave, reflecting over the success of the evening and richer in our knowledge of both the remarkable venue and our chosen charity.”

All in all, the Master’s Charitable Event 2022 was a very special evening, on a very special ship, for a very special charity. We were promised “an evening to remember” and that is what we got, and in spades. The planning, the care and attention to detail were simply amazing. So, many congratulations to the Master and his team including the Clerk, Major General Aidan Smyth and, on their behalf, many thanks to all.

Edward Hutton

Past Master 2014-15.

Feltmakers Design Award 2022

The Judging of this years’ Design Award took place on April 11th at Haberdasher’s Hall. Whilst the competition had taken place during the pandemic, it was the first time in two years that the judging panel had been able to all meet in person and judge physical hats – it was so good to be back!

The final selection comprised 20 hats, selected by the panel from drawings and sketches of 36 entries. The judges had viewed digital images of both the finished hat and accompanying artwork. Since adopting this method during the pandemic, it was agreed that it made sense to continue as it gives the judges a much better insight into the workings of each entry.

The spread of entries between colleges, apprenticeships, start-up businesses and European makers has grown wider over the years, as large companies have closed and millinery/craftwork has become more sought after as an individual skill. In 2004, European colleges were invited to submit designs from their final year’s millinery students to enable them to experience the freedom of design we encourage in this competition. By 2016, the competition was extended further to  support former students/apprentice milliners with businesses which had started within the past two years and this has worked extremely well.

Entries were received from Morley College, Nottingham Trent, Northampton, Northern School of Art, University of Lincoln, Kelvin College Glasgow and The Fashion Institute of Vienna and JBH Millinery School. We also had several entries from new start-up businesses and an apprentice.

This year’s selection was one of the most exciting: the themes and techniques were far-ranging and the standard of work extremely high, with some quite extraordinary yet wearable headwear on display.

The Lady Mayoress, Mrs Amanda Keaveny, attended and was overjoyed to try on many of the hats, taking a particular lean toward the colour green to endorse her Irish heritage.

We were delighted to welcome George Lomax, millinery buyer at Fenwick of Bond Street, who had no hesitation in the selection and made a particular stand for the Commercial Appeal award. The other members of the judging panel were: Milliners Rachel Trevor-Morgan, Edwina Ibbotson, Noel Stewart and journalist Carole Denford.

The Master, Mr Nigel Macdonald attended with his wife Maggie and gave their full support.

First – Alison Cooper, Millinery Malarkey. A beautiful emerald scarab beetle the inspiration for which was taken from the 1920s when Egyptomania was influencing fashion due to the many archaeological discoveries of the time. Beetle wings were widely used in fashion embroidery, the colour was inspired by that fact and by the Tutankhamen tomb discoveries of the time. We all loved her hat –exquisitely made and beautifully balanced.

Second –  Eleonora Tata, Eleonora Millinery. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno. Strips of felt intertwining with each other represent the souls of the lustful trapped in an eternal whirlpool. The dark colour palette of the design aims to reflect the depths of hell. A huge amount of thought and work can be seen in this hat.


Third – Nicola Miller, Kelvin College, Glasgow. Inspired by Marie Antoinette and The Palace of Versailles, this was pretty and detailed. Marie Antoinette always surrounded herself with flowers and floral themes- wallpaper, furniture and fabrics and, of course, the beautiful gardens. A beautiful colour mix was used for this hat and each flower and petal was worked in felt.

Craftsmanship – Lauren Thompson, Lauren Thompson Millinery. This Garden of Eden hat showed excellent craftsmanship and skill, cleverly blocking a snake relief into the brim and adding beautiful embroidery. There was a tremendous attention to detail and beautifully executed.


Commercial appeal – Aliyah Dankwah, Northampton College. This hat was constructed using laser cut shapes intertwining around the head. Taking inspiration from fans and the way they were used as a secret form of communication in Victorian times.


Art & presentation – Ilektra Maria Charalampopoulou, Nottingham Trent University.  Her Artwork included beautiful hand drawings and images.


Innovative use of felt – Jasmine Gibson, Northampton College. This hat was constructed with laser cut felt which was then painstakingly wired and stitched. This was inspired by the bone structure of the spine. Once the felt was prepared, it was attached to the felt pillbox and bent into shape.

Sechseläuten 2022- through the eyes of a British girl. by Estelle Wilkinson

How to digest the Sechseläuten weekend I feel as though my feet have only just touched the ground. From walking through the streets of Zurich wearing a cloak and top hat in front of a marching band at 1:00 o’clock in the morning to climbing up the bell tower of the largest clock face in Europe and drinking white wine all before 10:00 AM, how does one even begin to comprehend a wild weekend celebrating Sechseläuten and the burning of the Boogg. I’m grateful to live in this age of documentation as I feel without proof of the above statements; nobody would believe the weekend we have encountered. I can wholeheartedly confirm that the Swiss know how to party. How lucky I feel to have been not only invited, but to be so involved in the events of the weekend. We were welcomed so warmly by everyone, not once did we encounter a complaint or even frown, the positive energy was ripe throughout the celebrations.

The weekend celebrations began on the Saturday when myself, my father Simon Wilkinson and Nigel and Maggie Macdonald flew in from London and were picked up at the airport by Renato Compostella and Rene Kalt, as they drove us to our hotel, we even received a free tour! It seemed every building we passed, had a wonderful and rich history. Rene very kindly organised a traditional Swiss dress for me known as ‘Traacht,’ which I would be required to wear for the young liverymen’s ball known as the Jungzünfterball, and during the parade on the Monday. The evening commenced with aperitive drinks outside the fishmonger’s hall. A band played while wine flowed, and young liverymen and guests arrived dressed in a splendour of 18th century costumes from their Guild houses. A great photo opportunity to be had. Then the crowds dispersed to their selected guild houses where they would be dining that evening. After enjoying a delicious three course meal and copious amounts of wine, I was then informed that a disco would be held on the floor below, which I found quite hard to believe given the age of the building and the restrictive costumes many young liverymen were wearing, however I was, as I continued to be for the rest of the weekend, impressed by the enthusiasm of the Swiss conquering all interferences. The dance floor and bar were filled with chatting young liveryman and guests, roars of laughter could be heard all around the guild house and just as I started to settle in and get my dancing shoes on; I was informed that we were heading to another Guild house to continue the evenings frivolities. It was at this point when I asked, ‘Are we doing a guild house crawl, much like that of a pub crawl in England?’ to which I was met with an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’. We ended up going to two other Guild houses before I had to throw in the towel and save myself for the rest of the weekend, as I returned to my hotel at 4:00 AM I realised I’d been awake for 24 hours.

On Sunday rain fell on what I presumed to be a hungover Zurich, yet again I was surprised to find that everyone was up early and ready for the children’s parade. Feeling rather fragile after drinking my weight in wine and dancing till the early hours of the morning, I went to meet my father and the rest of the British guests at the Waag, accompanied by Rene and Renato, but was caught out by the parade. After spending what felt like an eternity parallel to the unbreakable meander of the parade; I decided there’s no way I would be able to cross, and get where I need to go, so decided to give in and phone my father to alert him of my lateness and ask for directions, when he asked what I was near; I looked over my right shoulder to see two live camels being pulled through the parade and uttered ‘you wouldn’t believe me if I told you’. The parade was filled with smiling children waving at the crowds, all dressed in a rainbow of costumes from all over the world. Once met with the other British guests, I enjoyed a well earnt bratwurst sausage. We proceeded to a beautifully decorated bar, while beers were passed round, I clung very firmly to my cup of tea, best to avoid alcohol for at least today I thought. The atmosphere was filled with hearty conversation amongst the Swiss and British. Comparisons of previous Sechseläuten’s were discussed by seasoned goers, such as David Bentata and Linda Smith, who were very familiar with the weekend’s events and the complex history of the city. It was wonderful to indulge in conversation with the newlyweds, there wasn’t a question about the guilds they couldn’t answer. As the rest of the guests enjoyed a hearty dinner, I headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Monday morning broke with a nutty muesli and strong coffee. Whilst digesting; we walked into the city centre where we were met with an impressively energetic Rene, as we were catching up on the prior evening’s antics, he informed me that he had only four hours sleep, yet another resilient Swiss attitude, but just the first that we would encounter that day. After climbing the 187 steps up the St Peter clock tower, we were met with panoramic views of the city. It is easy to imagine hundreds of years ago how vital this viewpoint would have been for alerting the city of fires and other disasters. As we made our way down, we were greeted by the band who we would encounter several times during the day, we then walked back to the Waag where all the young liverymen were enjoying their first (or third) wine of the day. Here I was introduced to guild master Philip, who I would later carry flowers for during the parade. It was a great honour to be invited and to be first female guest amongst the young liverymen or known as the ‘Ehrendame’ in Swiss German. Dominik and Robert Kalt, sons of Rene, had asked me to film their speech at the Butcher’s guild house and although all in a language I couldn’t understand, what was translatable was the laughter and enthusiasm from the audience. In response, the butcher guild master gave a short speech back to the boys and rewarded us all with Veal sausages printed with the guilds emblem and wrapped in gold, a carnivorous trophy! Lunch was well needed at this point, as the food arrived wine and conversation flowed amongst the members, not a single person in the room spoke less than 2 languages, I was amazed at how articulate and well informed they were of the English language, that of which could rival native English speakers. With lunch ended and espresso’s drunk- it was parade time!

Handed with a large empty basket and introduced to the other flower girls, we set off to join the parade, at this point there had been several delays which unfortunately meant that we would miss the lighting of the Boogg. Flowing through the streets of Zurich we were greeted with cheers, photos, smiles, waves and most importantly flowers! The guild master received a huge number! Happy to just be a part of the celebration, I was even included, as one of the lovely young ladies I danced with on Saturday emerged from the crowds to give me my own rose. The smell of bonfire grew stronger, and the crowds thickened as we reached the Boogg. Laughter and chatter all surrounded the fire while livery men galloped on horseback around the flames. The anticipation was palpable in the air as to when the head of the snowman would explode; tradition states, the longer the head of the Boogg takes to explode; the worse the summer will be. Finally, the head exploded; the crowd cheered, the horses unphased and the tummy’s rumbled- Time for dinner! We made our way back to the Waag for another meal. Once digested it was time to light the lanterns, put on the top hats and cloak up- off to listen to the speeches. We were very kindly provided with ear sets and a translator so we could understand what was being said. The first speech was held just across the river in the guild house, the next downstream where Rene, Domink and Robert performed a well-rehearsed comical speech.

Later it was time to take the bus; that’s right, we all piled onto a bus, cloaks and all, and were whisked away into the night to the next guild house for another speech. Once finished we travelled back to the Waag for a final snack. This is when the young livery men’s night would begin, plans of dancing and drinking lay ahead, but alas, I was simply too tired to participate. In the taxi ride on the way back to the hotel I made a promise to myself that as a representative of Britain; it shall be my duty to compete with the Swiss’s partying at the next Sechseläuten. So to all young liverymen of Zurich I make a pledge to you now; next year I will come back stronger and with more British troops to give you all a run for your Swiss Francs!

After a couple of hours sleep we were rudely awakened by the alarm, an unwelcomed signal to head back to reality. We left with a feeling of sadness that the weekend was over, but this was short lived as the excitement for Sechseläuten 2023 began! What a wonderful weekend, the traditions surrounding the celebrations were fascinating, the costumes fabulous and the company outstanding. Thank you all for hosting and we will be seeing you all very soon!

A note to any British liverymen planning on attending the Sechseläuten celebrations in the future: Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking. Try and get lots of rest in between the days as they are jam packed. The food was delicious the whole weekend and we were fed like kings, so there is no need to bring any food or snacks with you. We were met with quite a lot of rain over the weekend so bringing an anorak would be sensible, lastly, I would suggest bringing a good camera with you, as there are plenty of photo opportunities!


Spring Dinner 2022

The return of milder temperatures, longer days and the arrival of blossom on the trees marked the Feltmakers Spring Dinner at Vintners Hall.

Liveryman and their guests, including many of our younger freemen, filled the Hall with excited conversation and laughter; a joyous return to normality after the seemingly endless restrictions caused by Covid.  As Assistant Peter Winfield noted in his address to the guests, ‘Zoom doesn’t cut it for dinners’.

It was a special delight to welcome Jollyon Coombs’ widow, Ruth, among us as a Freeman and we were also to congratulate our current clerk, Aidan Smyth, on his promotion to Major General.

The Masters’ principal guest and after dinner speaker was Sir Brian Leveson, QC.  Sir Brian was one of the most senior criminal judges in England and Wales. Best known for chairing the inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, Sir Brian retired from his judicial role as President of the Queen’s Bench Division and Head of Criminal Justice in England & Wales in 2019.

In a heartfelt speech, Sir Brian reflected on his 53 years as a criminal lawyer and the current state of the criminal justice system.  With already poor conditions exacerbated by Covid restrictions, he presented a bleak portrait with the four key pillars – police, probation, prisons and lawyers – not being given the importance and recognition they should in a democratic society.  He strongly encouraged us as a livery to look to support the charities which seek to break the cycle of reoffending.  As the Master noted in his response, Sir Brian is learned in both the law and humanity.  It was indeed a privilege to hear him speak.

The Master closed the evening by reminding us of the importance of neighbours and community and the centrality of relationships to the livery movements.  Given the troubled world we now live in, he asked for us to remember the people of Ukraine in our thoughts prayers and through our giving.

On a brighter note, looking forward he encouraged Liverymen to attend the Banquet at Mansion House in June and his own charity event on the Cutty Sark in July.

Zoom might have enabled us to keep in touch in the past few years but nothing beats a delicious meal in one of the city’s oldest livery Halls accompanied by our fellow Feltmakers.

Emma Whitaker

A Warm Welcome at the Oriental for the Livery Society Dinner

On the evening of Monday 31st January, we met at the Oriental Club, almost two years since my last Feltmaker event; and for many a similar experience. Over convivial pre-dinner drinks, there was much laughter and catching up between friends and a real sense of finally returning to some sense of normality….

Assistant, Simon Wood, had organised a wonderful dinner of spiced cauliflower soup, Beef Bourguignon, treacle tart and, so I’m told, some fine wines (we met on the final day of dry January for me). Such was the large uptake of the evening, we were tightly squeezed onto a table in our own private dining room, which is the Club’s impressive Library.

The Master started his speech with a rather witty joke about Donald Trump, thus proving that those will not get old any time soon; as well as a brief history of the livery companies and anecdotes on trains and a recent former Shadow Chancellor.

As always, the smaller and more intimate gathering of Feltmakers allowed for meeting of newer members of the Livery, and for some, the first in-person meeting of our new Clerk. Carriages and push bikes were delayed long after dinner as conversation carried on into the atrium: so much to say after so long.

Adrian Gubby


One hundred and fifty Feltmakers, friends and guests came together on Friday 1st October 2021 to enjoy a splendid dinner at Haberdashers’ Hall. The Master, Nigel Macdonald, reminded everyone that it was first time the Company had come together since the Plough Monday Dinner on 13th January 2020; a period of 627 days.

The October dinner is normally the occasion of the Installation of the Master but because of COVID, the installation was brought forward to July 2021. Nevertheless, we were all able to welcome the new Master to his first formal Company dinner.

Our Chaplain, the Reverend Andrew Pritchard-Keens, gave thanks in an elegant Grace praying that we are protected from disaster over the coming years. Following the Loyal Toast, the presentation of the Feltmaker Design Award was introduced by Rachel Trevor-Morgan. After congratulating last year’s winner, Nora De La Quintana, her successor, Sarah Blackmore, was presented with a cheque for £1,500 and a Winner’s certificate by the Master.

In his Toast to the Guests, Third Warden, Jeremy Bedford, noted that our Principal Guest, James Naughtie, FRSE, had the “best voice to wake up to “ after Farming Today on BBC Radio 4. In a distinguished career, Mr. Naughtie has covered every UK General Election since 1997 and every US Presidential Election since 1988. In addition, he has presented the Proms and Radio 4 Bookshop as well as the New Elizabethans. His programmes have been characterised throughout by their substance rather than mere form.

We were also joined by three current Livery Masters, including Daniel Hochberg, Master Haberdasher, who managed to combine a career at the Chancery Bar in Lincoln’s Inn, where he is now a Bencher, with a keen musical interest in the harpsicord. Mr. William Makower, who had managed to follow his university studies of Chinese and Japanese with a career in digital transformation, innovation and growth before becoming the Upper Bailiff of the Weavers’ Company and Sir David Wootton, a former Lord Mayor, now Master Woolman, an appropriate position for someone connected to Bradford. Sir David sits on 25 Trusts, is a Governor of three schools as well as having been Master of five Livery Companies; he can best be described as living a busy life.

In responding on behalf of the Guests, James Naughtie said that both he and the Master were Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He commented that in this Age of Disruption, when a lot of trust had been broken, the charitable work of the Livery Companies was never more urgently needed. The increase in anger and divisiveness had led to a rise of Absolutism in politics, leading President Putin to observe that “Western Democracy is obsolete”. The onset of the recent global pandemic, however, had brought out a resilience and community spirit in the UK from which we should learn. The Livery Companies could have a vital role to play in bringing people together and leading political and cultural change, which he felt was embodied in this dinner in the Haberdashers’ Hall and was worthy of celebrating in the words sung by Elaine Stritch “Does anyone still wear a hat? I’ll drink to that”.

The Master thanked Mr. Naughtie, the Third Warden and Mrs. Rachel Trevor-Morgan for addressing the Livery. He paid tribute to Past Master Lady Yarrow for her leadership of the Company through what could be considered the most challenging time since the 17th Century. Members of the Livery found at their place-settings a silver spoon with a Feltmaker Hat motif, a gift from immediate PM Lady Yarrow. During her tenure, our former Clerk of over 20 years, Major Jollyon Coombs, had sadly passed away but not before swearing in his successor Brigadier Aidan Smyth. The Master paid tribute to three members of the Livery who had also passed since we last met, Simon Curtis, Ian Thomas and Christopher Reeves.

The outpouring of care and comfort to neighbours during the Pandemic had reminded the Master of the words of John Donne that “No man is an island.”
He had recently established an Events committee which would work alongside the Livery Society and Charity Committee to broaden the social activities of the Company. He announced his Charity event in 2022 would be a Charity Dinner on 8th July at the Cutty Sark in aid of Helen Arkell. Before then we could look forward to the Carol Service due on 1st December 2021.

The Master concluded by thanking the Livery and their guests for their presence, and it was agreed by all that we had had a most welcome reintroduction to what we hope will be more normal times over a splendid and memorable Autumn dinner in the familiar surroundings of the Haberdashers’ Hall.

Richard Brumby


Back in the early days of the Pandemic when, like World War 1, we thought it would all be over by Christmas, and when the weather was exceptionally kind to us, I was walking my dog on the hills around my house. From one spot in particular I have an excellent view down across the Thames Valley and Marlow.

I was thinking about how adversely affected many charities had been, and how much pressure they were under, and what, if anything, I could do; especially as, Master Elect of the Chartered Accountants Livery at the time.

I wondered if anyone had rowed the entire length of the Thames. Of course, as I thought about it, no could have done, as one cannot row on the Thames for quite a lot of the upper reaches.

So, not really a ‘light-bulb’ moment but more an idiotic brain dump. “Why don’t I do just that. Run and row from the Source to the City. What a wheeze. It should raise enough eyebrows as well as money for the charities. And thus, one might say, from little acorns…. But more accurately, from a great nut, an even greater process was born.

As I mentioned my wild idea to a few folk, it really started a snowball rolling down a huge mountain. It’s true, one cannot row from the source before a town called Lechlade. The first 13 odd miles are basic fields with, at best, the Thames, initially a few puddles, then a trickle, a brook and almost a stream. But from Cricklade, some 11 or so miles before Lechlade, one should be able to paddle a canoe or kayak. So, my big plan was run to Cricklade, paddle to Lechlade then row to the Tower.

Simple, yes? No!

There are locks in the way. There is the stretch post Richmond which is tidal. One needs permission from the Upper Thames Harbour Master, the Lower Thames Harbour Master, the Environment Agency and the PLA, to name a few. Plus, I do not own a kayak, nor do I own a scull. Moreover, I did not know how to row a scull.

But the snowball was still hurtling down the mountain, getting bigger all the time.

Fortunately, via a very good friend, I was aware that the Para Rowing Squad, based at Marlow Rowing Club, had to raise funds to make access to the boats and, more importantly, to the water for the squad members. I wanted to raise money for their charity as well as another four which I am close to. This was not only gratefully received but the Para squad coaches volunteered to coach me and to teach me to row. Additionally, as one of their number, Naomi Riches, who won a Bronze in Beijing and Gold in London 2012, had undertaken a non-stop row from Lechlade to Gravesend, she and her Coach, David Jackson, had some great data for me and my team to use.

Planning started.  Some key information I got from Naomi and David’s data was the need for a small committee to look after the key areas of the event. These were a Chair of the Committee to act as the Event Director during the event, a Stream, Tide and Passage Planning director, training and support team, athletic welfare and a PR, media and fundraising team. Not a lot to ask.

Well, when I put out a cri de coeur for assisatnce, my kids came running. So Sam, a Feltmaker, filled the Chair and the PR/media slots were taken by my son and youngest daughter. Then my PT said he’d look after welfare and physical training, whilst David & Naomi took on rowing training. (By the way, did I explain that I had, in effect, never rowed before?).

This left several other slots, but one specialist one – the Stream, Tide and Passage planning.

Enter a Past Master Chartered Accountant. She ‘volunteered’ her son, who it transpires, is not only the cox of Gloriana and runs the family river boat business in Henley, but is also a trained logistics specialist.

We were set, so off we started. For me this meant training six days a week; three on the water and three in the gym. Which, even now, is only just paying dividends.

So we contacted the PLA and the Environment Agency (EA) who both responded in kindly, if bemused terms.

We planned. Run from the stone marking the Source to Cricklade and then enter the scull.

But wait! The EA had not cleared trees from the winter of 2019. But we could paddle in a canoe or kayak. Let’s go for the kayak. And let’s plan for June 10th start when the Lord Mayor is free to meet me at the Tower.

But wait! The Lord Mayor is now going to the Olympics so will not be back until the 12th. Next relevant tide sorted; we reschedule to start on the 14th. But wait!  Covid is lasting much longer and we will not come out of second lockdown until June 21st.   So, whilst I could row, no volunteers could assist fully. OK, we rearrange for August 22nd to August 25th.  But wait!  My “Master’s weekend, which was originally due in May in Gleneagles, was moved to August in the New Forest as the only dates available post June 21st. and the Sunday of this weekend is the 22nd. No problem. Plan for an overnight flit from the weekend hotel to the start of the Source, (with someone else driving). Done!

Surely nothing else will occur to need further changes, Whew! But wait!

The EA failed to shift the trees from winter 2019/20 and they had also done nothing about several more which have fallen since. In short, even the kayak cannot get through.

I do not think running over 25 miles on the morning of day one of this testing event, then rowing at least another 24 is a good idea, let alone even possible for me. So, change gear. I will cycle between Cricklade & Lechlade if possible.  I proved it is possible, if very, very bumpy. Not a route for one to sit in one’s saddle.

Which makes me wonder, if an Iron Man race involves a 26+ mile run, a 112+ mile bike ride and a 2.4-mile swim (if not in that order) and on day one of my event I am due to attempt a half marathon run, then a 11+ mile ride and a 24-mile row, would this constitute a “Rusty Old Half Iron Man”? I ask because I feel sure that at the end of it, there will be a very rusty old half man.

If you feel pity for me, or for the five charities I am trying to support, you can find more details on www.Source2City.com.