At the Installation Dinner held on 1st October 2010 at the Haberdashers’ Hall, John Ray was welcomed as the new Master. John was elected as a Liveryman in 1990 and as an Assistant in 2000.
Liveryman Jeremy Bedford congratulated John Ray on his election as Master of our great Company and welcomed the guests, who included the Masters, Upper Wardens and Upper Bailiffs of the Haberdashers, the Tallow Chandlers, the Woolmen, the Weavers, as well as the Clerks to the Weavers and to the Tallow Chandlers and the Clerk to the Watermen and Lightermen.
He also introduced the Master’s principal guest, Nicholas Wills, Master Haberdasher from 1997 to 1998. Mr Wills’ distinguished career combined finance and commerce. It was when he was an investment manager with The British Electric Traction Company, or BET, that he first met the Master. Mr Wills went on to become Chief Executive and then Chairman of the company and by the time he left in 1992, it was the 55th largest on the London Stock Exchange and employed 130,000 people worldwide.
During his business career, he also devoted a great deal of his time to charitable activities, mainly in the field of education and youth organisations. He was Treasurer of the Prince’s Youth Trust, where he was set the task of raising £40m for the Prince of Wales’s 40th Birthday in 1988. He remained an advisor to the Prince’s Trust until 2004.
Mr. Wills started his reply by complimenting the Master on his magnificent hat, saying that he didn’t understand why it was necessary for him to wear one …. until the Master removed it. He spoke about the challenges he had faced in his business career. He also reflected on business generally, particularly in relation to the current state of the global economy where he was not wholly convinced that the UK was out of the woods and would not suffer from a double dip recession. He then proposed the toast to the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers and the Master.
The Master echoed Jeremy Bedford’s tribute to outgoing Master, Susan Wood our first ever lady Master and welcomed the new Fourth Warden, and introduced Commander Rory Bryan who updated us on the activities of HMS Lancaster prior to her major refit in Portsmouth. She is due to go back into service in early 2012. He also welcomed the two new Liverymen and three new Honorary Liverymen who had just been sworn in at the earlier Court Meeting and encouraged us all to think of new potential candidates to join the Company.
In summary, it was an excellent evening, with excellent food and excellent speeches enjoyed by everyone.