On the crisp autumn evening of 7 October, it was a delight to indulge in the warmth of friendship and conviviality in the company of Feltmakers and their guests at the beautiful Haberdashers’ Hall. The night provided a chance to regather with old friends, welcome newcomers (hats off to the newly appointed Liverymen and Freemen of the Company!), and congratulate our new Master Jeremy Brassington on the occasion of his Installation Dinner and the beginning of his year’s term.
Proceedings began at 7 o’clock with a champagne reception in the Gallery of Haberdashers’ Hall, before we were ushered into the Dining Hall for a delicious three course meal. We savoured smoked trout, roasted partridge and a “tea and cake” ice-cream dessert; all with well-chosen wine pairings and rounded off nicely with a cup of coffee, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate truffles and a dash of port.
After dinner, as the port decanters were still slowly winding their way along the tables, we were treated to the highlight of the evening: the speeches. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Wilkinson, who proposed the Master’s guests so warmly, welcomed the Upper Bailiff of the Weavers’ Company, Richard Humphries MBE, Master Woolman Alderman Peter Hewitt, and John Salter, Master of The Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames.
David Cartwright QFSM proposed the toast to the Company, in which he entertained us with stories of his childhood, his career as Assistant Commissioner
in the London Fire Brigade, and even gave us a history lesson, apologising on behalf of the Brigade that they were not on hand to save our very own Feltmakers Hall when it burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. David echoed the sentiments of all in the room when he gave thanks for the friendly connection among the Liveries of London -which he enjoyed as Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Firefighters – and spoke of the remarkable warmth and support that each offers. This was particularly apt as we enjoyed the hospitality of the Haberdashers and their wonderful catering staff throughout the evening. I found myself thinking that perhaps we were lucky to have lost our Hall in the Great Fire, as it means we are fortunate enough to be treated to such fabulous hospitality in many other Livery Halls around London.
In his first speech as our new Master, Jeremy Brassington congratulated Past Master Peter Simeons on a hugely successful year and laid out his plans for the year to come. The Master has chosen Hearing Link as his charity for the year: an organisation which works to improve the quality of life for those with hearing loss and their families. It was a pleasure to have joining us for dinner the Chief Executive of Hearing Link, Dr Lorraine Gailey. The Master announced a charity event to be held in June 2017 in aid of Hearing Link as well as his plans to revitalise the Feltmaker Golf Day – both events to which many Feltmakers are already looking forward.
Well-fed, well-watered and well-entertained, there was just enough time to join the Master for a stirrup cup before we returned to our carriages which sped us away into the cold autumn night, our hearts warmed by yet another wonderful evening with the Feltmakers.