What a wonderful start to a new livery year with the installation of our new Master Peter Simeons. It was lovely to be at Haberdashers’ Hall again with its modernistic take on a traditional venue; architecturally pleasing using traditional materials with a contemporary style. I do like that fountain in the courtyard and can you imagine the dexterity required to build that model of Her Majesty’s new barge Gloriana, not to mention those galleons bedecked in pearls.
Following the customary sparkling wine reception and grace from Colin Semper, the dinner we were presented with was up to the usual high standard of the Haberdashers’ Hall catering staff. Black Treacle Cured Salmon, a Roast Partridge Crown followed by a wonderful Gateau Opera; all courses accompanied by a wonderful array of diverse goodies and vegetables. The repast was enhanced by a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, a South African Shiraz and Grahams Crusted port.
Once the Master had proposed the loyal toasts, Assistant Neil Edwards proposed the liverymen’s toast to the principal guests in a charming and very informative way. It was the first time I had heard a referee’s whistle used to start the introductions! The Master’s principal guest was His Honour Judge Simon Davis; other guests were Nicholas Bull, Master Tallow Chandler; Edward Martineau, upper bailiff of the Worship Company of Weavers; Richard Springford, Master of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames. Neil concluded with a very amusing rendition of how the English improved the French invention of the “toilet seat” by cutting a hole in it and returning it to the French.
His honour Judge Simon Davis opened his response on behalf of our guests by acknowledging the warmth of the hospitality they had been offered and that conviviality, for which the Feltmakers are so well known, is alive and thriving. He then treated us to a wonderful discourse on the privilege of opportunity by referring to a case he was assisting in 35 years ago where a very well known council was able to influence a jury by charm, humility, delicious timing, consummate skill and courtesy. An opportunity, to learn a number of invaluable lessons, from a master. Before he concluded with a toast to the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers and the Master, Judge Simon Davis told another amusing story of a quick witted lawyer who was able to take advantage of an opportunity which was so illegal it is probably best not repeated here.
The Master replied to the toast by firstly thanking the Court for electing him Master of the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers and then Judge Simon Davis for proposing so eloquently the toast to the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers, and in such a witty and interesting manner. As Simon is a Liveryman of the Haberdashers’, where his wife, Caroline, is currently Fourth Warden, we are indebted to them, and their fellow Haberdashers’ for allowing us to use their alternative home for our Installation Dinner. He remarked that it is a great pleasure that our relationship with the Haberdashers’ continues to grow closer.
The Master continued his speech by thanking Assistant Neil Edwards for the charming and informative way in which he introduced our guests and paid tribute to the success and efforts of our immediate Past Master Edward Hutton. He commented that there were so many interesting and enjoyable events during your year, but the What’s my Wine Charity Fund raising event and our participation with a float in the 2014 Lord Mayor’s Show, did stand out. The Master also congratulated Nigel Macdonald, who earlier this evening was elected 4th Warden stating that his connections with the hatting industry, as Chairman of Lock & Co, the hatters of St James, along with his financial expertise, makes him an excellent addition to the Master and Wardens team.
Expressing his delight at being the new Master he reflected that his father before him had been elected master 28 years ago in 1987, also on Friday 2nd October though tonight’s occasion was touched with a tinge of sadness for him as his father, Past Master Charles Simeons, passed away last year at the age of 92, and obviously could not be present. After thanking Jollyon, the Clerk, for all the hard work and efficiency that he contributes to make evenings like these, such a success the Master said that he understood that he would be the 15th Master that he would be guiding and supporting. He then went on to say that the biggest asset of our “Company” has, never appears in any balance sheet, and that is our “People” and that his theme for the year is: People Can Make A Difference. We were all encouraged to expand our numbers by identifying potential like minded candidates, including family and friends, to join the Livery.
- In addition to the Diary of Events for 2015 to 2016 the Master hoped that Feltmakers may be able to attend
our hat stall at the Red Cross Fair at Guildhall, on Tuesday 1st December;
- this year’s Carol Service at St Bartholomew-the-Great, at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9th December, followed by supper here at Haberdashers’ Hall;
- the Luton Lunch on Thursday 4th February, preceded by a visit to a local hat factory;
- his Charity fundraising event ; on Wednesday 31st August, which will include dinner at the Tower of London.
He concluded by saying how very excited he was to be our Master for the next 366 days, which he hoped would be an exceptional experience, and that he hoped to make a difference by doing all possible to ensure that all Members of the Livery enjoyed the year also. Tonight, a record 75 Liverymen attended the dinner. What a great way to start the year!