This year’s Plough Monday Dinner was held on Monday 11th January (the first Monday after Epiphany) in the graceful and historic surroundings of Vintners’ Hall, close to the Thames, and one of the most impressive of the Livery Company Halls. The Master hosts this dinner, which is attended by the members of the Court, together with the Master’s personal guests, who include, again by tradition, the two Sheriffs of the City of London, as well as, on this occasion, Master Skinner, Master Fletcher and Master Plaisterer. The event was very well attended, despite the recent heavy snowfall and difficult travelling conditions.
Following the reception, the dinner began with the traditional “God speed the plough” (in place of the customary grace), led by our Chaplain, Colin Semper, and an excellent meal was served.
Edward Hutton eloquently proposed the toast to the Corporation of London and the Sheriffs, and we were then delighted to hear, firstly, from Alderman and Sheriff David Wootton, and secondly, from Sheriff Peter Cook, responding to the toast. Both spoke wittily and entertainingly about their roles, and touched on the financial status of the City, as we start to emerge from the recession, and the importance of restoring confidence in the City and in its institutions.
We were very privileged indeed to hear next from the Master’s guest, and our principal speaker of the evening.
Mr. Peter Stormonth Darling has spent most of his very distinguished career in investment management and advisory businesses, holding numerous chairmanships and directorships, as well as prestigious appointments and trusteeships in the not-for-profit sector. He started his financial career with SG Warburg, firstly in Canada and subsequently in London. Many further appointments followed, including, from 1979 to 1992, appointment as Chairman of Mercury Asset Management Group plc, which led to his well-known book “City Cinderella: The Life and Times of Mercury Asset Management”. We were delighted to receive from him at our dinner, his entertaining and insightful analysis of some of those factors, which had precipitated the global financial crisis. To the pleasure of a large number of his rather more mature listeners, these included the lack of older and more experienced managers during a period during which was characterised by the rapid advancement of younger, less-experienced, high risk takers, with what might have been predictable results!
The Plough Monday Dinner is the first event in our calendar year. This year’s exceeded our expectations and we return to our Livery Company’s own plough well fortified for 2010!