It is always with a great sense of privilege and eager anticipation that Feltmakers and their guests gather at the Mansion House in June for our annual Banquet. As is the custom, there was the opportunity during the champagne reception to view the winning entries of our Design Award competition – and for some ladies the fun of trying them on – before proceeding into the magnificent Egyptian Hall.
Dinner is always a splendid affair at the Mansion House and, following such, Grace from the ‘Laudi Spirituali’ A.D. 1545 was sung and the Loving Cup passed. Entertainment during the evening was provided by the Royal Marines Brass Quartet and, soon after the Loyal Toasts, we were treated to an exciting call and response between the hunting horn moving amid the diners and the trombone on the balcony – a performance that was met with great applause.
The Upper Warden, Peter Simeons, proposed the Civic Toast, reminding us that our banquet was taking place close to the date of the sealing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago and that the provisions in the charter still remain in force in the City today.
In his response, the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor Alderman Alan Yarrow, resplendent in his tricorn hat with black feathers and in expansive mood, thanked the Feltmakers for the best mayoral hat ever made and gave a big thank you to all who had participated in the best Lord Mayor’s Show ever! He went on to state that a university education was not everything and that more focus should be placed on vocational training; a practical education could be far more useful than an academic one. He also expressed the need for a higher level of quality career advice for young people.
The Lord Mayor further stressed the importance of creating wealth, giving time and supporting people, especially vulnerable members of society. He mentioned the charities Scope, Mencap and Fight for Sight, to which he and the Feltmakers’ Company were giving a lifeline. Before proposing the toast to the Master and the Company, the Lord Mayor presented a cookery book on fish to the Master and an antique coffee spoon with a fish design to our gallant Clerk.
The Master then handed a cheque for £4,000 to the Lord Mayor for his Appeal Fund and called upon the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Gilly Yarrow, who is on our Court of Assistants, to present the prize to the winner of the Feltmakers’ Award, Ms Melissa Mehrtens, from Northampton College. He also reinforced the Lord Mayor’s message that the Livery Companies were a force for good, providing a framework for ongoing support even though the original trades may no longer exist.
The Banquet is the highlight of our Company’s calendar, its success greatly due to the enthusiastic attendance of Liverymen and their guests enjoying a summer’s evening of fellowship, charity and conviviality.