For many, Monday 9th January was the first day of a full week back at work after the Christmas and New Year break. For the Feltmakers, it was the date of this year’s Plough Monday dinner at the Armourers’ Hall, hosted by Master Neil Edwards, and ably supported by our Wardens Simon Wilkinson, Jeremy Bedford, Simon Millar and Sarah McLeod.
The Armours’ Hall is an impressive location, as on arrival, guests are confronted with swords, shields and armour from a bygone age but which still act as a timely reminder of today’s conflicts, especially Ukraine, now nearing its first anniversary.
We were welcomed by the Master and Wardens with suitable refreshment and provided with an opportunity to catch up and renew friendships before the formal proceedings commenced. With precision timing, we were ushered into the main hall where our Chaplain the Reverend Andrew Pritchard-Keens, lead us in grace. Once seated, we were soon enjoying a tasty starter of sea bass accompanied by a refreshing Pinot Grigio. Our first toast of the evening was to welcome a new liveryman, Mrs Jane Masojada, to the Company.
This was soon followed by the welcome of our guests for the evening Dr Trevor Brignall, Master Marketor, Mr John Richardson, Prime Warden Blacksmiths, together with their respective clerks and our chief guests, Alderman and Sheriff Alastair King and Sheriff Andrew Marsden. This led us into our main course of Pedigree Hereford Beef with suitable accompaniment and an excellent Chateau Le Truch. This was followed by Dark Chocolate Posset, English Brie Tart and coffee, a most suitable selection to prepare us for the speeches.
The Master kicked off with two loyal toasts before an excellent heel to James De Broë-Ferguson to enable him to begin the toasts to the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs. James finished his run by passing to Alderman & Sheriff Alastair King to respond who thanked James for his excellent introduction to the Sheriffs and the Master for his kind invitation. He spoke of his career both in the City, the livery and associated charities giving us a clear view of the causes he was sponsoring during his year in office.
We heard that Alderman & Sheriff Alastair King launched his professional life as a lawyer before switching to asset management via the London Business School and founded and led his own asset management firm. This has been accompanied by investment ventures supporting various charities and a very active involvement with the Corporation of the City of London starting as a Common Council member for the ward of Queenhithe and becoming Alderman in 2016. He serves on an impressive array of committees and outside charities.
Sheriff Andrew Marsden has an equally accomplished City record. His background in marketing started with Unilever and on through a range of blue-chip companies and executive and non-executive roles in specialist marketing organisations. His involvement with the livery started with the Worshipful Company of Marketors, extending to the Worshipful Company of World Traders, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass, various Ward clubs and cross-livery organisations.
A swift but accurate pass to the Master allowed him to give us an insightful and precise overview of Dr Trevor Brignall and Mr John Richardson, full details can be found on their respective websites. Sufficient to say that each has had a varied and fascinating background and made significant contributions to their respective livery companies and professions. The Master also introduced his rugby guests Peter Winterbottom, Greg Chalmers and Duncan Steele-Bodger. His address concluding with another accurate pass to Sheriff Andrew Marsden to enable him to go for the line and propose the health of the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers and the Master. He told us how he grew up in Yorkshire and about his journey through industry leading him into the City of London and involvement with the world of the livery and the Feltmakers’ excellent reputation for hospitality, finishing just as the referee blew time. Post-match refreshments were then held in the adjoining hall allowing those liverymen dashing off for trains easy access to the exits.
All agreed an excellent evening, with great food and wine followed by interesting and timely speeches.