Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Court Lunch, Worshipful Company of Needlemakers, Wednesday January 11, 2012

I have been fairly busy since my Installation in October so it felt slightly surprising to realise that this was my first Court Meeting as Master and first formal Needlemakers’ event.

I have chaired many meetings, large and small, but there is something a bit daunting about chairing a meeting where half the people have already done your job – the Past Masters who sit on the Court - and the other half are looking for some inspiration!

The committees appointed by the Court do most of the work; a Court member chairs each committee and reports back to the full Court. The role of the Court is to check, challenge and approve – or not as the case may be. There is a lot to be said for the combination of wiser, older heads who have probably seen most things before - several times in fact - and the newer members of the Court who bring fresh energy and ideas.

I am delighted that we have a number of new Liverymen joining the Company over the next few months, something that is so important if we are to thrive. I look forward to writing about them in due course.

The meeting was followed by an excellent lunch (well, I chose the menu so all my favourites were there) in the Butchers’ Hall. This is our “home” hall and we hold two functions there every year. It is one of the newer Livery Halls and is very light and bright.

We were pleased to welcome the Masters of the Apothecaries (58), the Feltmakers (63), the Tinplate Workers (67) and the Environmental Cleaners (97). The numbers in brackets are the order of precedence. As we process on formal occasions we line up in order so I get to know the Feltmakers and Tinplate Workers rather well as they are close to our order number of 65! As you can see both old and modern companies were represented.

Our speaker was Sandra Smith, Head of Conservation at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was so carried away by introducing her that I sat down before formally proposing the toast to the guests – gently reminded by the Beadle. The V&A is one of my favourite museums. When I have visitors, especially from abroad, and I don’t know what their interests are, I know that this museum will have something to catch their attention – from ancient artefacts to lively and contemporary exhibitions.

Sandra is very modest about her considerable achievements. However, her enthusiasm and knowledge were evident to all and we have been delighted to support individuals at the museum in a small way through our charitable fund. We are currently funding a travel bursary for a young trainee in the Textiles Conservation department, one of the ten departments that Sandra heads.

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