Sunday, 15 January 2012

Textile lunch with the Dyers

One of the joys of this year is that I am seeing a number of Livery Halls for the first time. I have visited most of the large ones as they lend themselves to corporate and private events. Our daughter was married at the Stationers’ Hall which is one I particularly like. I have not visited many of the smaller halls and there are some jewels.

The Dyers’ Hall is one of those jewels: Monday, January 9 was a most interesting and excellent lunch hosted by the Worshipful Company of Dyers for those companies involved in textiles or related industries. The Lord Mayor, Alderman David Wootton, is himself a Woolman and attended the lunch. He spoke about his desire that the Livery Companies should more actively promote and publicise the charitable work that they do and the purpose of the lunch was for us to share our experiences with each other.

The Companies varied in size and resources but it was clear that we were all actively engaged in supporting education and training. This mirrors the work of the Livery Companies as a whole: in 2010 of the approximately £42 million given by the Companies to charitable causes, 51 per cent went to education.

The support from those at the lunch ranged through schools to universities and some creative opportunities where new graduates would be subsidised into their first employment. There was a concern that the focus has moved away from technical training and that, for example, there are many designers but not enough people to programme the machines on which the cloth is woven. (This echoes the lecture I went to earlier by the Horners who talked about the lack of polymer engineers in the UK.)

It is early days to see how we can collectively add value to what we are each doing individually but certainly the support we give to, for example, the Royal School of Needlework, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Art and Fine Cell Work all focus on furthering skills.

A footnote about the Dyers’ Company – one of their more unusual activities is taking part in the Queen’s annual Swan-Upping on the river Thames in July each year with the Worshipful Company of Vintners – you can see something about it on their website, link above. Immediate Past Master, Roger Staines, hosted a very pleasant day on the river in July 2011 where we watched the action.

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