Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Lord Mayor's Dinner to meet the Livery

Every year the Lord Mayor holds a dinner to meet the "Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiffs of the Livery Companies of the City of London" at the Mansion House. These are not three different sets of people but all the heads of the Livery Companies called by different names.

The Lord Mayor was accompanied the Civic Party as well as the Common Councillors and we were accompanied by our partners (known as Mistresses (sic) or, in my case, Consorts). As you can imagine this was a very splendid affair (and my new outfit had its second outing in a month). I have never seen the Mansion House quite so full - close to its 350 capacity and the dinner was served with superb precision as always.

In addition to the orchestra of the Honourable Artillery Company providing the musical entertainment the Lord Mayor was accompanied by his formal escort drawn from The Company of Pikemen & Musketeers, also of the Honourable Artillery Company. The elegant black and white programme for the evening had a stunning artwork by David Hockney, Tall Black Trees.

Coming so soon after our own banquet it was a pleasure (and relief) to be able to relax and enjoy the evening without any responsibilities. I have never seen quite such a glittering occasion - every Master was wearing his badge and chain, every Consort or Mistress was wearing theirs and the Lord Mayor and party were covered in more gold than you can imagine.

I spent the last twenty years of my career persuading people that you could have fun and still raise money for good causes and you shouldn't feel guilty about the former if the latter was the consequence. As frivolous as this Banquet might seem on the surface - the people in that room represented over £42 million donated to good causes from the Livery Companies alone - not including the substantial sum raised every year through the Lord Mayor's Appeal. No one becomes Master of a company without substantial personal involvement in philanthropic activities as well - so a night of celebration is quite in order!

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