The Immediate Past Master’s Court Summary

From the Immediate Past Master:

 Although I stood down as Master last Wednesday, I wanted to circulate this summary of my last Court meeting and so maintain the flow of information to all Freemen.

It has been a rewarding privilege to be Master of this Company for the last year.  I wish my successor, Tony Maynard QWM, every success in his year and hope that he enjoys the same support and friendship that I have received in mine.

Iain Reid

Immediate Past Master

  Report of the Court meeting 2nd July 2019

 The first item reported was that the Master & Wardens had conducted interviews with various Court Assistants and that several had indicated that they could not yet commit to the time required to become a Warden and wished to defer for a few years. As a result, the Senior Warden, Master Elect announced that the Wardens for 2019/20 would be Mrs Gina Blair, Derek Mann, Sir David Wootton and Ted Gradosielski.

The Court also elected David Beard as an Honorary Court Assistant and approved the Committee Chairmen for the coming year.

The report from the Communications Working Party mentioned that the production of the Annual Report and Company Diary was in hand, that the Facebook pages were being regularly updated and that there would be more photography of events.

Past Master Jeremy Randall was able to report that Refurbishment of the Freemen’s Room, largely funded by the PQ subscribers, would be undertaken in August and Court Assistant Annamarie Phelps was thanked for her work on the project.

The Trading Results and Financial Report was given by Junior Warden Sean Collins.   This had been a tough year which had required a balancing act with the cash flow. However, this had been the first year that no draw down from the investment portfolio had been required.  Income from subscriptions and corporate hire was below expectations, but a tight control had been kept on expenditure which was also down.

It was noted that, to avoid any confusion about ownership, Minories Holding Limited (the previous trading name of the Company) had been changed to Watermen’s Hall Limited.

The report from the Almshouses and Charities Committee highlighted the commencement of new street lighting at Hastings, the review of rents at Hastings and Ditchling, the replacement of the Warden’s 15-year-old pool car and the forthcoming fundraising cruise on 3rd October being organised by the Ladies’ Committee.

The progress towards a Level 2, government funded apprenticeship was reported by the Apprenticeship and Training Committee. Also reported was the decision to drop the term ‘trainee’ and call all those in training ‘apprentices’; the Company would in future act as the Master should an apprentice not have one.  Other topics included the new Marine Engineering apprenticeship, the employer representatives’ lunch with the PLA hosted by the Company, the Company’s offering of RYA Powerboat training,  the MCA’s approval of the Company as an examination centre and the recent successes at the BML examinations: nine of the last eleven had passed first time, an 81% success rate.

The paucity of spectators attending the recent Apprentices’ Barge Driving was discussed and it was agreed that this should be given more publicity in the future. There had been two river familiarisation trips (attended by over 50 apprentices), eleven new apprentices had been bound in June and three had passed the Company’s Local Knowledge examination.

The Kitchen Committee report dealt with a number of routine matters but it was agreed that the standard of catering at Company events was excellent.  A major topic was the Doggett’s Wager catering on board MV Mercia on the 4th September, given that the race time (1400h) probably precluded the serving of a lunch. It was agreed that there would be a constant flow of finger food and foods on sticks before the race – and a tea of freshly cut sandwiches, cakes and filled scones after the prizegiving.

Besides the usual summary of progress with books and paintings, the Library and Heritage Committee was continuing to investigate the possibility of converting the large basement cupboard into a display area for the Company’s models. The Court’s approval was sought for a number of gifts to the Company.

The Membership Committee stated they had interviewed only two candidates since the last Court meeting and they reiterated the need to encourage new members, especially those actively working on the River. The occasional delays in obtaining the Freedom of the City was noted

The Doggett’s Wager dominated the report of the Rowing and River Events Committee. As agreed with the Fishmongers’, the Company was this year running the race and group of volunteers had been formed under the chairmanship of Craft Owning Freeman Greg Gregory-Jones. There would be four competing on 4th September: George Gilbert; James Berry; Patrick Keech; and Jack Fenelli.  It was noted that although the Fishmongers had agreed to cover this year’s costs,  it was expected they would want the Company to assist in 2020.

Forthcoming events in which the Company would be participating were the Barge Driving on Saturday 6 July 2019 and the Port of London Challenge 29 July 2019. The Henley Sculling Weekend would be on 12/13 October 2019 with the Saturday dinner at Leander Club.

The formal reports completed, the following were admitted as New Freemen to the Company: Joseph Ellis; Peter Perry; Steven Summers; Daniel William Walker; and Geoff Probert.

Two ‘personnel’ notices concluded the Court meeting.  The first, already on the Agenda, was that the Court’s approval of the appointment of the Rev’d Katherine Hedderly, the new vicar of All Hallows by the Tower, as the Company’s Honorary Chaplain.

The second was not on the agenda – and was a surprise to all present – because the Clerk announced that he would retire in eighteen months’ time, Christmas 2020. There will be many opportunities to thank Colin for his loyal and dedicated service, but Junior Warden Gina Blair reacted instantly to summarise the Court’s appreciation of his twenty-three years’ devotion and hard work.

The guest speaker at the lunch which followed was Laura Miller, Deputy Clerk to the Chamberlain’s Court, whose topic was the Billingsgate Fish Wives.