Master's Speech - Election Dinner 19 June 2017

Election Dinner 19 June 2017

My Lord
Very Reverend Dean Emeritus
Visiting Masters and Upper Bailiff
Fellow Liverymen
Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome to the Broderers’ annual Election Dinner and an especially warm welcome to the Master Draper, the Upper Bailiff of the Weavers, the Master of the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers, the Master Insurer, the Master Glover and a number of guest Past Masters, including those from the Horners, the Tylers and Bricklayers and the Drapers.

Her Majesty the Queen referred last week to the Nation’s sombre mood; the Broderers, as the Confraternity of the Holy Ghost, have a reputation of lightening up proceedings, which I hope we will achieve this evening. Our embroidery certainly brightens up clothing, so I am particularly pleased to welcome guests tonight from the fashion industry, as well as from the world of embroidery, including Bruce Oldfield and Lisa Redman, the fashion designers; Mr Alistair Macleod, chairman of Hand and Lock; and Mrs Michelle Humphries, CEO of De Vere Yarns.

The Broderers’ Company supports both the traditional craft of embroidery – referred to in our second Royal Charter of 1561 as the “Mysterie of Broderie” – and its application in the modern era, hence our growing involvement with the world of fashion where the skill of hand embroidery is now much sought after.

One of the joys of being the Master Broderer is the engagement with the new generation of embroiderers who are at the cutting edge of developing and using new materials and designs for the 21st century. Last week I attended the Graduation Show at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, where 10 students were graduating with a BA (Hons) in Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors and Textile Art. The winner of the Broderers’ annual prize for the best overall graduate was a student who had designed a most beautiful blouse with hand-stitched straw motifs. The use of new or unusual materials, as well as traditional threads, means that the craft is continuing to move with the times; and, in September, the Royal School will have 54 students on its course.

Many of you will be aware of our involvement with the Mercers, Cooks and Masons in the Associated Companies grouping dating back to 1609. Each year, the Court and Master of each, together with their heads of philanthropy [in our case, the chair of the Broderers Charity Trust] make a joint award to fund apprenticeships. This year is our turn to select the recipient of the Joint-Venture Funding Award and I am delighted to announce that the lucky recipient is QEST – the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, founded with the support of the late Queen Mother. The funding will create a bridge between disadvantaged young people seeking meaningful long-term employment and companies seeking to hire an apprentice within the fashion embroidery field. QEST will be able to offer a three-year opportunity for an embroidery apprenticeship for an exceptionally talented individual with a clear training plan.

May I ask Debbie Pocock, the executive director of QEST, to step up to receive our cheque for £19,000?

2017 is somewhat of a watershed year for the Broderers, with the Company being at a crossroads – not a cross stitch you will note! After just over 27 years as the Clerk of the Broderers, Peter Crouch stepped down last month and was installed as Warden. His replacement – the “new boy” in charge for his first ever livery dinner tonight - is Brigadier Bill Aldridge.

Peter Crouch, who is a chartered accountant by profession, attended an interview for the position of Clerk on 08 December 1989 and was appointed the very same day. He was already well known to the Court, having been the Company’s accountant since 1980 - that is 37 years ago! Subsequently, Peter was made a liveryman of the Company in 1995 and has also been a freeman of the Wheelwrights since 1992. He served as Clerk of the Wheelwrights for 10 years 1995-2005.

Peter has been incredibly active in the City Livery and was President of the Fellowship of Clerks 2006-07. He has been and is still retained as the accountant to 8 other livery companies, in addition to the Broderers. To mark his time with the Broderers as our Clerk, a length of service that the City is unlikely ever to witness again, we have a special presentation to make:

Move round to Peter’s seat

Peter – we are presenting an embroidered artefact to recognise the invaluable and unstinting service rendered by you as our Clerk. The artefact was organised by Past Master Lt Col Hugh Toler, and embroidered by prisoners and ex-prisoners representing Fine Cell Work, one of the four principal charities we support. The work was done by hand and using an embroidery machine paid for by the Livery. It is presented with grateful thanks from all liverymen and says –

“Peter Crouch Esq,
Clerk 1989-2017,
The Worshipful Company of Broderers, Root and Branch,
With grateful thanks from the Court and Livery”

Return to Master’s chair

Finally, it is my very great pleasure to introduce our guest speaker for this evening.

The Very Reverend Victor Stock, Dean Emeritus of Guildford Cathedral, and a Priest Vicar of Westminster Abbey, was educated at King’s College London and ordained in 1969. He was Rector of St Mary le Bow [Bow Bells, the local parish church to the Mercers’ Hall] from 1986-2002, arriving not just with a bang but with the “Big Bang” of October 1986.

Victor was the Lord Mayor’s Chaplain on two occasions and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2003 for his work with the Australian community in the City. He served as Dean of Guildford Cathedral from 2002-2012.

He has kept a diary for over 20 years leading to his BBC Radio 4 series “Taking Stock” and his best-selling book entitled “Confessions of a City priest”. Victor delivers no mean sermons, is a renowned raconteur and wit with extensive interests, some of which he will, no doubt, be sharing with us in just a moment.

May I ask fellow Broderers to rise to toast the guests?

“The Guests”