The Master’s Blog 27

From the Master

Our Annual Lecture, Awards Presentations and Breakfast in Leeds.  No wonder the Master had to “Beat The Retreat!”


Using the catchy title “Good morning- do you wish to see a doctor or a plumber?”, Court Assistant Professor Mala Rao OBE delivers a challenging and memorable presentation to the large number of people who attend our 34th Annual Lecture in the magnificent setting of the Royal College of Physicians this evening. What an appropriate venue for a lecture which emphasises the links between good plumbing and good health. In a carefully prepared talk, Mala (whom I first met in Hyderabad in 2010) challenges the audience to pledge to do something in the coming month which will make a positive difference to the issues of water and health. Simple things like stopping using disposable plastic bottles, contributing to a water-related charity, remembering to press the small flush buttons on WCs and sharing the message about water and health all come to mind. After the Lecture and an interesting question and answer session, we enjoy a reception and dinner. I have the privilege of presenting the Company’s Award for Excellence in Copper Pipework Teaching to Rob Woodger, Head of the Faculty of Construction at Exeter College. Our Corporate Members (whom I am pleased to note are out in force tonight) have instigated Awards for Outstanding Achievement and it is good to see the looks of surprise when I announce the recipients of the Highly Commended Awards- Johanna Davey and Tom Wood of Briggs and Forrester and then the main Awards which go to Graham Chambers (also employed by Briggs and Forrester) and my old colleague, George Thomson, Past President of SNIPEF and Chairman of BPEC. There is consensus that this year’s Annual Lecture has been an overwhelming success.


No fewer than three meetings are arranged for the Plumbers’ Company offices today and we start with the Membership Committee (which I chair in the absence of the Committee Chairman). This is followed by the Company’s senior Committee, Freedom and Livery and finally by a meeting of the website development team. It is good to see positive progress at all three meetings and encouraging plans for the future.


Pewterers’ Hall is the venue for the opening, by the Lord Mayor, of the 30th annual Pewter Live exhibition which is an amazing showcase of design and craftsmanship in the metal which is the subject of this Livery Company. There is an impressive display of prizewinning exhibits in pewter and the opportunity to purchase items ranging from decanters to key rings.


We travel by car this afternoon (courtesy of the Prime Warden and Mistress Blacksmith) to Brompton Barracks in Chatham for a Reception and Sounding the Retreat at the invitation of the Commander of Chatham Station, Lieutenant Colonel Will Robinson (Royal Engineers) and the Managing Director of Mid Kent College Training Services Ltd, Andrew Brader. The reception in the magnificent Officers’ Mess (where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day) is a good opportunity to chat with some of the officers and other guests from the local community (such as the Mayor and Mayoress of Ramsgate). In another of those small world coincidences, one of the officers we meet turns out to be related to a close friend of ours in Scotland (who happens to be visiting us this weekend). After the Reception, we have a military escort to our front row seats on the parade ground for the Sounding the Retreat which is performed by the Band of the Brigade of Band of Gurkhas – a splendid show to end an excellent visit.


Am on an early morning train to Leeds this morning to attend my first Brigantes Breakfast (at lunchtime). The Brigantes is a grouping of City of London Liverymen with connections to “the north” (which I interpret to mean Scotland) and today sees their fourth gathering. The event, at Royal Armouries in Leeds, starts with a lively presentation by Curator Dr Karen Watts which dispels some common myths about armour (which is actually flexible and relatively easy to wear). This is followed by a chance to view the amazing collection in the museum before I join some 400 other people for the Breakfast. There are 25 current Masters and we process in following the other principal guests which include the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, General the Lord Dannatt (Chairman of the Royal Armouries), Sheriff Neil Redcliffe, the Bishop of Bradford and the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Leeds. A lovely lunch is followed by entertainment provided
by “Figaro” (four tenors) and excellent speeches by Sheriff Redcliffe, Lord Dannatt and Adrian Waddingham (late Sheriff and Past Master Actuary). This is a well-organised event (with our Past Master Nick Gale one of the organisers) and I hope that it will be the first of many Brigantes events which I attend (providing it is accepted that Scotland is part of “the north”)!