The Clerk's Blog
I was delighted that the Court were able to say their own 'thank you' to Denzil at the Court Spring Dinner on 18 May. The evening was made particularly special by the presence of not just Denzil and his partner, Caroline Whitlock, as our guests of honour but of his daughter, Gemma, and his son, Jasper, who were 'surprise' guests. Denzil had no idea that either were coming, particularly as Jasper had flown in from Austria especially for the occasion. I managed to get a photo of all four of them with the Master and I have put this on the Latest News page which you can access here.
At the dinner, the Master presented Denzil with an Edwardian silver bowl inscribed with the Company's crest and our thanks to Denzil for 14 magnificent years of service as Clerk. The bowl was purchased from Alistair Dickenson, who does a wonderful job looking after all our silver purchases and repairs, from money very kindly donated by members of the Company. My thanks go to everyone who did this.
It was a great evening and Denzil seemed genuinely pleased with his present and the surprise at finding his family amongst the guests. After dinner, we were richly entertained by Charlotte Kelly, a visually-impaired soul singer, whom the Master had come across through his work with the RNIB. As ever the office staff did a great job organising the evening, the catering staff produced a lovely dinner and the Hall staff made everything run like clockwork.
I attended a Master and Wardens' Committee this morning. Amongst other things discussed and agreed were recommendations to the Court for the appointment of two new Trustees for the Stationers' Foundation, a new Honorary Almoner and new members for most committees. I am VERY grateful to all of you who put your names forward as volunteers. I am conscious that many of you volunteered some weeks ago and I am sorry that the approval process is a slow one. However the Court next meets on 1 June so volunteers should know by the middle of the month if they have been successful. To those who aren't successful this time, PLEASE don't despair and don't give up volunteering! Your time will come, I promise. I well remember, from when I was a relatively new liveryman many years ago, the frustration of rejection but I stuck at it and ended up thoroughly enjoying the service I gave to the Company.
The Committee also approved my proposal that the Company purchase four three-metre square marquees. These join in pairs to form two larger tents and I reckon they will give cover for around 100 people. I am hoping that they will increase the use we can make of the garden in the somewhat unpredictable English summer weather. These marquees, which are easy to erect,dismantle and store, aren't the perfect solution to making full use of the garden in wet weather but they are (I hope!) a practical and affordable compromise. Let me know what you think when you first see them in action.
At the meeting, the Master admitted three new freemen: Andrew Illes, Stephen Mason and Jeremy Scott. I wish all three of them the very best as they start their lives as Stationers; I know that they will make excellent new members.
Lastly we entertained four guests at the lunch after the meeting. Paul Staples is UK MD of BNP Paribas, who claim to be the largest investor in media in Europe. Cormac O'Carroll is CEO of Poyry Forestry Consulting, a company providing consultancy services for the paper industry. Both these companies are new Corporate Members this year and it was a delight to be able to thank both CEOs for supporting us. Lorna Tilbian is Head of Media Research for Numis Corporation and has worked as a media analyst in the City for over twenty years. Lastly Catherine Mayer is London Bureau Chief for Time Magazine and former President of the Foreign Press Association London. What a line up and what a pleasant and informative lunch we had!
I was delighted to hear from Past Master Jonathan Straker that the grave of Richard Johnson at St Mary's Hendon Parish Church is well tended. It was very kind of Past Master Straker to undertake the annual check of this grave and, when he suggested that we thank Father Gwyn Clement, the vicar of St Mary's, by inviting him as our guest to the Richard Johnson service and lunch afterwards, I was very happy to issue the invitation and even happier to hear that Father Gwyn has accepted. This is a good opportunity for all of us to thank him and I hope that many of those present on 1 June will find the time to do so.
Past Master Straker kindly took a photo of Father Gwyn standing by Richard Johnson's grave and I have posted this on the Latest News section of the website. You can take a look at it here.
You may care to note that the annual Richard Johnson service (the 'Bubble Service') is going to be very well attended this year. We already have 226 people coming which means that the lunch afterwards will overflow from the Hall into the Stock Room. However it will still be a wonderful occasion and we can squeeze more of you in. So, if you would like to make a late booking, you can email Helen Ashworth, our Event Manager, by clicking here.
I have just received by email Election Addresses for the two candidates standing for this year's Election for the Sheriffs for the City of London. I have been asked to email these to all liverymen but this seems a little over the top to me and I am conscious that we bombard your inboxes anyway and I would rather save round-robin emails for more important things. So I have put them on the Notice Board section of the website which you can access here. The election takes place at Common Hall at Guildhall at 12 noon on Thursday, 24 June. All liverymen, of two or more years standing, are entitled to vote and I do encourage you to attend if you happen to be in London that day. Passes are available from Mandi (email: email@example.com) and I am pleased that we already have 19 liverymen who have asked for them. So, if you do go, there will be plenty of other Stationers there with you.
Even if you are not interested in the sheriff elections, please take a look at the Notice Board anyway. It does contain some important information which you may find useful.
At the last Livery Committee Meeting, Gerald Hill, our Honorary Almoner, reported that the Company is currently supporting very few people in need. He would dearly like to see us help more people and asked that I promote his work and the financial assistance available from the Company's Welfare Fund. I would like to do this through this blog. Gerald does a fantastic job as Almoner and has been fastidious in communicating with and looking after members of the Company and their families who fall into need or illness. Our Welfare Fund is there to back up his work and he has a discretionary fund as well from which to provide emergency support.
In some ways we should be pleased that there are comparatively few people needing support. However I suspect that this may conceal a lack of awareness amongst members of the Company as to what support is available. To that end, I have added a section in the Foundation pages of this website to explain how the Welfare Fund works. You can access this by clicking here. If you feel that you would benefit from support from the fund, please don't be embarrassed to follow the procedure outlined. The process is entirely confidential and we desperately want to help where we can.
As the new section also makes clear, we would welcome suggestions from members about other members and their families or other people connected to our industries who may be in need. If you know of any such people, PLEASE contact Gerald Hill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please, let's make full use of the Welfare Fund and the wonderful services of our Honorary Almoner. It is a critical part of the work of a Livery Company and it's madness to have resources available and not to make use of them.
I have just heard that the DMG Roundtable event originally due to take place on 4 May has now been rescheduled for Tuesday, 22 June at 7 pm in the Hall. This is really good news.
Following the theme of the last meeting, Alex Hardy of the Orion Publishing Group will lead a discussion on online copyright infringement in the publishing, music and computer games industries. Joining Alex will be two exciting experts in the field. Simon Chapman is a partner at Lewis Silkin LLP, specialising in the protection and enforcement of IP. Nicholas Lovell is the founder and director of Gamesbrief, a company providing financial and strategic advice to the digital media industry. Together they have masses of experience of how clients have successfully combated online piracy by coming up with creative solutions and by changing their business models. This is a real opportunity for all of us in publishing to learn from the experiences of the music and computer games industries in this vitally important but challenging area.
I thoroughly recommend that everyone tries to attend this event. DMG Roundtable meetings, which are usually held in Davy's Wine Bar, are always stimulating and exciting and represent the cutting edge of this Company. Due to demand, we are holding this event in the Hall so you'll get the best of the DMG combined with Stationers' Hall in all its glory. Contact Ian Bennett to book tickets and see the DMG website for more details.
Yesterday I had a meeting with Jonathan Davidson, a senior executive at Payne & Gunter and the boss of the boss of Richard Fisher, our Catering Manager. The subject was how Stationers' Hall can maximise the opportunities for Hall hire during the London 2012 Olympics. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for venues in London and I have set myself and Susana Ruiz de Sousa, our Commercial Manager, the target of ensuring the Hall is fully booked throughout July and August 2012. Despite the opportunities of the Olympics, this is a tough challenge and we need to work very closely with Payne & Gunter and Compass, their parent Group, to prepare an effective marketing pitch. There is a chance that we might 'block book' the Hall to an individual country or perhaps a global media organisation; but this may be a long shot. Any ideas that members might have on how we can best exploit the opportunities of London 2012 would be very welcome.
Yesterday's Charter Dinner seemed to go very well. I would like to say a particular thank you to everyone who attended. I would also like to thank everyone there for sticking to the instructions not to leave their places before the speeches nor to wander around the Hall chatting during the formal dinner. Lastly I would like to say a big thank you to Helen Ashworth, our Event Manager, for sorting all the admin (including lots of last-minutes changes), Ron Duncan, our Hall Manager, and his staff for organising the event so efficiently and to Richard Fisher, our Catering Manager, and his staff for a superb meal and excellent service. Together they made my job as Clerk so much easier and allowed me to properly enjoy this great event.
The Master, Wardens and I met with our eight new Sector Champions immediately before the Charter Dinner yesterday evening. The idea behind sector champions is that selected members of the Company will monitor developments in the most important companies in each of our industry sectors and report back to the office. This will help us keep up to date with what is going on throughout the entire graphic communications industry and keep us fully engaged with it. The eight Sector Champions who have kindly volunteered their services are as follows:
- George Brock, National Newspapers
- Geraldine Allinson, Local Newspapers
- Nick Steidl, Paper Makers and Agents
- Mike Clark, Packaging
- Trevor Fenwick, Online and Magazine Publishing
- Andrew Gilfillan, Book Publishing
- Jason Cromack, Printing
- Philip Lawson, Office Products
I will get this list and the full terms of reference added to the Members Only page of the website.
I have just had lunch in the office with Stephen Gilbert, Chief Executive of the Printing Charity. Based in Crawley, this charity handles the administration of the Stationers' Foundation and a very efficient job they do of it too. I am hoping that the Company can increase its links with them: they have a huge endowment and struggle to find enough people to support. At present their charter prevents them from supporting education and training, except for the children of printers, but they are seeking to change this. However they welcome approaches from people within the industry who are in genuine need and are very keen that Stationers use this resource. I plan to put more information onto the Education and Charity pages of our website but, in the meantime, you may care to learn more about them by clicking this link.