Inter-Livery Competition News
Stationers take bronze at biggest-ever Inter-Livery Ski Championships
Four days of cloudless skies with almost no wind and near-perfect snow conditions welcomed the 13 skiers assembled by captain of the Stationers’ team, Martin Woodhead, to compete among the 169 competitors who congregated at Morzine, France from 16 to 20 January for the eighth Inter-Livery Ski Championships.
Stationers were one of 26 livery companies and one past masters association taking part, a record, as was the number of competitors. While there is inevitably a tendency for competitiveness to dominate - these are races after all - a great deal of effort is taken to maintain the social and fun elements.
(From Left to Right: Andy Jones, Richard Brewster, Penny Woodhead, Oliver Gadsby and Martin Woodhead)
As proclaimed on the now very professional website: “Standards in previous years have varied from outstanding to appalling - and we hope this will continue!’
Despite being in the running most years for having the fastest team with an aggregate age of 200+ and the Stationers’ prize of an increasingly sought-after teddy bear named Lucky, this year we were not even shortlisted - a telling sign of increasing age of the regular competitors. It has to be said that the Mercers’ (apparently) recruited a septuagenarian especially to help win the prize, nevertheless won by the Ironmongers.
Not to be outdone the Stationers took bronze medals in third place for the fastest Court team - and Past Master Richard Brewster with Court Assistants Nick Mockett and Trevor Fenwick were to be seen (from L-R) proudly sporting their medals during the final evening.
In the rankings over two days of skiing, newcomer Liveryman Andy Jones led the way for the Stationers with a commendable 64th place, followed by Martin de la Bedoyere, another Freeman and Court Assistant Nick Mockett as our third fastest skier in 93rd place. These three each received a teddy bear cousin of Lucky at a Stationers’ prize giving which recognised a number of “achievements”. Trevor Fenwick carved in at 97th while Naomi Jones, skiing as a Stationers’ guest, made 102nd. Past Master Richard Brewster followed closely at 113 with Liveryman Bob Findlay, chairman of the Company’s educational partners Leigh Academies Trust, at 116. Another newcomer to the team, Liveryman Graham Bond, led the rest of the Stationers’ group of Court Assistant Oliver Gadsby, Liverymen Rodney Mountford and Nigel Southey and Past Master Ian Locks who brought up the rear of the team placed 150th and proudly sporting a free septuagenarian’s ski pass.
After doing all the organisation for Stationers’ participation, being one of three, with Trevor Fenwick and Martin De La Bedoyere, kindly offering hospitality in their chalets and ferrying his charges hither and thither Martin Woodhead was unable to compete due to a back injury. He said: “It was a bother for me as I would love to have skied but the important thing was that all appeared to have a good time, our scores were most creditable and there was great camaraderie, not only among those competing under the Stationers’ banner but with other Livery Companies taking part.”
Organiser Christopher Hudson (Ironmongers) said thought was being given on how to enable even more to take part next year as this time there had been a waiting list and the growth curve continued relentlessly.
Martin Woodhead writes: The main item of news, as recounted in the Master's blog, is losing the Master before the competition began! Sadly, on a practice red run in Switzerland, he pulled a leg muscle but was fortunately able to continue to the bottom and then take a chairlift back up to the French border from where he was loaded onto a blood wagon (ski jargon for a stretcher pulled at high speed on the snow
by first aiders) and then whizzed away in the front seat of a helicopter to the medical centre in Les Gets. Luckily there was no serious damage but don't be surprised if you see him hobbling a bit over the next few weeks. Heroic stuff!
So then there were five to compete in the inter-livery ski competition in Morzine on 23 / 24 January - Court Assistant Trevor Fenwick, Court Assistant Martin Woodhead (team captain), Liverymen Oliver Gadsby and Rodney Mountford and Freeman Bob Findlay. The first race was the slalom which was quite difficult with two runs down the same icy course and so with a record number of 160 entrants it took
a lot longer than usual to complete. But we had no falls, unlike many other teams, perhaps due to Trevor Fenwick's hip flask which kept us both warm inside and relaxed. Then it was off to Hotel L'Equipe for drinks and eats before heading off to our favourite restaurant, La Chamade, for a truly sumptuous meal.
Saturday's grand slalom was held on the Pleney slope above Morzine and consisted of 2 runs in sunshine on good snow and that was great fun. Then another favourite mountain hut beckoned, Nanon, where we celebrated our survival with an excellent lunch followed by some gentle afternoon skiing.
Despite our best efforts, the Saturday evening's gala awards ceremony and dinner produced little in the way of trophies for the Stationers. Even Lucky, the Stationers' prize teddy bear for the fastest team of three skiers whose total ages exceed 200, escaped our clutches. Lucky was not even present to watch the proceedings but was retained by the Vintners, the Leathersellers being second and the Shipwrights third. The overall winning company was once again the Vintners. The prize we should have suggested is for the oldest average age of all participants representing a Company and then we might have have won hands down! The average age was a lot lower than in previous years but there are already promising signs that we might be able to persuade younger and faster Stationers to join us in 2016.
To console ourselves during the dinner, we awarded prizes to ourselves such as the Goofy Award won jointly by Trevor and Bob for sliding so gracefully off a chair lift on the first day. And despite several nominations guess who won the Prang of the Week award? The overall winner of the Stationers' awards was Bob Findlay who skied with great style and also wore a smart new jacket which was the envy of us all.
Within our team, it was again a battle between Oliver Gadsby and Trevor Fenwick as to who was the faster but once the results have been examined in detail these will feature in a Stationers' News summary of the competition.
Please contact Martin Woodhead, firstname.lastname@example.org , if you would be interested in taking part in 2016.
On 5 March Past Master Christopher Rivington and John Perris represented the Stationers' Company at the Inter-Livery Bridge Tournament which took place at Drapers' Hall and which was organised by the Makers of Playing Cards. After the first half of the evening they were placed fourth. After a wonderful dinner they felt that their second half play had been perhaps a little mediocre but they were delighted to find at the end of the evening that they had come second! The Actuaries were first and the Tax Advisors third. Past Master Rivington reported that this was the highest place that he could remember the Stationers achieving in this tournament. Our congratulations to hism and to John.
You will all want to wish the ski team well in the Inter-Livery Competition which is due to be held in Morzine on Friday, 20 and Saturday, 21 January. We have seven skiers taking part (injury permitting as one is on the recovery list!) Martin Woodhead, Jessie Woodhead, Trevor Fenwick, Oliver Gadsby, Ian Locks, Chris Heyer (if fit) and Rodney Mountford. There will be slalom and giant slalom races and the team will be gathering over the next 24 hours or so ...no doubt to get in some practice!