By the time of our next Court meeting and subsequent Common Hall I will have completed 24 weeks of my year as Master. As everyone knows, the sad and sudden death of Middle Warden (Elect) Sue Seaby on 5 August was a terrible shock and not something I had counted on addressing. Nevertheless, I believe that the support we gave her husband Mike and the family was comforting for them and the turnout of WCoSP members at the funeral an illustration of how many friends she had. I am deeply grateful to Yasmeen Stratton for stepping into the very large shoes of Sue and becoming, by unanimous vote, our new Middle Warden. It is appropriate that during the 2020-2021 year when Sue would have been our Master, we will have another woman in that post. I wish Yasmeen every success.
People outside the Livery are forever asking me, “What actually is the Livery?”. They mistakenly think it is akin to the Masons, or perhaps the Rotary Club! I tend to explain in this way; imagine you are standing at Canary Wharf with the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs and hundreds of other people at 7.00 am one morning. You are waving off some 200 children who have cancer or other life- threatening illnesses. Some are terminally ill. They are on the way to a weekend in Disneyland Paris, accompanied by their families in some 120 Hackney Carriages, all paid for by Livery Companies, including the WCoSP, which pays for three cabs at a cost of some £1400 each. It is an emotional experience and, to me, epitomises the huge amount of charitable work we do in the Livery amounting to more than £50-70 million per year.
In short, the Livery, leaving aside that it represents 800 years of City tradition and protection, leaving aside that it is a place of fellowship and friendship, is a great force for good.
Our Company, over its nineteen years of existence, has done astonishingly well. Who could have predicted that in such a short period we have a membership that makes us the fifth largest of all 110 Livery Companies? That we would have a flourishing Young Members Group numbering around 80 and 30 Apprentices? That we have raised so much money for charity – including our very own Security Benevolent Fund – in only nineteen years? That we give away to charity around £50000 a year? Of course, some Livery Companies give millions rather than tens of thousands, but they have the benefit of 800 years of existence!
Our Sheriffs’ Award for Bravery is a continuing source of pride and I took great pleasure in revealing yet another immensely worthy recipient for the latter at our Annual Dinner which took place in October at the Mansion House.
Sheriffs Vincent Keaveny and Liz Green awarded the 2018 trophy, a cheque for £2500 and certificate to Mr David Burgess and his name will now be etched onto the SAFB panel outside the judges dining room at the Old Bailey.
We can also take pleasure in the continuing success of our Whittington Course, which offers young people from an area of disadvantage, a ‘window on the world of job opportunities’ provided by the City. This summer we have undertaken a review of the course, and a paper detailing recommendations for further improvements was tabled at our Court meeting on 22 November.
I have already mentioned our Young Members Group; it is now growing in both numbers and confidence and on 27 September organised a ‘Trivia Night at the RAF’ in the excellent surroundings of the RAF Club. The event was in conjunction with young members of the Security Institute and was a resounding success. The new chair of the Young Members Group, Jade Davies, together with her committee, is making good progress and I am confident that they will merit full committee status in 2019. We now conduct a quarterly review of that progress to give support and advice.
The ‘Tell the Master’ scheme is now on the home page of the WCoSP website to make it even easier to suggest new ideas for us to examine and consider. So, if you do have ideas to suggest please do not keep them to yourselves!
Recently, the chair of our Services Committee, Richard King, obtained the agreement of Sir Mark Sedwill KCMG, the Government National Security Advisor, to be the speaker at our 2019 Annual Lecture. Sir Mark was then confirmed as the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, whilst still retaining his Security Advisor role. If his duties do allow him to deliver our lecture, then this will be a sound achievement for the Company.
Our Continuity Group, consisting of Master, Wardens, IPM, Treasurer and Clerk is working well. This was an idea ‘borrowed’ from the last Lord Mayor and Sheriffs and seeks to ensure that the broad strategy of one year is one agreed by all and thus likely to continue.
We have a very good relationship with our six military affiliates – the clothing of Brigadier David Neal, Army Provost Marshal as a Liveryman at the Mansion House dinner is perhaps a good example – but in the spirit of my objective of fostering ‘fellowship’ - I do wish to forge even closer links with both the Metropolitan Police (MPS) and the City of London Police (CoLP). To that end, we now have the agreement with the MPS that their ‘Cadet of the Year’ is appointed as an Apprentice within the WCoSP each year, agreement from Commissioner Cressida Dick that she will continue with our annual Met Commissioner’s Dinner and are developing closer links with the MPS Business Crime Centre. Recently, YM Claire Palmer and I visited the CoLP Headquarters at the Guildhall and briefed Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland and his staff on the work of the Company. They were enthusiastic about developing closer links with the Company and have appointed DCS Dave Clark as a senior ‘Single Point of Contact’ for us. On 21 January 2019 we will hold the inaugural meeting of the WCoSP/CoLP Development Group to create and implement ideas of mutual benefit.
As I say, there is much to be proud of but there are significant challenges. It may not be widely known, but a great deal of income to the Company is passed straight to our Charitable Trust so we must work very hard to ensure that the remainder is sufficient to cover our costs running the Company and, ideally, leaves a surplus that we can donate to the Trust.
However, a combination of falling receipts from sponsors (and a significant bad debt from one of them), together with higher costs for events, greater administration costs and the financial effect of having a significant proportion of members paying reduced fees has meant that whilst there was a small trading surplus, the Company suffered a deficit rather than a surplus in the last financial year. Of course, this situation must be addressed and over the summer the Chairs of the relevant committees have been working with me to make recommendations to Court that, hopefully, will rectify the position over time.
Increasing our membership is a key element of this work and, as you know, I have asked every member of the Company to actively consider whether any of their friends or professional colleagues or contacts would benefit from joining us and, if so, bring the WCoSP to their notice and encourage them to join. Tricia, our Clerk, will then send out all the necessary documents to them when asked. I thank Company members who have already responded to this challenge!
During these past few weeks I have had the pleasure of attending several most enjoyable events and here are some of them:
· Young Members and Security Institute ‘Trivia Night at the RAF’, RAF Club
· WC of Hackney Carriage Drivers ‘Big Breakfast’ Disney, Paris send off
· Election of City of London Lord Mayor, Peter Estlin
· WC of Stationers Lunch, Stationers’ Hall
· WC of Bakers Annual Dinner, Bakers’ Hall
· Musicians Company Annual Evensong, St Paul’s
· WC of Security Professionals Annual Dinner, Mansion House
· WC of Tobacco Pipe Makers Annual Banquet, Drapers’ Hall
· Anniversary Reception of MPS Business Crime Centre, New Scotland Yard
· WC of Hackney Carriage Drivers 25th Anniversary of Magical Disney Tour Dinner, Mansion House
· Spitfires 2018 Annual Presidents Reception, Painters’ Hall
· Lord Mayor’s Show
· Armistice Day Commemoration
· Lord Mayor’s Address to Masters and Clerks, Mansion House
· Security and Fire Excellence Awards Annual Dinner, Park Lane Hilton
· WC of Saddlers Annual Dinner, Saddlers’ Hall
To be frank, I was not really looking forward to walking in the Lord Mayor’s Show as, historically, it has had some atrocious weather. This year, however, the sun shone and Senior Warden Mike Barley, Tricia and I had a wonderful time walking through the thousands of people lining the route in the Modern Companies section of the parade. Junior Warden Steve Emmins and three of our apprentices were also able to attend this year at the invitation of our great military affiliate, 3MI. What a difference the weather makes!
Finally, on 21 November I attended the Security and Fire Excellence Awards and was delighted to see that Freeman and Young Member Tim Molden and his team at the Savoy Hotel won the In-House Security Managers award against some very strong candidates. Well done Tim! I think it very important to celebrate success so please do not forget to tell me if you hear of any WCoSP member who has similar great news.
Phillip Hagon QPM Master