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SILVER ANNIVERSARY DINNER AT LINCOLN’S INN

DATE: - 19TH APRIL 2018

On 15th January 1993 the Inaugural Court of the Welsh Livery Guild was held at the Founder Master’s home in Cardiff. This was followed by a Dinner on 21st January and a luncheon on 15th March attended by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Francis McWilliams, both at the Park Hotel, Cardiff. The first hundred or so Liverymen were admitted at two Court Meetings held at Cardiff University on 17th and 24th April. To commemorate these events of twenty-five years ago, the Master, Professor Gillian Davies, invited all Liverymen and their guests to join her in a Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Silver Jubilee Dinner at the Old Hall, Lincoln’s Inn, London on Thursday, 19th April 2018.

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The Old Hall is the finest building in Lincoln’s Inn, indeed, one of the finest buildings in London. A tablet outside records the hall was built ‘in the fifth year of King Henry VII’. Henry VII came to the throne in 1485, and so the Hall is a building erected before Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World.

Until 1845 when the Great Hall was opened, the Old Hall was the centre of the Inn, where Benchers, barristers and students ate, met and held their moots and revels. For nearly 150 years, until the Royal Courts of Justice were opened in 1882, it was also regularly used for sittings of the Court of Chancery. The famous opening scene of Dickens’ Bleak House is set here.

The wooden screen designed by Inigo Jones at the South end, Hogarth’s painting of ‘Paul before Felix’ on the North wall, and in the windows the arms of Sir Thomas More (elected Treasurer in 1511) and those of eight of the fourteen members of the Inn who have been Prime Minister, are some of the notable features to be seen inside.

It was a beautiful, warm evening so the pre-dinner reception planned to take place in the Crypt of the Old Hall was moved to the garden outside. Liverymen and guests (118 in total) gathered in this beautiful space enjoying the first warm evening of the year for what was a very convivial and cheerful start to the evening.

Before dinner, the opportunity was taken to present the 2017 Achievement Award to Jeremy Bowen. Following the citation read by Past Master Sarah Cockbill in her capacity as Deputy Master at the time the award was granted, the Master presented the Company’s Award to Jeremy Bowen who then gave a short, lively and fascinating address in which he thanked the Company and talked about the trials of being a war correspondent and his present role as the present BBC editor for the Middle East.

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The dinner was appreciated by all; the catering and service provided by Lincoln’s Inn was much praised as well as the quality of the food and wine.

After Dinner, the toast to the Company was proposed by The Rt Hon The Baroness Andrews of Southover OBE, FSA. In her very thoughtful and insightful speech, in which she ranged over the historical and present challenges faced by education in Wales, Lady Andrews said that during the past twenty-five years the Company has certainly met its twin aims of promoting fellowship and education. Listening to the voices in the publication “In their Own Words”, she was struck by the range of excellence in breadth and depth of the work of the young people we have supported, thus fulfilling dreams as well as career prospects. Each one in different ways showcases Wales to the world and brings the world back to Wales. The Company invests in excellence and creativity in many different ways and continues a tradition of philanthropy that has been a unique strength of Welsh culture and character for over a century. The full text of Lady Andrews' speech is available here.

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Baroness (Kay) Andrews was educated at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and Sussex University. She served as Parliamentary Clerk in the House of Commons before becoming policy adviser on health and education to the then Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon Neil Kinnock. She was the founder and director of the educational charity for out of school learning ‘Education Extra’ from 1992 to 2000 before becoming a House of Lord Whip (2003-05) and Minister of Housing, Planning and Regeneration in the House of Lords from 2005 to 2009. She was Chairman of English Heritage from 2009 to 2013 and is currently Deputy Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Chairman of the Committee for Wales as well as being a Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords.

In her reply to the guests, the Master recalled that it was in the third week of April 1993, precisely twenty-five years ago, that the Welsh Livery Guild held its first Court Meetings and admitted some 100 Liverymen. The celebration was being held in London to promote closer relations with the London Livery Companies and with a large group of Liverymen of the Company who live and work in London. It was being held in Lincoln’s Inn of which she is a member; there is a tradition for aspiring barristers from North Wales to join Lincoln’s Inn and as Master this anniversary year she was able to choose the venue. She thanked Lady Andrews for proposing the toast to the Company and for her speech. What she had to say would be an inspiration and encouragement to the Company in its work and there was a synergy between her own obje ctives for education and those of the Company. Finally, she drew attention to the importance to the future of the Company of the Silver Jubilee Fund Raising Appeal and asked for the support of those present.