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Master's Page

Update from the Master

7th August 2020

Attention all hands, this is your Captain, the Master of the good ship “Welsh Livery Company of Wales” speaking.

I have some good news and some not quite so good news.

I am pleased to announce that we have had permission to leave port so have “landed” the gangplank, slipped our mooring ropes, and have headed out of port on the first part of our journey towards normality. We are taking advantage of the easing out of lockdown into a time of relatively more freedom of movement and interaction, and towards a ‘new normal’ begins. I am not too sure in which direction we can set sail as no one has concisely defined what is meant by the term ‘new normal’ and because the “navigating officers” are warning of the likelihood of another storm in the Autumn. The ‘new normal’ conjures up change so the question is “Is this for the better or for the worse?” Only time and our own perception will answer that but, perhaps, the most important recent good news is the giving back of our freedom.

Now for the not quite so good news.
If I start with the company social events programme, our planned events included an element of indoor activity. Even to have a buffet or picnic as part of an event has to include the provision of an indoor location in case of inclement weather. As a result, we have had to change our itinerary. Firstly, we will not be able to take a shore excursion to the Brains brewery that was pencilled in for August. While I am sure that many would have enjoyed such a visit it is not possible to arrange such an event at this time.
The September “shore extravaganza” was the “Masters Away Weekend” to Stratford upon Avon, a trip that Jan and I really enjoyed planning but have had to postpone. Social distancing on a coach and at the proposed venues, some of which are yet to even announce reopening dates prevents us from offering a viable event. Furthermore, I am very aware of the nervousness being expressed by Liverymen about taking part in such a trip at this time…. With some being reluctant to take any trip until they have been inoculated

While locking down the company was relatively straightforward, unlocking it is going to be far more complicated.

The Clerk, Senior Warden and I are looking at some alternative “shore excursions” and other safe interactions where we can enjoy a safe, convivial, and pleasant environment; full details of these will be issued in Calling Notices in due course.

One of our key purposes is to nurture Welsh talent and we do this through making awards. In giving awards while we are proud of the benefits that can be achieved but must also be cognisant of the risks, particularly when adjudicating and awarding travel scholarships. The process of starting up the awards process has begun, and I hope that we can achieve most planned awards for the 2020-2021 year.

One other area of recent focus and which was included in my start of year list of ambitions is to encourage recruitment, retention, and involvement. It has been agreed to set up a new “Membership” committee to work on this and I am very grateful to the Senior Warden who has “grabbed this by the horns” and has already set up a working committee as well as producing an action plan. Details will be published as this work progresses.

I am truly grateful for all who have continued to work hard for the company despite the distractions of the pandemic and I would like to thank the Clerk, Assistant Clerk, Officers, members of Court and committees who continue to support the company through this time of great distraction.

The business of the Company continues with much being done using virtual technology. There was a meeting of Court last week and I am delighted to announce that applications to become Liverymen from Michael Hoddy, Charles Rees and Philip Kitchen were approved: I look forward to clothing them at the earliest possible opportunity.

To close just a little story about a recent event. Two unemployed youngsters called on one of my neighbours looking for work. Feeling sorry for them he offered to pay them for painting his porch as it needed a new coat of paint. They readily agreed so he provided them with white paint, brushes newspaper et al. Three hours later they knocked the front door again to say that work was done so he paid them and off they went. As they were walking down the path one turned back and said “Hey Mister that wasn’t a Porsche it was a Ferrari”

Keep well. Keep safe and enjoy the weather.


Master. Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, 2019-2021


MESSAGE FROM THE MASTER

3rd June 2020

Liverymen,
Here we are still suffering the storm of a pandemic that started brewing as far back as January. I have heard, many times, that we were all in the same boat, but I really don’t think that it is really like that. We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat. For some, quarantine is optimal, a moment of reflection, of catching up with long held ambitions, gardening, and electronic re-connection with friends from the past.

For others, this is a desperate financial and family crisis. For those living alone it means endless hours of loneliness; for others it is peace and rest. For most the greatest loss is the lack of physical contact with family members. Some want to return to work because they do not qualify for unemployment benefits and are running out of money while others want to scream at those who break the quarantine. Some are spending hours educating their children, some have contracted the virus, some have, sadly, already lost a loved one to it, and some are not sure if their loves ones are going to make it. Others do not believe this is a big deal. Some believe in miracles and that this will all disappear as quickly as it appeared; others say the worst is yet to come. We are going through a time when our individual perceptions and needs are completely different. So, we are not in the same boat but experiencing very different journeys. Let us all paddle our own boat and continue to navigate our own route with respect, empathy, and responsibility.
There is increasing talk of easing the lockdown and maybe you, like me see a glimmer of hope that the storm is beginning to ease. As this storm eases we await to see what storm damage has been caused. We are being told, repeatedly, that things will change and what was normal up to now will give way to a “new normal” but, will the new normal be the old normal in a different guise? will life styles change for the better? will the moral fibre of the country be enhanced? There are just so many questions running through our minds as we try to look forward. The truth is we really do not know but change is going to be necessary and we will need to find the right balance between people and the economy which, once found will, hopefully, be the cornerstone of a new normal. While there will be focus on the economic environment in the coming months we are already for more mindful of others and I am heartened, for one by all who I have seen respecting the 2m social distancing rules.

We never really realise just how valuable freedom it is until we lose it. To my mind the lockdown has taken away our freedom for the time being but let us hope for not for too much longer.

The Company seems to have escaped the worst of the pandemic so far, with just one known case of a Liveryman succumbing to Covid-19 although there have been a number of cases where close family of Liverymen have been very ill. I am pleased to report that in all cases that I know about everyone has recovered or are well on the road to recovery.

Last week we held the very first virtual Court meeting. A total of 20 attendees took part in a two-hour discussion during which we looked at where we are and what we might need to do in future. It was a pleasure to see how relaxed members of Court were who would have otherwise had to travel hundreds of miles just for a two hour meeting; how much easier it must have been for them. There will be a review on the holding of further virtual meetings and my hope is that that we can look to carry out more business by having virtual meetings particularly when they are not linked to other formal ceremonies such as Installation Courts. Maybe such a change might encourage others to join the service committee and also Court and help steer the company forward.

Disappointingly, many of the company activities including our Awards and charitable fund-raising programmes are suspended and there appears to be little prospect of reactivating them in the short term. It is clear from the pandemic that this will have an adverse impact upon our Awards budget and current projection is that the company sponsored award income will be down the region of 35%.

One way of mitigating this is to encourage Liverymen who are not members of the regular charitable giving scheme to join. For every £12 pcm donated the charity receives £180 pa. If you would like to join the scheme, then please contact either me or the Clerk and we will be pleased to set it all up.

While on the subject of Awards, I would sincerely like to thank Past Master Dr Sarah Cockbill for stepping in as an interim chairman at short notice last spring. At the time she agreed to do it only until a successor was found. Despite both Deputy Master Geoff Hughes and I asking far and wide we have been unable to find someone to take over so are grateful that Past Master Windsor Coles has taken on the role. This illustrates that we are dependent upon the willingness of Past Masters to actively help where we should be encouraging “newer” Liverymen to take on such roles and help ensure succession. It is our Livery and we all have a responsibility to develop and ensure its continued existence and success. If you would care to become more actively involved, donating a matter of a few hours per month then please contact me and I will be happy to outline the various choice of tasks and rewards derived from helping to make a difference.
The social programme of events is also suspended indefinitely, and nothing will be organised until there is a significant level of confidence that attendees can attend in safety. Even when we are told that it is safe to hold events the current thinking is that we will not arrange any events until all constraints are lifted. Then and only then will we think to organise some outdoor events where we can easily still maintain social distancing in ways with which we are personally comfortable.

Alongside these challenges I have also received several approaches from both within and without the company for financial help during this pandemic. There is empathy to help but how? Court has discussed this and recognises that we have to operate within the definitions of our trust deed, which guides us towards helping to educate and nurture Welsh talent; it also means that we are actually constrained from, for example, directly relieving suffering from the disease. However, the Awards committee will, as always consider any suitable applications that meet the criteria, including those which may be coronavirus related.

While writing this I am enjoying the glorious weather and will admit that the sun is making the isolation bearable, almost enjoyable, and certainly much easier than if we had been heading into the dark long nights of Autumn.

The comment from my proof-reader, my wife Jen, was to suggest that as this is such a lengthy missive it could be a cure for insomnia – That was not the intention but I do hope you feel well informed on company matters.

All that remains for me to say is to keep well and safe in whatever way you feel you can achieve this

Yours in Livery,


Master. Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, 2019-2021

 

MESSAGE FROM THE MASTER

April 2020

It does not seem that long ago that we visited the Viridor site, details of which will appear in the next edition of the Bulletin, yet it seems ages since we went into lockdown. We have, suddenly, had to learn a new vocabulary and accustom ourselves to a new way of life. As we “self-isolate” and maintain our “social distance” the gates here at Millbrook Close have been closed for over a month and it is only the gift of the new technologies that has kept us in touch with the outside world. One of the opportunities and perhaps unexpected benefits has been the chance to catch up with family, friends, and even some ex-colleagues from across the world and to share experiences and good wishes. I am quite sure that most reading this will have had similar experiences and I hope that you have remained well in these strange and worrying times.

I have heard from several Liverymen over the last few weeks, sharing “lockdown” tips and activities: swapping humorous video clips and generally staying in touch. There is also so much out there designed to help us through this period - from online book clubs to cookery courses to unmissable offers to yoga classes; I have yet to feel that desperate that I want to try the on-line yoga!!!

It has been a great disappointment, in the light of the cursed pandemic, to report that all forthcoming events have either been cancelled or postponed and the Awards programme has been seriously affected. We will not be running any events while we are subject to government regulations and beyond that I am concerned about just how quickly we will feel confident to resume attendance at social company events. In simple terms my outline “exit strategy” is not to do anything until HMG allows for everything to get back to normal whatever that might be!

I would also like to take this opportunity to assure you that the company is in a very good financial position and has no worries about the future. Equally while the Charitable Trust has seen a fall in the value of its managed investments it is also in a strong and secure position. While the projected dividend from our managed investments is going to reduce, certainly in the short term, this will be offset by our inability to make Awards at this time. Considering current events, we may choose to adjust the Awards budget in due course but that is something for the future

Based on the current information it may not be possible to hold the “Master’s Away weekend even in September but I am already in discussion with the Senior Warden and Clerk on alternative plans, more of which will become visible once we have a better idea of the general situation and implications of the pandemic. I will, of course, keep you informed on this and on our general situation on an ongoing basis.

In looking forward there is some ongoing work focusing on the longer-term well-being of the Company and it has been proposed to make some structural changes for the current year but also for future years. In essence: -

  • For 2019-2020; To extend the current Master’s / Company Year to 31st March 2021
  • From April 2021 onwards to change the Masters / Company year to align with the financial year, namely 1st April to 30 March following year.
    Aligning the Company and Financial Year, with both starting on 1st April would: -
  • Ensure that the Awards programme to be more easily managed, understood, controlled and visible to all parties.
  • Allow the Master to be better able to understand and identify their achievements during their actual year of office
  • Allow new Masters to provide a social programme that starts in the Spring rather than in the Autumn
  • Be better in step with several of the London and “Out-with” companies

Furthermore, it should reduce the risk of the weather interfering with the Installation ceremonies where these are held at City Hall and St John’ Church.

For 2019-2020 an early decision was needed on whether to extend the current year to 31st March 2021. Normally such decisions would be put before Common Hall but given the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves Court has made an executive decision to extend the current year by six months. Formal retrospective ratification for this and approval for a change for future years will be sought at the next Common Hall which is planned for January next.

For any with concerns about the immediate changes please be reassured in the knowledge that a number of other Livery companies have already altered their plans including, for example, asking the current Master to stay on for an extra six months and for the Senior Warden to also undertake an 18 month term as Master. In the case of William Russell, the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London it has been announced that he will serve an additional year in office. The Lord Mayor was due to step down in November 2020 after completing a one-year term but will now remain in office until November 2021, subject to being formally re-elected later this year. While I have no desire whatsoever to extend my term of office for more than six months, I believe the actions being seen by others underline the need for advance planning hence the actions of Court.

On a personal note, I would like to thank all who have been kind enough to make contact, expressing their good wishes and kind notes of support during this challenging time; they are much appreciated
On behalf of all fellow Liverymen please accept my warmest best wishes in the hope that you keep well, keep safe, keep smiling, keep sane and that we will be able to meet up again soon.

With every best wish,


Master. Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, 2019-2021

 

MESSAGE FROM THE MASTER

My Dear Fellow Liverymen,

We are approaching the end of the company financial year and the first half of my term as Master. I would ask just where has the past six months gone but, perhaps more importantly just where do we go from here.
We are, as we all know, in extraordinary times and uncertainty of what is going to happen extends into months. The priority for the Company is to safeguard the health and safety of its staff, members, partners and friends. As individuals, we also have obligations to protect our own health and those with whom we come into contact.
As the Prime Minster announced on Monday 23rd March, we are being told to stay at home, to avoid non-essential travel and in so doing to protect everyone that we would, otherwise come into contact. With this in mind, I have no option but to re-arrange the programme. At the moment and based on current information I do not think that we can arrange events for the next three months. Accordingly, the latest plan is as follows: -

26th March

Court Meeting

Cancelled

26th March

Installation Court

Postponed until next physical Court meeting

2nd April

Tredegar House

Cancelled

2nd May

NW Installation Court

Postponed until new date can be set

2/3rdnd May

Gladstone Library

Postponed – likely until Spring 2021

14th May

GPC Meeting

Cancelled

15th/17th May

Master’s Away Weekend

Postponed until 18th – 20th September

24th May

Sunday Celebration, St Johns

Postponed - tba; new date to yet be set

28th May

Court Meeting

Cancelled

2nd June

Riverdance. St David’s Hall

Postponed - Awaiting details of rescheduled date

7th June

Court Luncheon

Postponed - To be rescheduled

26th June

Treasure Hunt

Cancelled

5th July

Garden Party, Dinas Powys

To be confirmed (tbc)

9th July

GPC Meeting

tbc

23rd July

Election Court

tbc

23rd July

Installation Court

tbc – c/f from March

August

Brewery Visit

tba

10th Sept

GPC Meeting

tba

17th Sept

Annual Awards Event

tba

18th-20th Sept

Yeovil

Cancelled & replaced by master’s Away weekend

24th September

Court meeting

tbc

24th September

Installation Court

tbc

1st October

Common Hall

tbc

17th October

Master’s Installation Court

27th March 2021 at 5pm at The City Hall, Cardiff

The Clerk has been working hard on behalf of the Company and has arranged that these changes can be made without financial penalty to the Company. Where I am describing postponements, I have done so in the hope that they can be rescheduled later in the year, however, as the end of the COVID19 crisis is not known we will continue to review the situation.

The Clerk and I will you informed as the situation changes and would be grateful for your patience as we grapple with this new environment. Please remember that the priority is to protect your health and that of all with whom you come into contact. As many of us are in the “at risk” category by age or other health conditions, please also consider how we can help each other. If any Liverymen is facing serious difficulties, then please contact me. While I may not be directly able to help, we may well know “someone who can”.

Along the lines of the global crisis from 80 years ago:

“Keep Calm and Carry on….Washing your Hands!"

With every best wish,


Master. Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, 2019-2021