The Livery of the Company is approximately 300 strong and is its senior members. By ancient custom the Livery comes together to dine at the Hall on a number occasions each year. The other ancient custom where the Livery in its robes - hence the name - paraded through the streets of London on notable festival days has long disappered into history.
There are now three Livery Dinners in the Company year that starts in late July. Two are major events: one in April where the Company entertains the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs. Although with 108 livery companies and relentless overseas travel commitments we do not always entertain the Lord Mayor these days. The other is the Election Dinner in July: see some of my earliest posts.
The third is a more low key affair. Guests are not invited and the Livery dine rather more informally and with a lot less ceremony. This year's Informal Livery Dinner took place on Wednesday 10 November.
The after dinner speeches are also very curtailed and principally include a 'state of the nation' review by the Master of the Company.
This year I thought I could be particularly positive.
Drapers' Academy has opened. Work on the new school buildings is at last underway. Now we are started there is an opportunity for the Livery and Freedom of the Company to become engaged in a number of ways. We need to share our success and experience with the Harold Hill community.
Despite the unsettled and unsettling times our investment portfolio is doing very well and our assets are back at the highest levels we have seen over the last few decades. A great deal of credit goes to Past Master John Padovan and the Investments Committee - I shall do a post on this vital group shortly - aided by our Director Finance, David Sumner, and Company Secretary, Priya Ponnaiyah.
Finally, I noted that the Almshouse Review Committee, under the leadership of Past Master Graham Zellick, is beginning to define the issues that need to be addressed to make progress.
In response Past Master David Addis, only recently and safely back from the southern Sudan where he was setting up a radio station, gave a most generous vote of thanks. Its content was such that, as the saying goes, only my mothere would recognise the person described.
It is a pleasant position to be in to report such positive developments and, despite a difficult economic situation the Company is in a position to move forward in so many areas.