Thursday, 30 June 2011


At lunchtime on Wednesday I was in Mercers' Hall for the Worshipful Company of Cook's Summer Court Luncheon.  The Cooks still play a part in their trade and support a wide range of cookery initiatives.  For more details of this Company go to   The Company also has the distinction of having the smallest livery of any City company, numbering 75 individuals.  A typical livery, if there be such a thing, is around 250-300 in number.
I have known the Cooks for some time.  Before the formation of the Royal Logistic Corps in 1993 one of its predecessors was the Army Catering Corps and there was a natural affinity between the two organisations.  The Royal Logistic Corps fully supported keeping these linkages going and the Cooks, along with the Carmen, Gold and Sylver Wyre Drawers and Launderers were the original  four.  Since then the list has grown with an increasing number of unit affiliations, such as 151 Regiment RLC(V) with the Marketors.  When I was Head of the Royal Logistic Corps in the late nineties the then Master Cook, Don Hodgson, made me most welcome.

The Company has interesting court members and I found debate about catering and the livery companies particularly interesting.  The Drapers' Company runs its own in-house catering and banqueting organisation and we seek to maintain the highest standards in a competitive market place.  I understand the current Warden, Bev Puxley, is keen to highlight the catering aspects of the livery movement if elected Master next year.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Two extraordinarily enterprising sixth formers at St Paul's School: Alex Bridle and Tom Jackson have set up a most dynamic fundraising programme for Help for Heroes using the line from John Maxwell Edmonds' (1875-1958) World War One poem of the same name as their inspiration.  For more details go to

Tom has a younger brother, Harry, who is a Chorister at St Paul's - in fact he is the Drapers' Chorister.  This family connection led to many hundreds attending a recital held in the cathedral that featured the choristers and Simon Johnson the cathedral organist.  There was a beautiful programme of music ranging from 7th Century plainsong, through Handel and including twentieth century works by Benjamin Britten and John Rutter (born 1945). 

But the highlight was undoubtedly the first performance of Ben Parry's setting of Edmonds' Went the Day Well.  It is a most interesting piece very beautifully constructed and certainly requiring careful listening a number of times to appreciate fully.  Ben had met Alex and Tom when he taught at St Paul's School.  For more details of this interesting and clearly inspirational composer, conductor, teacher and performer go to

Most fundraisers would think that setting up a recital evening with the Duchess of Gloucester as principal guest as well as a large number of City well-wishers, including the Lord Lieutenant of London - Sir David Brewer, would be resting on their well-earned laurels.  But they are driven by their cause and were shortly about to embark on a sponsored cycle ride from John o' Groats to Land's End. Totally impressive.

Incidentally in a brief meeting with the Duchess of Gloucester she recalled her recent visit to Drapers' Academy and was still clearly impressed with the changes the Principal, Matthew Slater, and his team were already achieving in the relatively short time the Academy has been open.

Do support Went the Day Well if you can.


To Guildhall on Friday morning to attend Common Hall for the election of the two Sheriffs and a number of other City officers including the Auditors and the more romantically titled Ale Connors and Bridgemasters.  Every liveryman has a vote.  It was thus a very crowded affair.  Not only was Guildhall's main hall full to capacity but two other adjacent rooms were packed out as well.  In all some 1300 members of the livery were present.  The masters of the 108 companies attend fully robed, entering and leaving Guildhall in a colourful snake.  The Great Twelve masters sit on the dais with the Aldermen, City officials as well as the candidates and their agents.  Although smartly carpeted these days the floors are strewn with scented lavendar to recollect the days when the City was a lot less sanitary.

The ceremony is probably the last surviving where one gets a sense of the public elections that existed before the Great Reform Act of 1832.  The rituals of describing the course of the election in a loud and determined manner by bewigged officials, the candidates making appeals for support and why they should be given the vote and finally a show of hands for each candidate in turn to shouts of 'All'. The only thing missing are the Hogarthesque additions of free flowing ale, outbreaks of fisticuffs, open bribery and the yeomanry ready to ride in an quell any disturbance.  It is much more genteel and honest these days.

The election of the two Sheriffs was the principal focus of interest.  Each Sheriff has similar duties and both spend their year of office based at the Old Bailey. However their subsequent civic careers are different.  One Sheriff is known as the Aldermanic Sheriff and is a junior Alderman standing with the expectation that, after serving, he/she will subsequently be considered for Lord Mayor.  The other appointment, the Lay Sheriff, represents the livery and although sometimes a common councillor of the City this is not a mandatory requirement.  Election to be Lay Sheriff does come with the expectation of further advancement.

This year there was one candidate for Aldermanic Sheriff: Alderman Alan Yarrow, but three for Lay Sheriff: Nick Bonham, Wendy Mead and Andrew Whitton. Readers of this blog will know that I am a supporter of Andrew Whitton but I fear that my support, including blog posts, was not sufficient to make a major difference.  The final count of votes showed Wendy Mead in the lead with 550, Nick Bonham second with 505 and, finally, Andrew with 194. 

The current rules meant that there was no clear result as the leader was not 10% of the total votes cast ahead of the second placed candidate.  So there will be a second round of voting at Guildhall, this time using the more conventional ballot box, on Friday 8 July.  Andrew has done the honorable thing and withdrawn - although for technical reasons his name still appears on the ballot papers - and there will now be a two cornered contest.  I shall not declare my voting intention as to do so would be to embark on a 'party political.' I shall however write after the voting next week with further thoughts and observations.

Incidentally the Ale Connors, Bridgemasters and Auditors were all elected unopposed  Somewhere in the proceedings we were also taken through the Report of the Livery Committee but this was a little-regarded vignette to the main purpose of the morning.

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Michael Gove MP, 'a whirlwind of ideas all delivered with perfect lucidity.'
To give this lunch its full title it was 'To Mark the Continuing Importance of Education to the City and the Nation.'  It was hosted by the Lord Mayor and included a very wide cross-section of guests: CEOs of the big City-based companies, Livery Companies with a major involvement in education, heads of major schools with a City or Livery link, representatives from a wide variety of educational charities as well as representatives from the civic City.  Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, was the principal guest and speaker.   David Levin, headmaster City of London School and currently Chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference - the first time a head of the City of London School has held this appointment - also spoke.

Michael Gove continues to be a whirlwind of ideas all delivered with perfect lucidity. His particular theme at the lunch was that the independent sector must do more to help raise standards in the less well performing maintained schools.  In fact the Livery Companies do a lot already and the Mercers and Haberdashers were singled out in the Economist's Bagehot column on 25 June as being leaders in this field.  The Drapers do not run education on the scale of either of these fellow members of the Great XII.  Nevertheless even though our Drapers' Academy is not quite a year old we are already beginning to see links develop with Bancroft's School as well as with other Drapers' schools and universities further away.  

Those who have read this blog from its start last summer will recall that Michael Gove, in his first few weeks in office, certainly caused us considerable disquiet when it appeared that he might cancel the Drapers' Academy new buildings.  At that time he was not particularly popular - a measured understatement - with the Academy project team.  But this is now all behind us.  I do not agree with everything he says but his robust and consistent championing of good education for everyone and the action he is taking to achieve it has been of considerable help in our work at the Academy over the past year.

Friday, 24 June 2011


One of the livery movement's more distinctive companies are the Hackney Carriage Drivers.  Esssentially the only way you can join the Company is to have passed the 'knowledge', the unique test that requires every black cab driver to have an encyclopaedic recollecrtion of all the streets within six miles of Charing Cross. 

The Company is very active chartiably and, in particular, organises the Magical Taxi Tour annual trip to Eurodisney for children, and their families, who are bravely fighting serious medical conditions.  Longstanding readers of this blog will recall I saw the departure of the last outing to Paris from Canary Wharf some ten months ago.  For more details of the Company go to their interesting website and the Magical Taxi Tour at

On Thursday Rosemary and I were invited to attend the Company's Founders Day Dinner that was held at Drapers' Hall.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts where I have been a guest in my own Hall it was a most relaxing and enjoyable experience.

The guest speaker was Sir Christopher Meyer who is probably best known when he was our ambassador in Washington from 1997 to 2003 and his subsequent book on his experiences DC Confidential. As was to be expected he was a tremendous raconteur covering a huge range of topics and ideas with wit and pace. 

I particularly liked an anecdote from Blair's first visit to see George Bush.  It had started very well.  So much so that Bush stayed up after 10.30pm, which was most unusual, to watch a film with Tony Blair.  It was Meet the Fockers.  In the opening sequence of the film when it became clear that the hero was called Gaylord Focker Bush went into hysterical fits of laughter almost choking on the popcorn served in special buckets bearing the presidential seal.

Master Jim Rainbird is having a most successful year leading his Company and both Rosemary and I much enjoyed being the guests of such a friendly and effective company.

Thursday, 23 June 2011


There is every prospect that Common Hall tomorrow is going to be a crowded affair.  There are three runners for Lay Sheriff and although all are excellent candidates I think Andrew Whitton should be the livery's choice.

Whatever the outcome it should be an interesting day tomorrow around midday but I hope you raise your hand for Whitton.

I am required under the rules of the elections to add the following: although the precise wording, particularly the use of the word printing does not seem to have kept up with the advent of the blogosphere.
Promoted, printed and published by Pauline Halliday OBE, 12, Somerset House, Somerset Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5JA. On behalf of Andrew Whitton, Flat 1, No.1, Hayes Place, London NW1 6UE


On Wednesday I was invited by Professor David Bland OBE, Master Firefighter, to a Master's Reception and Supper at Winchester House, Southwark.  I was delighted to accept, particularly because David is also a member of the St Michael's, Cornhill Parochial Church Council.  For more information about the Firefighters' Company go to
An all-Victorian hero.  Sir Eyre Massey Shaw in his full regalia as a fireman and sporting a splendid array of facial hair that would probably be completely unacceptable on Elf and Safety grounds in these less flamboyant times.
A bit of explanation in that Winchester House is the former home of Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, the first Chief Officer of the Metropolitan (later London) Fire Brigade in it critical formative years between 1861 to 1891.  He was a great showman and socialite and much enjoyed encouraging Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, attending fires dressed in an 'improved' and most glamorous fireman's uniform.  Eventually Queen Victoria forbade these escapades.

Over the years Winchester House and adjoining buildings have become the home of the London Fire Brigade's Museum.  For more details go to

Shaw is best known today as the 'Captain Shaw' to whom the Fairy Queen in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe addresses herself, wondering if his 'brigade with cold cascade' - clearly Freud had yet to be invented -could quench her great love. Shaw was present in the stalls at the first night of Iolanthe in 1882, and Alice Barnett playing the Fairy Queen, addressed herself directly to him. Legend has it that he stood up and took a bow. Incidentally until I was told the story I always thought it was the Fairy Queen was making a general statement addressed to an impersonal 'captain sure.'  I now know better.

The museum is well worth a visit.  Yet again it brought back a lot of memories.  My responsibilities in the Army on a number of occasions included control of Army Fire Brigade units.  Equipment was not often of the most modern and many of the displays of equipment in the museum I had observed in use.

As part of the visit we were also briefed about the London Fire Brigade's excellent work with young people across the city under the general heading of the Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) scheme. If you want to find out more go the LFB site;


A magnificent service, where some three thousand were present, was held at St Paul's on Tuesday morning the celebrate the 300th anniversary of the completion of Christopher Wren's cathedral building.

One of the leitmotifs of my Master's year has been a series of memorable services at St Paul's: the City Guilds Service, the Loriners' Company 750th anniversary service and the Sons of the Clergy celebration.  Each is magnificent and entirely appropriate in its own way.

Tuesday's service included as a theme contributions from every part of the diverse team that maintains St Paul's at the heart of City of London life.  So, in addition to the Dean and the canons there were prayers offered by members of the IT, Marketing, Finance and Works departments, people who work in the Cathedral Shop and the Cathedral School as well as the friends and volunteers whose support helps keep the cathedral going.

An imagined nineteenth century view of old St Paul's.  In the hundred or so years before the cathedral was finally destroyed it had decayed considerably.  The spire, that was the tallest in England, was accidentally burnt and entirely destroyed in 1561 and the general fabric of the building was quite dilapidated. 
We were reminded during the service of the vicissitudes that attended the hugely ambitious rebuilding of a cathedral after the somewhat dilapidated medieval one, described somewhat imaginatively by John Evelyn as 'One of the most ancient pieces of early piety in the Christian world', had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Rebuilding took forty-five years.  Although it was an act of great civic faith there were the inevitable wrangles over typically recurring issues when it comes to big projects.  These covered the 'usual suspects' of project scope, the original plans were much reduced, and cash-flow management; at one point Wren had his salary withheld and it was only reinstated after much wrangling.

HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Duchess of Gloucester were the principal members of the congregation that also included the Lord Mayor and other members of the civic City and representatives from many of the livery companies. 

After an hour and a half of a beautifully presented service it was out into a blustery June day but with a useful reminder of the great legacy of Christopher Wren and those who helped him create a magnificent religious space.


On Thursday evening Alastair Ross and I went to Pewterers' Hall for their Master and Wardens Dinner.  The company is still linked with the pewter trade and for more details go to  They occupy a charming Hall, rebuilt after the Blitz, on a site between London Wall and Cheapside.  For more details of the Company go to

I was made most welcome by the Master, Professor John Donaldson, and other members of the Company.  As with so many meetings with fellow livery companies it revives memories.  My maternal grandfather, Harry Willis, was an inveterate collector.  Starting in the 1920s and for some decades thereafter he pursued what were then regarded as highly esoteric interests.  These principally were English brass church furnishings, such as candlesticks, from the late medieval and early modern periods, and pewter from the sixteenth and seventeenth century. 

I can remember, as a teenager, his interest in makers' marks where I think he was considered one of the leading amateur experts.  He would recount at length long passed visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum to discuss newly discovered marks with the curators.  At the time the regularly repeated stories seemed a little tedious but they clearly made a long term impression as I now wish I had listened more carefully.

Back to the present a most enjoyable evening at which I was presented with a beautifully made Pewterers' quaich - the traditional Scottish friendship cup - with the design of the vessel including handles using the seahorse supporters from the Company's arms.  It is one of a limited edition produced for the current Master and designed by Pewterer liveryman Nigel Israel. 


My fellow Master Bloggers, Julia Adley of the Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders and Jim Surguy the Master Marketor, see links below, both posted this lunch first and was most flattering about it.  I can add little but to provide a bit more background and mention further details of a race that took place at Royal Ascot while we were dining.

The luncheon following the month's Court meeting is one where we invite all the livery companies that have links in a number of ways with the Company most typically because it provides us an opportunity to reciprocate hospitality.

This year a total of forty-eight Companies were able to attend.  Of these five were companies from outside London, including our sister Draper Companies in Shrewsbury and Coventry, with the remainder being fellow London companies.

The luncheon comes at a time of the year when  the majority of the Masters have been on office between eight and ten months.  Acquaintanceships, and in many cases friendships, have been made.  As a consequence any event of this type with over a hundred attending is almost bound to be a success.  I think Thursday did not disappoint.

It was also Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.  But on balance it was much more comfortable in the Hall as the day was rather sodden.  Towards the close of business at the Court meeting preceding Junior Warden William Charnley announced he was part owner of a horse running that day.  He went on to describe the merits of Pyman's Theory running in the 2.30 Norfolk Stakes and trained by Tom Dascombe.  He further went on to reassure us it was a firm favourite.  The Court collectively decided to support their Junior Warden's excellent judgement by placing bets.  Unfortunately news emerged after 2.30pm that the five furlongs of soggy going had proved too much even for a horse with a penchant for this type of race.  Pyman's Theory had been unplaced.

But it was such a good lunch that the slightly disappointing news was quickly forgotten.


The Mansion House Scholarship scheme was established in 1997 to provide promising individuals the opportunity to study or gain work experience in the UK, typically at postgraduate level, with a view developing their careers in the financial sector.   Past Master Sir Michael Craig Cooper, Master Draper in 1997, played a major part in setting the scheme up and the Company still supports it with a cash grant every year.  For more details go to

A reception was held on Monday evening at the offices of SEB in Cannon Street.  A most interesting and impressive group of young men and women from across the world who were either past or current scholars were present. 

Clearly it is a project with a lot of energy behind it, including the fullest support from the Lord Mayor, and plays a part in sustaining the high reputation of the City as a global financial centre. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Ray Wilkinson QVRM, TD
There was only one Draper on the Birthday Honours list but his award was an unusual one.  Our congratulations go to Liveryman Ray Wilkinson was awarded the Queen's Volunteer Reserve Medal (QVRM).  This is a scarce award to outstanding members of the reserve forces of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.  All ranks are eligible but only about a dozen awards are made annually.  It is now the only specific award for service to reservists that results in post-nominal letters as these days the Territorial Decoration (TD), and other awards for long service in the reserves, are no longer eligible.  However as Ray was awarded his TD  before the change of rules in 1999 he is entitled to denote himself QVRM, TD.

Ray Wilkinson was admitted to the Freedom by Redemption in 2000, Called to the Livery in 2001 and has been a governor of the Sir William Boreman Trust.  He is also a member of the Friends of Drapers Almshouses (FODAH) team visiting residents of Walters Close.  

He came into the Company through his links with one our affiliated regiment, 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment, a Territorial Army unit with which the Company has been connected since 1982.  He was commanding officer of the unit.  His military career included service as a regular officer and attendance at Sandhurst.  He currently holds the rank of colonel.

Away from his military career he has been  Chief Executive of Victim Support WorkForce and now Director of the Best Practice Club. He is also Chairman of Working with Words, an aspiring social enterprise based in Greenwich which trains and employs people with learning disabilities to produce accessible information in printed, electronic, audio and graphic formats.

The QVRM is presented by the monarch at one the series of investiture ceremonies throughout the year.  We have not had reports yet as to whether Ray has actually received his medal.
The Queen's Volunteer Reserve Medal

Monday, 20 June 2011


Each year in June the Hall becomes the venue for the Company's Summer Entertainment.  It is a unique social event in the Company year as all Liverymen and Freemen, as well as those who work for the Company are invited and can bring partners. 

Over the years the Summer Entertainment has taken a number of forms including opera performances, a formal dinner and last year's most original Sunday gathering where then Master Graham Zellick had a Jewish theme including a tour of the Bevis Marks synagogue.

This year we decided to stage a ball.  This involved a dinner using three of the four large rooms of the Hall, Scottish country dancing in marquee erected specially in Throgmorton Avenue - this is a Drapers' private street but I regret some commuters seemed peeved to find their rat run between Bank and London Wall blocked - and the Drawing Room for a small band.

Over 360 attended.  Gerald Quadros and his team prepared an excellent dinner.  John Freestone had organised an excellent seating plan that mingled old and new acquaitances.  He also organised the running of the evening seamlessly.

Where he has no control was over the standard of Scottish country dancing.  Purists from north of the Border might object that some of the sets lacked precision but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was certainly an ice-breaker. 

The evening finished with a traditional breakfast after midnight. 

It was an excellently run event that was much enjoyed by all those who attended.  Equally importantly it was a chance for the Company to come together as a whole. 


On Wednesday Alastair and I, despite the title of the dinner without our wives, were invited to the Carpenters.

The Carpenters are our closest neighbours.  They have occupied the northern end of Throgmorton Avenue, we are at the southern end. for about the same length of time but I think they may have bought the site just ahead of our forced purchase of part of Thomas Cromwell's estate in 1543.  Our local property holdings still abut each other.

When our Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 we were taken in by the Carpenters whose Hall, no more than 200 meters to the north of ours, had been just outside the area of extensive fire damage.  We reciporocated in 1941 when the Carpenters' Hall was lost in the Blitz and ours miraculously escaped unscathed.

The Carpenters Company continues to play a leading part in its trade and is particularly active in East London.  Most notably they sponsor the Building Crafts College in Stratford and Carpenters' and Docklands Centre, also in Stratford.  In the inevitable way that property and philanthropy seem to be linked in the London livery companies this focus derives from a 63 acre farm in West Ham bought by the Company in 1767.  For more details go to

The current Master is Giles Downes CVO, a noted architect who played a major part in the imaginative restoration of Windsor Castle after the fire in the annus horribilis of 1992. He and his wardens made us most welcome.

It was an opportunity to meet with our close neighbours and the short walk back to the Masters' flat in the Hall presented just the right time for a modest constitutional before turning in.

Friday, 10 June 2011


As a sister company with links to the textile trade we meet the Weavers socially at regular intervals.  As a consequence I was invited to the Weavers' Court Breakfast held at the Tallow Chandlers attractive hall on Tuesday.  In truth the breakfast of the title is not modern usage and we were entertained to a good Court lunch.

The senior Weaver holds the unique title of Upper Bailliff that is always solemnly included with the normal title of master and the somewhat more rarely encountered prime warden.  The current Upper Bailliff is John Pilling, a successful businessmen in the textiles industry. 

It was an enjoyable lunch and a good opportunity to compare notes with a sister company with parallel interests.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Followers of this blog will I know wish to see, if they did not get a look at the City Pages of Friday's Evening Standard, a most warm reminiscence of Gareth Clutton.

In my post of a few days ago I quite forgot to mention the distinctive black fedora and voluminous coat. from the bottom of which there were nearly always visible trousers with turn-ups.  This quite unforgettable combination was memorably one's first sighting of Gareth in winter months as he came down Throgmorton Avenue to the Hall.

Incidentally, the Memorial Service mentioned is planned for 8 July at St Sepulchres-without-Newgate at 11.30am and afterwards at the Hall.


The coat of arms of the Company.  I think the yellow carriages are charming.
The Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, led by their Master Vice Admiral Tim Laurence (knighted and appointed KCVO shortly afterwards), staged a superb Gala Banquet at the Guildhall on 1 June.  Both Rosemary and I were privileged to be invited.  The Master Coachmaker was accompanied by HRH Princess Royal, who is Master Butcher for this year.

The evening began with Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines in the Guildhall Yard who beat retreat in a most impressive fashion.  We then went into Guildhall which was described in the Master's speech as one of the most memorable spaces in London, if not in England.

We had an evening of entertainment including City of London Sinfonia with Emily Garland soprano, a performing group that interpreted con vivace and con molto brio arias from Verdi and Puccini.  Finally there was a sparkling dance performance by the now famous Strictly Come Dancing personality Anton du Beke and Erin Boag.

The evening had a seroius side which was to raise money for Motorvations
as well as highlight the other charitable work of the Company.  For more details go to

One gained the impression that the Company had come together to stage an excellent evening.  It was both a privilege and great fun to be a guest.

Thursday, 2 June 2011


This blog, although entitled Master Draper, is, of course, entirely my personal view.   This is one particular post where I am going to be especially partisan. 

Those who have received the addresses for the three candidates for Lay Sheriff  standing for election on 24 June may note that my name appears on Andrew Whitton's address as one of his supporters.  I am not the only Draper to be on this list; Past Master Sir Michael Craig-Cooper and Junior Warden William Charnley also appear.

In a contested election for Lay Sheriff it is always invidious to select one candidate ahead of another.  Both Nicholas Bonham and Wendy Mead CC are excellent candidates.  But I think on balance, and after careful consideration, Andrew just wins by a nose (and a moustache).

His financial background is particularly important at this time in the City's development where the issues we face are complex and require clear understanding in what is going to be an ongoing and difficult debate.  Also his international experience, especially in the Middle East, is most valuable at a time when many parts of the world are in considerable flux and a knowledgeable individual has much to contribute.

Equally importantly Andrew is a very active supporter of the wider livery movement.  I have no doubt he will be a most effective champion on our behalf as well as having just the right personality to help resolve the inevitable internal differences that can arise.

So in summary, although we are fortunate to have three excellent candidates standing, Andrew has, from my viewpoint, just the right combination of experience and personality to be our Lay Sheriff for next year.

I reiterate this is a personal view and equally importantly whether you vote for Andrew or not, and I really hope you will give him your support, do your bit our City democracy by casting your vote at Common Hall on Friday 24 June at twelve noon.

I am required under the rules of the elections to add the following: although the precise wording, particularly the use of the word printing does not seem to have kept up with the advent of the blogosphere.

Promoted, printed and published by Pauline Halliday OBE, 12, Somerset House, Somerset Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5JA. On behalf of Andrew Whitton, Flat 1, No.1, Hayes Place, London NW1 6UA


I have taken this picture of Gareth in the garden at home relaxing after work from the Caring Bridge site.  I think it captures his personality just right.
The news was not at all unexpected but sad nevertheless.  Gareth, after a few weeks heroic final struggle against a particularly virulent form of cancer, died on Saturday morning.  Many of us had followed his family's postings on Caring Bridge -see - with great admiration in the way that Fiona, his wife, their children Anna, Rafe and George had handled this huge personal tragedy with great spirit and warmth.

Gareth was by birth almost bound to be a surveyor and to enter the family firm of Cluttons, he was the sixth generation of the family to be a partner in the firm.  His evident experience and popularity resulted in his being invited into the Drapers' Company in 2003.  Past Master Martin Sankey, a one-time fellow partner from Cluttons, played a major part in this. In 2008 he left Cluttons to be the Chief Executive of Portman Estates and a major influence in the London and wider property market.

From his earliest time in the Company he played a positive and constructive role.  I can recall his efficiency as a fellow governor of Bancroft's School.  Subsequently he was on the Investments Committee with, of course, a big contribution to make on some major property decisions affecting the Company.  He was elected to the Court in 2009 and had a successful year as Junior Warden.  He was just beginning to get into his stride as a major player in Court life when a second occurrence of melanoma proved to be fatal.

An individual of great acuity with an unerring eye for the uncomfortable detail.  This precision was accompanied by a dry wit and a natural ability to socialise.  An abiding memory is a general zest for life aided by the odd glass of fine wine and a decent cigar.

Our loss is very great but of course it pales into nothing with that of his immediate and wider family.  I can do more than conclude in his wife Fiona's words:

'To say that he lost his battle with cancer would imply that he was struggling against it, which is simply not the case. He walked calmly and courageously with it until he could do so no more. He soldiered on for weeks without any sign of fear or unrest, beating the doctor’s best estimates by a country mile, and when he finally ran out of energy he did so peacefully and with his usual dignity.

Whilst the last few months have been the hardest of our lives they have given us some truly wonderful memories, for which we will always be so grateful. Gareth spent his last couple of months exactly how he said he’d wanted to, at home enjoying the company of many old friends and surrounded by the three things he loved the most, cigars, fine wine and his adoring family.'

Had he lived he would have been an outstanding Master.