The Christmas and New Year festivities now seem a distant memory - the year seems to be racing by – but I hope you had a pleasant and relaxing time with your loved ones over that period. Those that may be contemplating becoming Master may like to note that it is rather difficult to fit in a holiday of any length during your year but it is possible to fit in short breaks of a few days and that is what Maggie and I have done, a few days in Malaga, a few days in Bournemouth with our daughters Claire-Louise and Sarah-Jayne, who came home from Australia to be with us over Christmas, and a four day cruise to Hamburg on the Queen Victoria. By the time of the Court meeting on 21 February Maggie and I will have clocked up 37 weeks of our year as Master and Consort so, as I say, the time is speeding but in a most enjoyable way.
One recent event went exceptionally well and that was our Ladies Lunch last month. Attended by 51 women and one forlorn man (me) we assembled in the magnificent Drapers’ Hall and enjoyed a tour of the main rooms which was conducted by Drapers’ archivist, Penny Fussell. At the following reception I was allowed to say a few words before being banished from the rest of the proceedings. Maggie then gave the very first speech of her life, which was very well received and presented a Sponsor’s Certificate to Jennifer Dickens from Estee Lauder, who very generously not only sponsored the event but provided a Jo Malone candle to every participant. Many thanks to Court Assistant Michael Thwaites for organising the sponsorship.
After a typically superb Drapers luncheon the principal guest, former Sheriff Fiona Adler gave an amusing speech. Amanda Keaveny, Consort to the current Aldermanic Sheriff Vincent Keaveny was the second principle guest. In keeping with our theme of professional security, the ladies left the lunch with a WCoSP gift of a handbag hanger, designed to reduce the risk of thieves stealing handbags that have left under tables in bars and restaurants.
I can report some sound progress since my last report to you in November last year. You may recall that I stated that a combination of factors presented the Company with a rather challenging financial situation. Falling receipts from sponsors and higher costs for events and administration was reducing our ability to fund the good work of the Charitable Trust to the extent that we would desire. However, good work by the chairs of the respective committees has improved the situation and with the recruiting of new members on target, and sponsorship from our generous supporters in place, I am rather confident that we will generate a reasonable surplus this year. It would be most helpful if you maintain your efforts to recruit new members and sponsors.
Two further things to note on this subject. We are shortly to launch thorough review of the WCoSP Financial Strategy to carry out a ‘root and branch’ examination of how we currently operate and make recommendations to the Court on suggested improvements. This will not be a short piece of work, and thus, I will be working with Senior Warden Mike Barley and others over a period that will likely cover both the remainder of my year and part of his.
Secondly, our Honorary Treasurer Ian Miller has decided to step down from the role. He is an extraordinarily busy man and I both understand the reasons for him making this decision and thank him for his sterling work as Treasurer. As you may have seen, we have sought volunteers from Company members, and interviews are set to take place very soon.
Whilst on the subject of sterling, work it would be remiss of me if I failed to highlight the fantastic contribution of Honorary Court Assistant Roy Penrose who stood down as the chair of our Apprentice Management Group at the end of last year. He has overseen the great success of the scheme since it was inaugurated in 2012 and we now have thirty apprentices, each under the watchful eye of their WCoSP Apprentice Master! I send my grateful thanks to Roy for his inspirational leadership and my best wishes for success to his successor Honorary Court Assistant Andrew Knights who assumed the chair of the AMG in January.
On 21 May 2019 we will again hold our Whittington Course, this time incorporating the suggestions made in the Whittington Course Review that we launched last year. The Charitable Trust holds a Whittington Course Reserved Fund to purchase necessary materials for the course but unfortunately these funds have now been exhausted. Each year, the Master is given a Master’s charitable fund of £3000 and whilst I have spent a little of this, for example to the Macmillan Fund after the death of Sue Seaby, the bulk remains. I have decided to give this sum to the Whittington Course Reserved Fund to remove the need for our Charitable Trust to fund it, at least for the next few years.
I think we have achieved something of a coup in the difficult task of obtaining a suitable individual to deliver our Annual Lecture. Richard King, Chairman of our Services Committee, suggested Sir Mark Sedwill KCMG who was, and remains, the Government National Security Advisor. Sir Mark was subsequently promoted to Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service and, given the onerous nature of his duties, I did not imagine he would agree to give our lecture. However, he has told us he would be delighted to do so, and we have arranged for the event to take place in Barber-Surgeons’ Hall on Wednesday 13 March.
On the subject of our Services Committee - which does an excellent job of maintaining and developing relationships with our six military affiliates - I have suggested that the agenda of the committee should include police and other blue light services in the pursuit of my ambition of fostering ‘fellowship’. Thus, our developmental work with the City of London Police that I mentioned in my last report will now fit under their purview. The first meeting of the new CoLP/WCoSP Development Group was postponed as Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland was called away, but it is now scheduled for 28 February.
Work on completely revamping our WCoSP website is now well under way and, subject to penetration testing due in March, we should be able to unveil some exciting improvements in spring or early summer.
Whilst things get a little quieter over the Christmas period Maggie and I have still had the pleasure of attending rather many enjoyable events and here are some of them:
About the latter, we will soon be seeking nominations for the bravery award from around the UK, but we would welcome suggestions that you perhaps see in your local press or hear about from other sources. Please let the Tricia the Clerk know if you do have a suggestion.
We are very proud of the sheer number and variety of the events we put on each year. A particular favourite is the Spring Dance on 2 March 2019. PM Peter French and his helpers put a huge amount of effort into this event which raises extraordinary amounts of money for worthy causes. So please support it if you can!
Still on the subject of events, we have again secured the support of Commissioner Cressida Dick for our Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Annual Dinner which this year will be on 24 April. We have yet to secure a venue but note the date and look out for the details which will be published soon.
The Livery dates back over 800 years so it is most gratifying that we have such a large and vibrant group of young members; proof, if needed, that we as a modern livery company remain relevant and useful to young security professionals. We have over 80 young members now and, under the chairmanship of Jade Davies, they are making great progress.
Finally, we do intend to conduct a further survey of members of the WCoSP soon. We have not done so for some years and it will be interesting to hear your views on the Company.
Meanwhile, do not keep good ideas to yourself, use the ‘Tell the Master’ icon on our website or email Tricia the Clerk. My best regards to you all.
Phillip Hagon QPM