St Georges Day Dinner, April 2011
With April 23rd falling on Easter Saturday it was thought prudent to move this important function in the Bowyers' Company annual diary to a date earlier in the month. The one thing that the 7th April and the 23rd April had in common was that both were blessed with unseasonably good weather meaning the reception before dinner could be held in the Courtyard of Tallow Chandlers' Hall.
Such is the capricious nature of modern day life that at the last moment the Company was robbed of one of its main guests. Lieutenant-Commander Paddy Dowsett RN, the recently appointed Captain of HMS Northumberland had been summoned to report to Naples at the beginning of the week to take control of naval matters in the Mediterranean. There was however still a strong naval presence at the dinner with the attendance of Lieutenant-Commander Paddy Allen RN, the former Captain of HMS Northumberland, her weapon's officer, Lieutenant- Commander Steve Caddick RN and the principal guest General Sir James Dutton KCB CBE, former Commandant General of the Royal Marines.
The Master had the pleasure of welcoming the above officers together with Mr Simon Bailey, Master Woolman, and seventy five members of the Company with their personal guests to the open air reception. At the appointed time the Beadle summoned all present to take their seats in the dining hall where the caterers served a much praised menu of smoked salmon and chive tart; followed by braised rump of lamb with baby spinach, onions and potato; concluding with rhubarb and apple crumble topped with ice cream and butter scotch sauce. Naturally all three courses were served accompanied by some very acceptable wines.
After dinner the Beadle announced the Master requested that all join him in the drinking of a Loving cup and "bids you a hearty welcome". The Ceremony completed, the Loyal and civic toast followed with the last toast being that to the "Pious Memory of James Wood" the Company's Benefactor. Information on this important person in the Company's history can be found elsewhere on the website. By tradition the toast to him is given in silence.
After a short break the room was treated to a brief musical recital by two students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) who appeared by the kind permission of the Principal. Miss Lucy Hall (Soprano) and Miss Gemma Kateb (Piano) performed: Loves Philosophy by Quilter; Cloths of heaven by Thomas Dunhill; O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini and The Jewel Song by Gounod to warm a reception. It was a very polished performance and a great credit to them both and the GSMD. They have promising careers ahead of them.
The Upper Warden, Reverend John Hayton, proposed the health of the Guests in a witty and well crafted speech, mentioning what a privilege it was to have them join the Company at the dinner. The Reply came from Sir James Dutton who drew on his experience in both the field of conflict and in the corridors of power in giving a warning of what maybe to come if the manpower of our armed forces was diminished too far in the present round of spending cuts. He had a very attentive audience. The toast to the "Worshipful Company of Bowyers, Root and Branch" coupled with the name of the Master was given by the Clerk.
The Master rose in response saying how pleased he was that the dinner was as near to a full house as one can get and that this was a most pleasing trend at the past few dinners. The Court Meeting that had preceded the dinner had seen three more Freeman admitted namely: Mr Damian Honey, Mr Robert Pooley and Mr Lionel Green. All three of whom were present in the hall. In conclusion he invited everyone to join him in a stirrup- cup. Another very convivial Bowyers' event drew to a close.