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St George's Charity Banquet, Tuesday 30 April 2019

The venue for this year's St George's Charity Banquet was the excellent Cutler's Hall where a glorious exterior supports an equally rich interior. More than 120 members with their wives, family and guests attended and, on arrival, all were entertained to a champagne reception by The Master, Upper Warden, Renter Warden and Clerk.

Dinner, which followed, featured a fine selection of good wines, cod, beef, and Cornish ice cream carried on the back of a fierce chocolate dragon, soundly slain by all.

It was of no matter that the dinner took place a week after the official celebration of our patron saint as the Master explained in his response. St George is a much shared patron from Tamworth to Ethiopia and was appointed England's own by Edward III during the 14th century. He was a soldier and a 4th century martyr by Diocletian's decree that the Roman legions adhere to Jupiter not Jove. Sharing, soldiering and steadfastness are all subjects admired and followed by The Bowyers .

As ever toasts were given to Her Majesty, the Royal Family, The Lord Mayor, the Corporation of London and The pious Memory of James Wood, the Company's benefactor.

Liveryman Mr William Mills proposed the toast to the guests and drew attention to their achievements in his significant address:

Arabella Dorman, who in addition to being an excellent portraitist has served alongside our forces as an official war artist in Afghanistan and Iraq - creating clear images of the pity of war for both service personnel and the communities amongst whom they work; Clare Moody MEP, a tireless advocate for her 'parish' of the South West and the British Overseas territory of Gibraltar; Brigadiers Simon Banton OBE and Brigadier Phil Kimber OBE, from the Company's affiliated regiment ,The Mercians, whose benevolent charity is supported by The Bowyers; Dr Bob Reeves, fiendish slow bowler, mathematician, wine maker, long serving staff member of Bristol University where he has ensured that sport was always promoted for all. Most recently he was President of The RFU. There he oversaw an England Triple Crown Victory; Peta Payne MD of International Women of Excellence and her husband Martin, Past Master of The Coachmakers; Diana Berry, Master of the Gunmakers and Adrian Mundin CVO Clerk to the Gunmakers; and, Anthea Osborn-Jones, Mistress Cutler and Dr Tim Osborn-Jones, Master of The Cutlers, the kind hosts of the banquet.

Our principal guest was the veteran television reporter and presenter Jon Snow, who gave us a remarkable tour through his unlikely rise to becoming one of Britain's most recognisable journalists - as well a broadcasting star in California, where Channel 4 News has 10 million on-line viewers. By opposing apartheid and his university's association with South Africa while a student at Liverpool, he was sent down thereby fortuitously avoiding a life in law. As a junior reporter for ITN he returned to Uganda where he had served as a VSO to cover the release of British lecturer Dennis Hills who had been held hostage by President Idi Amin. While there he obtained an exclusive interview with the brutal dictator but this remarkable 'scoop' was turned down by his employers. However his career developed and he went on to cover President Reagan, who he found very impressive, Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher who he interviewed times. As he said, she "ran rings" round him but he found the experience great fun.

This was his first visit to a livery company courtesy of The Master's invitation. He found it "an extraordinary, biological and horticultural experience", The Master having doggedly attended to Jon Snow's accounts - fiscal not verbal - Snow felt it was only fair to repay his accountant's relentless attention to detail.

The Master and Clerk brought matters to a close whereafter, by kind invitation of Past Master Tony Kench, a certain number retired to the Lamb and Trotter to continue what had been a very convivial evening

Mark Eyre

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