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St George's Dinner, Thursday 16th April 2015

A wonderfully convivial evening was enjoyed by 80 members and guests of the Bowyers' Company on April 16th: the occasion was to celebrate St George's Day a week early, in the uniquely atmospheric surroundings of Armourers' Hall.

Red rose buttonholes were much in evidence, plus a white rose buttonhole for our recalcitrantly Yorkist Master, the Reverend John Hayton TD. After the traditional Loving Cup ceremony, our 'Britannia' for the evening, Miss Augusta Hibbert, led us in (and was occasionally submerged by) the uninhibitedly joyous singing of the stirring songs of English pride.

Court Assistant Christian Major wittily proposed the toast to our Guests, who from our Master's adopted home city included the Viscount Grimston and the Archdeacon of St Albans, and from London, the City Pageant Master Dominic Reid OBE, and the Masters of the Worshipful Companies of Basketmakers, Joiners & Ceilers, Security Professionals and World Traders.

Special mention was made of the guests in mess dress from our affiliated Mercian Regiment, the 2nd Battalion's Commanding Officer Lt Col 'Shove' Gilby and RSM Mr Paul Muckle, both of whom are shortly to be admitted to the Freedom of the Company. A few weeks earlier, John Hayton, Tony Kench and Mark Elliott had been invited to represent the Bowyers on a highly memorable weekend visit to 2 Mercian during their short tour of UN duty on the Green Line neutral zone in Nicosia, from which we came back full of admiration for the professionalism and spirit of this superb infantry unit.

Our principal guest of the evening was the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul's, who gave us a most thoughtful and original exploration of some possible analogies between archery and Christianity. As well as touching briefly on Blake's 'arrows of desire', he rather deprecated the bow as a regrettable first historical step in fighting impersonally at a distance, and likened it to emailing people rather than talking to them. His firm view was that the world would be a better place if we actually talked to each other more, face to face.

Give the Bowyers a dinner table and they're pretty good at that, actually; we are rapidly acquiring a City-wide reputation for the friendliness of our dinners and suppers. Responding, our Master outlined the Bowyers' current programme, with special emphasis on the events marking the 600th anniversary of the famous Battle of Agincourt. But mainly all that the Master needed to do was to reflect on the almost tangible conviviality in the room: it had been an evening to remain long in the memory, one of the very best.

Tony Kench

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