Service and Reception 17 Sep:  Celebration and Thanksgiving
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The shortest month and a busy one....

To the Royal Institute of British Architects in Portland Place on 12 February for a lecture on the works of Sir Edwin Lutyens in the City delivered by the Master Chartered Architect, Dr Mervyn Miller. It’s often said that dodging the crowds at pavement level in the City should not prevent you from looking up at some masterpieces of architecture – as well as the occasional appalling erection - and this was amply illustrated in this lecture.

Lutyens, after his country house period before the First World War (following which, demand rather dried up!) – designed some great buildings in the City, in addition to the imperial buildings of Delhi which first come to mind.

Foremost of these are the former Midland Bank Headquarters on Poultry which is now languishing while planning applications for various uses are pending, and the former Reuters building on Fleet Street. Both buildings show off Lutyens’ trademark “disappearing pilasters”......... you needed to have been there!

On 18 February, members of the Company’s Pro-Bono Committee and I were entertained by the top team of Youth Business International – Sir Malcolm Williamson (Chair of the Trustees) and Andrew Devenport (CEO) at a dinner to mark another successful year of collaboration with the charity.

Before dinner we heard a most impressive list of “Twenty things you should know about YBI” and the sense of confident progress in executing a well thought-out strategy was very stimulating. Our Company’s association with YBI – which has contributed greatly to that progress - is truly a jewel in the crown and one which goes from strength to strength.

To Stationers’ Hall on 26 February for the Worship Company of Tax Advisors’ “Budget Banquet” – which was anything but a budget affair! Excellent setting, food and wine with guests from all of the Financial Services Group of modern companies. The FSG, with our representative, First Warden Edward Sankey, has made a real impact through providing briefings to the Lord Mayor for his foreign trade missions and has become an influential area of thought leadership for our Company.

The Principal Guest, Professor Emeritus Anthony Mellows, of King’s College London, who is also the current Lord Prior of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, gave a tour-de-force address combining stylistic elements of Churchill and Alistair Cooke with a dash of Gerard Hoffnung, topped off with a serious warning on an abstruse matter of the UK’s tax code which went way over my head! A very memorable evening, however, and particularly good to meet other FSG Masters.

Reverting to the Charity theme, 27 February was the date for the first of the latest series of “Charity Talks” organised by the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness. This series of talks, which has a very large and loyal following in the sector, is a flagship for the Centre and our Charitable Fund Trustees have decided to support it for the coming season as a way of amplifying the influence of the Centre itself.

The speakers on this occasion were Daniela Barone Soares – who specialises in securing substantial funds from “high net worth” individuals and Valerie Morton who has led fundraising in major UK charities and brought a wealth of experience to bear on her discussion. The gathering of over 150 senior figures from the sector filled the Cass Auditorium and heard Professor Ian Bruce – a long-term friend of our Company – introduce two impressive illustrations of the application of management disciplines to charitable fund-raising.

The month ended with an invitation to attend the Company of World Traders’ “Tacitus Lecture” at Guildhall, of which more anon...