New Master's Livery Dinner, 20 July 2016
On a very warm and balmy evening a record number of fifty Bowyers together with a five prospective members sat down to dine in the magnificent surroundings of Tallow Chandlers' Hall to celebrate the election of Antony Kench as our new Master for the next two years. It was a most welcome return to this fine Hall, which the Company has patronized on a regular basis since the Second World War, especially as the Great Hall and the Parlour are now fully air conditioned which was a significant benefit in the conditions which prevailed.
The dinner was preceded by a champagne reception in the courtyard following which Members of the Company and their guests were called in to dine by the inaugural ringing of the Dining Bell presented to the Company by Tony Kench following his installation at St Botoloph's-without-Bishopsgate a week earlier.
The new Master's Dinner is by tradition very much a Bowyer 'family affair' and this occasion was certainly no exception, with all Bowyers present proving to be in excellent spirits. This was in part no doubt due to the sumptuous menu that we experienced - grilled swordfish steak followed by slow roasted guinea fowl breast and then peach and almond tart - accompanied by some fine wines.
The meal was rounded off with the traditional drinking of the Loving Cup, which on this occasion contained Chafford Kentish Cider kindly provided by Past Master Christopher Ballenden. After the customary Sung Grace and Toasts, the Immediate Past Master, The Revd John Hayton, rose to propose the health of the Company, a task he accomplished in his normal amusing style. Having said how privileged he had been to have represented the Company during the previous two years as Master, he commended to the Company the new Mastership team of Tony Kench as Master, Ian Spring as Upper Warden and Mark Elliott as Renter Warden. He reminded us of the many skills that our new Master possessed, his extensive experience gained during his career with General Electric and as a Consultant thereafter, all of which would equip him well in his role as Master of our Company. He also shared with us something about our new Master that we probably did not know - that he was a class contemporary at St Albans School with Stephen Hawking.
In his response to the Company toast, Tony expressed his warmest appreciation of the Immediate Past Master for all that he had done for the Company during the last two years, even adding a limerick composed for the occasion. He said he was taking over as Master of a Company which was in very good health, and during the next two years he saw it as his role to promote what he described as the three "C's": Celebration of our history; Charitable works; and Conviviality. To this he might have added a fourth "C", namely Communication, as running through everything that our new Master had to say was his desire and commitment to make sure everybody knew what was in store for them. In this respect he outlined a most ambitious programme of events which was intended to ensure that there was a "Bowyers Event" every month over the next two years, culminating in the prospect of a Master's trip to Washington DC in 2017.
Our new Master was able to welcome two new Members to the Court, Assistants David Laxton and Lt Col Richard Martin, who had been sworn in earlier that evening, and a new admission to the Freedom of the Company - Richard Bowyer. He was also very pleased to welcome Lt Col Tony Marinos who was officiating at his first formal dinner as our Clerk.
Looking to the future our new Master sees that there is scope for our Company to grow a little, but in his classic phraseology "not to grow beyond the point of conviviality".
Tony's response to the Company toast was received with rapturous applause with all Bowyers acknowledging that it was going to be an exciting two years ahead. The occasion was concluded with a Stirrup Cup in the Parlour.