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St George's Charity Banquet - 26 April 2022

The venue for this year's St George's Charity Banquet was Apothecaries' Hall, the oldest extant livery company Hall in the City of London. More than 75 members with their partners, family and guests attended.

Guests were welcomed by the Master and Upper Warden to a champagne reception. Dinner, which followed, featured a selection of good wines, asparagus, lamb, and hot cross bread and butter pudding. 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. Music was provided throughout by excellent pianist Ms Michelle Marie Santiago.

Past Master Rev'd John Hayton TD proposed an entertaining toast to the guests and drew attention to their achievements in his address. We welcomed Dr Maria Lenn MBE, founder of Charity Suited and Booted, Mrs Ann Hill (Master Vintner), Mr Martin Low (Master Mason), Jonathan Bourne-May (Clerk to the Vintners' Company) and Giles Clapp (Clerk to the Masons' Company), Steve Marcham, (General Manager Vintners' Company) and we welcomed Lt Col Dean Canham MBE (CO, 1 Mercian).

Our principal guest was Dr Maria Lenn MBE, founder and director of Suited & Booted. Maria spoke to us regarding the valuable work of her charity and the additional challenges the pandemic has brought her clients. Suited & Booted is a charity that helps vulnerable, unemployed and low-income men into employment by providing interview clothing and interview advice. Their clients may be struggling and in need of support, both financial and practical. They may not have the means to wear suitable clothes to 'look the part' and therefore unable to give themselves the best possible chance at a job interview. They give their clients suitable clothing – perhaps a formal suit or a smart casual style – and then guide them through the process of a job interview. This gives them better prospects of success and contributes to their general self-confidence and self-esteem. ( Maria explained that Suited & Booted provide 'Not just a suit, but the confidence to succeed at interview, jobs and succeed at life'. The Company are very proud to support Suited & Booted and were delighted that Dr Maria was able to join us.

The Master responded by thanking Maria and provided an overview of the work of our Charity and its history. The Company is proud of its lengthy charitable tradition which dates back to the seventeenth century and, before that, medieval times. The Master thanked the Company for their support to the charitable trust – which, owing to the generosity of the membership has been able to provide £220,000 to good causes over the last ten years.

Thank you to the Bowyers' who graciously hosted the Master's and Company guests, Apothecaries' Hall team, Party Ingredients, Michelle Santiago (Pianist), Loraine West (Florist), Marcus Jamieson-Pond (Photographer) and of course to our Webmaster, Alex, for his continued hard work on design for all of our events.

Sarah Pearce

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