Date: 7th June 2016
Venue: Farmers and Fletchers Hall
Luncheon, Farmers & Fletchers' Hall June 7th 2016
There was a real feeling of summer in the air as the Court sat for its June meeting and Liverymen and guests gathered at Farmers & Fletchers' Hall for luncheon. Farming may not be a particularly happy industry at the moment; there was much talk of on-going poor grain prices, pressure on dairy incomes and inevitably the weather but this didn’t seem to dampen spirits or affect the enjoyment of another excellent Farmers' Company event.
The advantages of the new layout of Farmers & Fletchers' Hall are confirmed each time we gather. And on a day like this they were particularly evident. On a warm and at times humid day, the extra room to circulate and to mingle makes the pre-lunch hour a real joy.
Court had, by all accounts, a pretty full agenda but with only one Clothing to perform; Mr Mark John Riches was welcomed into the Company by the Court, the call to luncheon was not delayed and we made our way down to the dining hall on time.
Attendance was close to the maximum at 110 – an excellent turn-out for the mid year event and an indication perhaps of the positive nature of experiences in the new hall to-date.
The Master was in fine form as he welcomed our special guests, our most recent Nuffield scholar, Mr Peter Wiggins-Davies, Squadron Leader Dave McRitchie from RAF Waddington and representatives from the Surrey Docks Farm.
The report on the progress of his thesis by our Nuffield scholar - which by the way, is challengingly entitled ‘The Evaluation and Implementation of Effective Growth on Rural Estates’ was both interesting and reassuring. Interesting because of the thoroughness of the approach and obvious commitment to understanding both the drivers for and implementation of growth plans. Reassuring because this interim report made it clear that the aim was not a narrow, self-interested one of how to grow his own family estate – though this is a likely outcome of the work – but a much more valuable contribution to the general discussion of growth on rural estate in general.
With interviews planned in Greece, Germany, The USA, New Zealand and Australia, as well as extensive work in the UK, the full report should make fascinating and important reading for many in our Company and in the wider agricultural industry.
Our second speaker was the very entertaining Squadron Leader McRitchie. Speaking as the representative of RAF Waddington, one of our most important military affiliations, he outlined the way in which, in modern society, it is not just polite but essential for military establishments to get on with their neighbours. Waddington, nestled as it is in the heart of Lincolnshire farming country, needs to work closely with its farming neighbours to ensure that there is both mutual understanding and support for necessary military activities and farming ones too. No more so than now with, after a two-year wait, the runway at Waddington beginning to come back into use. Currently operational only for some aircraft, it should be fully operational again by the end of the year – meaning that the peace and quiet, that local residents have started to get used to during the refurbishment process, is about to be shattered once again.
Luncheon was up to the high standards we have come to expect of the new caterers at Farmers & Fletchers' Hall and the wines, including a particularly excellent pudding wine that accompanied our summery, poached peaches and stem ginger desert, were noteworthy – thanks of course to the sterling efforts of the Clerk who seems to have developed a canny trick of improving substantially, the quality of what we are served, without increasing the price.
Another excellent day was nicely rounded-off by a stirrup cup in the upstairs reception area and guest gradually drifted away entertained, enlightened and enthused.