Start date: 16th August 2021
End date: 18th August 2021
Venue: In and around Cambridge
A most excellent 'Master's Summer Visit' saw Liverymen and guests sample the manifold delights of Cambridge
Held over three days and including everything from punting on the Cam, to dinner in the wonderful surrounds of Downing College, the Master's summer visit was a fitting tribute to the fortitude, perseverance and determination of both the Master and the Clerk in the face of what must have seemed at times impossible obstacles.
Covid has largely laid waste to the normal schedule for Richard Whitlock's year as Master and it might have taken the Summer Visit as well had it not been for the constant re-scheduling, re-organising and re-booking of each element of the trip, by the Clerk. In the end, despite Covid-19, almost a hundred members of the Company and guests were present for one or all the elements planned for our trip.
Punting - happily chauffeured to avoid catastrophe - took us on a river tour of some of Cambridge's finest architecture. Whilst the August weather wasn't kind for most of our visit, the threatened rain didn't materialise until Tuesday which was a boon for the punting trip and the whole party enjoyed the mix of historical fact, myths, legends and stories (some true and other perhaps less so) our pole wielding guides shared.
Tuesday saw the party heading out early to visit the famous Newmarket gallops. Hundreds of acres of ancient grassland belonging to the Jockey Club, surrounded by stables, training facilities and studs that could serve quite adequately as a who-is-who of horse racing, and used to train some of the very finest race horses in the world. We repaired to the Jockey Club rooms for a tour that took in just some of the Club's accumulation of over £80m worth of memorabilia, art and sculpture. Lunch followed the tour and was enjoyed, not just because it was excellent, but because it afforded the opportunity for just the kind of social interaction and fellowship we have all been missing so much.
An afternoon visit to the Air Museum at Duxford followed lunch and while this was also excellent - most felt that theatre was so much to see that we had hardly had time to do the visit justice. Never-the-less to be reminded at this time of great national difficulty and restrictions of the sacrifice made by previous generations in two World Wars was timely and sobering.
The formal Black Tie Dinner on Tuesday evening had been hastily re-arranged at the last minute when Queens College announced, very late in the day, that Covid-19 restrictions meant they were unable to handle the number of guests we planned to seat. While Downing College may have been a late choice it was an excellent one. The sound of a pipe band playing and the sight of Downing's wonderful facade as we crossed the Fellows Green created just the right atmosphere and set the whole party up for the evening that was to follow. Good food, good wine, good fellowship and the chance to hear the Master's principle guest, Sir Peter Kendal speak about the ever growing need for exactly the kind of management eduction the Company concentrates on providing, all made for an excellent and most enjoyable evening.
For the hardiest amongst the party Wednesday morning provided the opportunity for a walking tour of some of Cambridges finest buildings and sights before taking an early lunch and heading off home.
The Company is indebted to the Master, the Clerk and the Assistant Clerk for battling through every set back to pout this tour on and as it hopefully signals a gradual return to something closer to normality it will no doubt remain long in the Company's memory.