Date: 17th January 2017
Start time: 6:30pm
Venue: Goldsmiths'Hall, Foster Lane, London, EC2V 6BN
2017 Annual Livery Banquet
If evidence was needed that our Company is in good heart, despite the trials and tribulations of a difficult farming climate, then it was provided by the Company’s 2017 Annual Livery Banquet, held on Tuesday 17th January in the splendid surroundings of the Goldsmiths' Hall - truly a superb occasion.
Over 200 Liverymen, partners and invited guests, with many of the gentlemen choosing to wear, the preferred but not obligatory, white tie and tails and the ladies in their finest evening wear, gathered in a near capacity Goldsmith’s Hall, attended by members of the Middlesex Wing of the Air Training Corps, who ably marshalled and directed guests to proper place at the right time. It was an impressive and heart warming sight.
The Master and Wardens, with their partners, received their guests at the top of the magnificent sweeping staircase that ascends from the entrance hall and lobby of the Goldsmiths' Hall to the first floor reception rooms. Here, under the Hall’s famous and quite spectacular be-candle chandeliers, the assembled company enjoyed the opportunity to meet friends and colleagues, partners and other guests and to share a pre-dinner glass or two of Champagne.
Dinner in the Grand Hall was opened by Senior Warden Julian Sayers who welcomed Liverymen and guests.
To the accompaniment of the London Banqueting Ensemble dinner was served The menu choices, presentation, cooking and accompanying wine were, as we have come to expect under our able watch of our highly experienced Clerk, excellent.
The Master spoke passionately about the farming industry and made it plain that he sees the role of the Worshipful Company of Farmers as being more, rather than less relevant and important as we look forward to a rapidly changing farming environment.
The Master announced that the Company’s Silver Salver had, for a most unusual second time, been awarded to Liveryman Richard Halhead. It is a measure of just how popular this decision was, that when the presentation was made by Mr Meurig Raymond, President of the NFU, that the applause was loud and sustained.
The Master proposed a toast to the guests which the Liverymen present rose to make with hearty enthusiasm. And before re-taking his seat the Master introduced his principle guest and speaker Sir James Bucknall KCB, CBE. Sir James retired from the British Army in November 2013 holding the rank of Lieutenant General and having been Commander of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Force from February 2011. He is currently CEO of Weybourne Partners, the Family office of Sir James Dyson.
Sir James modestly professed a certain nervousness about speaking about farming in front of an assembly of professionals from the industry. But unsurprisingly showed no sign of this in his address. Both amusing and insightful he urged the industry to grasp the opportunity that comes with changing times.
An unusual and entertaining element was added to proceedings via the ‘post horn chase’. This saw four members of the London Banqueting Ensemble competing against each other for both virtuosity and pitch on the post horns as they chased each other around the circumference of the banqueting hall. It can’t be an easy combination, running and playing a challenging wind instrument, but the combatants pulled it off with great skill and not a little theatre and the performance was greatly appreciated.
As is usual at our Banquet – the Loving Cup was passed and shared with the ceremony accomplished with varying degrees of proficiency but a great deal of enjoyment to the accompaniment of the singing of ‘To Be a Farmer’s Boy’.