27 Oct

I am writing this piece just three days before I install my successor as Master, and one year to the day since I was installed as Master; I cannot believe how quickly the year has gone by.

A number of you have been asking me in the last few days what have I been up to recently, so I am going to give you a flavour of my last weeks in office.

I’ve been to several Livery Company lunches and dinners, seeing many of the now Past Masters from my group, The Caroleans, and it did feel a little like a farewell tour!!

I went to a fantastic concert in Guildhall, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren, where a piece called Raising the Roof, written for this concert, was played by the Family of Schools – the musicians of schools in and around the City. Then, Jill and I were back in Guildhall the following evening for the Sheriffs Ball, when the theme was The Phantom of the Opera, as you will see from the photograph below. Great food and drink, a silent auction, sitting on an entertaining table with other Masters and their guests – and danced the night away with 400 other guests to music from our era.

I took part in the Sheep Drive, organised by The Worshipful Company of Woolmen, This is one of the privileges of being a Freeman of the City of London, and as you will see from the photograph, I was able to drive my sheep over Southwark Bridge – to the amusement of my American friend who came with me!

September finished with the Hackney Carriage Drivers Magical Taxi Tour, starting with the send-off breakfast at Canary Wharf at 6am. There were nearly 100 taxis taking children to Disneyland for the weekend, one of which, was sponsored by the Company. Noah, who was being taken with his mother, was so excited and chatting away to me about the adventure to come.

October began with various committee meetings, including Court, when I was delighted to see our first Journeyman, Kelvin Mills, take his place at the table.

Later that week, I was thrilled to be sitting under the dome at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Musicians’ Company evensong, where the singing floated up. Sublime!

The following week began with the graduation of music students from the London Performing Academy of Music, many of whom are  Ukrainian refugee students. I spent a very moving and wonderful Monday morning listening to their music. I was so impressed with them, and I have been delighted that we have been able to support them by asking them to play at some of our events.

In mid-October, I went to the Trafalgar Dinner at our new Naval Affiliate, HMS President, and this was a splendid night. We had what I think is one of the finest meals I have had during my year, and there were a number of World Traders in various guises there, making us the largest and most vociferous representatives of the Livery. It was an incredibly clear night, and Tower Bridge looked wonderful from the deck of HMS President.

I attended a couple of events as guest of the City of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry: a breakfast, where the excellent guest speaker was former Chancellor Philip, now Lord Hammond, and an evening reception where the guest speaker was Sir Alok Sharma, who brought us up to date with developments following COP26 which he chaired.

We hosted the autumn meeting and lunch for the Financial Services Group of Companies, something that is important for us as a Company to support.

I was privileged to be invited to the Mansion House Dinner, where the guests were Their Majesties the King and Queen. This was a fabulous evening, with an inspiring speech from the Lord Mayor, followed by a speech from HM the King, which many of you will have read about in the newspapers the following day. It clearly came from the heart, and was very much a ‘state of the nation’ speech, which you can find on YouTube.

The following afternoon I was back in Mansion House for the graduation of the students from the Institute Of Export and I was delighted to present our silver salver, certificate and cheque to this year’s prize winner, Victoria Boldison.

Tuesday October 24 is Founders’ Day for the Company, marked by lunch at Bleeding Heart Bistro. I was delighted to see so many Past Masters, together with widows of some of our Past Masters. The Master-Elect and I spoke about the year to come and the year past.

My final event was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Guildhall School of Music moving to its home in Milton Court.  This was a wonderful evening, with the students giving a concert, with a reception either side of the concert. It was great to see all the students playing with such gusto and passion.  I was also allowed into one of the studios, where I had fun on the car simulator , which some of the students who are studying drama with music use.

The final piece of music ended with a terrific bang from the percussion,  and I felt that my last engagement as your Master ended in a similar way.

Michael Shapiro