I never thought, 32 years ago when I first became a Liveryman of this great Company, that I would one day be writing this as Master. I have made many friends over the years and particularly the Wardens and members of the Court over the last 10 years.
I was delighted when a lifelong friend, and sometimes fierce competitor in the show ring, offered to make the Master’s Tool for my year. I was even more delighted when I saw what he had made: a perfect replica of a Bevelled Shire Horse Shoe from a bar of aluminium, stamped with seven nail holes with the right amount of pitch, the toe clip drawn from the back and nicely ‘donkeyed’ out on the outside heel of an off fore shoe.
My plan is for an equestrian theme throughout my year and hope we will all have a lot of fun on the way. I was brought up with horses, working from an early age alongside my Grandfather and Father on the family farm in Cambridgeshire. This involved all types of horses from Shires to Shetlands, both driven and ridden. Then in my early twenties, I was invited to join a London Brewery to be part of a very successful show team of Shire horses being shown all over the country.
My long involvement with the Shire horse continues to this day. Along with many judging appointments in the UK and Europe, I have had the honour of judging the National Shire Horse Show four times, the National Shire Show of Canada in Toronto and the Sydney Royal Show, Australia.
Our company, Capital Carriages, provides carriages for the Civic Procession in the Lord Mayor’s Show with me being one of the coachmen. We also provided the carriages for the Lord Mayor of the City of London and civic dignitaries for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Parade. On this occasion, I was coachman for the Lord Mayor and this was where I first met Upper Warden, Neill O’Connor, when he was Sword Bearer for the Lord Mayor. I was very honoured this year to be appointed carriage master for the Queen’s 90th Birthday Pageant at the Royal Windsor Show.
As well as our commercial commitment, weddings, funerals, corporate events and filming, we also have shown a coaching team at County Shows. I still enjoy driving our coach and four at various Coaching Club meets including Royal Ascot. All my working life I have driven horses, whether it be in the show ring or working, and all have needed to be well shod with their soundness and way of going depending upon the skill and care of the farrier fitting the shoe.
I was very pleased to have been presented at my Installation, with a special gift of a mounted shoe made by Michael Wood AWCF, from Sweden. He was Staff Corporal at the forge at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, Knightsbridge Barracks before he retired from the army. I first met him when the musical ride was at the Horse of the Year show where I spoke to him about coming into the Company. It is a shoe that he made for his higher examinations for his WCF Associateship which he had chromed and mounted on a piece of Swedish timber. It was a very private presentation and I found it very touching and much appreciated.
My year has started with a ‘big bang’ as my first appointment, the day after my Installation, was at the London Proof House. As a shooting man, I found the visit very interesting and informative, after which the Clerk and I had lunch with other Masters and Clerks, guests of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, Mr John Browning. Then on the Sunday, I travelled up to the Forge at Stoneleigh for the Farriers Focus and meetings of the Craft Policy and Planning Group and the Craft Committee, which, again, were very interesting and rewarding.
Betty, although a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glovers, is also the Awards Secretary for the Worshipful Company of Farriers and so she has a close involvement other than her role as the Master’s Lady. We look forward to meeting and spending time with as many of you as possible over the next year. One occasion will be the Lord Mayors’ Show, when I plan to drive a team of four horses to our coach. It is always a great occasion to be part of such an historic pageant and I am looking forward to having as many Liverymen as possible joining us on the day.
We are certainly in very changing times and I hope that in my year I am able to work to maintain the continuity within the Craft. I will represent the Company to the best of my ability, not only in the City but also at events throughout the country and attending shows where we have the Best Shod and Farriery awards.