The end of my year as Sheriff is nigh and my last newsletter winging its way to you as I have packed up, moved out and returned to the ranks of Aldermen. Thank you all for being loyal readers and corresponders. I provide here my final thoughts. I have to note that over the year I have had to make so many hard editorial choices and feel I have not done justice to some wonderful experiences that were too numerous to record.
DEATH AND ACCESSION
It did not occur to me that during my year as Sheriff, I would be declaring the Queen is dead: long live the King. We were all alerted to the fearful news when the Speaker in Parliament mentioned the Queen’s failing health. Operation London Bridge, that had long been planned, was readied. The Sheriffs were briefed and, as the news broke, we withdrew from all engagements for the period of mourning. On Friday evening we were called to rehearse the City Proclamation – which included a full walk through twice in the evening dark. On Saturday the Court of Aldermen met to receive the news and agreed an address of condolence and one of congratulation. The Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and Recorder of London then travelled speedily by Rolls Royces with a Police blue light escort to St James’s Palace to attend the Accession Council. Entering via Marlborough House and a quick cup of coffee, we were surrounded by the current Cabinet, Members of the Privy Council (a limited number determined by a ballot), Bishops and Senior Judges as well as the Realm High Commissioners.
The proceedings were led by the Lord President of the Privy Council (Penny Mordaunt) and the Queen Consort and Prince of Wales were in attendance. https://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/privy-council/the-accession-council/ The Lord President announced the death of The Sovereign and called upon the Clerk of the Council to read aloud the text of the Accession Proclamation. The platform party then signed the Proclamation. Once the Proclamation had been signed, the Lord President called for silence and read the remaining items of Business which dealt with the dissemination of the Proclamation with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen being required to proclaim the Accession at the Royal Exchange. As we had a tight timescale to effect this we left swiftly and signed the book of attendance before regaining our cars and Police escort again. The minutes of the Privy Council record this and our names. https://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/2022-09-10-AC-Eight-Orders-of-Council.pdf
On return to the Mansion House the crowds had gathered at the Royal Exchange, the miliary were ready as were the Aldermen and Common Councillors. The Heralds had to make the first proclamation at St James’s Palace and so made their way by coach to the City. As they arrived the procession was ready and then marched solemnly from Mansion House to the steps of the Royal Exchange. At 12 noon Clarenceux King of Arms read out the declaration to which we all assented “God Save the King”.
We sang the National Anthem and the Lord Mayor offered three cheers for the King. All this in the full glare of TV. I received many comments about my exuberant hurrahing of the new King! In the following week the City Civic was in mourning with no regular activity save for some business meetings and engagement with visiting representatives who were to be attending the Funeral.
Whilst the Sheriffs were not attending the Funeral I wanted to participate as best I could and queued on Sunday to view the lying-in-State and then watched the Funeral communally at St Giles Cripplegate, the local Barbican Church.
Whilst the most gruesome murders and terrorist offences are tried in the Courts daily, the iconic building is used out of hours for filming. Think Rumpole of the Bailey and Luther! During London Fashion Week the Grand Hall was taken over by Simone Rocha. https://hypebeast.com/2022/9/simone-rochas-ss23-menswear-debut-stole-our-hearts The press thought she stole the week’s programme – an all too obvious pun. I did try out the catwalk at midnight but somehow my Shrieval outfit was not eye-catching enough for the press!
I was also delighted to host the first Premier League football team to hold an event at the Old Bailey. With my own allegiances, and those of my fellow Sheriff Nick, it had to be West Ham Foundation. They used the opportunity to talk about their work with the local community and this especially chimed with the work of the Old Bailey Judges, the Police and NHS around preventing knife crime amongst youngsters. A great write up and video here. https://www.whufc.com/news/west-ham-united-foundation-visits-old-bailey
FINAL FEW DAYS
How curious that our final few days in office were crammed pack with such amazing events – the Sheriffs’ Ball, Thames Flotilla and Sheep Drive. The Ball was tremendous with 410 attendees and an amazing atmosphere of fun and purpose. The final figure raised is not yet known but we exceeded our expectations in the wonderful prizes and generosity from everyone. Thank you for putting up with our rendition of An English Country Garden!
On Saturday night the Thames Festival put on a most poignant Reflection in honour of our late Queen. Led by a new RNLI lifeboat named The Duke of Edinburgh (for which funds were being raised), I travelled on the Edwardian and was followed by over 100 motorised and hand rowed boats. Travelling from Cadogan Pier to Tower Bridge in the dark, the bridges were all specially lit and the boats displayed white lights of assorted design. It was magical as Tower Bridge lifted to its fullest extent in the Royal Lift in honour of these boats in solemn procession. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11246409/Crowds-gather-watch-flotilla-150-boats-sail-Thames-touching-tribute-Queen.html
The last Sunday of the Shrievalty is the Annual Sheep Drive arranged by the Woolmen. This year TV presenter Kate Humble, who has her own sheep and farm led the first drive with aplomb. The Livery Market was bustling with many wool related products including Romney Tweed who made me a bespoke tweed called Old Bailey for my year in office. https://romneytweed.co.uk/
As offices of the City change, one critical to our well being is that of the Dean of St Paul’s. The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett was installed on Sunday 25th September in a wonderful evensong with ceremony and clapping. https://www.stpauls.co.uk/press-release/andrew-tremlett-to-be-next-dean-of-st-pauls .
He had had to step up and conduct the service to remember the Queen on Friday 9th September, prior to his formal installation. However ever adept that was a most moving service televised live and attended by many who queued (as did the Sheriffs) to obtain a wrist band to be able to attend the event. The queue was only for about 20 minutes and paled into insignificance when compared to my 10 hour queue to view the lying-in-state. Not a minute wasted and all worthwhile to honour our long-standing Monarch.
My year has only been possible due to the support of all of you receiving this MailChimp and to many others. I want to thank you all and especially Past Master WCIT Chris Histed for his work on this monthly publication. Also thanks to the staff at the Old Bailey who kept me straight at every turn.
To my fellow Sheriff Nick Lyons and Felicity and my consort Glenn Hurstfield for being brilliant.
In signing off do please keep in touch. I am on Twitter and LinkedIn and blog on my website. All details below. Past copies of this newsletter are also on the website. This Sheriff is past – all power to the new Sheriffs, Alastair and Andrew – supported by Corinne and Marian
August can be a quiet month in the City – both business and the Livery are taking a well-earned time off and enjoying what has largely been a lovely warm and sunny month. My diary has also been slower but I have managed to fulfil some visits and experiences that I had hoped would be part of my year as Sheriff.
Made in Sheffield
It might seem unusual to visit Sheffield twice in a Mayoral year but following the special Masters’ weekend there in June, the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs are always invited to the Cutlers of Hallamshire Forfeit Feast at the end of July. It was a good opportunity to see more of Sheffield’s manufacturing and entrepreneurial businesses. The Master Cutler James Tear organised a lunch with 20 or so such businesses. They each gave a two minute oversight of their challenges and plans. It was an amazing mixture of organisations large and small, traditional and futuristic who gave a real flavour of the lively business environment in Sheffield. I wrote a blog on my website which gives a much more in depth report about this: https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/made-in-sheffield
The day included a visit to see the factory of ITM Power https://itm-power.com who make electrolysers for green hydrogen. Their international reach was useful when a week later I met someone in London who was setting up a hydrogen plant in Europe and I was able to put them in touch. I hope that they were able to strike a deal with each other!
Out and about across the City
I have long had an interest in those rough sleeping and rootless. I was pleased to walk around the City with the outreach team from Thamesreach who work with the City of London Corporation. It was a fascinating tour of the places that are favoured and are mostly tucked away and quiet. I wrote a blog about the work with rough sleepers here https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/rough-sleeping-in-the-city-of-london
Another long involvement of mine is as a member of the City Police Board and chairing the Professional Standards subcommittee. I have now concluded both roles. However, I was keen to join an evening with the City Police as part of the Op Reframe project. This link via Twitter gives you some details: https://twitter.com/i/status/1562731661095497730
It is effectively an intensive night-time concentration of police officers (including dogs) around the most vulnerable areas of the City. Working with the British Transport Police; licensing; St John Ambulance and Samaritans the combined work ensures that those out celebrating or intending to do harm are offered help and scrutiny. I attended this on 25th August when only the day before a serious stabbing had taken place near Liverpool Street Station at 4am in the morning.
Whilst the City is very safe the late-night drinking and events do mean that there is more likelihood of crime or problems. I was slightly shocked at one young be-suited man who was paralytically drunk and admitted he had a wife and three children at home, one of whom was one week old! Another young woman had been separated from her friends and was only fit to go after much care and attention and in the company of her mother who had been called to come and collect her. The joint working was building strong partnerships and assured me of the strength and importance of the work.
The City Corporation celebrated South Asian Heritage Month in the City Centre with some great speakers and wonderful food and drink. This year the month incorporated the 75th anniversary of the independence of India, Partition and the creation of Pakistan and the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin. The front of Guildhall was lit up orange, white and green in the colours of the Indian flag as a mark of respect and honour.
The evening explored the vexed questions posed to those people of mixed heritage including a great speech by Jassa Ahluwalia who spoke on the topic of #BothNotHalf. His Ted talk is worth a watch ( https://youtu.be/SP0bAQ8J6C0 ) to explain how he is both Punjabi and British.
Wider City links
A special invite arose in early August to visit HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth. The City of London is affiliated to this flagship of the Navy and this was the first affiliates day that they had run. What an amazing ship she is and was moored next to HMS Prince of Wales – her equally illustrious ship mate. We had a full tour of the quarters and the Lady Mayoress was particularly keen to see the medical deck where full operations could be performed. We also had a fine performance of the Marines band. Quite a day out!
Many of you will know the wide reach of the City Corporation and I have been keen to visit and engage where I can. I wanted to use August to visit a couple of cultural sites that I have not seen recently and are exemplars of the work of the City Corporation outside of the Square Mile.
The London Metropolitan Archives ( https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/history-and-heritage/london-metropolitan-archives ) are based in Clerkenwell and store the archives from over 1000 years of this great capital City.
It is also a public research centre, caring for and providing access to the historical archives of businesses, schools, hospitals, charities and all manner of other organisations from the London area. With over 100km of books, maps, photographs, films and documents dating back to 1067. I was delighted to meet the Director, Emma Markiewicz, and the senior archivist Elizabeth Scudder. They set out an array of historical documents that referred to my Ward of Dowgate including a wonderful document that famous Dowgate resident, Dick Whittington sealed.
I also visited Keats House in Hampstead. This is a gem of a Georgian villa where John Keats spent a short time of his life but his most productive in terms of poetry and the location of his love story with Fanny Brawne: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/attractions-museums-entertainment/keats-house Inside the house there is a wall of people who inspired Keats (especially Shakespeare) but also whom Keats inspired – surprisingly F Scott Fitzgerald.
Whilst not directly connected to the City I visited St Joseph’s Hospice ( https://www.stjh.org.uk ) that is located just over the City border in Hackney.
It is a well-established hospice that provides free of charge, high quality specialist palliative care to those in the central boroughs including the City of London. I could not have been more impressed with their consideration and purpose as well as the highest standard of facilities. A thought-provoking visit.
Always in the media
I was privileged to go backstage at ITV news with anchor woman and journalist Julie Etchingham. It is edge of the seat stuff as they prepare live news updates for broadcasting. I got to sit in the hot seat in the green studio but luckily the camera did not turn to me - this time.
Old Bailey news
I was pleased to catch the film Witness for the Prosecution on BBC2 as it is set in Number One Court at the Old Bailey. Of course, unlike the judgement delivered to camera mentioned in last month’s newsletter, this was not filmed at the Old Bailey but in a specially designed set. I noticed a few differences to the current Court layout. Well worth watching on iPlayer.
Working with the Lord Mayor
Liverymen will know that the Lord Mayor’s busy schedule includes travelling extensively during the year of office. The Sheriffs are included as appropriate. I was asked to accompany the Lord Mayor on a visit to the US and Canada in the week of 9th July. This would be my first time flying since Covid and the news from Heathrow was not encouraging.
When the flight out was cancelled, the Lord Mayor persuaded BA to put on a larger plane for that afternoon and we arrived only a few hours’ late. The programme was centred around the US launch of the Global Investment Futures platform that was unveiled in the City in February. The seminar and opening would be at the New York Stock Exchange ( https://www.nyse.com/index ) An iconic location to emphasis the strength and depth of the City market that has huge expertise and is especially world leading in Green Finance. The after party was on the NYSE trading floor.
On the visit to Canada we met a range of pension funds and investors who were already committed to the London market, were ready to expand or starting out. Our engagement always featured the benefits of the Global London market – the skills, innovation and expertise especially in Environmental Social and Governance matters.
Many of the buildings boasted climate friendly credentials but none more than the building at 1000 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle in Montreal where we met CDPQ https://www.cdpq.com/en
The Lord Mayor managed to find half an hour to visit one of the many memorials to the famous son of Montreal, Leonard Cohen.
July also saw two of the most significant dinners that the Lord Mayor hosts – one for the Judges and the other for the Financial and Professional Services. Both involve as the main guest the relevant Secretary of State. At the time of these dinners the turmoil at Westminster was just unfolding. In fact both Ministers attended and the Chancellor made his first speech in that role. He even managed to riff on the fact that it might be his last dinner in that role! See his speech here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/mansion-house-speech-by-the-chancellor-of-the-exchequer Both dinners are key parts of the Lord Mayor and Corporation’s engagement with the business community providing a platform and venue to speak and meet.
Old Bailey news
The Old Bailey, alongside all other Courts, is in the midst of a strike of the criminal bar. This has been ongoing at a low level for some months but has stepped up to mean that the strike is impacting on a week on/week off basis. See this article: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/jul/18/barristers-in-england-and-wales-stage-first-five-day-strike-over-legal-aid-funding The action included a large gathering outside the Old Bailey with placards, megaphones and a police presence. This is seriously impacting the efficient working of the criminal justice system but I have a huge sympathy for the low rates of pay for criminal legal aid and the knock on effect on justice.
Meanwhile 28th July saw the first filming inside an Old Bailey Court Room following a plan by the Court Service to open up the criminal justice process. The scope is limited with only the Judge being filmed whilst giving the sentence. HHJ Sarah Munro QC in Court 2 was the first Judge to be filmed and I was pleased to lend support in the well of the Court.
The Guildhall Art Gallery have put on display in the Heritage Gallery the Royal Charter granted by King John on 5th July 1199 that confirms the right of the City of London to elect two Sheriffs. Sheriff Nick and I visited the Charter ( displayed alongside the City’s copy of the Magna Carta) and were honoured to feel the weight of history on our shoulders: https://guildhallhistoricalassociation.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/15-the-office-of-sheriff-and-the-city-of-london.pdf
Wider reach of the Sheriff
July 4th turned out to be a day of non-stop engagement with those programmes where I am taking a leading part. Breakfast saw the launch of the Skills for a Sustainable Skyline Taskforce that the City Corporation has created with the City Property Association in order to understand and plug the current construction skills gap that will hamper the drive to green and energy efficient commercial buildings.
Led by Chris Hayward (Chairman of Policy and Resources) and seen in the photo with the London Minister Paul Scully MP and me. Read more at: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/supporting-businesses/business-support-and-advice/skills-for-a-sustainable-skyline-taskforce. The work has engagement from many construction, training and professional services.
Next event was the AGM of the London Road Safety Council where I am the Chair and we met to conduct our formal business. We also heard about the issue of the disproportionate effect of road traffic collisions on deprived neighbourhoods which the LRSC has been highlighting and has now become a priority for Transport for London as well: https://londonroadsafetycouncil.org.uk/road-traffic-collisions-in-london-linked-to-level-of-neighbourhood-deprivation/
In the afternoon I opened the Livery Climate Action Group Conference in Merchant Taylors’ Hall – a terrific endorsement of the work of the Livery Companies in understanding and acting on the climate challenge in their operations. Over 100 attended and the content and after effect on membership is tremendous. See the write up here: https://liverycag.org.uk/lcag-annual-conference-2022-report/
The end of the day was the time for the AGM of the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund ( https://sr-fund.org/ ) that is based at and run from the Old Bailey to help offenders, ex offenders and their families. A stimulating talk by Charlie Taylor, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, made us all think about the below standard conditions in our jails and the waste of lives if we do nothing to help the offenders return to society in a meaningful way.
I was pleased to be able to attend the Cartmarking in Guildhall Yard masterminded by the Carmen. I had only arrived back from Montreal 2 hours earlier! It was a hot sunny day and the entrants all sparkled – none more so than the bijou travelling carousel that won a prize from the Master Carmen and consort.
A great initiative led by Master Wax Chandler Anthony Bickmore, created a seminar on Stimulating Talent through Equality Diversity and Inclusion. A topic of such import to the Livery Companies and a session that will spark positive outcomes across the Livery. Sheriff Nick and I both attended to give our warmest support to this topic.
A deferred race took place on 25th July being the Admiral of the Port Challenge for Thames’ Waterman’s Cutters. Starting off HQS Wellington and rowing to Westminster Boating Base, the cutters had a hard time as the tide was fierce and the wind against them.
Many Liveries have cutters. The Scientific Instrument Makers won the men’s crew and the Water Conservators the ladies’ crew. I helped start the race and award the prizes safely from the City’s launch Londinium III.
Whilst August is traditionally a quiet month, I am planning some interesting visits around the City and will be reporting on these in due course. Enjoy the summer break!
STILL CHANCE TO BOOK: for the Livery Climate Action Group in person Conference on Monday 4th July at Merchant Taylors’ Hall. This will give all aspiring Livery members lots of useful information and contacts to start looking at the need to reduce carbon emissions and green our City. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lcag-annual-conference-tickets-330660052117
Old Bailey news
As you will be aware the Sheriffs have been using temporary offices at the Old Bailey but the weekend of 18/19th June saw the apartments ready for our use. I just had to unpack the boxes that have accumulated items over the first 9 months. They are air conditioned and spacious and will make the job a bit easier with more meeting space as well. Thanks to a great team from the City Surveyor’s Department and Mansion House for speeding the work.
One of the longest serving female judges retired earlier this year and promptly published a book! This is a really great read for an insight into the work of the Old Bailey and criminal trials. HHJ Wendy Joseph QC held the book launch at the Bailey and sales were brisk. It was very well reviewed in The Times https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/unlawful-killings-by-wendy-joseph-the-inside-story-of-six-murder-trials-l9kkrnlsf
Some of you might have enjoyed Anatomy of a Scandal on Netflix and, yes, some of the general scenes were filmed at the Old Bailey, but not in the court room which was a mockup. Filming in the common areas, such as the Grand Hall, takes place at weekends and brings in some useful income.
The new Sheriffs to take office on 28th September were elected at Common Hall on 24th June. Alderman Alastair King and Andrew Marsden made a very good outing in their acceptance speeches in Guildhall. All good wishes to them as they plan their year ahead.
My business plan initiatives
In one week of June two of my long-planned events took place both using the wonderful Old Bailey Grand Hall as a venue to discuss some weighty matters.
On June 14 the Solicitors and Insurers Livery Companies held a joint dinner in their Food for Thought with Food series. The topic of how professionals address issues of environmental risk and the role of values and ethics in advising clients threw up some interesting discussions around the tables. A full note of the event is available here with follow up points highlighted. https://www.citysolicitors.org/news/news/sustainability+dinner+-+report+of+key+themes
In the same week, on June 16, the award-winning group Next 100 Years held the Heilbron Lecture in the Grand Hall of the Old Bailey. It was entitled "Climate Change and the radical potential of outrage to advance the frontiers of Law". It was given by Prof Lavanya Rajamani and former President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, gave the response. https://next100years.org.uk/lecture-series/
Hilary Lindsay, Past Master Chartered Accountant, has been leading the Livery Charity Chairs Group that aims to help Livery Companies better operate their charitable interests. She has run a series of virtual events for her 60 or so members. The in-person conference took place on June 6th at Ironmongers’ Hall and an important topic that I led was to discuss Environmental Social and Governance issues for investments.
Speaking with Eoin Murray and Stephen Beer we provided a comprehensive insight and answered questions. The whole day’s proceeding are very well summarised here. https://www.liverycommittee.org/the-livery-charity-chairs-group-first-annual-conference/
The spectacular Beckett Pageant finally took place after Covid delays for two years. The musical play London’s Turbulent Son written by Past Master Skinner Emmeline Winterbotham was sensational with professional finish but rooted in the Livery and City story. My own Ward business Nomura helped out with rehearsal space and in true The Sound of Music fashion provided some old curtains to be used for costumes. The Livery Fair attracted a lot of interest and the Glovers’ Livery and Saddlers shared the fun.
Treloar School set up by a former Lord Mayor in 1907 retains a strong link to the Livery and City. I was honoured to lead the Civic team on the annual visit by Livery Masters to Treloar School. I was particularly delighted to meet Oscar Anderson who is a Student Governor and was awarded an MBE in the birthday honours for services to global Disability Activism and Healthcare Reform. He was one of so many remarkable young people who are given every opportunity to contribute to a better world for themselves and others.
On tour. The annual weekend away of the Livery Masters was held in Sheffield this year with the expert and generous hosting by James Tear the Master and the Cutlers of Hallamshire. On the Saturday the Masters visited Sheffield at its best with its glorious industrial past, present silversmiths and future innovative technology all on show.
The Sheriffs enjoyed the train journeys with many others letting the train take the strain.
Wider City matters
The Lord Mayor and Sheriffs make an annual visit to the three wholesale markets and a trip to Spitalfields is always colourful with a great array of interesting fruit and veg. As an Alderman I am a member of the Markets Board that oversees the markets and the Chair is Deputy Henry Pollard who is my Deputy in Dowgate Ward. Spitalfields had thrived during Covid and traders were now working towards the plan to consolidate all three markets at a new site at the former Barking Power Station under the City Corporation’s Masterplan.
Another annual event is the Lord Mayor’s dinner to celebrate London Government. It was held a little later this year on 30th May and provides an opportunity for the Lord Mayor and the Mayor of London to speak about current issues.
The Lord Mayor’s speech is here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/assets/About-us/london-government-dinner-speech.pdf
I was pleased to attend the first in person event at St Paul’s Cathedral outside of services. In their series of Recovering Well after the Pandemic, the evening’s discussion took the theme of How can London be a place of flourishing for all people – culturally, economically, justly - as we move forwards from the pandemic? I was pleased to say a few words alongside the Bishop and Peter Hugh Smith the CEO of CCLA. They have published a report about businesses and mental well-being and aim to provide a benchmark of good practice around this topic. https://www.ccla.co.uk/documents/2022-mental-health-benchmark-uk-100-report/download?inline
I am particularly interested in this topic as a member of the Expert Advisory Group of the City Wellbeing Centre that offers greater access to therapeutic mental health treatments in the Central Boroughs. https://www.fis.cityoflondon.gov.uk/directory/city-wellbeing-centre
6th June 2022
The unique bonds between Her Majesty the Queen, the Monarchy and the City of London are very important and are based on the historical links and interplay of the City and Westminster over the centuries. This naturally leads to the celebrations of significant moments in the life of our Monarch being commemorated in the City of London.
From the moment that William the First in 1067 recognised that the City was unconquerable and decided to seek peace by Charter, the scene was set for the City to be a loyal subject but retaining its ancient customs and rights.
These were further enshrined in the Magna Carta in 1215 when the then Mayor of London (only in 1354 did the title Lord Mayor start to be used) was the only non-hereditary Baron to witness the sealing at Runnymede.
In more recent history the City celebrated Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and a flagstone marks the spot where her carriage sat during the celebratory service within St Paul’s Cathedral.
H M Queen Elizabeth II has attended many services at St Paul’s to mark her significant birthdays, anniversaries and Jubilees. In 2002, at the Golden Jubilee, the ceremonial acknowledgment at Temple Bar was re-enacted with then Lord Mayor Sir Michael Oliver. In 2012 the Diamond Jubilee, in conjunction with the Olympics, created a spectacular year of celebration.
In 2022 the unprecedented Platinum Jubilee was no exception with a multiplicity of special events planned. The City lit a Beacon as part of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacons, hosted the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s and greeted The Queen’s Baton for the Commonwealth Games in Paternoster Square. Alongside this the Lord Mayor and others were involved in the wider celebrations at Buckingham Palace and in the Mall. In particular, many Livery Companies supported the spectacular Pageant that took place on Sunday 5th June.
Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacon Thursday June 2nd
The Rotary Club of London with the City Livery Club arranged the lighting of a Platinum Jubilee Beacon on the rooftop garden of Nomura – the Japanese investment house based in my Ward of Dowgate. The evening included Bollywood dancers and a Duke of Edinburgh Award Winners fashion show. The Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, spoke of the Beacons flashing across the Commonwealth Nations. The Lord Mayor lit the beacon at 21.45 and the light shone out across the River and the City, part of a long line stretching the length of the UK. Photo © MikeWilliams.
St Paul’s Service of Thanksgiving Friday June 3rd
The meticulous detail involved in the service was proved to be perfect as the plans culminated in an operationally flawless event and deeply meaningful service. All the serving members of the Royal Family attended, bar Her Majesty. The Prime Minister and most of the Cabinet and Opposition as well as all living former Prime Ministers were in attendance. The Cathedral was full.
The protocol surrounding the relationship between the Lord Mayor and the Royal Family is steeped in centuries of custom and, when the Queen withdrew, some replanning took place. In the presence of the Queen the Lord Mayor carries the Pearl Sword that was presented to the Lord Mayor by Elizabeth I in 1571. Otherwise, the Sword of State is carried by the Swordbearer together with the Mace carried by the Common Cryer. The Lord Mayor wears velvet court dress with the Reception Robe of deep red velvet and an ermine cape. He also wore the Thomas More Chain of Ss with his badge of office.
The Lord Mayor with the Sheriffs arrived in the three Rolls Royces in state and with a blue light City of London Police escort from Mansion House to St Paul’s. The procession into the Cathedral formed quickly to pass into the Cathedral. The Lord Mayor remained at the entrance to greet all the members of the Royal Family on the steps of St Paul’s and then escorted the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall followed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to their seats.
The Service was full of amazing music and is still available on BBC iPlayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0017z7t/the-queens-platinum-jubilee-a-service-of-thanksgiving-no-commentary
A wonderful sermon, preached by the Archbishop of York, managed that tricky balance of purposeful and poignant with humour and affection: https://www.archbishopofyork.org/news/latest-news/sermon-st-pauls-cathedral-celebrating-her-majesty-queens-platinum-jubilee
Following the service, the celebration continued in a reception at the Guildhall. The Lord Mayor spoke of the greatest admiration for the unswerving dedication with which Her Majesty has fulfilled her exceptional role. He said that this remarkable commitment has been an inspiration to all those seeking to contribute to the welfare of the people of this country.
All the guests mingled and enjoyed some light refreshments and the chance to share a few reminiscences.
The Queen’s Baton for the Commonwealth Games 4th June
Birmingham is hosting the Commonwealth Games in July and The Queen’s Baton is making its way across 72 nations and territories. Arriving in Paternoster Square on Jubilee weekend meant we could party and promote sport in the sunny City square. With the Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston and Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, the Lord Mayor greeted the baton relay.
The whole Square was filled with basketball, table tennis and cycling and many visitors. Wearing our scarlet gowns and badges it was tricky for the Lord Mayor and me to find our form in the basketball hoop challenge. Photo © MikeWilliams
Photographs within the Service and Reception were limited and so I (below) share some recent photos with the Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal and with the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, whom Sheriff Nick and I hosted at the reception in Guildhall.
God save the Queen!
Sheriffs’ Ball: The end of each Shrieval year is marked with a Ball in aid of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal. It will be held on 23rd September and promises to be Bloomin’ Marvellous. I hope you might all consider attending or even providing a prize for the silent auction. Details are here https://www.thelordmayorsappeal.org/news-and-events/events-calendar/1057/sheriffs-ball-2022/
Using the building at the Old Bailey
Many of you will have visited the Old Bailey for one reason or another. Everyone who leaves of their own accord recounts the amazing experience of the visit and the splendour of the Grand Hall. The facilities are available for use by outside bodies and the Sheriffs have been keen to demonstrate how they can be used to good effect.
The start of the month we hosted a special concert of 17th century baroque music. The Turners Livery have been researching the use of turned wood for musical instruments for some years now and a chance meeting at their wonderful Wizardry in Wood exhibition in 2021 led to the idea of a concert at the Old Bailey featuring the newly made recorder based on one likely to have been preferred by diarist Samuel Pepys. The concert was spectacular with period instruments and music that fitted perfectly in the acoustics of the Grand Hall and the domed ceiling. A large audience meant we were able to raise a significant sum for the Sheriffs’ and Recorder's Fund. Thanks to all who attended and contributed.
The space worked equally well for a reception that followed on the next night. This was the chance for the Sheriffs to entertain the High Sheriffs from around England and Wales. The roles stem from the same historic basis but the two City Sheriffs are elected by the Livery; whereas the High Sheriffs are chosen by HM the Queen. High Sheriffs are volunteers and concentrate on the role of criminal justice, courts, prisons and police in their respective Counties; which aligns with a part of the City's Sheriffs' roles. See: https://highsheriffs.com
I have now hosted over 50 lunches entertaining over 200 guests and given over 50 speeches at other events. The lunch guests come from a very diverse range of sectors and places with an emphasis on financial and professional services. I am pleased to have totted up the demographics to find an almost equal number of men and women with a sprinkling of under 18s from schools. May saw my first dog, Barley, who accompanied former Home Secretary Lord Blunkett.
Press coverage by the Financial Times
I was approached by two newspapers to give interviews in the last few weeks. Both were published within a week of each other. I am very glad that the Financial Times (and on FT.com) featured me on 9 May, “Using soft power to promote the capital”, read it at: https://www.ft.com/content/38d8d717-9f6e-4d53-b0bd-931a10ae64d3 Also, the Methodist Recorder ran a double page spread headed “Christian faith within the powerbase of the City”
These are two (of many) examples showing that I have succeeded in my time as Sheriff in making the role more visible. I have done this by using social media and this blog on my website which is also distributed widely. I have contributed to a few podcasts and videos. There is a link on my website to these: https://www.alisongowman.org/videos.html These new press interviews have allowed the message to get out even wider. I have had some very kind feedback.
Promoting the real economy
Whilst the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs promote the financial and professional services for which the City of London is renowned, the underlying economy is not far away. For example the Green Finance Institute has set itself to ensure that finance is used to help the real economy since this is what needs to adapt to climate change impacts. See: https://www.greenfinanceinstitute.co.uk This last month has seen a series of City events highlighting how the City and the Livery are working in this area.
First, I had planned to hold a themed lunch at the Old Bailey with senior members of the leather industry. As a Glover I know the benefits of leather and visited Ethiopia and China in my role as Master Glover observing the leather trade in those countries. The pre-lunch meeting resulted in some useful discussion mainly around skills shortages and talent. I have written a blog giving a resume of these points: https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/leather-industry-views
I was also pleased to attend two Livery events that explored the issues for their professions around climate. The Engineers' Livery held a seminar about the Future of Air Vehicles on May 11 and the next day saw a full conference, held at Drapers' Hall by the Textile Livery Companies titled Sustainability in UK Textiles. HRH the Princess Royal opened the conference as the President of UK Fashion and Textiles Association and there followed a series of impressive presentations by companies working to make their businesses sustainable. From cashmere sourced in Mongolia to dry cleaning rentable clothes. See: https://www.ukft.org These Livery events are in alignment both with the City Corporation's Climate Action Strategy but also follow the work of the Livery Climate Action Group.
What’s happening in the City
It does not do to neglect the Ward that I represent as Alderman and so I had breakfast one morning with a local business in order to catch up on any news. I also had a more extensive visit when I was taken for a walkabout by the CEO of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, and his team (who are based in Dowgate Ward). The City is the site of one third of London's scheduled monuments and these should be cherished by property owners and the City.
The launch of the programme, Destination City, by the new Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, is a good prompt to consider how the City reflects these heritage assets, see: https://news.cityoflondon.gov.uk/policy-chairman-sets-out-ambitious-destination-city-vision--for-the-square-mile/ The programme looks to enhance the tourism and visitor experience of the City and promote the cultural and physical spaces that the City can offer. I will try to ensure and promote the historical heritage implicit in the City’s streets and open spaces.
London First, the business campaigning membership group that promotes London held a Building London Summit on May 11. This conference had many wide-ranging discussions around London's property challenges. I attended and engaged in the fruitful discussions and was able to ask a question about the role of heritage in preserving but also utilising all our buildings.
Linking across London and the World
I was pleased to greet the sailing ship Ilen as she arrived in St Katharine’s Dock sailing form Limerick to London. Her active life had been spent in the Falklands transporting cargo between the islands. A party including the crew and Irish diaspora in London gave a warm berth in London see: http://www.ilen.ie
Both of the Sheriffs joined the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress with their dog India on the annual Whittington Walk from the statue on Highgate Hill of Dick's cat to the Mansion House (via Islington Town Hall). It is a bonding experience to walk the streets with this wonderful group of Mayors and Deputy Lord Mayor of Westminster. For many this was their last ceremonial role as their terms were ending in mid-May. See: http://www.londonmayors.org.uk The new Mayors, leaders and chief executives of the 32 Boroughs will be attending the Mansion House on 30 May for the London Government Dinner which is another good opportunity to catch up with our London colleagues.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Big Curry Lunch was officially a great success. At the reception in Mansion House, the Lord Mayor announced the total raised to be a record beating £310,000.
A rather atmospheric photograph by Charles Perrett captures the moment.
The Easter weekend has been a welcome warm break away for most of us just before the start of the new City Corporation year. A great variety of events have taken place.
Please book your tickets:
I must commend the fabulous concert that will be taking place on Tuesday 3rd May in the Grand Hall of the Old Bailey. A few tickets remain for the concert and sign up is via Eventbrite. All proceeds go to the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund.
Book tickets at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-evening-of-17th-century-music-song-in-the-grand-hall-of-the-old-bailey-tickets-250034388587
Working across London and the UK
The London Landmarks Half Marathon is the brainchild of Tommy’s, the charity that works to help save babies’ lives. Tommy’s are based in my Ward of Dowgate and I have worked with them over the last 5 years to create this massive fundraising event. Great to then be asked to start the race with over 12,000 entrants who raised £6 million. Sunny glorious day shared with the Lord Mayor of Westminster.
The relationship with Scotland is key to the UK and to the financial and professional services sector. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was in London for a few days after Easter and met various business organisations. The Lord Mayor hosted a dinner at Mansion House. Edinburgh and Glasgow are major partners and complementary financial centres to London. We have mutual goals around promoting talent, impact investing and green finance – points made by both the Lord Mayor and the First Minister.
prestigious group of Kenyan Judges visited the Old Bailey and stayed for lunch. The Kenyan Chief Justice Martha Koome was very complimentary of the work of the Judges. The Old Bailey hosts many such overseas visits and the liaison and engagement across jurisdictions is a very important part of the Judicial role.
City Corporation and the new Civic Year
April 21st was the first Court of Common Council following the elections. It is always preceded by a service which took place this year at St Margaret Lothbury. Traditionally the preacher is the senior Sheriff’s chaplain and so it was my Chaplain, Canon Flora Winfield this year. The members of Common Council then gather in Great Hall for the 1pm start. If you have not attended Common Council I can thoroughly recommend the experience with the Lord Mayor arriving in State and the business of the agenda being very engaging (the next meeting is on 19th May at 1pm). 38 new members were introduced and each robed in a blue gown which is only used on formal occasions.
After the introductions the main business of the meeting included electing people onto committees for the new year, approving papers to do with the Bridge House Estates Board and Barbican Podium Works and dealing with questions. A resolution had also been proposed to look at Bank Junction where the traffic modes are restricted during the working day. In essence it centred on the ability of the London black taxi cabs to be able to use the junction from which they are currently excluded at daytime. It is fair to say that the Court was vocal and divided. But sense prevailed with a compromise reached before the meeting that meant the traffic orders across the City will all be reviewed in the next few months including that relating to Bank Junction. The report of this in City Matters is here: https://www.citymatters.london/city-corporation-to-survey-traffic-orders-across-the-square-mile/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=survey+traffic+orders
News from the Old Bailey
As some of you will know the Sheriffs traditionally have a small apartment each at the Old Bailey. The apartments were in need of a major refurbishment this year and Nick and I have worked only from an office at the Old Bailey. The nine month construction works are nearing an end and so it was fun to view the state of the rooms and start to think about moving in.
I have enjoyed many special events at the Bailey including a visit by my Ward Club – Vintry and Dowgate. They have been great supporters to me in my role as Alderman and Sheriff and it was great to show them inside. Our Chair, Chris Holehouse, is a former Met Police Officer and so filled us in on a few stories about the place.
My themes for the year -property philanthropy and purposed finance
In pursuing my themes for the year I was keen to host an event at the Old Bailey that spoke to the criminal justice system and the role that civil society can play in conjunction with the Courts to make a difference to people’s lives. I wrote a blog on the City Bridge Trust website.
Green jobs for a sustainable skyline - I am pleased to mention that I have joined the construction skills taskforce that will look at growing the green skills base needed to create better greener commercial buildings. This blends my interest in real estate and construction as well as my wish to open up the diversity of the workforce.
I am a Trustee of the Samuel Wilson Loan Trust that celebrates 250 years this year. It provides loans to start up entrepreneurs. In the celebrations the City brought together the Institute of Directors and the Company of Entrepreneurs to show support to start up and new businesses. The Deputy Mayor Rajesh Agrawal spoke alongside other panels of alumni and aspiring business people. I reconnected with Marisa Battrick who is the founder of Truthpaste – a natural toothpaste for gum health. https://truthpaste.co.uk/ She has won many awards and I am pleased to have played a small part in approving her original loan with Samuel Wilson.
The Lady Mayoress’ Sleep Out in Guildhall Yard raised over £120,000. Thank you to all who donated and especially for my modest contribution of £1,681. Money goes to the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and Spitalfields Crypt Trust. https://www.thelordmayorsappeal.org/news-and-events/latest-news/1099/sleep-out-at-guildhall-yard/
Financing the green transition in emerging markets was the title to an engaging discussion hosted by the International Business and Diplomatic Exchange with a panel of the High Commissioner of South Africa, HE Nomatemba Tambo, Chris Allen the GC of Standard Chartered and myself. These discussions are both effective and driving the understanding and actions needed on an international scale.
A continuing interest of mine is in road safety and I Chair the London Road Safety Council. I will leave you to decide the view that I took on the traffic issue raised at Common Council. I was given 24 hours’ notice to stand in for a speaker at the Carmen’s Livery banquet and was pleased to talk to representatives of the logistics and transport industry about road safety issues – a topic close to their hearts. I dusted down my two road related jokes. One borrowed from Tommy Cooper about returning to my car to find a complimentary note on the windscreen – Parking:Fine. I am pictured with Carl Lomas and Sir John Hayes both from the Institute of Couriers.
The tempo has picked up in March and I am now half way through my year in office. This is a slightly longer update than before as reflects the pace of the exciting work being undertaken.
Visiting the world and promoting the City
The Lord Mayor’s role as ambassador for the financial and professional services sector is fulfilled both in the City and in travels around the world. I was privileged to join the Lord Mayor in Liverpool and to meet the Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. There is a buoyant financial services sector in Liverpool and a growing Knowledge Quarter that builds on science and pharma and is home to the new Pandemic Centre. Read my blog for my review of the visit. See: https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/lord-mayors-visit-to-liverpool
The other trip which I took part in was to China and was, sadly, virtual. Over four days the Lord Mayor and I met many businesses. We spoke about Global Investment Futures – the promotion of the UK as an attractive destination for international capital and a boost of our investment managers and the role of ESG and sustainable investing. We met the Vice Mayor of Beijing Mr YIN Yong and senior officials in several Chinese Banks and insurance companies. We also held a fireside chat with the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, https://www.britcham.com/
This highlighted the many collaborative projects around the renminbi clearing system and work on Fintech start-ups; ESG and other post COP26 initiatives. The relationship with Chinese businesses and London is very strong. Indeed, Mr Aimin Yang the General Manager of the China Construction Bank in the City was my guest at a lunch with the Judges during this virtual visit.
A visit by a Head of State is always special and none more so than the Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin who dined with the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and senior guests on the eve of a certain rugby match. It was a fantastic night for our Lord Mayor to be feted as the first Irish Lord Mayor by the Taoiseach.
International Women’s Day
March 8th is a date to celebrate the role of women in society and there are always many events around the City businesses. I hosted and arranged a major breakfast meeting on March 4th at the Guildhall. Our theme was to address the issue of Safety of Women in the Public Realm. We had the new Commissioner for the City Police Angela McLaren speaking alongside Philomena Azu from Islington Council, Simon Taylor from UBS and Dr Victoria Baines of Bournemouth University.
On the day itself I was asked to make the keynote speech at a conference given by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and the Women’s’ Medical Federation. My speech is on my website, https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/international-womens-day-2022
An important fixed point in the Spring calendar is the Pancake Race arranged by the Poulters’ and supported by many Livery Companies. Too much rain meant play was called off but we still managed to attend and toss a few pancakes and enjoy the fancy dress costumes that did not need to work up a sweat. I only hope that there is better weather in Guildhall yard for my sleep out – see the item below.
Celebration of the Fletchers Livery at 650 https://www.fletchers.org.uk/index.php/history and Cordwainers at 750 https://cordwainers.org/ were splendid occasions that befitted their historic milestones. As the Chair of the Aldermanic subcommittee that oversees the Livery Companies (yes the Aldermen have an historic role in this regard), I was instrumental in the Fletchers receiving their first Royal Charter which was on show at the dinner with Past Master Bob Hall who was part of the Fletchers’ team.
The Sheriffs are regularly taking tours around the Old Bailey – there is a requested donation towards the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund expected but they are great fun after hours! I was pleased to host a group of international lawyers who are on the DLA Piper Global Scholars Programme https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/focus/global-scholarships/overview/#:~:text=Our%20Global%20Scholarships%20program%20supports,South%20Pacific%2C%20and%20Latin%20America with students from Goodenough College. The event was followed by dinner at the College and an audience with Lady Hale.
The annual Sheriffs’ Challenge is a fantastic initiative of the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies working with the Educators Livery. Schools across London from the state sector are given a subject to debate and present. The finalists present the topic in Number 1 Court at the Old Bailey. The Judges at the final are two Judges Sarah Munro and Anuja Dhir alongside the Sheriffs. The topic was “Should the purpose of the City of London go beyond creating wealth and jobs?” The winners were St Saviour’s & St Olave’s School supported by the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors. We only wished that we could let them all win. The exercise really develops some fabulous young people and is exceptionally worthwhile and fun.
Acting as Representative Lord Mayor
When I am asked to an event it is usually in my role as Sheriff, sometimes with the Lord Mayor and my fellow Sheriff Nick Lyons, and sometimes alone. Occasionally an event demands a Representative Lord Mayor – that is when the event is of great importance or at the Mansion House and the Lord Mayor is himself in the UK or in the City but at another event. When the Lord Mayor is out the UK then a Lord Mayor Locum Tenens (being a past Lord Mayor officiates). I was RepLM (shorthand initials) at the Leaders Council Gala in March. https://www.leaderscouncil.co.uk/ I was pleased to meet both Lord Blunkett and cricket legend Andrew Strauss and speak about support for their work.
The Sheriffs’ consorts, Glenn and Felicity, are organising a concert in the Grand Hall of the Old Bailey and it looks like it will be the hot ticket of May (see details at this link). Proceeds are in aid of the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund, https://sr-fund.org.
Whilst the Lady Mayoress’s Sleep Out is imminent and I have reached my fundraising total, I can still collect funds on my Just Giving page for a couple more weeks – in aid of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal and Spitalfields Crypt Trust: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alisongowman
You cannot have missed the Common Council elections held on 24th March with all 100 councillors up for election. Prior to the election 27 sitting members were not restanding. At the final knockings there were 38 new members. They will bring fresh ideas into the work of the Corporation. The Aldermen act as Returning Officers and so I attended the Dowgate Wardmote as Alderman with my Beadle, John Cash. I look forward to working with all the new members - and existing ones! The full results are on the City website: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us/voting-elections/2022-city-elections-results
Welcome to another edition of my monthly Shrieval newsletter. I have now been in office five months and the time is passing quickly, and events are coming into the diary with ever greater speed. All of the ideas that are in my business plan now need to be delivered!
The Business City
In enhancing the message of the City, a new initiative has been launched to preserve and promote the work of the UK investment management community. Working with the Department for Trade and the Investment Association the City will be campaigning about the benefits of London. This will lead to a major conference in September 2022. The Lord Mayor launched this in the Guildhall and has already taken this issue with him overseas on his first trip of 2022 to West Coast USA and Mexico. See: https://news.cityoflondon.gov.uk/new-campaign-launched-to-boost-uks-position-as-a-world-leading-investment-management-centre/
February saw the regular board meeting of the Green Finance Institute where I am a non-executive Board member. This organisation has been at the forefront of the City’s and the UK’s work on green finance and using private finance to fund the transition to net zero. It is examining the areas that are difficult to monetise and finding, by way of collaborative work, how to overcome barriers. Work to date on energy efficient buildings, decarbonising transport and mobilising private funding into nature. So proud of the work. See: https://www.greenfinanceinstitute.co.uk/
Wherever I go I have the luxury of my footman accompanying me to ensure that I arrive on time, in a tidy fashion and with all my necessaries – that is my gloves, speech and security pass ( in that order). Sean Weir is my footman and has been at the Old Bailey for 40 years and so he knows a lot and definitely more than he lets on. I was delighted to find that following his name he did indeed clean my shoes. I am rather ashamed to say I do not do that often enough. He is also to be thanked for many of the photos of me at events and at lunch.
Lunch at the Old Bailey
It is one of the privileges of my role to host a lunch with the Judges on a regular basis. Occasionally this can be themed to include a wider number of people and I was pleased to entertain the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps). They were founded in 1907 as an all-female voluntary organisation which deploys multi-faceted rapid response teams to support civil and military authorities in times of crisis. See: https://www.fany.org.uk
They are an amazing volunteer group who are not funded or part of the military but deploy on a regular basis to incidents and assist in an authoritative and effective way.
Another day among the guests was Abigail McKern, an actress most associated with Rumpole of the Bailey and so a perfect guest with her feast of tales about the series and her father who played the eponymous hero (?).
She will be appearing in the up coming Advocacy Trial and Error. Details are here.
The Deep History of the City
I am very proud of the four Livery Halls in my Ward and delight in attending their dinners. The Skinners are the senior company but are not presently in the Ward as their Hall is undergoing a major refurbishment. We dined at Apothecaries. The Master, Sarah Stallebrass, is a Professor of Soil Mechanics and so her gift to me should not have been such a surprise. It was a sample of soil from under 8 ½ Dowgate Hill and the label says it all. If grains of soil could speak.
Dowgate featured in a speech I was sent and given by the Master Mercer who found that in 1556 the famous Mercer, economist and Royal favourite, Thomas Gresham, was beaten in the Dowgate Aldermanic election by William Harpur. It only goes to show that elections are not always predictable. The Common Council elections are on 23/24th March and can I encourage any of you who are voters to get engaged and apply for a postal vote? See: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us/voting-elections/postal-votes
I was pleased to have a visit from my Glovers’ Livery Apprentice Kate Bernstock at the Old Bailey. She is a history graduate who is now studying a Master’s in black history at Goldsmiths. Imagine my surprise that her dissertation is about an 18th century woman who lived in the City, Ann Duck. She was tried and sentenced to death at the Old Bailey. Kate was pleased to see around the current building and to hear about the history. She was kind enough to say that my information had opened up some new avenues for her to pursue in her work. You can read Ann’s trial in the wonderful Proceedings of the Old Bailey online archive See: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17441017-23-verdict142&div=t17441017-23#highlight
Whilst some may think 7 Livery Companies is too many, it made a catchy name for the dinner given by them in my honour at Plaisterers’ Hall. I was overwhelmed and delighted by the kindness and applause. I was pleased to set out in my speech my love of this City of London - See: https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/speech-to-magnificent-seven-16th-february-2022
Sleeping out 30 March 2022
The Lord Mayor’s Appeal is a vital part of the Lord Mayor’s outreach and is focussed on a select number of charities associated with the Mayoralty over a 3-4 year period. The Lady Mayoress, Amanda Keaveny, has a passion for working with the homeless and she has instituted the first sleep out to highlight the prevalence of rough sleeping and to raise funds. I am going to take part and sleep on the flagstones of Guildhall Yard. I hope I can persuade you to make a small donation via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alisongowman
If you are new to my newsletter then do look for previous copies on my website (See: https://www.alisongowman.org/newsletter) where you will also find links to various of my videos and podcasts. The latest where I was quizzed by Nick Mayhew of Alembic Strategy majored on leadership skills in my various roles. See: https://www.alisongowman.org/videos.html
January 2022 Newsletter
Welcome to 2022 and let us all hope that this will prove a year of recovery and growth for our City of London and the important businesses based here. January is usually quite a slow start for the Civic calendar but there are some regular spots such as the Civic New Year Service at St Michael Cornhill and the Plough Monday dinner at the Feltmakers, where both the Sheriffs speak.
Old Bailey news
The Judicial work at the Old Bailey continues apace with 10 cases being tried last week which is impressive in the current circumstances. During Covid the strict distancing rules meant that juries could not use their usual deliberating rooms as they were too small. They were instead allocated a court room for their use – thus reducing the court space for trials. The Recorder, Judges and Court staff have been working hard to increase the use. You can see the current cases listed and some factual details on this website: https://old-bailey.com/old-bailey-cases-of-interest/
My continuous upgrading of the offices that the Sheriffs are using on a temporary basis (the usual apartments are being completely refurbished this year and out of use), led to five wonderful paintings being loaned from Guildhall Art Gallery. (see: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/attractions-museums-entertainment/guildhall-galleries/guildhall-art-gallery ) My choices were of the City and the River and my favourite is this one of Tower Bridge by Marcus Ford (see: http://www.thompsonsgallery.co.uk/artist.php/Marcus-Ford-711/)
in a traditional City fog.
It is fitting that this is in my room as I have now become the Deputy Chair of the Bridge House Estates Board until the end of the current Corporation year in April. I have previously served as chair and deputy of the City Bridge Trust Committee. The BHE Board is the new overarching Board for the whole charitable fund that owns and runs the five City Bridges and funds the charity grant making.(see: https://www.citybridgetrust.org.uk/ ) I will bring some further updates on this in later issues.
I have had an exceptionally good working relationship with the High Sheriff of Greater London, Lynn Cooper. We have worked together where we can. The role of High Sheriff is focussed on the criminal justice system as befits the historic origins of the office and Lynn has had a busy year working with the Courts, Prisons, Police and probation service and well as the charities involved in this sector. She has honoured many of the workers who have been valiant in their roles in keeping these key community services operating during Covid. She is an alumna and former Head Girl of the City of London School For Girls and I have served as their Chair of Governors (see: https://clsg.org.uk/ ).
It was a delight therefore to speak to the students at CLSG about our respective roles, the rule of law and the criminal justice system. I raised topics such as the role of volunteers and especially the Jury – building on the comments made in my recent blog about the Colston 4 acquittal. (see: https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/the-role-of-the-jury-in-criminal-justice)
Lynn and I hope we might have inspired some budding lawyers.
Aldermanic duties and elections
I still undertake my role as an Alderman both in attending committees on which I serve and in working with the businesses and residents in the Ward. We publish, with the Corporation’s help, a regular newsletter for our voters. The December issue is found here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/assets/About-us/ward-newsletter-dowgate-december-2021.pdf
On 23/24th March the elections will take place for all 100 Common Council members (not Aldermen). (see: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us/voting-elections/common-council-elections) Prior to Christmas we were working hard to encourage people to register to vote ( as you will know we have residential voters and those nominated by businesses). I am hopeful that despite the number of people working from home the Dowgate Ward list will be comparable to pre-Covid times. I am sure many of you will be involved in this process. The City needs to show its democratic credentials and support from its constituents.
I was pleased to be interviewed by the City of London Solicitors Company and Livery and a flattering article appeared in their December newsletter CitySolicitor: http://www.citysolicitormagazine.com/
The slightly lighter post New Year programme has meant that I have been able to join the Solicitors for their Court dinner in my own capacity as a Liveryman as well as the Chartered Surveyors where I am on the Court. Both of these more business focussed dinners are part and parcel of the Livery Companies springing back into real life meetings and re-energising their plans.
Working with the Lord Mayor
A significant part of the role of the Sheriffs is to support the Lord Mayor. In early January I attended a meeting with him and London First ( the business campaigning group). It was a wide ranging discussion but I was able to speak about the skills agenda and especially the encouragement of more “green” jobs that are being created to meet the environmental and climate drivers regarding businesses. This chimes with work that I had championed some 5 years ago at Trust for London working with City Bridge Trust. Together they funded a programme called Moving on Up which seeks to improve employment opportunities for young black men (see: https://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/publications/moving-improving-employment-opportunities-young-black-men/).
This is an area that some Livery Companies are already looking at in their sector specific trades and professions and could produce a tremendous benefit for individuals and business alike.
New role for my chaplain
Each Sheriff has a Chaplain and mine is Rev’d Canon Dr Flora Winfield DL. She has just been appointed to be the Third Church Estates Commissioner. Many congratulations to Flora. She will, I am glad to say, remain as my Chaplain (see:
Alderman & Sheriff Alison Gowman
Let me start by thanking you for all your kind comments about this newsletter and your overwhelming good wishes for Christmas. Can I reciprocate in wishing you all the compliments of the season and the hope that the New Year will bring us all a healthy and productive time ( as the Shrieval Christmas Card says).
Can I assure you that, whilst there have been some last minute changes in the diary for the Civic City ( the Lord Mayor’s Visit to Scotland changed to being virtual); the intention is to maintain a normal calendar as prevailing conditions allow.
Business as usual
This month the business agenda for me included several meetings and events and none more international than speaking at Chile Day conference in the Mansion House. This event is a real showcase for businesses from Chile and the UK to meet and speak about their engagement and interests. Chile is a vital partner for the UK, see: https://en.mercopress.com/2021/12/01/chile-day-in-uk-british-ministers-and-president-pinera-will-be-attending
City Governance issues and the Livery
The Lord Mayor keeps in touch with the Livery in many ways. Soon after he took office Vincent made the annual presentation to the Livery Masters which gave the Livery a chance to ask questions and raise topics. Interestingly topics included the voting arrangements for the Common Council elections and diversity. Both indicate how the Livery is getting more involved in the City Governance.
This was also reflected in the letter that the Lord Mayor wrote to the Livery about the review of the Corporation’s structure and oversight as a response to a Report by Lord Lisvane in 2020. The letter to the Livery was a very useful update and link to the Report and to the status of the review, see: https://www.liverycommittee.org/city-corporation-governance-review-update-in-response-to-lord-lisvane-report/
The recommendations proposed and passed at the Policy and Resources Committee in November (mentioned in the letter) were agreed at a long, but useful, meeting of Court of Common Council on December 9th. They will be implemented from April 2022.
You can watch the Common Council on YouTube here:
Some Livery Companies also took action to write to the members of the Common Council about a challenge to a planning permission granted in respect of a building in Houndsditch.
The building (if built) would be tall and immediately adjacent to a residential area. The residents who submitted a challenge felt that the wrong decision had been made by the Planning and Transportation Committee and wanted to bring this to the Common Council to overturn. Unusually the Council was lobbied by many interests and took the view that they should not consider the application as it was in breach of process.
As a property lawyer, I would like to stress how important real estate is to the economy of the City and the UK. Local authorities (including the City of London) in the UK have statutory and proper process to approve planning applications, and there are clear avenues for individuals to pursue objection or appeal. The relevant committee is obliged to weigh up these issues, assess planning applications & objections vs statutory parameters and governmental planning practice guidance (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/planning-practice-guidance ), take advice and ultimately decide on the application.
Activities at the Old Bailey
The Old Bailey’s business continues with many high profile trials but inside the building the human interaction is positive. Sheriff Nick and I, with Glenn and Felicity, were taken on a tour of the basement and found the boilers. Critical as the weather changes, they are also part of a £38 million pound investment by the City Corporation who own the building which is in need of a serious upgrade in many aspects. The boilers are being replaced by more efficient, smaller and cleaner models and we all hope to keep warm and well this winter and for decades to come.
The City Corporation’s Property Investment Board based their away day at the Old Bailey. (I am a member of the Board). After an in depth review of our large £4bn property portfolio and some strategic thinking for our future needs, I took the Board on a tour and they enjoyed the cells, the Roman Wall as well as the new boilers!
Livery and Ward Club attendance
I had a variety of events with Livery Companies and Ward Clubs. The Masons’ Livery award The Duke of Gloucester’s Awards every two years and last time they were awarded I attended as Master Plaisterer. The skill of the craftsmen is exceptional.
See it at: https://www.masonslivery.org/the-duke-of-gloucester-awards-2021/
I always enjoy making speeches and was pleased to be the guest at the Broad Street Ward Club. You might enjoy my sense of humour in this speech: https://www.alisongowman.org/blog/speech-to-the-broad-street-ward-club The envelope handed to me was for the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund and not my fee ( I come free on all occasions).
I have been pleased to attend many Christmas events including the Bailey’s own carol service and homegrown choir of superb voices. With the Lord Mayor I turned on the lights at a bespoke and unique Christmas tree on the balcony of the Mansion House.
Rivalling the tree in Trafalgar Square for adverse comments, this reflected the need to think about waste this Christmas. Designed by artist Áinne Burke, it was made of items that have been recovered from the City’s refuse – drinks cans, batteries, construction detritus and packaging. Whilst it does not look glamourous the news item whizzed around the world, proving that news can be mercurial ( if not fickle), see: https://www.euronews.com/2021/12/01/lord-mayor-of-the-city-of-london-unveils-a-rubbish-christmas-tree
I turned on the lights at the wonderful tree outside St Paul’s Cathedral accompanied by singers from St Paul’s Cathedral School choir. However by far the largest crowd was at Leadenhall Market. The retailers here have had a very difficult time during the pandemic and the City Corporation, as Landlords, have been supportive of the plans to bring people back to shop in the City. The Markets’ Committee ( on which I sit) were entertained at various shops and restaurants and I broke my “ no drink” rule to share a glass with Andrien Meyers, the Chair of the Property Investment Board.
Just before Christmas the City Corporation with the Mayor of London produced a one-off spectacle in Guildhall Yard – Borealis. No tricks or skulduggery but beautiful coloured lights projected onto a created mist that provided both eerie and ethereal designs overhead.
With those gentle colours and music echoing in my memory can I conclude by wishing you a peaceful and healthy New Year.
For the City of London November means the Lord Mayor’s Show and the transition of power with a new Lord Mayor. The other international event was the COP26 Climate Summit and a pivotal time for the City and the world to transition to net zero.
Installation of new Lord Mayor
The weekend starts with the Silent Ceremony – the most moving event in the calendar as the new Lord Mayor makes a short declaration and the insignia of office are presented to him in silence. Next day, the Lord Mayor’s Show is a full programme of fun and purpose. Watch highlights at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyu9guWMczk I was pleased to see both the Glovers’ and Plaisterers’ floats in my honour this year! I also enjoyed the Upholders where I am an honorary Liveryman alongside the Lord Mayor. Photo credit: Gerald Sharp
For the Lord Mayor, the Show is punctuated by two formal events – one is the blessing at St Paul’s Cathedral and secondly the stop at the Royal Courts of Justice to make the oath of allegiance to the Queen in front of the Lord Chief Justice and other senior judges. Neither have I been able to photograph as I am not present at St Paul’s (being in an earlier carriage) and the Courts ban photography. See my book The City of London: who, what, why if you want to know more! Find it at: - https://www.alisongowman.org/how-the-city-of-london-works.html
On Monday 15th November the Lord Mayor’s Banquet took place and the splendour and delight of the Guildhall is a wonder to behold. The Banquet is hosted by the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs and we believe our planning came to a successful conclusion. Fine speeches by the principal guests included a tour de force by our new Lord Mayor Alderman Vincent Keaveny.. Read it at: https://news.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lord-mayor-calls-on-city-to-boost-social-mobility-and-deploy-finance-for-social-impact/
The Prime Minister spoke on foreign policy - https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-to-the-lord-mayors-banquet-15-november-2021 And the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a thoughtful speech reminding us of the important foundations of people, vision and God’s faithfulness which should make us bold and give us hope -https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/speaking-writing/speeches/archbishops-speech-lord-mayors-banquet
Old Bailey news
A dedicated member of the Shrieval team retired just at the end of October, Nick Lee. Nick had been a footman at the Bailey for decades and was a font of knowledge and stories about the place and the people. It was a testimony to his popularity that so many City folk knew him. He was an invaluable help to Sheriff Nick and me in the start of our year. He leaves for a happy retirement with his boat in Devon.
We have had a cautious start to the lunches with the Judges and are now hosting guests on about 4 days a week. I held the first themed lunch in November which was on the topic of Property – one of my focuses this year. The coats of the arms of the Sheriffs appear on the wall in the Judges’ Dining Room and ours are now on show in the long line with all the previous Sheriffs who have served the City so well.
The international event that I have been working towards for some time and on which the whole world is depending landed in Glasgow from 1 – 12 November. You cannot have missed it! I attended in the second week for the day focussing on Cities, Regions and Built Environment. I took part in the Green Zone Carbon Trust panel session:
Enhancing ambition on climate change in cities and regions, speaking about the work of the City of London’s Climate Action Strategy; our huge ambition and how to achieve it. I attended various other events including the UK100 hub, which is a confederation of cities and regions of the UK who have pledged to meet net zero.
I had a useful bilateral with a representative of the Mexican Minister of Finance, pursuing my work in Latin America. Since COP I seem to have done a lot of talking or writing about it! Including at the Rotary Club in Mayfair and with the World Traders’ Livery online.
Read my blogs here https://www.alisongowman.org/blog
My mother Livery Company, the Glovers, held an impressive seminar on the history of gloves and glovemaking at the Old Bailey and had the benefit of noted medieval historian Professor Caroline Barron as well as our own Liveryman Mike Redwood and Peter Brown. We learned a lot about the medieval context in which the glovemakers thrived and created beautiful and intricate gloves for adornment. Supreme examples of these are part of the Glove Collection Trust held at the Fashion Museum in Bath -
I have attended several Livery dinners and learned a lot about the various companies. A distinct theme has been developing around the maritime industry and the interplay with the aviation sector regarding the use of heavy fuels and transition to more sustainable energy sources.
It started at the Green Aviation Conference convened by the Air Pilots and Scientific Instrument Makers where I spoke ( see contemporaneous article in Air Pilot - https://www.airpilots.org/news-and-comment/air-pilot-magazine/) A really compelling story was discussed of the need to innovate but with news of ideas and improvements over time. The air sector were looking to maritime to collaborate on ideas and dining with the Shipwrights, Master Mariners and Baltic Exchange ( all separately) it was clear that this was a common aim. I hope that some engagement might blossom in this important area as the success of these sectors is vital to our trade.
Alderman & Sheriff Alison Gowman
Welcome to my first newsletter as Sheriff and, as promised, a catch up on all that I have been doing in my first few weeks.
Needless to say the start was very busy: getting used to a new office at the Old Bailey, the dress changes and luxury of a footman and car were all a bit bewildering. I will unpick more of that as the year goes by.
The schedule is however quite hectic and I cannot summarise all that I have done but I want to give a flavour and report on some of the elements that may not be in the public eye or may need other comment.
Life at the Bailey
The usual apartments are undergoing much needed refurbishment and so Nick and I have been allocated offices that are otherwise used for Judges and are surplus at present. These provide a desk and space for small meetings and somewhere to change for the evening events. An early visitor to my room was the Harris’s Hawk that is regularly flown to deter the pigeons that seem to gather in old buildings such as the Bailey.
Real life at the Bailey, of course, consists of the busy Courts and in my first week there were two significant cases that caught the headlines.
The sentencing of Wayne Couzens who murdered Sarah Everard and the first hearing in relation to the murder of the south London primary school teacher Sabina Nessa. I have a particular interest in the treatment in the criminal justice system of violence against women and children and you will see this become an issue on which you will hear more from me.
The first day of duty on 29th September is also the Election of the Lord Mayor, where the new Sheriffs with the Common Serjeant act as the tellers of the Livery vote. It was slightly more complicated this year with both my Co-Sheriff and I in nomination for Lord Mayor. The Livery favoured Vincent Keaveny and then Nick Lyons and the Aldermen chose Vincent, as expected! I was happy to be called out for “later”.
The Sheriffs have an important second part to their installation which is the ancient Quit Rents Ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice where the approval of the Queen is given to the election of the Sheriffs by the Livery ( back in June). The ceremony is preceded by a river trip from Tower to Temple Pier and it was fitting that we were photographed by Tower Bridge. Nick is the Alderman of Tower Ward and I am the former chair of the City Bridge Trust that is linked to the City bridges.
Knuckling down to business
I am always happy promoting sustainability and the City Corporation are working hard on this topic to meet their Climate Action Strategy commitments. A report on the first 6 months shows that the City is on track with its milestones. I was therefore pleased to attend and open the Meet the Cities event held with Westminster City Council and ReLondon encouraging collaborative work between innovative SMEs and large construction companies around the circular economy.
I was delighted to act as Representative Lord Mayor at the City of London School for Girls prize day in Great Hall. I had been the chair of Governors for a period spanning the Millennium and so it was poignant to see the girls still high achievers in academic, sporting and cultural pursuits. No hand shaking due to Covid but over 80 girls were awarded prizes. I did consider that they reintroduce the curtsey that was still used in 2000 but that did not go down well!
Similar Covid conditions meant that the Glaziers’ Livery Company Stevens’ Competition was held on Zoom. I announced and presented the virtual prizes for a design for a stained glass window at Haberdashers’ Girls’ School and was pleased at the innovation in such an ancient craft.
The Sheriffs’ calendar includes many events with Livery Companies and it is wonderful to share some magnificent dinners either in Mansion House or elsewhere. I have been delighted to receive an occasional posy of flowers that grace my Old Bailey office. Whilst largely events of fun and fellowship I have found out a lot about the unsung work of the Livery Companies ( Cooks Livery donating some £500,000 this year to Covid related and other charities; meeting young apprentice Kemi an aspiring Haberdasher; putting a Consort in touch with a Livery that they may well join; and everywhere a positive response to the Livery Climate Action Group that I lead!).
Sheriffs’ Bravery Awards
The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals chose the Old Bailey for their dinner and the presentation of the 2021 Sheriffs’ Bravery Award. I was truly humbled to give this to Lukasz Koczocik. He was chosen to receive this due to the bravery he had shown at the terrorist attack at Fishmongers’ Hall in November 2019. This honour will be marked on the board and in the book displayed outside the Judges’ Dining Room for all to see.
Photo copyright Gerald Sharp.
Livery Climate Action Group
Some of you will already have heard about this network of Livery members and Companies who are looking at how we can all reduce our carbon emissions in line with the City Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy. After 9 months of concerted work, three seminars and lots of research and writing the Group launched its website and the invite to everyone to join. Over 200 joined our virtual event and since then many have signed up.
Please see our new Livery Climate Action Group website and consider joining to find out more. There is no fee or qualification – just an aim to work together to reduce emissions and leave the planet in a better state for the future.
Just before I started in my role as Sheriff my Church ( Hinde Street Methodist Church) kindly blessed me in my work including the following words:
“..sustain and equip, we pray, all who give their time and energy to serve in our various communities as elected councillors and leaders. As Alison takes on the high office of Sheriff of the City of London, we pray your blessing on her today…”
This was echoed in the City Prayer Breakfast on 10th October at Holy Sepulchre High Holborn where the combined congregation prayed for the work of the City in all its guises and where I also read a lesson. It is good to know that the City is living up to the motto on its crest Domine Dirige Nos.
Alderman & Sheriff Alison Gowman