The Entrepreneurs’ Summer Banquet enjoys a justifiable reputation as an evening of serious City glamour, and, in spite of some dramatic and unseasonal weather, Freemen Entrepreneurs and their guests looked immaculate for the event on Tuesday 6th June. The Summer Banquet is the second of the two principal feasts of the Guild year (the first being the Installation Dinner in November), and was this year, by kind permission of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, held at the beautiful Cutlers’ Hall.
With the Senior Warden, Mr Alderman Hewitt JP, presiding in lieu of the Master, Freemen and guests were invited into the Court Rooms for reception drinks and conviviality. The melody of conversation was matched by blissful music, courtesy of talented violinist Miss Jess Murphy, and ever-livelier partitas swelled the clamour of discussion in anticipation of the feast to come.
The Beadle gavelled solemnly for dinner, and the guests made their way eagerly yet decorously up the handsome staircases to the Livery Hall. Many were visibly astonished at the grandeur of this most exclusive of Halls, famed for its Victorian hammerbeam roof, captivating woodcarvings and artistry. To a stately march, the Beadle led in the Senior Warden and the principal guests to take their places and all remained standing and silent as the Chaplain declaimed a moving eulogy in memory of the life and legacy of Sir Paul Judge, the Guild’s Foundation Master and Sponsoring Alderman, who died so suddenly on May 21st. An elegant grace followed, and seats were taken.
The Cutlers’ historic collection of plate gleamed brightly in silver and gold behind the Senior Warden’s chair, and, as candles flickered in the evening twilight, the glow illuminated an elegant scene of formal dining quite unchanged by the passing centuries. Course after course followed – delicate fish, juicy poultry – and culminated in an exceptional dish of sabayon ice-cream and fragrant poached oranges. The accompanying wines were refined and generous.
Grace was sung and a Loving Cup shared – the ritual now so familiar to Freemen, and to many guests – accompanied by some cheerful playing of the Cutlers’ grand piano by Mr Paul Knappett.
Toasts followed, and the Junior Warden rose to welcome, on behalf of the Guild, the Masters/Prime Warden of six Livery Companies, amongst an impressive list of official guests representing the Guild’s many partner organisations, friends and affiliates.
The Master Carpenter, Mr Alistair Gregory-Smith
The Prime Warden Shipwright, Mr Archibald Smith (accompanied by the Clerk, Lt Col Richard Cole-Mackintosh)
The Master Builders’ Merchant, Mr Stephen Turner (accompanied by the Clerk, Ms Virginia Rounding)
The Master Actuary, Mrs Sally Bridgeland
The Master Hackney Carriage Driver, Mr Alan Roughan (accompanied by the Clerk, Mrs Mary Whitworth)
The Master Educator, Dr Martin Haskell (accompanied by the Clerk, Dr Misha Hebel)
Representing the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Captain Simon Carter RN and Air Vice Marshal Chris Luck MBE
Representing Roedean School, Ms Sasha Glynn
Representing London Business School, Dr Jeff Skinner
Representing Bathtub2Boardroom, Mr Paddy Willis
The personal guest of the Master Entrepreneur, Mr Dick Carruthers
A warm welcome was extended to Dr Doug Gurr, the UK Country Manager for Amazon, who, following the toast, rose to respond on behalf of the guests. Dr Gurr’s entrepreneurial experiences, and his unique insight into global and innovative business, were inspiring and educating in equal measure, and the assembly was both challenged and entertained by his words. Dr Gurr proposed a toast to the Guild, and the Freemen and guests responded generously with applause.
It was then the turn of the Senior Warden to respond, who took as his theme the many unsung glories of the City’s civic machinery, and tales of the City’s astonishing wealth and philanthropy. A final rousing (if, perhaps, apocryphal) anecdote and the Banquet concluded with the recessional march back to the Court Rooms for a cleansing ale, and animated conversations long into the evening.
The Summer Banquet 2018 will be on Tuesday 5th June
All images are property of the Guild of Entrepreneurs and are © Jonathan Cherry