The Election Court Banquet 2021
One of the obligations of The Company of Entrepreneurs under its Ordinances is to host a feast to publicise the results of the Election Court. Originally planned to immediately follow July’s Election Court, the event was delayed due to COVID-19 until 8th September (thereby undoing some of the traditional surprise, as the results have been on the website and social media for nearly 10 weeks).
Freemen Entrepreneurs and their guests agreed, nevertheless, that the Banquet was well worth the wait. In most cases for the first time in over a year and a half, tailcoats and long dresses were dusted off, and medals and shoes neatly polished in anticipation of the return to a real-life event in the City of London. The late summer sunshine dappled the Courtyard of Tallow Chandlers’ Hall to warm the Master, Wardens and Court (emerging from their September Court Meeting), for a short ceremony of welcome for Freemen Entrepreneurs admitted virtually since April 2020, and to admit the first new Freeman since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Master, Mr Lars Andersen bade them all welcome, and entreated them to enjoy drinks and canapes in the Courtyard, to the vibrant accompaniment of violinist Lottie Greenhow.
Mindful of the long absence of such interaction, the Master had arranged for a long and leisurely reception for guests to freely enjoy fellowship and every last second of a beautifully warm evening. Punctuated by presentations to prizewinners and beneficiaries, the Beadle called for dinner just after sunset, and guests eagerly made their way to the Livery Hall.
Presenting an homage to his Nordic ancestry, the Master had chosen Norwegian salmon – generously portioned and exquisitely prepared – followed by rømmegrøt (a wheat pudding, prepared with soured cream and butter) – served not with traditional cured meats, but with a tangy compote of summer berries. The theme continued with the serving of akevitt – a Norwegian spirit, about which the Master spoke to explain its unique maturation process at sea. Opinion appeared divided over the appropriate rate of consumption of this drink, but, reassured by the Master, all stood to toast in Norwegian, and as many politely sipped as eagerly gulped!
Lottie Greenhow, self-taught on the 9-stringed Hardanger fiddle, returned and entertained with a selection of folk melodies – in equal parts eerie and joyful, and the encore “halling” (a hat dance) had the guests stamping and clapping along in delight.
The evening’s principal guest was Alderman Sir Charles Bowman. Introduced by the Junior Warden, who paid tribute to Alderman Bowman’s mayoralty (as the 690th Lord Mayor 2018-19), and his continuing chairmanship of the Pan-Livery Steering Group. Sir Charles’s report into pan-livery philanthropy earlier this year had, he said, made for heartening reading – encouraging and inspiring the Company to do as much as it could to support the great charitable mission of the City’s Livery Companies.
Sir Charles continued in reply, talking about his experiences in office, and, in particular, about championing trust in business. He expressed his delight at the continued growth and success of the Company of Entrepreneurs, and especially its wide and diverse membership. He was pleased to note that the traditional City principle the “my word is my bond” was alive and well amongst the assembled business founders, accelerators, and educators – underlining the continuing importance of trust in the City and its enterprises. His heart-felt toast to the Company of Entrepreneurs was enthusiastically endorsed by the assembled Freemen and guests.
The Master thanked Sir Charles warmly, extemporising on the themes of enterprise with reference to the historic rivalry between entrepreneurial wax chandlers and tallow chandlers. He concluded with an invitation to all to enjoy further refreshments before their homeward journey, and, to some slightly mischievous musical accompaniment, this most successful of evenings drew to a close.
Charity, in particular, is a theme of the Election Court Banquet, and the University of East London and Billy Dennis were presented as 2021 beneficiaries of the Company of Entrepreneurs Trust. Many guests of the Company were present, representing sponsors and partner organisations. The Company is enormously grateful for the sponsorship of Founder Supporters PDA and the Briars Group and the current support of Moneypenny and Rathbones.
The Defence Academy of the United Kingdom was represented by the Commandant, Major General Andrew Roe, and by prizewinners Major Jon Healy and Mr Paul Bleackley in support of a growing partnership in military education and innovation. The Company of Entrepreneurs was especially pleased to welcome the Honorary Chaplain, the Reverend Canon David Parrott, to say grace before dinner.
The Master was honoured to host the Master Salter (Timandra Nichols), a representative of the Master Information Technologist (Senior Warden Alistair Fulton), and the Master World Trader (Mrs Sue Algeo). The Company acknowledged the generosity of the Tallow Chandlers’ Company for the use of its beautiful Hall, and gratitude to Life’s Kitchen for catering and service.
Music was provided by self-taught Norwegian folk instrumentalist Lottie Greenhow, and pianist Paul Knappett. Photographs are property of The Company of Entrepreneurs and © Jonathan Cherry.