From The Master, Dr Carolyn Boulter, DL
I write this as I approach my final week as Master and several people have asked me, “What have you enjoyed most this year?”. It is almost impossible to answer this question about a position that has so many facets. It has been a privilege and a joy to chair the Court, and a pleasure to feel the immense support and ability to work together that is a feature of our present membership. I have also enjoyed working with The Clothworkers’ Foundation Trustees, chaired by Alex Nelson. The Foundation, our charitable arm with its ever-growing grant giving, is – with Trusteeship and Textiles (which lie within the remit of The Company) – our raison d’être
. I am proud to be part of The Clothworkers’, with its wide range of charitable giving and, especially, to have visited some of The Foundation’s previous projects in the North East, as well as meeting representatives of many others. We have a very efficient grants team who keep it all running very smoothly.
The year has given me an opportunity to look back at my own Clothworker journey. My first speech as a liverywoman, in 2002, was a toast to The Company. I recall that I spoke of our Company as a great oak tree with deep roots in tradition, the textile industry and care for those in need. It draws up the water from that soil for its life. Then at the top its unfurling leaves, present members provide the energy for new growth, linked to the roots by the conducting trunk and branches.
So, today, I think my answer might be that, as Master, you can see the whole tree, its history, its new leaves, its generosity in giving to those in need, its energy in engaging with the growing textile industry in the UK, and its concern that the charitable sector governs itself well and that its membership champions good governance in the third sector.
But the actual Hall has its own life, too, from the basement with Joanne as CH&CO catering manager and Chef Adam, with his team, and Heather as our Steward. The cleaning and maintenance staff have their headquarters there. These roots of the building are vital to the life of the whole. As we journey up through the building we branch through the formal rooms, for meetings and hospitality, to our Hall, with its new tapestry, and the lovely Master’s Flat, all maintained by the cleaning staff and maintenance staff. The second floor provides for our clerk and his executive assistant, beadle and the reception desk, our membership and communications manager, as well as the archivists. On the third floor our crucial HR, finance, property and investment teams labour away down the hall from the grants team. However Clothworkers’ Hall evolves in the future, we must keep this precious sense of community.
As Master, one gets amazing insight into how our extraordinary community works together and that, for me, has also been one of the best parts – to be living here, collaborating with the staff as well as with members, watching it all function and being part of the community. In particular, Joss, as Clerk, has welcomed us here; our frequent meetings have been a great joy and enhanced the year for me.
I am immensely grateful for it all but especially to all the staff who have looked after Hugh and me so well, and the members who have encouraged us with lovely messages. We have been very privileged, and we thank you all.
Image: Master Dr Carolyn Boulter who, on an outing with the Great XII Livery Companies, posed with Master of the Pewterers' Company, Ann Buxton, and the Suffragette outlines representing women
working in Ironbridge who supported the cause a century ago.
Read a farewell message from the 2017-18 Consort below. A PDF of all the Master's speeches from this past year will soon be available on the Members' Area of the website, where we have also posted a playlist of a selection of recorded speeches (audio only).
From The Consort, Hugh Boulter
Just as Carolyn has been the first Lady Master of The Company, so I have been the first male Consort. As we chose to occupy the Master’s flat mid-week, returning home to Berkshire at the weekends, I have been keen to support Carolyn in her role as Master whenever possible and have come into frequent contact with many of the staff. They have been unfailingly cheerful and helpful.
Almost at the beginning of The Company’s year, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. From January to March, I had to have a lengthy course of radiotherapy at Guy’s Hospital. I was able to fulfil my commitments as Consort, but I have continued to have intermittent bouts of tiredness, and the staff have been very supportive to Carolyn and me, and I wish to thank them for that.
As a spouse or partner, I have had a programme of my own especially with the other spouses of the Great Twelve Livery Companies. This has included shared lunches at one anothers’ livery halls as well as visits to Billingsgate and Smithfield markets. We have frequently included the wives of the Lord Mayor and the Lay Sheriff, Samantha Bowman and Emma Redcliffe. It has been a chance for me to get a ‘feel’ for other livery companies and has confirmed my view that the Clothworkers', under the guidance of Joss, the Clerk, is in the forefront of forward-looking developments. This will stand The Company in good stead for the future.
The year has been a wonderful opportunity to meet a wide range of people and attend fascinating events: the opening of the new gallery at the V&A, a private viewing of the of the Monet exhibition at the National Gallery, Lord Williams giving an overview of British society at the time of the Restoration in 1660, and talking to the Lord Mayor about his recent visit to Palestine and Israel. Our connection with St Olave’s has also been a source of great support to me, as have my visits to St Paul's Cathedral. I attended a seminar on the Crucifixion led by Paula Gooder and Mark Oakley, hoping to meet one or two fellow theologians. There was an audience of well over 600!
Our year was framed by two remarkable excursions. In August, we travelled to Edinburgh at the invitation of the Scots Guards when we attended the Royal Tattoo. While there, we had time to visit Dovecot Studios, where the Chris Ofili tapestry, The Caged Bird’s Song
, was woven. Now, of course, it hangs in the Hall. The second trip was the Master’s outing to Oxford with visits to the Pitt Rivers Museum and the new Bodleian Library. It rounded off a memorable year, which we shall look back on with pleasure and pride.