Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Apologies To HRH

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (Figure 49.1) is one of the City of London’s most prominent Livery Companies. Once a City Guild responsible for regulating cloth merchants, it is today concerned principally with charity and education. Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, in Hertfordshire, is one of its many successes, being this year’s top independent boys’ school in the entire UK. It is an organization to which I feel privileged to belong. Should I – heaven forbid – kick the proverbial bucket before my children’s education is complete, the Company would grant assistance; not that my family would do anything other than decline its offer with gratitude and humility.

Figure 49.1: The Haberdashers’ Company plaque

Copyright © 2012 WCH

I became a Haberdasher at the age of 24, following in the footsteps of my father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. The honour I feel, with regard to both the Company and my Spradbery forebears, is immense. I was made a Freeman of the Company at the City’s (old) Haberdashers’ Hall by its then Master, Colonel David Sime, OBE (Figure 49.2), a delightful former soldier who had recently celebrated his 70th birthday. Sitting alongside him at lunch that day, he described the two of us as ‘a young bull and an old one,’ aptly referring to his cattle-breeding background. Prior to farming, he had read Economics at Cambridge and won the Military Cross during World War Two – not that he thought to mention either.

Figure 49.2: The inside cover of a book presented to me by Colonel Sime, on behalf of the Haberdashers’ Company, 22 years ago today. The ‘old bull’ passed away on 29th December, 2010, aged 90. I shall never forget the hours I spent with him.

Copyright © 1990 WCH

Last month, I received an invitation from the Company (Figure 49.3) to attend its Diamond Jubilee Ball at the new Hall (Figure 49.4), which had been opened by the Queen in 2002. HM did not attend; she was instead represented by The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Figure 49.5). Unfortunately, being hundreds of miles away, I could only apologize for my inevitable absence, which was a great pity.

Figure 49.3: Invitation to the Ball

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Figure 49.4: The new Haberdashers’ Hall, 18, West Smithfield, City of London. (Raining, naturally!)

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Figure 49.5: HRH The Earl of Wessex meets young musicians at the Hall. The Countess is obscured by the gentleman in the foreground.

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I was, however, sent a selection of photographs of the event. This is what I missed (Figures 49.6 to 49.9).

Figure 49.6: I have loved the happy sound of steelpans ever since attending the Notting Hill Carnival in 1988. I am sure the students in the picture were wonderfully entertaining.

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Figure 49.7: Dinner ...

 Copyright © 2012 WCH

Figure 49.8: ... dancing ...

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Figure 49.9: ... and more music ...

Copyright © 2012 WCH

Copyright © 2012 Paul Spradbery

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