No shortage of warmth at Autumn Court Dinner

November 8th 2016

Report by Dennis Espley, photograph by Michael Warren

It was a cold and blustery night outside when we met in November at Carpenters’ Hall for the Autumn Court Dinner but there was no shortage of warmth from Liverymen and their guests in the hall. The Company’s silver was on display, setting off the fantastic autumn floral displays from Liveryman Stephen Crisp and his team of helpers.

The evening began with a thoughtful prayer from PM Tom Gough, prompting us to think of recently departed PMs Ramsay Shewell-Cooper and Janet Owen and their families.

The Master introduced new Liverymen Mrs Helen Potts, Mrs Modesta Visockiene, Mrs Katerina Heldring-Morris, and not least Jeremy Storey-Walker who responded with a characteristic flourish. All four had been admitted to the Livery at the Autumn Court that afternoon. There was also a presentation to Sue Thorne for her many years of excellent service to our livery; her colleague Major David Bredin was unable to be present.

The Master went on to thank the Howard family for their great generosity to the Company over 25 years, providing offices and facilities at Luke Street. SPM Sir David Howard was presented with what appeared to be a tin of biscuits!

Assistant Dennis Espley welcomed the many guests, in particular Masters Carpenter, Needlemaker, Tinplate Worker alias Wire Worker, and our Master’s personal guests by reference to an imaginary tapas meal.

We were fortunate to welcome as our principal guest and speaker Juliette Sargeant, 2016 Chelsea Gold Medal winner for her ‘Modern Slavery Garden’.

Renter Warden Margaret Prior with principal guest Juliette Sargeant at Carpenters' Hall.
Renter Warden Margaret Prior with principal guest Juliette Sargeant at Carpenters' Hall.

Juliet spoke of her early life at Lake Victoria, Tanzania, her move to the UK and her transition through education, aided by the Mercers’ Company, becoming a medical doctor and eventually training as a garden designer. She also helps train horticultural college students and is passionate about the benefits of horticulture whether simply providing much needed food or the therapeutic uses.

The following part of the evening was devoted to awards for horticultural students from RHS Hyde Hall, Kew, The Royal Parks, Capel Manor and Writtle.