A warm spring evening saw 140 members and guests assemble at Saddlers Hall for the spring dinner. The clement weather led to some expressing disappointment that the reception was inside the fourth hall that the Saddlers have built in Gutter Lane. The first, built in 1393, was destroyed in the Great Fire, the second also succumbed to flames in 1821 (although by this time fire insurance had been invented which eased the financial pain of re-building). The third hall was destroyed during the Blitz with the consequence that the current, beautiful, hall is relatively modern.
Fortified by a glass of bubbly at the convivial reception, we braced ourselves for Common Hall which in fact was over almost before it started with the Master claiming the record for the shortest ever Annual General Meeting! An excellent meal of salmon and venison followed although initially some of us, perhaps with limited culinary knowledge, expressed anxiety about the unfamiliar menu description of dessert as Sussex Pond Pudding, which, of course, proved to be totally unfounded.
The assembled company replete, the Junior Warden, Mike Jeans, formally introduced the four new livery members who had been clothed at the Court Meeting earlier: David Allen, Liz Rylatt, Rod Sellers, and David Adams.
The Senior Warden, Mark Spofforth, then rose to welcome all our guests, mentioning individually the five Masters of fellow Livery Companies in attendance and the guest speaker, Gareth Davis. Gareth spent 35 years at Imperial Tobacco and was ranked 13th best performing CEO in the world by the Harvard Business Review. He also courted controversy by holding three chairmanships at the same time. Gareth’s erudite response to the toast was wide ranging. He began by commenting that the sung grace had been performed by the worst choir he had ever heard then went on to reveal his 12 rules for good leadership which were poignant and illuminating as well as giving us an insight into some of the reasons for his success in business. However it was perhaps rule 12 that most of us remembered as it is “most of all have fun”. Like all good speakers he finished on a high with an amusing anecdote about our wildest dreams.
The Master then presented a ceremonial sword to the Harrow and Wembley Sea Cadets which was accepted on their behalf by Petty Officer Richard Crick. The formalities were concluded by the Master reminding us of, and encouraging our participation in, forthcoming events. We finally retired for a Stirrup Cup and tried to remember the 12 rules.