Thank you to everyone who came to the Installation Dinner in October. Hats off too to all the staff at Butchers' Hall for providing for us so well on the night.
It was especially pleasing to have musical interludes provided by students from two Mercers' schools, the Royal Ballet School and SPGS. Thank you so much for them and their staff for helping create such a wonderfully optimistic atmosphere. Just what we all needed after the months of disruption! The Installation Dinner is a great tradition and one worth building upon. Guest speaker Victoria Wallace, Under Treasurer and Chief Executive at The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, and I in our words at the Dinner both reflected on the timeliness and richness of the Apprenticeship concept. Ours are both old institutions (ancient even, if we consider the age of the Mercers' Company), but at the same time bridging the gap between school and the working world are very much of the moment, given all the setbacks young people have experienced because of Covid 19. Young people need and deserve a helping hand now more than ever when starting out on their professional lives. Apprenticeship can help in that process and is needed now more than ever. For GMS to play its part in the recovery phase of (we pray) the post-pandemic period, there are some straightforward steps we can take, many of which are already in the making.
Firstly, our partnership with our family of Mercers' schools needs to be as strong as possible. Our new Partnership Agreement is designed to achieve that. I and the Wardens must use these as the basis for improved dialogue with Mercers' Heads and senior leadership teams. Schools have to know what we're about and how we can help their Sixth Forms. In particular this year I would like to see our Apprentices undertaking more projects in their schools of origin to support those students who have fallen behind because of the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. I have been contacted by at least three organisations with GMS links whose mission is to help narrow the achievement gap and build resilience in students still going through our partner schools.
Secondly, we all need to be clear how our programme for Year 12 and 13 students in Mercers' Scholars Sixth Forms have changed and the reasons for this. I am enormously heartened by recent presentations at Abingdon and Madeley Academy as part of this process. Such events - currently online but it is hoped more face-to-face in the future - help keep everyone clear, engaged and enthusiastic.
Thirdly, we need to harness our links to other Livery Companies and City institutions to ensure our social programme remains vibrant but, crucially, relevant to the needs of our Apprentices and Guildmen. I am thinking of potential future projects with the Old Bailey, the Middle Temple and the Royal Ballet School.
Although it was a sombre occasion, this week's Garden of Remembrance Service at St. Paul's was a poignant reminder if the appalling loss of life amongst members of our guilds and Livery companies. The attendance by Livery Companies and Guilds was most impressive and it was good to network with these, especially the Investment Managers, HR Professionals, Young Freemen and Launderers. I was pleased to represent GMS on your behalf. Thank you to Court members who donated to the RBL to mark the occasion. This is also a time to remember the fallen of the Mercers' School and the chain of events leading to its closure in the 1959. Heartening though to reflect that it was fellow Mercers school, Collyer's in Horsham, which played host to the evacuated pupils. It's that kind of a spirit of fellowship which our family today is so superbly placed to provide.
During the last six months it has become clear that a number of Guildmembers are involved in projects designed to support young people in schools struggling with the effects of lockdowns and the pandemic. I am thinking in particular of ImpactEd ( https://impacted.org.uk/covid-19 ) which Guildmember Freya Robson has relayed to me and also the Colet Mentoring initiative ( https://easya.io/colet-mentoring ) which has been set up under the aegis of both the St. Paul's schools. Both provide mentoring support not unlike the style of our own Apprenticeship programme but targeted at school-age pupils. To find out more, please follow the links or contact me. I look forward to seeing you at the forthcoming Carol Service at St. Margaret Lothbury church, London, EC2R 7HH on Friday 3rd December at 6.30pm. Here is the link for applying for tickets: https://theguildofmercersscholars.com/events . Please also look out for information about our soon-to-be-published updated history of the Guild, by Michael St.John Parker and Gerry Edwards (Past Masters).
Finally, please note that we are looking for a new Webmaster - a Job Description is attached to this Newsletter. Many thanks to Joe Shaffery for his hard work on this role over the last couple of years. Very best of luck to him in his career and software development endeavours.
Enjoy the attached photos and please note that what looks like a halo above the assembled Court at the Dinner has not been photoshopped, it is part of the wonderful glass and light setting of the Butchers' Hall Reception lounge!
Our next scheduled event will take place in early 2022. Details to follow in our next mailing.
With best wishes for the coming Advent and Christmas seasons.
John Weeds, Master