By tradition the Company begins the evening of its annual Nomination Dinner each November with a service of Thanksgiving , this year at the Lord Mayor’s Church St Stephen Walbrook adjacent to the Mansion House, by courtesy of the Rev’d Stephen Baxter. The service was conducted by the Gunmakers’ Honorary Chaplain, Col the Rev David Cooper who gave a barnstorming address woven around the lesson read by the Outgoing Master, 2 Samuel 1.17 when David laments the death of Saul and his son Jonathan. Former Lord Mayor, Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley kindly played the organ accompanying a soprano solo and trumpet for Geoffrey Burgon’s Nunc Dimittis (from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) while trumpet descants were provided for the hymns including ‘For All the Saints’ in recognition of the proximity to All Saints, All Souls Day and in remembrance of those Liverymen who have passed away during the year, Past Master David Caldow, Past Master Garter King of Arms Conrad Swan, and liveryman Peter Dineley.
The Outgoing Master and Wardens returned to the Mansion House where they received 340 members of the Livery and their guests before processing into dinner led by prize-winning Air Cadet drummer Louis Sacarello, whose fellow cadets had provided the footguard for the reception.
During dinner, in the Egyptian Hall, guests were entertained with the Post Horn Gallop which suddenly burst forth from the gallery, provided by London Fanfare Trumpets. Initially presided over by the outgoing Master, Mrs Diana Berry took wine with the new Liverymen, and later spoke about the Company’s achievements during the previous year, thanking the many people who had made them happen, in particular helping to hit the target for her Master’s charity. She also spoke about the Company’s military liaisons and announced that the Gunmakers’ Class I Armourer’s Award had been awarded to Lance Corporal Adam Mountain of the Royal Marines, the first time it had been won by a Marine. She also presented the McMillan Trophy to Vincent Lafont pointing out that it is not necessarily awarded every year (see photo)
Mrs Berry thanked the representative Lord Mayor Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley for not only acting host on behalf of the Lord Mayor but also for lending his skills at the organ. Finally before proposing the Civic Toast, the outgoing Master drew attention to the appropriateness of the Gunmakers’ Company dining on Bonfire night with the ditty: Please to remember The Fifth of November, Gunmakers’ powder and shot; I see no reason Why the Gunmakers season Should ever be forgot
The installation of the new Master Mr Roddy Richmond-Watson followed, who then spoke a little of his background, describing himself as ‘a simple Oxfordshire farmer’ which his audience well knew to be far too humble a description. The grandson of a Cumbrian farmer who headed south to become the founder of the West London Shooting School in 1901, Mr Richmond-Watson continues the family business today making him well placed to recognise the challenges ahead for shooting in all its forms.
The new Master then welcomed the Company guests who included Rear Admiral Andrew Burns OBE, Commander UK Maritime Forces; Colonel Ed Heal OBE, Commandant, Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers; Major Matthew Williams, Royal Marines, MBS; and Major Daniel Lenherr, 2 i/c The Light Dragooons. He then introduced the guest of honour, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lamont of Lerwick, before proposing a toast to all the guests. Lord Lamont talked about the history of duelling, and how he shared with the new Master a love of ornithology, and then touched on Brexit only by saying that everyone would do well to recall the words of Her Majesty the Queen before the Scottish Referendum, that she hoped ‘”people will think very carefully about the future” . The evening closed with a Stirrup Cup.