John has been a Liveryman since 1971 and is a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. He is currently Almoner of that Company and Chairman of its Court Selection Committee. He is also an Honorary Liveryman of the Cutlers’ and Gunmakers’ Companies.
He was educated at Epsom College and Portsmouth University, where he obtained an Honours degree in Policing Sciences.
He served with the Metropolitan Police for 30 years, latterly within their Royalty Protection Department at Buckingham Palace, and retired in the rank of Chief Inspector. Between 1998 and 2000 he served as personal assistant to Sir Richard Scott, Vice-Chancellor of the High Court. He was appointed Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Cutlers in 2001 and remained there until 2013.
He was then appointed Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, where he served until his retirement in 2018.
He served as a Council member of St John Ambulance, London District between 1999 and 2001, and was chairman of the Livery Companies’ Clerks’ Association in 2011.
He is married to Susan, and they have a son and daughter.
John became Honorary Clerk to the Guild of Nurses in 2017 and worked tirelessly for six years, guiding the petition to the Court of Alderman to become a Company without Livery in 2020 and he was instrumental in the planning for, and preparation of, the Company’s petition for Livery status which was granted on May 15 2023. The Worshipful Company of Nurses owes a huge debt of gratitude to John for his role within the Company and the resulting development of it into the thriving organisation that it has become. John was installed as the first Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Nurses in recognition of his outstanding contribution. Although John has retired as Honorary Clerk, he continues as Clerk to the Trustees of the Company of Nurses Charitable Trust.
In May 2022 little did I know what an amazing opportunity was ahead of me in my year as Master of the Company of Nurses, including presenting the petition for the Company of Nurses to become the Worshipful Company of Nurses. Now, at the end of my year the overriding impression I am left with is one of collegiality and ambassadorial action!
This has been evident in a range of perspectives as the role has been varied and rich. There are a number of roles in which the Master leads and I would like to share my experience of these with you.
The Court and standing committees are the hub of our Company’s business. I am indebted to the contribution all committee chairs and members have made to make this such a successful year. The committee work has continued to be conducted using a blended approach of in person and on-line meeting. This has enabled us to achieve an inclusive approach to committee work. In the autumn of 2022, our Sponsoring Anderman, Sir Andrew Parmley indicated that the Company was ready to make an application for Worshipful Company status. As Christmas 2022 approached it was all hands on deck from a number of committee chairs and Founder Wardens as we took up the challenge. This was supported by our Honorary Clerk, without whom we would have not been able to achieve the necessary paperwork in readiness for the Petition. With very careful planning we put forward our Petition for Worshipful Company status in March 2023 and awaited with hopeful anticipation the deliberations of the Magistracy Committee on 15th May.
During the year, the Court has seen an increase of its membership with two new appointees, and this will build the capacity for collaborative discussions to shape the work of the Court. A warm welcome to our new appointees. A further opportunity arose for a new Military Liaison Officer, following the promotion of our Military Officer to Upper Warden. I am sure our military affiliations will continue to go from strength the strength.
Company presence in the City
It has been astonishing to be welcomed with such warmth from the City Livery Companies. This has been especially evident within the Health and Modern Livery Companies. Such an overt appreciation and public announcement has been heart-warming and motivating. AAs Master, I have been fortunate to have been invited to many City dinners, banquets, and lectures. All have enthusiastically demonstrated their support for the Company of Nurses being firmly present in the Livery world, and on your behalf, I am so appreciative of their accolades. I believe these relationships are sustainable and we will benefit from our collaborative engagement going forward.
One event I really enjoyed attending was the 600th Anniversary of Richard (Dick) Whittington, a previous Lord Mayor of London. He was actually Lord Mayor four times and most importantly, invested his money into the management of public health in the city. The Royal Paternoster Square Church holds his memorial, and it has a beautiful stained-glass window as a wonderful celebration of his contribution to the City. Interestingly, I was advised by the historian, that sadly he did not have a cat! However, he did build a ‘longhouse’ of 60 latrines located between Cannon Street Station and Southwark Bridge in an attempt to meet some of the sanitation requirements of the City. This was for use by both women and men and clearly an early appreciation of equality! I think we would be great supporters of his public health initiatives!
There would be much more I could say about the wonderful opportunities I have had to engage with other Companies and Liveries in the City. These events have been attended on your behalf as the Master of the Company of Nurses and I believe have set us firmly in the consciousness of the Livery world.
The Company has contributed to the work of the Livery Charities, notably the Livery kitchen initiative, the sleepout, led by the Lady Mayoress for helping the homeless and also the City Harvest which endeavours to enable food delivery to those who are in need of food. Our own Company charity has been pivotal in support of benevolence and sponsorship, I cannot thank them enough.
The submission of the petition for Livery towards the end of my year as Master has been a significant moment for all of my colleagues in the Company and especially for the Founders. The move from an idea in 2014, to the reality of securing the profession of nursing within the Livery world of the City of London has been momentous. I am proud of this achievement and hope I have been able to add to this endeavour.
On a final note, I am pleased to provide the Company with a new Master’s gown, in part as a thank you for my opportunity to be Master during this year, but also in recognition of my Mother who was incredibly supportive of the Founder Wardens work.
It has been an honour and enormous pleasure to serve as Master of the Company of Nurses and I have been very lucky to have experienced many wonderful events. My term of office was due to start in May 2020 but it became apparent that life was going to be very different following the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. Past Master Elizabeth Turnbull and I proposed that she would extend her term until October and then I would take on the role for a further eighteen months. Little did I think that when my installation was scheduled for May 2021 that we would still be unable to meet in person. However, I was delighted that Lord Mayor Elect Vincent Keaveny attended as the speaker at the virtual installation.
The first half of my term of office was spent continuing to support our Freemen during the ups and downs of the impact of the pandemic and to support business continuity ensuring our meetings were held virtually. We all became proficient at using Zoom and our Freemen enjoyed many virtual social events including virtual city walks, wine tasting and some interesting presentations. Many of our Freemen were involved in supporting the vaccination programme at the start of 2021, myself included, and I was very proud to represent our profession in the City during this time.
I also attended many Livery meetings with my fellow Masters and attended several lectures. I was invited to jointly chair the Worshipful Company of Glaziers at an online presentation from the artist who was commissioned to make a stained-glass window commemorating Florence Nightingale's bicentennial birthday.
Once the restrictions started to lift, we tentatively emerged back into the City to pick up some of the Livery events. It was so good meet fellow Masters in person rather than on screen. I enjoyed the hospitality from several Companies including the Barber Surgeons, Apothecaries, Cutlers, Needlemakers, Clockmakers, Firefighters and many more. I was fortunate to enjoy white tie events at Mansion House and experience the wonderful chasing of horns played from the balcony.
The first major Company of Nurses event in person was the Church service in October followed by a dinner in November. It was a privilege to at last be able to host a formal dinner, and the setting of Barber Surgeons Hall was splendid. All enjoyed the opportunity to be together and we celebrated the gift of our first piece of silverware presented by Jane Carey Harris.
The petitioning for the Company Grant of Arms made good progress with a fabulous event at the Old Bailey to launch the fundraising for this important milestone in our history. Huge thanks go to Freeman Alex Hayward and her Husband, Sheriff Christopher Hayward, for hosting the event and providing such an entertaining and informative afternoon.
Some of the highlights of my eighteen months include researching and restoring the grave of Annie Brewster, an African Caribbean Nurse who worked at the London Hospital and whose grave had fallen into disrepair. Another was the opportunity to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s Charity by joining a sleepout at Guildhall with the Lady Mayoress. The presentation of four beautiful silver goblets from the Barbers, Cutlers, and Apothecaries Companies as an expression of their fellowship and support was also a highlight. I also accompanied the Lady Mayoress to the Florence Nightingale Museum and gave her a replica lamp from the Company. During my year, three of our Freemen held important roles in the City: Amanda Keaveny as Lady Mayoress, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE (Honorary Freeman) as Bishop of London and Alex Hayward as Consort to the Sheriff.
There were so many other events in which I was delighted to represent our Company and felt so privileged to be able to do so. I would like to thank the Wardens and Court Assistants for their support and the Honorary Clerk John Allen who looks after the Master and business of the Company so expertly. Lastly, the Company of Nurses would not continue to thrive without the support of all the Freemen so thank you for ensuring the Company’s success.
It goes without saying that to serve as Master has been an enormous privilege and I have been very grateful for the opportunity to represent the nursing profession. Of course, when we came together in May 2019 for my installation banquet – a glorious evening in the sun - on board HQS Wellington, none of us had any idea of how events would unfold within the next year and affect all nurses everywhere.
I knew that after four years as a Guild and provided that all the criteria could be met for progression to a Company without Livery, one of my main tasks ahead was to prepare the petition for the Court of Aldermen of the City of London. This involved revisiting the Handbook, which contains the Company’s Constitution, Ordinances, Rules, Procedures and the Terms of Reference of the standing committees and also included making decisions with regard to the more obvious changes. To receive such support from many other, well established, Livery companies gave us all enormous encouragement, but we could not presume anything!
Of course, by the time the Court of Aldermen were due to meet to examine our petition, the whole country was in lockdown and so, for the first time in history and, by special dispensation, the meeting was held virtually and on May 12th 2020 - that most auspicious of days in the nursing calendar – The Company of Nurses was recognised as a Company without Livery.
Until March 2020, I was able to participate in some moving and wonderful events and treated to most generous hospitality. The Florence Nightingale Commemoration service at Westminster Abbey, laying a wreath at the tomb of Florence Nightingale at East Wellow church, the service for the Clergy Support Trust at St Paul’s, the ceremony to commemorate Edith Cavell and planting a cross on behalf of the Company in the Garden of Remembrance at St Paul’s – all these are experiences that I will remember for a long time. I also attended some fascinating lectures organised by other Livery companies and met many interesting Liverymen from varied backgrounds.
As the Covid-19 pandemic developed in the first months of 2020, the decision was taken to extend the Master’s year until October, to provide stability and continuity as Freemen were being asked to return to work, redeployed and to self isolate. I feel very fortunate to have been in touch with so many remarkable nurses and heard stories of their experiences working in hospital or community settings, staying busy at home or looking after their family members or neighbours. To meet old friends and make new ones has been a delight and I shall never forget my time as Master of The Company of Nurses.
I had the great honour of serving as the second Master of the Guild of Nurses from May 11th 2018 to May 10th 2019. The nurse’s lamp, the symbol of our vocation, was given into my care at the installation dinner from the Foundation Master. I passed it on a year later.
Over the course of the most amazing year, I represented the Guild at over 45 events. These included lunches, dinners and lectures within the City of London. At one dinner the Broderers Company presented the Guild with a banner they had made for us. New to the Guild that year was attendance at the Clergy Support Trust service at St. Pauls Cathedral, the Silent ceremony at Guildhall, and supporting the Lord Mayor at the city university degree ceremony held at the Barbican. In April 2019 the Guild became part of the newly formed health liveries group and we had our first meeting at Apothecaries’ Hall.
Of course The Guild had many of its own events, one of which was its first court dinner, held at the magnificent Cutlers’ Hall; an event we trust will become annual. As Master I also attended the Cavell Trust’s gatherings including the wreath laying ceremony at Edith Cavell’s statue by St Martin -in-the Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, when I read a poem written by a nurse who served in World War 1.
I felt very privileged to be entrusted with the Mastership and was hugely welcomed and supported by the city livery movement, not to mention all members of the Court of The Guild of Nurses and especially the Foundation Master, Brenda Griffiths, and my upper Warden, Elizabeth Turnbull. And lastly, I would also like to thank John Allen, our Honorary Clerk for his tireless work on our behalf.
It was an honour and a privilege to serve as the first Master of the Guild of Nurses. My official term of office started at our first installation banquet on 12 May 2016. In preparation for the Court of Aldermen recognising us as a City of London Guild we had created a shadow Court the previous year and had all worked hard to get to this point. The event at Guildhall was the culmination of much hard work and it was an emotional experience for everyone there. All the Founders made their Declaration as Freemen of the Guild and I was installed as the Foundation Master. My first task was to admit our Sponsoring Alderman, Sir Andrew Parmley, as our first Honorary Freeman. There followed a stream of nurses, all joining this new venture and it was an honour to admit them to the Guild. It was a most joyful occasion full of laughter, conversation, ceremony and friendship. It was a wonderful celebration for us all.
That inaugural year was one of great activity and the contribution made by everyone to make it a success was unbounded. All were volunteers and every challenge was met with enthusiasm and effort. For such organisations to thrive, leadership and teamwork are essential and as the year went by it became clear that the City was increasingly interested in us and so was our profession. Applications to join us flooded in and invitations to city events also increased. The workload was huge.
The Master is the representative of our Guild and this responsibility can never be taken lightly. I was very proud to represent the Guild at City, London and national events. There was so much to learn, so much convention and etiquette that I needed to get right and so much to remember and enjoy. Two memories stand out for me – firstly, the wonderful range of people and professions involved in the Livery movement and the courtesy and welcome they gave willingly to me and to the nurses. Secondly, the singing of the national anthem resonating around the dining rooms of the magnificent Livery Halls, loud and tuneful sung in dignity and fellowship. I had not heard anything like it since my days as a Brownie! Not so joyful was the need to change from daywear to evening dress in the Ladies at Blackfriars Station. I had yet to learn that most venues offer changing facilities.
The Court decided that it would be unwise to change leadership after only 12 months and so all our roles remained unchanged for a second year. Whilst the Guild grew, so did our commitments and invitations to City events increased. We paraded in the Lord Mayor’s Show and watched as our Sponsoring Alderman became the 689th Lord Mayor of London. Our great honour was to host the Lord Mayor, his two Sheriffs of London (also to become Lord Mayors) and their wives at our second banquet at Guildhall. An honour for the entire Civic Party to join us - thought to be unique in the history of any Guild. A very personal memory is that the Lord Mayor surprised me with a rendition of Happy Birthday. It was indeed my birthday and such a glorious one at that!
It was wonderful to see the Guild blossom and develop into an active and successful venture. This did not happen by accident and it is a testimony to all involved that we maintained our status and grew at an incredible rate. It was busy all the time – emails, meetings, discussions and decisions flooded in and all needed attention. This was all managed with a good humour and an enthusiasm that absolutely reinforces belief that if you want something done, ask a busy nurse. As Master, the ultimate responsibility was mine, but I was never let down and always supported by such a great team.
We spent considerable time and gave much thought to the installation of the new Master. We decided that such a ceremony should reflect our profession, the dignity and responsibility of the position and be inclusive of all. And so our Installation Ceremonial was born. I was delighted to Pass the Lamp into the care of my Upper Warden, Helen Pickstone, at our third banquet at Guildhall. I was sure in the knowledge that the Guild would be in excellent hands. And it was.
The Guild of Nurses.......may it flourish root and branch for ever
Master 2016 – 2018
Foundation Past Master
Keith was educated at Colfe's Grammar School (as it then was), the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn and Birkbeck and Heythrop Colleges of the University of London. He married Jane almost fifty years' ago and they now have four children and seven grandchildren. He spent thirty five years on a London Petty Sessional Division as a Justice of the Peace, he is a Methodist Local Preacher, is much involved with Gray's Inn, and was Honorary Treasurer of the College of Preceptors for twenty years.
He is a career educationist having spent half his working life in the groves of academe and the other half administering professional and learned societies. He began that working life at the Plastics Institute, a small professional institution in which he became the Education Officer and spent eight fulfilling years mentored by a capable and experienced Chief Executive from whom he learned much.
However, his heart lay in teaching and he moved into lecturing at what is now the New University of Buckinghamshire. He started teaching general Business Studies but soon specialised in Law creating a flourishing student law society and is still in contact with some of those students – who are themselves now retiring! He was then appointed, after six years, to the headship of the department of Business Studies at the Mid-Kent College of Higher and Further Education at a time of considerable expansion of higher education and, sadly, it became impossible to undertake a regular teaching timetable as well as a heavy management load. These were also happy and successful years, but his next move was back to the institutional world when he was appointed Secretary-General of the Library Association (as it then was). This provided another six challenging years where he became involved with parliamentary activity and learned much about incorporation by a Royal Charter – lessons that have proved invaluable later in life.
He missed the academic world and so returned as Dean of the Business and Management Faculty of the Harrow College of Higher Education. Although still primarily an academic manager, he was much involved in professional institutions as a committee member, an examiner, with some minor research that led to publications, and in giving the occasional specialist lectures. After another six happy and fulfilling years, Harrow's merger with what became the University of Westminster led him to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as Secretary and Registrar where he was much involved with professional disciplinary matters and where he reinforced his links with the Privy Council Office. Then, fortuitously but quite unexpectedly, the opportunity arose to return to his old preparatory school as headmaster to try to save it from closing – a challenge he could not resist. He failed to save it but he and Jane enjoyed perhaps the happiest three years of their professional life!
In his early academic retirement, he was appointed to the part-time post of Learned Societies' Liaison Officer for the Foundation for Science and Technology – a post that he still holds and thoroughly enjoys. His career history might well indicate that he was groomed for the job!
This latter period has also seen him much involved with the Livery world. His mother Company is the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries but, in 2001 he registered the Guild of Educators with the City of London and subsequently as Honorary Foundation Clerk, he took the Guild through to Worshipful Company status in 2014. He then retired but seized the opportunity at least to assist in the launching of the Guild of Nurses when it was offered in 2015. He has much to do with some other Companies through his work at the Foundation as a result of which he has been made an Honorary member of four of them.