During the first year of the Guild, we were very proud to welcome Freemen who wished to contribute at the start of this venture and the names of those Foundation Freemen will be remembered in perpetuity.
In addition, we were most fortunate to be supported and advised by Keith Lawrey JP, LlB, MA, MSc (Econ), Barrister, FCIS as Foundation Clerk and in recognition of his work, Keith was made an Honorary Freeman of the Guild of Nurses at the banquet on 12th May 2017 in the presence of the Lord Mayor.
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.