The Anniversary Banquet was held this year in the delightful Barber-Surgeons' Hall. A Hall has been on the site since the 1440s; the first was destroyed by the Great Fire, the second in the Blitz in 1940, and the present Hall was opened by the Queen Mother in 1969. Despite the complete destruction of the previous halls, much of the art and antiquities belonging to the Company was saved, some dating from Tudor times. Dinner was served under the magnificent Holbein painting, commissioned by Henry VIII, to celebrate the Act of Union between the Company of Barbers and the Guild or Fellowship of Surgeons in 1540.
Immediately prior to the banquet, our new Master, Elizabeth Bardolph, was installed by the outgoing Master, Julia Mingay. After making the Master’s declaration, Liz was robed by the Upper Warden, Jane Carey-Harris, and invested with her badge of office by Julia. She was then handed the Nurses’ Lamp, a symbol of fellowship, and received a blessing from the Honorary Chaplain, The Rev’d Canon Charles Pickstone.
Following dinner, a new Grace for the Company was performed by a choir consisting of Past Master Helen Pickstone, Freeman Rosemary Campbell and the Master's son Jonathan Bardolph. The Grace was composed by Jonathan Bardolph and the Honorary Chaplain.
Following the sung grace, the now traditional Passing of the Lamp took place to symbolise the care given by members of the nursing profession as well as unity, trust and fellowship. Musical entertainment was provided by pianist Edward Dye.
A toast was proposed by Sponsoring Alderman, Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley to the Founder Wardens and a response was made by Foundation Past Master Brenda Griffiths who thanked the unsung heroes of the Company namely, the Honorary Chaplain, Kerry Hamer-Nel the Assistant Clerk, Webmaster Col. Stephen Oxlade, the Beadle Martin Whitehead, Foundation Clerk Keith Lawrey and most importantly the Honorary Clerk John Allen.
Middle Warden, Hilary Andrews, proposed the toast to the guests who included: Professor Greta Westwood CBE, Freeman of the Company and CEO of the Florence Nightingale Foundation (Principal Guest), Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley and Lady Parmley, Dr Mary Heber TD, Master of the Barbers’ Company, Mr Rob Wirszycz, Master of the Information Technologists’ Company, Mr Alan Cook, Master of the Art Scholars’ Company, Mr Gary Dixon, Master of the Entrepreneurs’ Company and the Clerks to the Information Technologists', Art Scholars' and Entrepreneurs' Companies. Lady Parmley was presented with flowers to mark the occasion of her Birthday.
Professor Greta Westwood replied on behalf of the guests. Her speech was themed around the importance of leadership in nursing and the work of the Florence Nightingale Foundation. She concluded her speech with a toast to the Company of Nurses, “May it flourish root and branch forever, coupled with the name of the Master, Elizabeth Bardolph”.
In replying, the Master stressed how far the Company had come in a relatively short period of time and confirmed the evening as a celebration of nursing and the nursing profession. She gave a call to arms to all Freemen to continue to strengthen the Company. She paid tribute to the Immediate Past Master, Julia Mingay, for her focussed leadership during the past year and her determination to submit the Petition for Grant of Livery during her year as Master, a feat accomplished in March, and now awaiting the Court of Aldermen's approval later in the month. Julia was presented with a gift and a bouquet of flowers from the Company.
Freemen can view photographs from the evening in the gallery in the members section of the website.