On Friday 10th November, Alderman Charles Bowman, Vice-President of the Phoenix Masters’ Association was installed as the 690th Lord Mayor of London in the Silent Ceremony at Guildhall. On Armistice Day, Saturday 11th November he followed the eight centuries old procession, on show to the general public, to swear his oath of allegiance before the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and Master of the Rolls at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The day began early as the Lord Mayor travelled down the Thames from Westminster Boating Base in Pimlico to HMS President below Tower Bridge, which was opened in his honour, in the Queen’s Row Barge, “Gloriana”.
Joining the flotilla were the Phoenix Masters in their own Thames Cutter, “Sarah Lisa” flying a large Phoenix flag and rowed by Mark Snelling, Edward Middleton, Martyn Chase, Isobel Pollock-Hulf, Ben Burbridge and William Knocker, coxed by Nicholas Bull and adorned by our ‘passenger’, Liz Green … all wearing smart Phoenix branded shirts.
The crew acquitted themselves magnificently considering they’d had only one practice outing together. Our stalwart Thames Cutter expert, Nicholas coxed and captained the boat brilliantly, making all the arrangements for the boat and crew beforehand, and also steering a fine course on the day such that the LM truly had full visibility of the Phoenix’s support: in fact, such close visibility that under Oxbridge Eights Week rules, Gloriana could possibly claim to have ‘bumped’ Phoenix!
After an hour on the water, our damp but elated crew repaired to the Wardroom Mess of HMS President for a welcome tot of rum (or 2), a hearty breakfast and a photo call with the LM, before most of them set out to join the Phoenix float at London Wall.
Back on dry land the Phoenix Masters also had entered their own ‘float’ in the main procession positioned at no 100. We had partnered with Mark Grove of the Cook and the Butler, caterers to many of the Livery Halls, in support of the Lord Mayor’s charity, the Samaritans.
The float consisted of a van parading the legend (Past Masters 2015-16 of 110 City Livery Companies supporting Samaritans and The Lord Mayor’s Appeal Charity) followed by a group of about 40 Phoenix Masters and Firebirds all with lime green umbrellas all bearing the Samaritans logo. The weather was actually quite kind, for once, but the umbrellas were a wise precaution and very eye-catching. It was amazing to see how many friends we recognised in the crowds.
The crowds enjoy all the parade whilst those in the parade only see what is in front and behind. We were in the country apparently as in front of us was the Yorkshire Tourist Board and behind the Worshipful Company of Farmers. We had the pleasure of watching Mark Grove offering up some cooked sausages in a basket on a long pole to the Lord Mayor. The Farmers displayed their combine harvester along with a loudspeaker reminding the public of the importance of farming and buying local produce.
It is believed that this is the first time a Past Masters Association has participated in the Lord Mayor’s Show. After the Show, some of us stayed on for the spectacular fireworks show.
Thanks to Mark Snelling and his father, we were made most welcome by the Bishopsgate Ward Club who meet at the Doggetts Coat and Badge pub for a spectacular view of the fireworks and a hearty three-course dinner.
The Association’s Chairman Mark Chambers said “Today was a huge success! The rowers did us proud and Charles Bowman was delighted with their participation. The float looked fantastic and the walkers were enthusiastic. Overall well worth doing and we must have enhanced our standing in the City. So many of our Association provided their time and generous financial support enabling us to participate in this historic event and I am grateful to each and every one of them. Above all, thanks to Mark Snelling and Nicholas Bull for spearheading the organization of the float and the cutter respectively”.
The amount donated to Samaritans is almost £2500 as the exact amount is dependent on Samaritans collecting all the gift aid.
Felicity Harding, Master Spectacle Maker and daughter of Chad Varah, the founder of the Samaritan’s who was also in the parade, in a note to our Chairman said:
“I hope your own experience of the day itself reflected mine. I thought it fantastic and the energy and enthusiasm of both the participants and the spectators was extraordinary. It was a long day but the adrenalin kept flowing!
Most importantly I wanted to thank you and your fellow Masters for choosing to support Samaritans, the Lord Mayor’s charity, and to say how much this is appreciated both for the generous financial donation but also for the incredible exposure it gave us on television when we are working with Charles Bowman on Wellbeing in the City over the coming year.
Before my father died I promised him that I would do all I could to ensure his legacy survived and grew, so that more callers in emotional distress and despair could be supported. This would not be possible without you and the Phoenix Masters understanding and empathising with their plight. Thank you all”.
More photos from the day are available here