Report on the Phoenix Masters Association 2nd AGM & Dinner

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“The Phoenix Masters Show Their Cutting Edge”

The Phoenix Masters Association held its 2nd Annual General Meeting and Dinner on Wednesday 19th September at Barber-Surgeons’ Hall courtesy of Past Master Barber Geoffrey Preston. Our President Jeffrey Mountevans sent his apologies as he had to attend a meeting with Navy chiefs in Portsmouth. Our Vice President Alderman Charles Bowman, the Lord Mayor also sent his apologies as he was abroad on City business. Our Vice President Dr Christine Rigden took the chair for the AGM and opened the meeting.

The Chairman Mark Chambers gave an upbeat report on the state of the Association.  Membership had grown to 105 including our three honorary members and there were two more waiting in the wings. There had been a lively programme of well-supported events thanks to Events Chair John Nugée. Mark thanked all members of the Committee for their hard work. But the Committee was conscious of the need to rotate responsibilities at some stage in the future and invited other members who wished to join the Committee to come forward. He also reminded the meeting that at next year’s AGM there would be fresh elections for his own role and for those of Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.

The Honorary Treasurer Patrick Reeve reported that the Association’s finances were healthy with a cash balance of £5,035 plus £1,026 stock of Cuvée Phoenix Champagne. However, that stock would diminish somewhat later in the evening! He was aiming to maintain a cash balance of around £7,000 which would facilitate upfront deposits for booking halls etc.  Most members paid subscriptions and event charges by Go Cardless which was much easier to administer than other payment methods and he requested all members to do the same.

The Chairman of the Outreach and Purpose Committee David Pearson reported that good progress had been made in support of the Lord Mayor’s Charities. He reminded the meeting that the Association had agreed that rather than asking members to put their hands in their pockets to support such charities, which would just be in competition with similar efforts by our Livery Companies, instead, we would ask for time, contacts, introductions etc.

The Lord Mayor had requested to help the Samaritans with the launch of their ‘Wellbeing in the City’ initiative. This was launched in April and to date over 200 organisations and over 2600 individuals had registered. The project was not restricted to City-based firms.

Charles Bowman had also requested that we help to increase the participation in City Giving Day on 25th September. In 2017 222 organisations had taken part and Charles’ target for 2018 was 300. To date 295 had signed up with a week to go.  Several Phoenix members would also be participating on the day.

David also thanked members of the Committee for their contribution and invited other members to join if they were interested.

John Nugée elaborated further the successful events of the year and outlined the future programme. Highlights of this were:

Thursday 15th November; Champagne Tasting with Firebirds. The supplier of Cuvée Phoenix, a pre-revolutionary family firm, would be matching eight Champagnes with different foods. Places are filling up fast.

Thursday 14th March 2019. Our 3rd Annual Spring Dinner with our Firebird partners will be hosted by Tim Haywood in Mercers’ Hall.

Tuesday 10th September 2019. 3rd AGM & Annual Dinner hosted by David Wynne Davies in Armourers & Braziers Hall

17th -19th September 2019. A trip to Porto. Please advise John Nugée if interested.

There being no other business the meeting was closed by Vice President Rigden.

59 members attended the dinner which was a splendid affair. We were able to sit at one continuous table in horseshoe fashion. Past Master Barber Geoffrey Preston welcomed us all and told us a little history of the Hall. There has been a hall on the site since the 1440s and the present hall was opened in 1969 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Henry VIII loomed over us from the painting of King Henry with the Barber-Surgeons painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1542. It marks the Act of Union between the Company of Barbers and the Guild or Fellowship of Surgeons in 1540.

Our delicious menu consisted of:

Cornish Mackerel and Horseradish pâté, Mozzarella, and plum tomato salad;

Fillet of Highland Venison with Haggis bonbons with sautéed sweet potatoes and shredded greens;

Blushed poached pear and blackberries.

Our providitor John Nugée described the wines and space here does not allow me to add his copy. We enjoyed St Véran, Domaine Chanson; Vacqueras, Chapoutier and Elysium Black Muscat, California, all from 2015. We finished with Fonseca Bin 27.

Our Chairman introduced James Jopling as our speaker. James is Executive Director of the Samaritans. The Samaritans may not seem the most obvious choice for an After Dinner Speaker but everyone was riveted by what James had to say. James has spent most of his career with major charities but described the special work of the Samaritans in moving terms. Those of us who were there will remember his stories for a long time. But his main message was to encourage us all to introduce ‘Wellbeing in the City’ to our contacts in as many organisations as possible. Suicide is the most common cause of death for men under 50. While medicine is increasingly pushing back some traditional causes of death, suicide remains on the increase. The Samaritans’ 22,000 volunteers took 5 million calls in the UK last year.

David Pearson

Past Master Marketor

September 2018