Well is seems so long since Sally hung the chain of office round my neck and I entered into the world of being Master of the York Guild of Building. Folk keep saying how eventful the year is and how it is difficult to prepare yourself for. In my short time as Master I wholeheartedly agree.
I suppose my first event, as Master, was being invited to the livery dinner at the Merchant Taylors Hall, I was a bit apprehensive as I'm not very keen on liver but the Master, Robert Porter, was very welcoming and the speaker was interesting talking about the Army's action in dealing with the Ebola Crisis in Sierra Leone. I was introduced to something called a loving cup. This is a communal cup of wine passed around the table where the neighbour of the drinker has to protect the back of the person drinking. This was made quite sinister when the army speaker picked up a knife from the table to assist with the task!
The following day was glorious and I helped giving out prizes for the Blades Cup at Fulford Golf Club followed by an excellent meal and some great company.
On the Saturday Noel organised a spring walk near Riccall. He even managed to organise plenty of sunshine, in his normal thorough fashion Noel took great delight in explaining about the ancient forest surroundings and the interesting features of the Saxon church.
Our first court meeting got off to an innocuous start when we found ourselves locked out of the committee room at Bedern Hall; however we struggled on in the amiable surroundings of the Golden Slipper!
Another golf match followed, down in Nottinghamshire, where the Guild took on the Guild of Plaisterers and our very own Steve Bielby managed to win a prize.
Our summer social was in mid-May at the Ryedale vineyard. We were shown the row upon row of grape vines and also the rustic bottling facilities. This, and the beautiful early evening sunshine, gave us quite a thirst which was generously assuaged by the many glasses of wine 'on the house'.
The joint guilds service took a funny twist this year; as we were processing back to the Merchants Taylors Hall, all dressed in our finery, a spectator from the far east decided to link arms and walk along with the Master of the Merchant Adventurers. He wasn't fazed in the slightest and took it all calmly and diplomatically. Which was just as well as she was filming the occasion on a selfie stick, possibly seen by many on some Taiwanese YouTube!
The annual York College dinner was very well organised by Steve Owen and gives a calm and social atmosphere to chat and replenish friendships over an excellent dinner. It was also a good opportunity to meet Rob Holmes, the new Head of Construction at York College. Our strong links were re-established and Rob met many members and found plenty of friendly faces. He was also kind enough to offer assistance with the Scouts and Guides Construction day.
At the end of June I was lucky enough to be asked to present a prize to the Architects who won one of the York Design Awards. This was the first time that I had attended this event, unlike my colleague Richard Parkin, who has attended as a prize winner on a number of previous occasions. It was very popular and well-organised event at the racecourse.
A couple of days later was an event at the other end of the spectrum, the Guild of Media Arts Party. Rosemary and my daughter, Lucy, accompanied me and even ended up dancing in the Shambles market! The party was an open air event in quite relaxing surroundings. The Master, Matt, was very welcoming and Lucy enjoyed chatting to many of the young people in this 'up and coming Guild', so much so that she joined the next day! Good luck to this new Guild, this is the future of York and we should support them as much as we can.
Our most recent event was the construction day at Snowball Plantation organised by John Niklaus, like a lot of these things the actual day is the tip of a well-organised iceberg and many hours had gone into getting the event together. On the Friday John and Julian Graves staff received the benches from York College as well as all the bricks from York Handmade. Saturday, a bunch of us turned up to off-load the MKM lorry and shift materials to the building zone. Then Noel showed us all how to build a pizza oven on arch formers provide by Peter Silk from Houghtons. The next day the former was removed and Noel breathed a sigh of relief as it stood up! Later in the morning the scouts and guides arrived to find what their task was. They were a bit nervous at first not thinking that they had the skills and ability to construct a pizza oven. They persevered, ably assisted by many Guild of Building members, and soon many igloo-shapes pizza oven began to appear. Half way through the afternoon our baker, Stephen Shaw, fired up Noels oven and showed us all how to move the fire to one side and bake the pizza on the hot bit. By the end of the day the scouts and guides were cooking three pizzas at a time, a really sunny and successful day. Good memories had by all!
Alan Mitchell BSc CEng GMICE MIStructE