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Report of Fifth AGM - 2 November 2020

The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Magna Masters Association was held on Zoom on Monday 2 November, 2020 at 6pm

Those registered for the meeting were:

Welcome by President, Sir Alan Yarrow: Welcoming some 60 members of the Association the President said it was very good to see the largest attendance yet for the AGM - plus for the first time Consorts also attending….though he reminded only members of the MMA were entitled to vote. The President said the format for the evening was inevitably slightly different from usual, not least because our very able chairman since our inauguration in 2015 would be standing down, hence the invitation to him to take the chair plus by force of circumstance we were meeting virtually in a more open forum. The formal part of the meeting would be followed by open discussion to the extent this was possible and this would be followed by an informal wine tasting organised by MagnaMaster Patrick Chapman and colleagues from the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants….after which supper at about 8pm would be “down to you”.

1. Approval of minutes of Fourth Annual General Meeting - 4 November 2019

Minutes of the 2019 AGM had been published on the MMA website. They were proposed, seconded and approved nem con.

2. Apologies for absence: Noted as above

3. Chairmans report In his report, Chairman Jeremy Randall referred to

  • Another successful year: membership had held at over 100 paid up plus our three honorary members. Our finances as we will hear are sound.

  • A record 31 members attended the open committee meeting (minutes in the pack) on Zoom.

  • In another active year: since last year’s AGM, wine tasting and dinner here at the RAF Club - and again thanks to Patrick O’Reilly

  • Dinner at Saddlers Hall on 29 January “complete success” hosted by Mark Farmar and with President Sir Alan Yarrow and Lady Yarrow in attendance among the 124 guests seated

  • Visit to Tideway Tunnel, kindly organised by Richard Herbert, took place on a very windy but sunny March day, just scrapped under the lockdown wire. Although with several deciding not to attend the “wow” factor of this amazing and under publicised scheme was not lost on the 20 or so who did, enjoying lunch at the Humble Grape, just off Fleet Street, afterwards…..the last lunch out for many of us until the summer.

  • Our sold out visit planned to the Loire on June and organised by Nic Birtles and himself had been postponed for a year. Around 50 of us did have a trip down the Loire, albeit virtually on Zoom, which he had organised, suggesting a generous selection of wines from Waitrose to accompany the talk which he was pleased had been enjoyed by those who took part.

  • It was good to have 32 signing in for our open committee - albeit without our usual jolly lunch

  • Our planned evening at the Magic Circle on Tuesday 20 October organised by Patrick Chapman took place as a half hour of Zoom Magic which was enthusiastically acclaimed by those who took part - thank you Patrick - and with hopefully the real thing next year.

  • It was good to see a number of CartaConsorts on screen taking part in the AGM this evening for the first time. The group had continued to be extremely active until March this year. Some 20 members attended the Guildhall Christmas Fair in November and a visit to Hampstead theatre following lunch was greatly enjoyed by a similar number on 26 February.

The chairman thanked all those who had made all these events happen and hoped members would continue to offer to organise events in the future. He also paid tribute to those who had worked with him including Martin Miles as Hon. Treasurer and Ian Locks as Hon Secretary helping to make the last five years a rewarding experience for Irene and himself.

4. To receive and adopt the Financial Report and Accounts (Attached) Martin Miles reported that the year to end June 2020 had realised a surplus of £1572. It had been agreed that the subscription should remain at £50 for the 2019-20 year. 101 members (101 in 2018/19) paid £50 each for their 2019/20 membership of the MMA. A number of formal and/or social events took place during the year. The finances for the events in which the MMA had a financial involvement and its Bank Account was used are summarised below:

Open Committee Meeting 11th September 2019

£420.00 Income (21 members for lunch)

£778.50 Cost of Event

£358.50 Net Expense

AGM, Wine-tasting and Dinner 4th November 2019

£1815.00 Income (33 members)

£1726.95 Cost of Event

£ 88.05 Net Profit

Gala Dinner Saddlers Hall Dinner 29th January 2020

£11647.00 Income (124 members and Consorts)

£14505.60 Cost of Event

£ 2858.60 Net Expense

Not mentioned above are events organised by individual members which were self-funded, the finances/ticketing being controlled by the individual members concerned. No profits were made on such events. A modest cost relating to the York Weekend in September 2019 was settled by the MMA. Any other incidental costs (minor administrative costs, flowers for a helper or whatever) were carried by individual members.

The accounts had been audited by David Illingworth.

Martin was thanked for his diligent management of the finances and David for his oversight of them.

5. Election of Officers Introducing the election of officers the President said that current holder Jeremy Randall, Watermen and Lightermen, was standing down from the position of chairman having completed five years in the role. He said it might look an easy job but it was not not easy to do it well…..and Jeremy had. His style, easy sociability, charm, wit and exceptional oratory had combined to make this association what it is. He said the MagnaMasters owed Jeremy a great debt of gratitude. Sadly in these plagued times it had not possible to to give you tJeremy the thanks we would have liked in the form of an event in honour of himself and Irene. But when would when we could. By some “virtual magic”, the President “handed” a small token of the Association’s appreciation: something he said Jeremy would not have, “in fact something unique, something relevant, something topical and something you may even find useful”. The presentation was then received and made to Jeremy by Irene. Responding Jeremy again thanked all those who had assisted him over the last five years and said he ws pleased to be nominated as vice-chairman to support the incoming chairman over the next 12 months. Chairman: The President said there had been only one nomination for the role of Chairman, that of Air Vice Marshal Patrick O’Reilly, Engineers who was duly proposed, seconded and elected by acclaim. Patrick thanked the President and the members and said he looked forward to the role. Vice Chairman: Jeremy Randall was proposed, seconded and elected by show of hands. Hon. Treasurer: Current holder Martin Miles, Actuaries, was thanked by the President, proposed, seconded and elected by show of hands. Hon. Secretary: Current holder Ian Locks, Stationers and Newspaper Makers, was thanked by the President, proposed, seconded and elected by show of hands. Hon. Membership Secretary President to ask for nominations: Ian Locks propose Michael Godbee who was elected by show of hands. Hon. Events Secretary/Chairman Events Committee: President asked for nominations. Ian Locks proposed Stephen Bernhard, Nic Birtles and Gwen Rhys who were elected by show of hands. Election of Financial Reviewer Currently holder David Illingworth, WCO Chartered Accountants, was thanked by Martin Miles who proposed David who was elected by show of hands.

6. Other business - None notified.

The President said that concluded the formal business and invited new chairman, Patrick O’Reilly, to continue the meeting in open discussion.

In discussion following the formal part of the meeting:

Programme in 2020

Patrick O’Reilly, Chairman, said that a full discussion on the programme had taken place at the Open Committee in September, noting that the Loire visit in June, dinner at Lincoln’s Inn in July and evening at the Magic Circle in October were all being carried forward. Although options were being kept open by John Hitchins (Skinners) sadly it now looked unlikely the Gala Dinner would be able to take place at Skinners’ Hall on 3 February. John Hitchins reminded the meeting that Skinners’ Hall was closing in July for 12 months and any rearrangement would therefore have to be for 2023 onwards.

The Chairman said he had made a provisional reservation of the Ballroom at the RAF Club for 26 April. He was also looking at the possibility of having a Zoom Rooms dinner in place of the scheduled Gala Dinner to which Nic Birtles said he had experienced these. Nic Birtles and Patrick Chapman agreed to look further into the possibility of organising such a virtual dinner.

The President, who will be Prime Warden of the Fishmongers’ Company for the next two years, has offered to host a dinner there.

Nic Birtles said he was involved in the organisation of a Livery carol service, admission £10 per screen in aid of charity, and would like to circulate details to MagnaMasters. This was agreed.

In conclusion Graeme Groom thanked Jeremy Randall and all those who had worked with him over the last five years to start and build the association into what he described as “a huge life enhancer”. On behalf of all members he thanked “our team for the last five years”.

There being no other business the meeting closed at 6.55 and was continued with a wine tasting organised by Patrick Chapman and colleagues for the WCo Management Consultants.

Ian Locks

Hon. Secretary

Programme for 2021 (as agreed at Open Committee in September 2020)


3 February 2021 - Sixth Gala Dinner - Skinners' Hall hosted by John Hitchins, Past Master Skinner who reported that constraints continued to be the social distancing rules and the willingness of a relatively senior age group to travel into central London for a dinner before a vaccine is available. If the rules did not relax a large dinner would not be possible and “the outlook for relaxation is not promising.” He said he would keep the date at Skinners (not difficult given current levels of demand!) so the question was when a stop/go decision needed to be made.

26 April - AGM-style Spring Dinner It was agreed it now seemed highly unlikely a Gala Dinner could be held in early 2021 and a “gala dinner” without partners would not be a “gala dinner”.

31 May - 3 June 2021 - Rescheduled visit to Loire wine growing area. Nic Birtles reported this was still fully booked for the new dates in 2021.

30 June - Dinner Lincoln’s Inn - Tony Watson. This event will be capped at 20 (not 25) to include Consorts and planned to include a tour of the Great Hall and archives. We potentially have around 50 people wishing to attend. Tony Watson agreed to inquire about the possibility of a second date.

October Date TBA- An evening with the Magic Circle - Patrick Chapman. The physical event would be rescheduled to October 2021.

November Date TBA - visit to Westminster Abbey (Raymond Layard)

Programme for 2021

  • Patrick Draycott had agreed to investigate the possibility of a repeat of the visit to CERN at a date in the future

  • Gala Dinner - future venues and arrangements: Tony Watson offered to check whether Leathersellers might be available to us. (Subsequent response from the Clerk was not promising this side of a vaccine being found). Sir Alan Yarrow has offered as Prime Warden of the Fishmongers’ Company to hold our Gala Dinner there.

  • Ditchling Village: Vineyard & Art and Craft Museum - Mike Felton said this would be for a small number, probably in October next year

  • Richard Herbert suggested a walk along London Wall with lunch at Cutlers’ Hall, which he would explore