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Election Court Lunch, Butchers’ Hall

At our Election Court Lunch we were pleased to welcome The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, Sheriff Dame Susan Langley, DBE, The Lady Mayoress, Elisabeth Mainelli, Gary Langley and the Master Scientific Instrument Makers.

Below is a copy of the Lord Mayor’s speech.

Master. Wardens. Sheriff. Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my great pleasure to be an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators and to join you for this election lunch today.

Thank you for your kind hospitality and thank you also to the Butchers for the use of their hall.

Like many of you, I have a passion for all things water based. (Paint, markers…)

In addition to being a member of this company, I’m on the committee of the Thames Sailing Barge Match…I’m a Craft-Owning Freeman of the Watermen & Lightermen…and for over two decades the Lady Mayoress and I undertook the restoration of the cargo vessel SB Lady Daphne.

 Another thing you probably already know about me is that I love a good dad joke…

What did the sea say to the river? You can run, but you can’t tide.

Speaking of current affairs…

The state of our waterways has been a national news story in recent weeks after the Environment Agency revealed that sewage spills into England’s rivers and seas by water companies more than doubled last year…

…and the traditional Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge was marred by reports of high levels of E. coli in the water.

The government’s pledge to reinvest up to £11 million in water company fines into affected areas has been described as “a drop in the sewage-filled rivers and ocean” by campaigners.

As the row continues, the continued thought-leadership and engagement of the Water Conservators with business and government on this and other issues – from future funding to the introduction of nature-based solutions – will be essential.

From that advocacy work…

To your pan-livery work on sustainability, including the role you play as a founding and leading member of the Livery Climate Action Group…

And your participation in the Lord Mayor’s Show, with the magnificently mindboggling magical tap…

…the Water Conservators do so much to support the City. Thank you.

My mayoral theme is “Connect To Prosper”, which many of you will already be familiar with, as I’m privileged to have had the support of the Water Conservators on many key initiatives.

 I have just returned from a mayoral visit to the nation that gave us the aqueduct and the sewer system, among other things (including my first few years of education): Italy.

The Romans built the Cloaca Maxima, one of the world’s earliest sewer systems.

The Latin cloaca means “sewer”, from cluere, “to cleanse”.

So, Cloaca Maxima is “Greatest Sewer”…

…and the City’s own Cloak Lane has nothing to do with secrets and mystery, but rather the open sewer that would have run along the street into the (now subterranean) Walbrook River.

And, incidentally, Shoreditch derives from the Saxon word Soresditch – sewer ditch.

In Italy and on all my international trips I am constantly asked what the secret is to the City’s success…and I always give the same response.

Londoners are no smarter – or dumber – than anyone else, but we are better connected.

My mayoral theme, “Connect To Prosper”, celebrates the “Knowledge Miles” of our Square Mile, the “world’s coffee house”…

…and it’s about leveraging those connections to address global challenges like tackling climate change, preserving biodiversity and achieving clean water and sanitation for all.

I highlight these missions because the City recognises that they need to be at the top of our list if we want to create a successful, sustainable Square Mile

To quote a fellow Italian, Leonardo da Vinci, “water is the driving force of all nature”, and the importance of clean water to healthy communities, the environment and the global economy cannot be overstated

 So, “Connect To Prosper” builds on the City of London Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy, which – among other things – aims to reduce the risk of flooding through developing sustainable rain and surface water management policies…

…resulting in a connected system of water recycling, sustainable urban draining and rainwater management measures.

As part of “Connect To Prosper”, we’re reviving the coffee house tradition on which London was built through in-person networking sessions – “Coffee Colloquies” – where thought-leaders can come together to discuss these big issues.

Thank you so much for your support in convening the hugely successful “Clean Water and Sanitation” colloquy on January 16th.

We’re also shining a spotlight on the Square Mile’s different areas of expertise – or “Knowledge Miles” – this year, with an online lecture series on a diverse range of topics. And the Water Conservators have delivered two fantastic lectures…

One from Allan Barton on sustainability, circular ecology and the circular economy.

And one from Professor Carolyn Roberts on the Thames Barrier.

 Again, thank you for this invaluable contribution.

We’ve also launched an exciting “Connect To Prosper” experiment series to demonstrate the City’s inventiveness, which includes a seagrass carbon sequestration study…a microplastics coastal survey with the Wetwheels Foundation and Suzuki in May…and an autonomous foiling EV boat trial between Dagenham and Queenhithe.

And, finally – the cherry on the cake – we’ve also appointed an Honorary Water Bailiff and will be holding a “Thames Day” on September 22nd. So, there is lots more to get involved with.

Another focus during my year is helping the livery to reach its full potential.

While most of you will be already liverymen, I want to encourage any guests to consider joining the livery:

…a 50,000 strong movement powered by the idea of commerce, community, and charity.

Needless to say, this fine company wouldn’t be a bad place to start!

In recognition of our appreciation for the Water Conservators, we have some small tokens for you.

Master…the measure of a great leader is what they do with their power. So, for you, these callipers.

And for your Clerk, the traditional mayoral spoon and new mayoral glass challenge coin. The challenge is to flip it without smashing it.

Speaking of challenges…

My daughters think my hobbies are too strenuous and have challenged me to spend an evening watching Netflix instead.

You’ll catch me from November each night at the “Town of Ramsgate.”

Who needs Netflix when you’ve got the Thames: the original – and best – streaming service.

Thank you, once more, for your hospitality and for all you do for the City.

Now, I’d like to propose a toast:

 The Worshipful Company of Water Conservators, root and branch, may it flourish forever.

My response is below.

Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress, ladies and gentlemen, I must start by thanking the Lord Mayor for his encouraging words. It is a pleasure and honour for me and the Company of Water Conservators to work with you and your team. The leadership and adaptability – from engaging with coffee colloquys, cities and countries to hosting a children’s party – is inspiring.

As a Company we are pleased to continue our support for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal. I have volunteered to undertake a sponsored walk of about 215 metres on 7 June. Abseiling down the outside of the Cheese Grater, following in the steps of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. There will be a collection for this appeal after our lunch and there are details of how to donate on the menu cards.

Our Charitable Trust continues to make a real difference to lives.  It has allocated a further £1,000 to a special school in Llandudno and £3,700 to the London Museum of Water and Steam.

It has expanded the schools programme this year, and our enhanced bursary and dissertation prize programme reaches students at 15 universities.

At our Myddelton Lunch we awarded dissertation prizes to eight postgraduate students on Masters’ degrees.  Our ninth winner is here with us today – from the University of Exeter, Jessica Penny.  Her PhD dissertation was entitled “Impact of Land-Use Changes on Hydrological Regimes”.  I invite her to come forward to receive her award.

We are working hard to improve understanding of the very relevant issues of water and the environment.  We continue to work with professional bodies, regulators and government departments.  My grateful thanks to Past Master Rob Lacey for arranging our super series of popular webinars.  Our next one on e-waste on 15 May is by Liveryman Nigel Maltravers.  Our recent discussion dinner with Sir John Armitt and the City Water Debate, both organised by a team led by our Deputy Master Colin Drummond, were very popular.  Our Lord Mayor’s Knowledge Mile lecture given by Fleet Warden Carolyn Roberts on the future of the Thames Barrier attracted a record number of participants.

And a record number of Company members visited the Thames Barrier just last week. We heard that a new barrier is needed by 2060 at the latest.  It took 33 years to get round to opening one last time. At the current rate of decision making we may need a plan B.

Our next water-based activity will be held in Bristol, visiting Boats, Bridges, and works by Brunel and Banksy during the Master’s Weekend from 26 April.

And we are going Codebreaking in Bletchley on 16 May.

We are an active, successful and growing Company.

At our Court meeting today we agreed to limit Quarterage, Lunch and Banquet Costs to a rise of no more than 5%, despite costs rising faster. The larger our numbers, the lower our costs.

Our Growth plan includes new groups on Membership, Communications, Social, and New Business Initiatives to take on some of the work currently done by the Clerk.

We have agreed new Sustainability and Social media policies.  Details will shortly be on our new website.

Watch out for the Tudor Pull on Sunday 19 May from Hampton Court to the Tower of London, our June day out on the river with our cutter, and our visit to the Thames Tideway on 19 September.

Our next City Environmental Debate will be on “Accelerating the transition to a circular economy” on 1 October.

Welcome to our super new website.  My thanks to all those involved in its design and operation, especially our clerk, Christine.  My special thanks to Sue Patterson, our outgoing webmaster who maintained the previous website for 12 years. Welcome to our new webmaster Dharmesh Joshi.

I am pleased to welcome 8 new Freemen of the Company:

Simon Ayley, Peter Bunton, Nick Higham, John Hirst, Lee Morton, Joanna Skowronek, Kala Vairavamoorthy and Rainer Zimman.   Please stand to be recognised.

I am also pleased to welcome 2 new Liverymen:

Annie Shepperd and Grzegorz Skowronek.  Please stand to be recognised.

I would like to welcome our Wardens elect and Master elect:

Walbrook Warden – Alex Money

Fleet Warden – Tom Flood

Thames Warden – Carolyn Roberts

Master – Dylan Barker

In conclusion (I learnt to say this a lot, it gives people hope)

As these are my last formal words to the Company I should like to say thank you.  It is a privilege and honour to serve you as Master.

So many experiences together: the float in the Lord Mayor’s Show, lunches and the banquet, visits, walks and talks.

I have shared with the wider Livery, training and skills, climate action, valuing water – we have much in common, working and learning together.  Highlights have included the banquet for the King and Queen, the visit to Treloar’s School for young people with disabilities, the Children’s party at the Lord Mayor’s house.

My special thanks to Eileen for all her support, including correcting my grammar and spelling.

My special thanks to Christine for everything you do for me and the Company.  Arranging events, managing all the Livery and Lord Mayor’s communications, organising my diary and me – an almost impossible challenge.

And finally in conclusion

Water and the environment are facing serious threats, we are facing a shortage of clean water and adequate sanitation globally.  We are slowly learning to value water and our environment.

Saying and doing nothing are not a solution nor is just talking about it.

We as the Water Conservators have a professional and personal responsibility to contribute our skills and experience.  It is great that we are contributing and leading.

My thanks to you the Company for being a great team. We are growing.  We are making a difference.



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