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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Sands run dry at Worshipful Company’s installation dinner

Bakers, firefighters, plumbers, insurers, wheelwrights and actuaries came together in the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers for the Worshipful Company of Actuaries installation dinner in July. The Saddlers’ Hall is a magnificent mansion house situated just a few yards from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Built in classical style, the hall is full of period furniture, paintings and remarkable treasures — and, as I found out in a brief wander (having missed the installation, which started early), not a few saddles!

Junior warden Bill Smith introduced and welcomed the guests. The principal guest was Sir Martin Taylor FRS, warden-elect of Merton College, Oxford. A leading mathematician, researcher and educator, he was the ideal person to talk about how the Company of Actuaries Charitable Trust’s largest commitment yet will be spent.

The company is to sponsor a five-year Royal Society research fellowship into “changing maths teaching in schools to improve the mathematical skills of future generations, particularly in the area of financial skills”. The overall cost over five years is expected to come to £287,000, which is a heavy commitment for a livery company with 250 members. Sir Martin explained that the research fellow will take on the job of providing quantitative evidence to prove, or otherwise, the century-old Theory of Formal Discipline. This states that studying mathematics develops general-thinking skills that are important throughout life. The researcher will explain more about the project before the November livery dinner, and will report back regularly to the Charitable Trust.

The outgoing master, Adrian Waddingham, was clearly concerned with time management. As part of his outgoing legacy, he presented the Company with a finely sculptured sand glass that runs for two hours and 40 minutes — the time allotted for livery dinners. He also added the motto: “Expect the time of your life in the Company of Actuaries”.

The new master, Graham Clay, paid tribute to his predecessor’s work, added welcome to the guests and talked of his planned programme for the year, which will include fundraising for the charitable trust. The company already distributes some £140,000 each year to charitable activities, and has aspirations to have more impact in its chosen fields, particularly mathematical and actuarial education. He also plans to improve recruitment to the Company, particularly of younger actuaries. The sands ran dry, and the master led his team and guests from the Hall, to acclaim.

By Brian Ridsdale