On 17 July, the Worshipful Company of Actuaries (WCA) and guests came together at Fishmongers' Hall to reflect on a wonderful year presided over by master Bill Smith and to celebrate the installation of the new master, Charles Cowling.
The evening began with the court of the WCA assembling to consider the business of the company and to install three new liverymen, as well as admit two new freemen to the company. Master Bill Smith presided over the ceremony before it was adjourned for welcome refreshment. It was soon time to attend the installation ceremony, where I was delighted to be sitting beside the new master's cousin, Joe Byllam-Barnes. A well-known figure in the City, having held a number of posts, including director of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London, Joe looked on with pride as Bill placed the chain of office on Charles' shoulders, completing the handover to the new master. Marion, Bill's wife, was also gracious in passing on the mistress's badge to Charles' wife, Becky, who, in addition to her own professional duties, will support Charles in his year as master.
With warm congratulations, Martin Miles was also installed as the new senior warden and Peter Thompson as the new junior warden.
The assembled company then enjoyed some light refreshment mingling with guests and other members before proceeding up the splendid main staircase to the banqueting hall. The principal guest at the installation dinner was Mike Brace CBE. Mike has competed in six winter paralympic games and was previously the chairman of paralympics GB and a board member of London 2012.
In his speech, Charles announced that the joint campaign by the WCA and The Actuary to reach a target of £1 million for charitable fundraising activities by actuaries has reached just over £800,000. Indeed, past master Bill Smith's charity bike ride of nearly 50 riders had raised more than £27,000 and the new master will be leading the way on the 180 miles of Wainwright's 'coast to coast' walk.
Lastly, Charles was delighted, as one of his first duties as master, to award a special prize to Ronnie Sloan for his charitable fundraising over many years, often in his Superman outfit and always with great purpose.