Company News

The Company Barge at the Lord Mayor's Show - 14 November 2015

On Saturday 14 November, the Company Barge (Royal Thamesis) took part in the annual flotilla that escorts the new Lord Mayor from Westminster Boating Base down the Thames to HMS President, prior to his parade through the City.  Sadly the winds were so strong this year that Gloriana, the Lord Mayor’s usual mode of transport down the Thames, was unable to leave St Katherine’s dock so a standby pleasure cruiser was used in her place.    The Barge set off from Putney at 7.15am to collect the Master and his wife Crescent, from Westminster Boating Base, before the arrival of the Lord Mayor and his entourage.  

The crew comprising the Barge Master (Andrew Thomson), Assistant Barge Master (Nevill Rogers), Tristan Rogers (his son), Patricia Newton, Celia Devereux, Tom Foakes, Robert Hicks, Eric Chipperfield and the Clerk, felt extremely well dressed in their matching waterproofs as it began to rain soon after they left Westminster...  

The Hall had nearly 200 Drapers families and friends for lunch, all of whom braved the grim weather to see the Lord Mayor’s procession.  




Open House - 20 September 2015

Once again the Hall was open to the public as part of the Open House scheme and continued to be popular as ever. We had nearly 3100 visitors of all ages in total for the day, the largest number recorded to date.  There were 300 visitors just in the first half hour.
Visitors expressed their amazement and delight on seeing the interior of the Hall and the treasures on display, which many had not expected when they came in from Throgmorton Street.  They were also very pleased at the Company’s open door policy, which meant that people were able to take their time and enjoy the experience without the need to queue. 
Our grateful thanks to the 34 Drapers who volunteered their time to act as stewards, dealing with questions about the Company’s work, its history and activities and generally making the day a great success.  


Election of Master Draper  2015 - 2016

John William GIFFARD, CBE, QPM, DL

John Giffard was born in 1952, educated at Eton and graduated from Southampton University with an Honours degree in German.  He became a police officer in 1973 in the Staffordshire Constabulary, rising to Chief Superintendent by 1991, when he then became Assistant Chief Constable to the North Yorkshire Police.  In 1996 he was appointed Chief Constable of Staffordshire, where he remained until his retirement in 2006.  In the later part of his police career he was variously the ACPO’s (Association of Chief Police Officers) spokesman for self defence, police use of firearms, pensions and the restructuring of police forces.  He was ACPO Vice President from 2003 – 2006.  He was also a Vice President of the Police Mutual Assurance Society from 2001 – 2006 and its Chairman from 2006 – 2011.  


John Giffard became a Freeman of the Drapers’ Company by redemption in 2002, was called to the Livery in 2005 and was appointed Junior Warden and a Court Assistant in 2007.  He will be Master Draper from 22nd July 2015 to 26th July 2016.  


He is the owner of Chillington Hall, a Georgian mansion by John Soane and Francis Smith in a Capability Brown parkland in Staffordshire, a site where the Giffards have lived since 1178.  He is farmer, landowner and runs a corporate and weddings business. The family business includes 1500 sheep, 60 English Longhorn Cattle and a variety of arable enterprises.  The Home Farm is entered into the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. He was chair of the Staffordshire CLA from 2012 – 2014.


He has been a Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire since 1999; is a trustee for a number of other estates; is chair of the Airey Neave Trust (Airey Neave was his uncle), and is on the South Staffs Council Independent Remuneration Panel.  He is a director of Linguistica-Global Ltd.


He is a member of several clubs: Army & Navy, Eton Ramblers, I Zingari, Staffs Gents CC, Yorks Gents CC and the MCC.  His other interests include bridge, shooting, (very bad) golf, cricket (qualified umpire), and travels in France.  He speaks French, German and some Italian.


He is married to Crescent who is involved in charitable work with the Art Fund, Macmillan Cancer Support and NSPCC.  She is also on the regional committee of the Historic Houses Association.  They have two boys who are both Freemen of the Company.  Both are also married and living in London.



Masters' Charity
Ron Pickering Memorial Fund Charity Dinner - 19 June 2013


Last Week in the Hall...we had a fundraising party for a particularly splendid but small charity....The Ron and Jean Pickering Memorial Fund.   This charity, as many Drapers know, is the Master's Charity for this year.


Enormous support from Company members and from outside agencies and kind people ensured that the evening was a huge success! The proceeds from the ticket sales, auctions, and all donations, reached the dizzy heights of £68,000!

Photo by Steven Tiller


This money is specifically targeted at young track and field athletes needing financial help to buy equipment and pay for travel to and from the tracks where they train. They also, on occasion need help with rent and physiotherapy as well as nutritional advice. Between the ages of 17 and 23, there is very little support available, just at the time when arguably they need it most. Many have left school with faint job prospects but are talented sportspeople. We aim to help this talent develop alongside the character and personality of the athlete, so that by the time they reach 23 years old, they have learnt a little about life as well as competing on the track and hopefully making their name as National and sometimes International Athletes!



Photo by Steven Tiller


Photo by Steven Tiller

The party at the Hall took the format of a Dinner with a preceding silent auction, a raffle and a main auction taken with his usual flair by Lord Archer! As it happens, he was himself coached by Ron Pickering so he had a particular interest in the evening.

Photo by Steven Tiller

The Hall filled up quickly with young athletes helping to get everything into shape, Andy Pozzi on crutches because of a foot operation and Robbie Grabarz, recovering from a knee injury, were among the first to arrive. Both know the Hall well, as they were the early recipients of grants organised by the Drapers Company as well as others of the Great Twelve Livery Companies, in the run up to the Olympics in 2012. These grants were managed and given by Jean Pickering of RPMF, to athletes who were deemed to be talented enough to compete as well as being in need of help. 


Photo by Steven Tiller

From start to finish the Fund Raiser went with a swing! It was tremendous to see the enthusiasm amongst the athletes and the loyalty to the memory of Jean and Ron Pickering who had both given their lives to helping young people achieve their potential. Shaun Pickering gave a lovely speech about his late parents. Fuzz Ahmed, coach to many outstanding high jumpers, was the Compere for the evening and Stuart Storey added his professional magic and introduced athletes and Medallists past and present.

As the auction progressed and the total sum being raised became clear, the feeling of elation grew and it is to the credit of those from UK Athletics particularly Alison Potts and Mike Heath who worked so hard to make the evening a success that the final amount was great enough to support young athletes right up to the next Olympic Games.


We heard a lot about the Olympic Legacy and this particular event, held in Drapers’ Hall in the presence of Alderman Gordon Haines and with so many dedicated and passionate supporters present, proved that the flame is still alight and will be carried high until 2016 and beyond.

Photo by Steven Tiller

The Drapers’ Company should be justly proud at what they have supported so generously.


The Hall is an unbeatable venue for an evening like this and the staff ensured a very successful party which was enjoyed by us all.

The Master




The Twelve Great Companies 2012 Olympics Fund 

In 2010, the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London agreed to make a three-year joint charitable grant to the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund in order to support 21 very talented, young track and field athletes as their gesture towards the support of the London Olympic Games. These Athletes were all under the age of 23 and were not receiving financial support from any other source. While the 2012 Olympics were the focus for this initiative, realistically the chances of any of these young athletes making team GB were pretty small. 2016 was the more likely target.


It was really wonderful therefore that, as the Olympics drew near, an extraordinary total of nine of the 21 were chosen for the British team. As the events unfurled five of those nine made the final of their event. Many achieved personal bests, one broke the British record, one came fifth in the World and one, the high jumper Robbie Grabarz, won a bronze medal. 


Some of the athletes supported by the Great Twelve Olympic Fund


To celebrate this tremendous achievement, a reception was held in Drapers’ Hall on 29th October. It was attended by representatives of each of the Twelve Great Companies, officials and trustees of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, British Athletics and most of the original 21 young athletes. 

 The appreciation of the Companies’ support was very evident from the ‘stories’ of the athletes, and was highlighted by Charles van Commenee, the former UK Athletics head coach, in his speech at the reception.


Mrs Pickering, The Master and Mr Simon Leatham

As a very special mark of recognition, Mrs Jean Pickering (Ron’s widow) was presented with the Honorary Freedom of The Drapers’ Company in front of the assembled guests by the Master Draper, Lady Victoria Leatham, whose original idea the grant had been, in recognition of her Father, The Marquis of Exeter and himself a Draper, who as Lord Burghley had won the gold medal for the High Hurdles in 1928. The Master said that this was a way of expressing the Company’s deep admiration of Jean’s work on behalf of athletics in general and the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund in particular.


Her Majesty The Queen Opens Drapers' Academy

Her Majesty the Queen, the Drapers’ Company’s most illustrious Freeman, honoured the Company by visiting Drapers’ Academy on Harold Hill on Friday 26th October 2012 to open its magnificent new school building. It was only the second time in Her reign that She had visited the London Borough of Havering, and the excitement in the local community and amongst the children and staff was palpable.

Her Majesty The Queen meeting students at the Academy 

Her Majesty was received at the entrance by The Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir David Brewer, who in turn presented to Her, amongst others, the Master Draper, Lady Victoria Leatham, the Chair of Governors, Past Master Major-General Adrian Lyons, and the Principal, Mr. Matthew Slater.

She then toured the new building, which the staff and students had moved into last month. It was designed by the Architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley and built by Kier Construction.

Her Majesty The Queen being shown a science project

Year 10 students showed The Queen their science projects and the arts department also performed a scene from The Little Shop of Horrors. She visited a Gymnastics class and met members of Staff, Governors, the Drapers’ Company Wardens and representatives of the London Borough of Havering and the Drapers’ co-sponsors Queen Mary, University of London. She was then entertained by the School Choir.

The Queen took luncheon in the school dining hall with students from the new Sixth Form, which started in September, and some 60 other dignitaries and members of staff. The Academy’s chefs cooked the three-course lunch, which was served by a team of waiting staff from Drapers’ Hall. The Chair of Governors gave a short speech of welcome and proposed a toast to Her Majesty.

Her Majesty The Queen meeting chefs and waiting staff after lunch

Before She left, The Queen unveiled a Foundation stone which commemorated Her visit, and received a posy which was presented to Her by Grace Taylor from Year 10.

Her Majesty The Queen unveiling a Foundation stone to commemorate her visit 

Her Majesty The Queen being presented with a posy by Grace Taylor of Year 10

She then departed, but on Her way out of the building She was greeted by a cacophony of cheering from a flag waving crowd of enthusiastic children from the nearby Primary and Special Needs schools.


Her Majesty The Queen departing the Academy

It was a wonderful day, which the young people from Drapers’ Academy will remember for the rest of their lives.



Master Draper, Anthony Walker, accompanies H.R.H. Prince of Wales to the Diamond Jubilee lunch at Westminster Hall - 5 June 2012






Drapers' Hall


Drapers’ Hall is sometimes transformed into a film set, usually as Buckingham Palace, but has, on occasion, been known to become a Russian building.




Drapers' Coat of Arms

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Drapers’ Hall,
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T: 020 7588 5001
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