An end of year missive from the Master

In the lead up to Christmas and a well-earned rest over the festive season, I thought I would take this opportunity reflect on last twelve months.

This gave an opportunity to remind all of us just how well The Scientific Instrument Makers have coped and have actually thrived under COVID.

First of all, I would like to say a big thank to Ken Grattan, our Deputy Master, for his resourcefulness, leadership, and teamwork during this tough year.  I would also like to thank Lesley, his Consort, for her support throughout. Valerie and I are looking forward to sharing the Summer Banquet with both Ken and Lesley at Haberdasher’s next year on Thursday 17 June.

When the COVID lock-down hit, Ken worked closely with Misha, our Clerk and Karen, our Assistant Clerk, as well as others to set about an immediate and rapid conversion of SIM activities to an on-line community.  This ensured that every aspect of our Charity and Company activities remained and continued to be effective, despite us all being at home and under restrictions.

As a result, the SIM team has had many successes and achievements during 2020 including a new structure of virtual events that has kept the Company in business and fully functional across all of its members.  These have included virtual Committee meetings, on-line Court meetings and Admissions Ceremonies for Apprentices, Scholars, Freemen and Members.

One highlight of the year must be the Four Liveries Lecture, given on-line by Nigel Davies and Kevin Gallagher. This drew in a large audience from our own members as well as from other organisations, which were invited to link into the event. As Master I am still receiving compliments about the lecture three months later. And if you haven’t seen it do click here. I would also like to say a big thank you to Nigel and Kevin, for an excellent event and for setting the bar so high.

Realising we needed to deliver value for our existing membership and new recruits, Ken and I devised a Quarterly Webinar series based on a similar format to that used by Nigel and Kevin. John Saffell then successfully presented our first quarterly webinar, again to a large audience about the Air Quality in Our Cities. Thank you, John for your very interesting presentation.

Our second webinar will be held on Thursday 25 February and promises to be a fascinating discussion about the Disappearance of Malaysian Airways flight MH370 by liveryman Ian Gilbert.  I recommend that you do not miss it.  And our third webinar, will be a retrospective look at COVID and the effects which it has had on the world, by Professor Philip Thomas, our Junior Warden. This will be broadcast on Thursday 27 May.

In addition, unable to meet in the Arches at Hall for our recruitment evenings, we instigated a new series of Meet Us events to allow interested potential new SIM members to be introduced to the Company.  New members are vital to the survival of our Company and all of us should think about whom we know and encourage them to think about membership of SIM.  Now, thanks to our Recruitment Warden, Jim Webster, we have a virtual format that works well and has inducted a number of new members this year to the Livery, including an eminent CERN Scientist.

This year we have learnt new benefits of Zoom meetings thanks to COVID.  The advantages are that we have had improved attendances and engagement from those, who under normal conditions might not have been able to attend meetings at Hall. It has taught us a lesson for the future, to combine face to face meetings with virtual attendance, as a more inclusive event format, post-COVID.

The last year has also seen the refreshing of many committee processes to ensure improved effectiveness, especially through the new Warden structure.  Each Warden, focussing on a key aspect of each Committee’s operation such as the University Warden, Apprentice Warden, Freeman + Mentoring Warden, Induction Warden and Recruitment Warden plus most recently our new Networking Warden.  Thank you to each of these individuals for all their hard work throughout the year.  The combined and linked effect, is making a big difference to our committee work, effectiveness and the reach of SIM.

Furthermore, SIM has been working on the development of new links and connections to related liveries, societies, and organisations.

We now have key initiatives with:

  • The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine
  • The Foundation of Science and Technology
  • The Worshipful Company of Engineers
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering

For each organisation we have an appointed SIM member as a champion for managed activities, contact and reciprocal action.  These activities will ensure benefits for our Company and create opportunities to meet new members and increase the SIM visibility and presence in our areas of interest and influence.

I would like to thank everyone in SIM who has contributed to so many activities and events across this last year. Your continued hard work, make this company what it is and enables us to collectively help many others, whether they be Apprentices, Scholars, Freemen, Members, or other organisations which benefit from our support and our charity.

I would especially like to thank Misha and Karen for their assistance during this year. I am always amazed by their resilience in the face of huge challenges, that they always seem to couple with inventiveness, which has produced a completely new way of working and staying in-touch with all SIM members.

I would like to say a very big thank you to Tony, our Beadle of thirty years who is retiring at the end of the year.  I for one am thankful for Tony’s quiet kind guidance before, during and after ceremonies to ensure that I went the right way or did the right thing.  At Admissions Ceremonies over the years, I have watched Tony support nervous new Members, of which I was one once, plus Apprentices and Freemen, as they came up before The Court, some of whom will be here tonight.

Finally I just want to finish by wishing you and your family a very safe and Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in 2021.

Martyn and Valerie