At the Livery Committee meeting yesterday morning in Guildhall, Deputy Philip Woodhouse CC, Past Master Grocer, was elected Chairman, and Julia Sibley MBE, Past Master Innholder, was elected Deputy Chairman for the ensuing year.
Philip wanted to highlight to The Livery, the Vote of Thanks that was given to Victoria Russell. He also wanted to note the Livery Committee’s grateful thanks to Victoria , Ian Seaton CC (Girdler), Robin Booth (Clothworker) and David Cole-Adams (Tylers’ and Bricklayers) for their hard work and support of The Livery and The Livery Committee during their time on the Committee.
Victoria Russell who, after ten years – including two years as Deputy Chair and three as Chair – has taken her leave of the Committee.
A Past Master Arbitrator and Past Master Constructor, Victoria brought to the office a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Livery, together with an enthusiasm and drive that proved invaluable in steering the Committee through a time of great change.
Victoria’s time as Chair is also noteworthy for having overseen some challenging Common Halls. In 2019, despite a hotly-contested election and one of the highest turnouts in over a decade, the Shrieval Election was conducted with the utmost smoothness and efficiency, which is testament to her oversight and attention to detail. Her implementation of a number of improvements to the process to assist with the voting and count process, as well as in relation to careful early liaison with prospective candidates, has proven especially beneficial. And in 2020 and 2021, for the Election of Lord Mayor and the Election of Sheriffs respectively, she was able to navigate the unenviable challenge of overseeing legally compliant electoral processes during a global pandemic, despite the conflicting restrictions and limitations of legislation old and new – an achievement for which the City and the Livery owes her a debt of gratitude.
Victoria has sought, throughout, to keep the Committee’s work relevant to the Livery and to the City Corporation. Consideration, communication and thoroughness have been the cornerstones of her work and her approach. This can be particularly illustrated in three areas.
The thorough review of the Committee’s role and the membership needed to deliver on that role was endorsed by the various nominating bodies and approved at Common Hall unanimously.
Victoria has placed great emphasis on maintaining and enhancing engagement and links with Livery Companies, as well as with individual Liverymen, and has led on the revitalisation of the City Briefings, Clerks’ Forum, and the Warden and Court Assistants’ Courses. Added to this, her close work with the Pan-Livery initiative – the Steering Group of which she was invited to serve on, more or less from its inception – has been instrumental in aiding the exchange of communication and best practice across the Livery.
Perhaps the most important area of work, possibly the foundation of the Committee’s ongoing communications, is the website that went live in September last year. Providing information to Livery Companies and their Clerks, to the City Corporation, and to the public, this website will, with ongoing support, prove to be a highly effective tool for those groups. Victoria’s input, together with two or three others, to get the project off the ground, to gather the funding needed, to assemble content and to check it, was absolutely critical in bringing the website to life.
Victoria’s behind the scenes work has been integral to the significant progress of the Committee and her ability to work with so many different stakeholders in a collaborative way has earned her great respect. She has tirelessly given her time and her guidance and insight into ‘doing things the right way’ has enabled the many achievements of the Committee that would not have been possible without her at the helm.
In taking their leave of Victoria, her colleagues are reminded of the very apt quote “wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it” – and they hope that she will retain many happy memories of her time as their Chair, in a job they consider to have been very well done.