July….soldier, sailor…..

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A very busy month filled with significant events…amongst many others.

It was an honour to attend the Opening of the London Stock Exchange by the Deputy President of Ukraine and the Chancellor to mark the beginning of the Ukraine Reconstruction Conference being held in London; to represent The City at the Service to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the NHS at the glorious Westminster Abbey where The Dean of Westminster said: 'We gather in thanksgiving for the glory that is the NHS. We celebrate seventy-five years of public witness to the common good. Born of the radical conviction that we must care for one another”; and The UK - Bahrain Business Reception to meet HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, as our 200+ year trading partner outlined the remarkable progress away from oil -based activities they have made as part of their Vision 2030, and how Financial Services is now a key priority.

Hugely significant also was the Financial and Professional Services Dinner where, in landmark speeches, the Chancellor of the Exchequers, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Lord Mayor announced they had counter signed a “Mansion House Compact” with nine leading pension funds – with each agreeing to place 5% of the defined contributions Pension Schemes into listed equities to unlock £50 billions of capital in support of high growth British businesses. A fitting climax to all the work Alderman Lyons has put into this area.

On a personal note there were three key events which I was pleased to organise:

  • Same Sex Marriage Event   - The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed on the 17th of July 2013, and the first marriage of same-sex couple took place on Saturday, the 29th of March 2014. 10 years on, it seemed appropriate that we celebrate how far we have come to yet recognise there are continuing differences in the treatment of same-sex couples. It was a privilege to host the Chief Executive of Stonewall, Nigel Rendell who drafted the act, the Director of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBTQ+ lives and a member of the Church of England General Synod, amongst other distinguished guests to discuss these critical issues.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 24 countries, with a further 13 having the option of a Civil Union. However, in 73 countries (69 of whom are in the United Nations) it is illegal to be homosexual… and in 11 countries - mostly in Africa and the Middle East -homosexuality is punishable by death.

  • Cyber Crime Event - With more than 2bn internet users and 5bn mobile phones sending some 294bn emails and 5bn SMS every day, it is little wonder that over 50% of reported crime in the UK is cyber and fraud based…and given the gross underreporting, it’s probably around 80%. A pleasure to host a special briefing given by D.S. Martin Peters of The City of London Police, Deputy Lead of the NPCC National Cybercrime Programme, for the Judges and specially invited expert guests. We spend some £50bn on-line, and The Cabinet Office calculates that UK consumers lose £3bn, and industry £29bn from cyber-IP fraud each year.

  • Youth Charities Event - Discouraging young people from joining drug gangs, stopping female genital mutilation and knife crime, and reducing recidivism were all on the agenda at a special meeting I hosted at The Old Bailey for the leaders of key reform charities. I was honoured to host the amazing Johnson Beharry VC of The Beharry Trust, Aneeta Prem MBE of Freedom, Patrick Green of The Ben Kinsella Trust and Lucy Keenan from the Hardman Trust, who dedicate so much of their time to helping alleviate these social evils. Insights and experiences were shared, and common problems discussed. Such inspirational people! 

Other notable events attended included: The annual Dinner to His Majesty’s Judges at Mansion House; the Mutifaith Eid - the Naz Foundation’s Iftar, bringing together young people and community, political and faith leaders to strengthen unity between diverse groups. Speakers included Sir Mufti Hamid Patel, the Bishop of London, the Chief Rabbi, and the Mayor of London; and the Mansion House Scholarship Scheme where it was great to host the first Mansion House Scholarship Scheme Reception in two years at the Old Bailey. These talented individuals from all over the world receive support to study financial and professional subjects in our world leading UK educational establishments... 

…and to visit some of the Corporations key assets: the City of London Freemen's School Prize Giving and to receive “Three Cheers for The Sheriff…plus one for good luck!”. The first co-educational establishment in the UK it was founded in 1854 by the Corporation to educate orphans of Freemen; Burnham Beeches our wonderful natural asset and lungs for the City, Spitalfields Market, the Wholesale Market owned by the Corporation, to see the key to London’s supply of the freshest fruit, veg and flowers.

A trip to Leeds and Sheffield and to London Gateway Port will complete the month.

The year is flying by. Enjoy the summer!