Guild Hall Toast by Dr. Gavin Barnett
Guild Hall Toast By Dr.G.G.Barnett
Formal Toast by way of Response by Dr.G.G.Barnett, International President of The Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administators, to the speech of United Kingdom President, Joan Bingley at the Institute Banquet in the Guildhall, London December 1993.
Nowhere in the world is the art of toasting so perfected as in Great Britain and nowhere is the atmosphere more appropriate than in the great halls of the City of London which has granted this writer its Freedom. It was therefore a singular privilege in my capacity as International President of The Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administators to propose a toast in the Guildhall, London in December 1993. To those interested in the noble art of toasting and in the world’s foremost professional institute in the filed of corporate governance, I dedicate this text.
Master of ceremonies, President Joan Bingley, my lords, ladies distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
One of the most treasured privileges accorded to me during this year as President of our great Institute of 67 000 members graduates and students, is that of responding at this glittering occasion.
Some of your well satisfied guests may need reassuring that the appearance of a second president here this evening, has nothing to do with their state of mellowness.
The excellent custom and long-standing tradition which we celebrate again this evening, is of course, the planned, promulgated and perpetuated property of the United Kingdom Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, the professional precinct over which you properly preside.
There may be some here, more contentious than contented, who had been hoping even at this late hour, Madam President, for some kind of presidential summit locking of horns in the manner in which leadership is settled by the SA wildebeest. I refer to the animal known to fans of Flanders and Swan as the g-nu, thus distinguishing the habits of this species of beast from other well publicised and even wilder SA methods of settling leadership.
To any with such fiendish expectations I hasten to respond in the `g-negative' or perhaps more emphatically, `g-not on your g-nelly'.
My regard and affection for you Joan and the daunting presence here of your husband Michael, are only two of the reasons for peaceful and constructive coexistence. Moreover my wife Doreen and I still fondly recall the enjoyable foursome we made together to the Royal garden party in July this year.
I believe Mathew Prior encapsulates the cooperative and mutually respectful spirit we share as presidents:
"I never strove to rule the roost, She ne'er refused to pledge my toast".
I know from experience, ladies and gentlemen, that when responding to a toast it is sensible to be aware on whose behalf you presume to speak.
The term guest, however, is equivocally defined. It might refer to `everyone here except the host'. Alternatively the guests could be those who are not members of the Institute, especially perhaps those representing other professional bodies. Those whose admission has been paid by another are of course guests. Yet another worthy category of guest must be the members from territories outside the host Division.
Though, in responding I cannot claim to have canvassed the views of such an all-embracing constituency, I know I can confidently say on behalf of every possible kind of guest here this evening, whatever your definition, we are, one and all, glad and proud to have been your most fortunate beneficiaries.
Not only has the occasion been rendered pleasurable by the grandness of the hospitality and circumstance, it has also been symbolic in a way, of the professional benefits the worldwide fraternity has enjoyed at the hands of the host institute. Too easily we take for granted the heritage of professionalism, the status conferred by the Royal Charter, and the resources available to us through the unitary Institute for more than a century of proud existence.
In the broader sense the idea of a shared heritage is perhaps the message of Edmund Spenser's cryptic lines, quoting liberally:
"At length they all to merry London came
To merry London my most kind resource
That first set me upon this noble course
Though from another place I take my name.
An house of ancient fame"
Taking the poetic symbolism a little further, perhaps that last line could at least on this occasion, figuratively betoken this famous civic palace in which we have been so lavishly entertained.
Originated in the year 1411, it is indeed "an house of ancient fame", surrounded as we are by monuments to Nelson, Wellington, Chatham, Pitt and Churchill - illustrious names of an admiral, a soldier, a lawyer, a politician and a statesman - professionals everyone and symbolically linked to the mother city, by a sixth monument, that to Beckford a famous Lord Mayor of London.
Moreover as if to remind Chartered Secretaries of the inseparability of professionalism and standards, in the Northwest corner of this Great Hall, are standard measures of the foot, the yard and the chain. Standards exact, preserved and inviolate.
And so we find, Madam President, in your hospitality this evening, all that is significant, celebrated and salubrious.
In responding therefore to your most gracious toast, it is with apologies to Charles Dibden [unable to be present having passed away peacefully some 80 years before the Royal Charter was conferred], as I paraphrase him in the following lines:
The standing toast that pleased the most
Was the one proposed
By our gracious host
To the guests, who now salute her!
Dr Gavin Barnett