From their beginning the Livery Companies regarded social welfare as an important function and would particularly look after the widows and children of the trade members. Quoting from the booklet, ‘The Livery Companies of the City of London’: “The welfare of members, both spiritual and material, has always been a major concern for the guilds. Members received help in sickness and in many cases almshouses were established …..Funerals were particularly important occasions, attended by all members of the company.” .
Such Horners activities in recent times were initiated in 1982 by Mary Hunt and given a more formal basis ten years later (with the rather old-fashioned name of ‘Almoners’) by the Master Harry Kleeman and the Clerk John Holt. Mary Hunt continues in her well-established role and since those days the chair has been held by Elizabeth Rogers, Sheila Davis, Roslyn Walters, Janet Anstis, and now Carmen Hart.
The Almoners may differ from the other Company Committees:-
1. Our volunteer members are not necessarily themselves Horners.
2. We do not have a fixed term of office – continuity of involvement assists confidentiality, an essential factor in many cases. As a matter of principle, the office of Chairman rotates every 3 years.
3. Our formal meeting, to which Officers and the Clerk are invited, takes place only once a year, and the annual report of our activities is presented to the Court. (With individual names omitted when required).
4. The cost to the Company is low as the only expenditure is for cards and small gifts.
Involvement of the Livery – What can you do?
There are two ways in which you, as individual members or spouses can help; the obvious one of volunteering to phone or visit the sick and housebound near you as we can never do enough, and very importantly, inform us when you know of someone who may wish to hear from us. Your suggestions are more than welcome.
These are many and varied and include visiting or telephoning the sick or housebound, often with photographs of current Horners’ activities; sending flowers, wine or books when appropriate, attending funerals and keeping in touch with the bereaved (even, in one case, arranging a funeral with enormous help from our Honorary Chaplain).
Cards to celebrate ‘significant’ birthdays are sent and so it will not only be the Queen who notes the 100th year!
We sent Christmas parcels to the 27 Squadron when they were serving in Afghanistan over Christmas and the New Year from 2009 – 2014 which were very well received.
We have always considered that the Almoners should not be there solely for those who are “out-of action” but also for new members, shy members and especially those “lost sheep” who are returning after a long absence from Horners events. We have also felt it important to give a personal welcome to people as they arrive in church for our two main services, Election Day and Carols, and to those attending for Admission to the Freedom or Livery. The Clerk, of course, is occupied in the Court Meeting.