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Education, charity and a song to finish from a Children's Laureate

Published on: 16 January 2024

Butchers' Hall has witnessed many special moments and those in attendance at the first Court Lunch of 2024 will surely never forget the moment when War Horse author, Sir Michael Morpurgo OBE gave everyone a choice. Should he finish his speech with a "boring" story or an "exciting" song?

Sir Michael and Lady Morpurgo with The Master

Sir Michael is a former Children’s Laureate and was at Butchers' Hall with his wife, Lady Clare Morpurgo in their capacity as co-founders of the charity, Farms For City Children.

Since 1976 it has welcomed over 100,000 children to one of its three farms where, together with their teachers, they have the opportunity to learn about the world around them, the countryside, where their food comes from, the livestock that live on the land, and about themselves, too. The Butchers' Livery is currently supporting Farms For City Children as one of its major charity partners during this term, along with Teach First.

For both Sir Michael and Lady Clare Morpurgo have created something that has had a profound impact. He said: "For nearly 50 years, in that time 100,000 urban children have spent a week of their young lives living and working down on one of our three farms. Not petting farms, not cream tea farms, but working farms. And working hands-on alongside real farmers, finding out what it takes to provide enough food and discovering the beauty and wonder of the countryside for themselves."

Sir Michael asks: Story or Song?

Sir Michael spoke following lunch and said: "I feel a great sense of gratitude for the support you give Farms For City Children, it means more than I can say from all of us."

But what did guests decide? Given it was a leading question in the first instance, the answer was obvious and unanimous, and Sir Michael sang a folk song about the First World War that featured in the War Horse stage production, which had wowed audiences in the West End and on a national tour.

Everyone there will remember the time this famous and most acclaimed author sang to them.

A standing ovation was the least he deserved.

Our guests and a focus on education

Donna Edmonds, who leads the teams at Farms for City Children as its chief executive, was also a guest of the WCB at the lunch. As was Russell Hobby CBE and chief executive of the WCB’s other current major charity partner, Teach First.

"For nearly 50 years, in that time 100,000 urban children have spent a week of their young lives living and working down on one of our three farms. Not petting farms, not cream tea farms, but working farms."

Further guests of the Company included Tony Mitchell, The Master of The Worshipful Company of Plaisterers; and Martin Lane, Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Dyers.

All were welcomed by Liveryman Pamela Brook who proposed the toast to our guests, and who herself has supported Farms For City Children and has been a strong link between the charity and the Livery.

Our guests were welcomed by The Master to our Hall

The first Court Lunch of the year also welcomed four students studying at Harper Adams University who have benefited from funds provided by the WCB to assist their studies in the meat industry.

Tom Nash, Gwen Williams and Victoria Oxtoby were in attendance to experience Butchers’ Hall, as well as Jock Gibson who is the Livery’s 2024 Nuffield Scholar.

Warden, Gwyn Howells, chair of the WCB’s Charities and Education Committee said: "We sincerely hope the experience will help them in their future careers. It was wonderful to hear, first hand, the impact the WCB contribution makes."

Gwen Williams receives her award from the Baker family

As is tradition at the January Court Lunch, the annual Gary Baker Award was presented. The purpose of the Award is to support the final year academic studies of an undergraduate student at Harper Adams University, and, specifically, a student who has taken an industrial placement period in the UK’s red meat sector.

The 2023 Gary Baker Award was presented to Gwen Williams.

New Liverymen clothed and a first class lunch

The Master, Chris Wood took wine with Bob Carnell and Carl Scothorne who were clothed as Liverymen during the Court Meeting prior to lunch, and who spoke of their honour in joining the Livery.

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New Liveryman Carl Scothorne and Bob Carnell, with the Master

And what a lunch it was with the excellent steak and kidney served in the suet pie supplied by Dunwood House and kindly provided by Assistant Peter Wright.

200 Club draw and Champagne raffle

Bill Jermey, PM Graham Baker and Jude Capper came first, second and third respectively in the 200 Club monthly lottery draw. If you would like to sign up to win one of three cash prizes each month send an email to

While Ian Hamilton won a case of Dumenil Champagne in the monthly raffle, which was donated by Gressingham Foods.

Join a future Court Lunch

To see what Court Lunches are currently open for bookings head to our events page, and we look forward to seeing you there.

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