The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor launched the 2024 Veterans’ Garden

On Tuesday 20th February, the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor, Alderman and Professor Michael Mainelli, launched the 2024 Veterans’ Garden in Guildhall Yard.

On Tuesday 20th February, the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor, Alderman and Professor Michael Mainelli, launched the 2024 Veterans’ Garden in Guildhall Yard. It was attended by over 180 members of the City community including Aldermen and Alderwomen, members of Common Council, Livery Masters and Clerks, representatives of the Ward Clubs and City Clubs, members of the business
community, members of the Armed Forces, sponsors, beneficiaries and volunteers.

The launch was attended by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, who first became involved in the Curry Lunch in 2009 when he was the Royal Guest of Honour at the second LMBCL.

In his opening remarks, Michael Hockney, the Co-Chairman – with the Lord Mayor – of the Committee, described the purpose behind the Veterans Garden. Every year since 2014 the Gardeners Company has generously created a themed garden to encourage us to remember what our Armed Forces are called upon to do and to reflect on the needs of veterans.

The first four gardens were created in the Great Hall and then, in 2018, the Garden moved into Guildhall Yard. This change was made with the support of the Corporation, to bring the garden and the purpose of the LMBCL to a much wider City audience than just those attending the Lunch itself. This Garden reminds City workers what the Armed Forces of the Crown are called upon to do in the service of their country. It also works to build understanding of the needs of veterans and their dependants as they leave the military family and seek employment in the civilian world.

In his speech, the Lord Mayor thanked the Gardeners Livery Company for creating the garden with the support of the Guild of Young Freemen and reflected that the Gardeners Company’s involvement is an example of the modern-day philanthropy of the Livery Companies. In particular the Lord Mayor thanked Gianna Utilini of the Gardeners Company for designing this year’s garden.

The Lord Mayor also thanked the Livery Companies, Ward Clubs and City Clubs which have already signed up to sponsor veterans through the Pain Management Programme and Lifeworks programme and into employment . He encouraged the other Livery Companies and Ward Clubs to support this year’s Lunch.

The Lord Mayor expressed his pleasure that the LMBCL was continuing to evolve and innovate. In 2024, there will be Curry Lunches in Finland, Estonia, New Zealand…and the Isle of Wight! New
initiatives for 2024 include –

  • a Draw for a unique watch in a (very) limited edition of one, designed and crafted in the UK by Paul Pinchbeck, a member of the Committee. This, the first watch in what is to be an annual series, is called the Waterloo Watch, and
  • Mr Todiwala’s Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Sauce, created especially for the LMBCL by Cyrus Todiwala, another member of the Committee.

In concluding the Lord Mayor encouraged everyone to help achieve the target of £450,000 so we are able to fund 16 veterans through the Pain Management Programme, 65 veterans through Lifeworks programmes and fund other employment-related initiatives through the three national service charities.

Loyd Grossman, Senior Warden of the Carpenters and Chairman of the Royal Parks, then described the theme of the 2024 Veterans Garden – Growing Up In A Military Family.

He said that children of military families are the inspiration for this year’s garden. They have a parent who is often away for periods of time; they move house and school more often than most other children and in times of conflict there is understandable anxiety.

Dr Grossman said that the planting of the garden seeks to reflect all of this. The dark mahogany red stems of the Prunus Tibeticus and the deep purple Hellebores referred to the darker periods while the glistening white stems of the Betula Jaquemonti and the bright yellow Primulas portray powerful feelings of pride and hope.

Central to the Garden are six wonderful paintings fizzing with the power and innovation of children’s art. They reminded Dr Grossman of Picasso’s remark that it took him four years to learn to paint like an Old Master but a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.

To find out more about the 2024 Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch, including how to sponsor and support, how to buy tickets for the Waterloo Watch Draw and how to purchase The Lord Mayor’s Curry Sauce, please go to the Army Benevolent Fund website.

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