Leighton Buzzard woman Masters an ancient tradition

She takes over as Master of a City of London Livery Company

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 10:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 10:31 am
Mary Hardy in her ceremonial robes

A Leighton Buzzard woman has been making a name for herself in the city of London.

Mary Hardy was recently installed as Master of the Worshipful Company of World Traders, one of the 110 Livery Companies in the City.

She will be Master for one year during which time she will take part in many City events, and has already been in the Lord Mayor’s Show, as well as organising events for her Livery Company including the prestigious Tacitus Lecture. Mary’s husband, Mark, was Master World Trader in 2014-15.

Mary and Mark, both in their 60s, met at Kings College in London. Mary qualified as a chartered accountant and, after 20 years in the profession, went into industry in internal audit and risk management. She is now a non-executive director on a number of Boards across different sectors.

Mark qualified as a solicitor and worked for many years in the pharmaceutical industry. He worked extensively in the pensions area. He is also now a non-executive and consultant and is also a Deputy Lieutenant for Bedfordshire

Masters of the Liveries are elected by the members. Mary has been officially involved with the World Traders since 2004 but Mark has been a member since 1995.

Mary said: "You become Master by serving on Committees and being chosen by your peers effectively to go forward to be Master after serving as Junior and then Senior Warden

"There have been quite a few couples who’ve both been Master but of different Livery companies. I’m only aware of one couple who’ve been Master of the same Company but there may have been others. It’s certainly rare.

"Eight of the last 21 Masters of the World Traders have been women. We probably have the highest proportion so far and some of the older Companies have only recently had their first female Master. They tend to reflect the industry they’re in,

"The Company has a number of ‘great events’ as they are known, each year – the Installation dinner, when the new Master takes over; the Election dinner, when the next Master is announced, a members’ dinner, a carol service and supper and a thanksgiving service and lunch. Our key event is the Tacitus lecture which is held at Guildhall every February and attracts a live audience of some 800 (pre-pandemic) as well as being live streamed to members around the world.

"As Master World Trader I will attend many events organised by other Companies and the Lord Mayor from dinners and lunches to lectures, briefings and visits to industry and schools. My main aim this year is to get everyone back to live events so that we can rebuild the all important fellowship that is a major part of the Livery. Livery Companies were originally established back in medieval times to set standards and provide training in the various crafts and trades that were common at the time. All Livery Companies now focus on education and charity usually connected with their trade or profession.

"World Traders works with a number of London based schools providing prizes in relevant subjects such as economics and supporting and mentoring them in taking part in debates such as the Sheriff’s Challenge. A former member, Richard Charvet, left us money to fund a prize at the World Maritime University in Malmo and I’m proud to say that both prizewinners this year are women".

The work is voluntary and Mary will have to juggle her new responsibilities with work and her hobby of choral singing. She sings with the BBC Symphony Chorus.