Has being “confined to barracks” necessarily been a bad thing?

Among the many of my roles that I carry out, that of Master of Ceremonies and Toastmaster – The Man in the Red Coat, as well as being a professional event host, moderator, facilitator and “voice of God”, being a Livery Beadle in the City of London I consider a privilege. It is both hard work physically and rewarding, but allows me to work in some of the most wonderful and historical buildings in the country.

I work for 4 companies, in order of precedence, The Tin Plate Workers (67), The Fan Makers (76), The Furniture Makers (82) and my prime company, The Marketors (90).

Naturally during the pandemic, like so many I have been “confined to barracks”, unable to venture into my natural habitat of the City. However, what the confinement actually afforded me was to have the opportunity to work with so many other Livery Companies as I pivoted my offering into the Zoom world.

In this community I became known to some as the “Zoom Beadle” and in this role I worked for and in association with all the City Companies listed below.

The City Livery Club, The Clockmakers, The Coachmakers, The Dyers, The Company of Entrepreneurs, The Guild of Human Resources, The Lady Masters Association, The Patternmakers, The Wheelwrights, The Woolmen and The World Traders.

The events I was involved with ranged from court meetings, to ceremonies and even complete dinners involving, shipped in catering, entertainment, speeches and in one case a close-up magician.

The Dyers Company were celebrating 550 years of their incorporation as a Company, even though they date back a further 283 years! The Wheelwrights, Patternmakers and Tin Plate Workers all celebrated their 350 years as Companies in 2020 with a special Lord Mayor’s Show webinar, which included the Coachmakers (who are not far off their 350 years themselves) and The Lord Mayor himself, fresh from his re-installation into the role.

In some cases I have not only produced the events, running all the backroom effects and the initial set-up of the meetings or webinars, but also acted in my official role as Beadle, making all the introductions, whilst pressing buttons and cuing up videos and sounds to make the events more like a production rather an a chaotic mess.

The advantage to using someone like myself meant that the Masters and Clerks could relax in the knowledge, someone else was running the show. (A bit like a Beadle does at any grand event in the City!)

So I would like to acknowledge the role the City has played in my year of lockdown in supporting me as I have endeavoured to support it. One thing that is evident is that what we thought was a ludicrous idea, has become a reality with a bit of lateral thinking, and whilst a Zoom meeting will never beat an in person one, City events such as the dinners and ceremonies that have been created have become possible in a way we never thought so before February 2020. In fact, several of the companies that I have worked for this year have said that going forward they will continue to run at least one a year, especially for those members of their Company that are unable to, or at least find it difficult to, support an in person one.

If I then add all the other associations, charities and companies that I have been involved with throughout the year with their AGMs, shareholder meetings, planning applications, and online events, I have to conclude that whilst it has not been easy being “confined to barracks”, it could have been much worse than it was. In fact I could conclude it has actually been a very positive experience, especially as it gave me time to also write a small book, “The Engaged Couples Guide to Getting Married.”

If you need any help with running live events of any kind, either in person or virtual, then please do not hesitate to get in touch and let me know how I can help.

James Hasler is a professional “in person” event host, moderator and facilitator. Additionally, he specialises running events on Zoom for others, from creation through to production in either meeting or webinar formats. He can be reached for these services via his website at HaslerHill Consulting. He is also a professional Master of Ceremonies, Toastmaster and charity auctioneer, trained and experienced in over 37 different types of function. He can be reached for these services via his website The Man in the Red Coat. Finally he is a professional voice artist and event “Voice of God”, live or pre-recorded and examples of his work can be found at James Hasler Voice.