Livery Company’s lunch highlights its commitment to education and charity

Livery Company’s lunch highlights its commitment to education and charity

The Worshipful Company of Butchers kicked off 2024 with a Court Lunch that focused on its support of education and charity, with War Horse author, Michael Morpurgo OBE surprising and delighting guests with more than just words.

Former Children’s Laureate and co-founder of Farms for City Children, Michael Morpurgo OBE addressed guests at the WCB’s Court Lunch | Photo: Phil McCarthy.

Michael Morpurgo OBE is a former Children’s Laureate and was invited to the lunch as guest speaker, along with his wife, Lady Clare Morpurgo. They co-founded the charity, Farms For City Children in 1976, which is one of the WCB’s current charity partners. It provides up to 4,000 children a year, together with their teachers, 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.

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.

“We’re one of the charities you have been so generously supporting through recent and difficult times. You could say, and it would be most appropriate, that you have helped save our bacon. It’s not a good joke, but it’s true!”

“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.”

It came as no surprise to see Michael’s words capturing those listening. What was unexpected was how he finished his speech with a song. A folk song about the First World War featured in the stage adaption of War Horse, which enjoyed a hugely successful run in London’s West End, as well as a national tour.

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. The Worshipful Company of Butchers normally supports two main beneficiaries over a three-year period, in addition to awarding a number of minor awards that are made to a limited number of good causes.

On the theme of education, the Livery’s first Court Lunch of the year was an opportunity to acknowledge the Harper Adams University students who have benefitted from WCB sponsorship. 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.

Harper Adams University senior management, lecturers and students were in attendance at the WCB’s Court Lunch.

Warden, Gwyn Howells is the chair of the WCB’s Charities and Education Committee. He told us: “Charity, education and fellowship are the fundamental principles by which the Worshipful Company of Butchers operates and it was wonderful to see all three coming together in spectacular fashion.”

“Four sponsored students shared with us the impact funds from WCB had contributed to their studies in the meat industry, both at Harper Adams University and as a Nuffield Scholar. 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.

“Enjoying a Court Lunch at Butchers’ Hall will have been a never-to-be-forgotten experience…. until, of course we welcome them back as Young Butchers or Liverymen in their own right!”

The Worshipful Company of Butchers offers a centre-point for the British meat industry and it is one of the oldest of the 110 City of London Livery Companies. It won the Best Trade Organisation category at the Meat Management Industry Awards in 2023 and welcomes those working in the meat industry, and related sectors, to join and become involved in its commitment to charity, education, fellowship, and industry engagement.

Its monthly Court Lunches at Butchers’ Hall near Smithfield are hugely popular which see Liverymen and guests coming together to network and enjoy fellowship, while listening to a range of guest speakers.

You can find out more about the WCB at

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