On the hottest September day since before the First World War your correspondent found himself in the Field Marshall’s Room at the Cavalry & Guards Club, surrounded by men and women cheerfully refusing to acknowledge the sweltering temperatures in their suits and regimental ties, under the approving gaze of their predecessors’ portraits – some veterans of said war – who would invariably have upheld similar standards, albeit in far flung corners of the Empire.
It is this combination of high standards and a can-do mind-set that brought us together in early September. The City Veterans Network (CVN) were again launching their annual fund raising dinner to mark the start of London Poppy Day, held this year at the Hurlingham Club on Wednesday 2nd November. The idea behind the CVN is the coordination of hiring by City institutions of ex-servicemen and women who can bring to bear the leadership, determination and adaptability forged in often rather less salubrious surroundings.
The Launch Party drinks were enlivened somewhat with the arrival of one of the CVN’s Patrons, Miss Elizabeth Hurley – a veteran herself of such dinners and a wonderful ambassador for the CVN’s work. Elizabeth spoke at length with one of her co-Patrons, Mr Jim Cowles, Citi’s EMEA CEO, a generous supporter both morally and financially of the Network from its birth in 2014.
Army Generals mixed with Government Ministers, Charity Patrons and injured servicemen whilst senior financiers – Michael Cole-Fontayn, BNY Mellon’s EMEA Chairman for instance – spoke at length about the benefit to his organisation of hiring former soldiers, sailors and airmen. Will Packard, Sid Welham, Andy Thomson, Pete Flynn, Alex MacEwen and Francis Roseman, the event’s organisers, briefed the crowd on the hard sell of table sales, sugaring the pill with mention of glamorous prizes which ranged from Anti-hijack driving days with the Metropolitan Police, Sniper Training Days and Guard Mount followed by lunch with the Household Cavalry, to dinner at Robin Birley’s 5 Hertford Street, evenings at Garsington Opera or careering down an icy slope on the Cresta Run in St Moritz.