The Clerk (CEO) of the Worshipful Company of Coopers, Stephen White, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on the world of livery companies, the history of the Coopers’ since 1298 and their philanthropy
The Clerk (CEO) of the Worshipful Company of Coopers, Stephen White, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on the world of livery companies, the history of the Coopers’ since 1298 and their philanthropic work.
The Coopers’ livery company has a long history, first mentioned in a public record back in 1298. Today, they have approximately 350 members and are very much open to everyone. They have a strong focus on fellowship, charitable work and business activity.
Many people outside of the UK are not familiar with the world of livery companies and, even within the UK, there is often a lack of understanding on what livery companies do, how they’re governed and the process to join one. Stephen does a wonderful job of taking listeners through a multi-faceted exploration of the livery company world and the Coopers’ in particular, of which he is CEO.
Today, there are 110 livery companies in England and, since the 1970s, approximately 30 new livery companies have been established.
There are three main types of collaborations between different livery companies. There is a collaboration between ‘The Great 12’ livery companies (these are the top 12 livery companies based on their wealth ranking back in the 16th Century. Today, these 12 may not necessarily be the wealthiest but the tradition of the Great 12 stands); then there is a collaboration between companies that have a ‘hall’; and lastly there’s collaboration between those companies that have no hall and are not one of the Great 12.
Livery companies in the UK are amongst the largest philanthropic donors in the country. In addition to supporting members of the coopers trade (cask makers), the company also supports two schools in the UK and makes grants based on the funding applications it receives from interested parties.
Stephen notes how the coopers trade is witnessing something of a renaissance in England, now that the country's sparkling wines are increasingly being recognised for their quality on the international stage. It’s an exciting time for coopers / cask makers in England.
Stephen’s key takeaway for listeners: he refers to the Company’s motto -- Love is Brethren – and laments consumerism and greed. He would like to see people with abundant resources be more philanthropic and spread their wealth more generously. Give back to society as much as you can!
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