There are now 40 City Livery Companies who have connections and sponsorships with the Armed Forces, and the Fan Makers are no exception. In 1888 Fan Maker and Lord Mayor Sir James Whitehead raised funds for equipment and in 1899 Sir Alfred Newton, Lord Mayor and Fan Maker, inaugurated the City Imperial Volunteers to fight in the Boer War.
The Company is affiliated with the following units of Her Majesty’s armed forces and makes an annual achievement award to a member of each of these units on the recommendation of the recipient’s Commanding Officer.
The Royal Navy
Master John Hammond brought about the affiliation with HMS Westminster in 1993. Launched only the previous year and built by Swan Hunter on the Tyne she was commissioned in the Pool of London with a special service at Westminster Abbey. She is a Type 23 Duke Class Frigate (F237) and, initially, her main role was to search out and destroy enemy submarines. Today she is more likely to take up any appropriate task the Admiralty requires of her.
HMS Westminster has been deployed operationally in the Gulf, off the West Coast of Africa – where she provided aid to Sierra Leone – in the Falkland Islands, off the coast of Libya and in the Indian Ocean.
She also played a prominent role in the Millennium celebrations at Greenwich where she was moored to buoys positioned directly on the meridian line. Members of the Company have visited her on several occasions both in Portsmouth and in the Pool of London.
The Fan Makers adopted 56 (London) Division, Signals Regiment, TA in 1953; however, this was disbanded in one of the Army’s peacetime reorganisations. In 1962 the Company adopted 79 (City of London) Company, Womens’ Royal Army Corp (TA), but again the unit was disbanded in 1967.
In 1988 Master Patrick Bird, who had a long association with the TA, helped form an association between the Company and 217 (London) Field Squadron Royal Engineers (EOD – Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Volunteers). The Squadron was founded in 1861 and its engineers served with distinction in the Boer War and both World Wars. It is one of the six Territorial Engineer EOD units of which three, including 217 Field Squadron, are now Territorial units associated with the regular army 33 Engineer (EOD) Regiment, which have all actively contributed to the various theaters of operation including Afghanistan. In peacetime the role of the Squadron is to clear and dispose of unexploded mines and bombs, both at home and overseas.
The Royal Air Force
Following a suggestion by Liveryman (now Free Warden) and former Wing Commander Michael Smith, in conversation with Past Master Godfrey Bilton a meeting was arranged with Air Chief Marshal Sir David Cousins. The Court visited RAF Marham in Norfolk in 1996 and were received by the Officer Commanding II (AC) Sqn, Wing Commander R F Garwood DFC. The Squadron was formally adopted at a Livery dinner on 17th October that year.
No. II (AC) Squadron was the first ‘fixed wing’ squadron in the World; initially formed on 13th May 1912 and saw service in both world wars and both Gulf wars. It moved to RAF Marham in 1991 and since then have flown the Tornado GR4A, principally performing tactical and armed reconnaissance roles in support of army units on the ground. The Squadron motto is ‘Second to None’ which has been recently proven by the squadron’s regular support to active theaters of operation in the Middle East.
With the most recent changes to the RAF, the Squadron has moved to Lossiemouth in Scotland where it flies the new Typhoon attack aircraft.
The Company formally adopted the Squadron in 1996. Since that time friendships have been formed between liverymen and Squadron personnel and hospitality is enjoyed on both sides. A golf tournament is played annually between the Company’s golfing society and a team from the Squadron.