The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers
My grandfather had a wool mill in Bradford, and though felt is a different product from the wool he produced – mashed together rather than spun – he was a member of the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers.
I don’t have anything to do with the trade and neither did my father, but I’m involved because he was, and now my son, who’s a 24-year-old management consultant, has just joined too.
It’s not as wealthy as some of the livery companies, but it is a charitable organisation, and we raise money for good causes. [The beneficiaries of its foundation range from pensioners previously employed in the hatting trade and Luton Hat Museum to its affiliated ship, HMS Lancaster, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and St Paul’s Cathedral and Chorister Trust.] In 2014, a colleague and I ran the Feltmakers’ Float in the Lord Mayor’s Show.
The most important thing I’ve learned from the Feltmakers is that you can’t change anything. It’s been going since 1604, and the wardens still dress up in neck stocks, capes and tricorn hats with ostrich feathers. They don’t like change. But it’s definitely a good institution.