Henry Poole & Co was delighted to participate in the Bespoke’ Tailor’s Benevolent Association’s annual Festival Dinner last Thursday. Hosted by President Patrick Murphy, over 300 of us gathered at the beautiful Merchant Taylors’ Hall, which stands in Threadneedle Street, every tailor’s spiritual home. Simon Cundey was visiting clients and hosting one of our trunk shows in Vienna but ever-supportive of the work the Association does, we went with a 20-strong team from Henry Poole.
Naturally, given Henry Poole & Co created the world’s first ever dinner suit, made for the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VI) for informal dinners at Sandringham in 1865, were delighted to see such evidence of the dinner jacket’s enduring appeal all around us. Click here to read the history of the dinner suit.
We were treated to a dinner of goat’s cheese soufflé and duck, followed by a moving speech by Flight Lieutenant Nathan Jones. Flt Ltd Jones is the RAF co-pilot, lauded for his heroic action as he wrestled back control of a plane with 187 on board as it went into a 4,400ft nosedive. Jones fractured his back and suffered such severe injuries that he completed in the Invictus Games. He is now much in demand as an inspirational speaker so we were privileged to talk about his ordeal and what it took to overcome the trauma that followed.
The BTBA dinner is always a happy occasion, partly because Simon Cundey’s father, Angus Cundey, has been President twice. What fewer people know is that today’s dinner is largely the end result of an idea cooked up by Simon’s great-great-grandfather, Howard Cundey, and two friends in the back of a Hansom cab on the way to the theatre in 1887. Back then tailors’ wives were informally employed by their husbands on fine stitch work like buttonholes. This meant if they were widowed or abandoned, they found themselves destitute without pension or provision. Howard Cundey started the Master Tailor Benevolent Association, which merged in the 1890’s with the older Tailors’ Benevolent Institute to become what it is today, a charity that ensures past journeymen and tailoresses are looked after. It awards grants to anyone who has worked in British tailoring for ten years or more and those grants now support over 60 beneficiaries.
In my role as Managing Director at Henry Poole & Co, I was delighted and honoured to represent the company at Thursday nights’ dinner and am certain that Henry Poole will continue to support the Association for years to come.