Early in 2013, I was contacted by Deacon Convener David Parkinson, who asked me to consider becoming Patron to the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen. Although I know of the Seven Incorporated Trades, I had no idea what was involved in being the Patron. David visited me in my home and gave me a very interesting description both of the Incorporated Trades and the role of Patron, inviting my wife Christine and myself to have a tour round Trinity Hall. If my mind wasn’t made up before that visit, it certainly was by the time we had been given the opportunity to see the Hall. “Yes”, I replied, “it would be a privilege to be appointed Patron to the Seven Incorporated Trades”.
I was duly installed as the 28th Patron at a ceremony in Trinity Hall on 26th March 2013, attended by members of the Seven Trades. The welcome was warm and friendly, and this has remained the case throughout my 18 months as Patron.
So what does the Patron do?
Well, there are official duties such as presiding at the annual Convener Court Election and leading the Convener Court at Official Functions such as the Kirking of the Council at Kirk of St. Nicholas and the Kirking at King’s College Chapel. There is also the short Remembrance Day Service at Trinity Hall at which I officiate. Particularly important also is getting to know members of the Seven Trades, visiting some of the widows, visiting members in hospital when requested; that is, a pastoral role offering friendship, encouragement and a listening ear to any who may require some support. This I seek to do without encroaching on any Parish Minister’s work. One of the highlights so far has been the Widows’ Tea held one afternoon in November 2013 which was well attended by widows of former members, and which gave me the opportunity to make initial contact with these ladies. Another highlight, but at the other end of the age scale, was the Children’s Christmas Party in Trinity Hall attended by my wife and myself. There our experience of countless Sunday School parties stood us in good stead and we’ve been commandeered by Sandy and Angela Mackinnon to run the games at this year’s party! I guess we must have passed the test – as long as the children enjoy it, we’ll be pleased. I would expect and hope that the pastoral role of the Patron will increase as I get to know members and their families better.
Another area of involvement has been the “Dinner Dance Season”. My wife and I are invited to the Dinner Dances of each of the Trades and so from November through to February, we attended seven dinner dances and thoroughly enjoyed them all, both the food and the company.
I have also had the pleasure of representing the Trades at a number of Graduation Ceremonies at Aberdeen University, my own Alma Mater, have attended various teas of individual Trades, taken part in the annual indoor bowling competition and the golf competition, attended the annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival evening at Trinity Hall and helped out at the Doors Open Day, the latter giving me an ideal opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the history of the Trades. I particularly appreciate looking at “essay pieces” in Trinity Hall and admiring the craftsmanship of members past and present. Ian Dale of the Weavers Incorporation is one of such gifted craftsmen and I now have a new “Preaching Scarf” made by Ian, with the Seven Incorporated Trades crest on one side and the Church of Scotland Burning Bush emblem on the other.
One very important event in the Trades calendar is the Annual Election Dinner held on the first Saturday of November when it is my duty and privilege to propose the toast to the Reverend Dr. William Guild, the first Patron of the Seven Incorporated Trades – a man whose legacy to the Trades lives on to the present day and whose portrait has pride of place in Trinity Hall.
This brings me to another highlight of the time as Patron, namely sitting for Mark Moynihan, the artist appointed to paint my portrait. The unveiling of my portrait on 21st January 2014 at Trinity Hall, attended by members and my family and guests, is an evening that will live in my memory for a long time. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my portrait would be on display anywhere, let alone in such a fine building as Trinity Hall.
Now, after 18 months as Patron, I find the welcome, the friendship, the warmth and good humour to be so refreshing. It is appreciated by Christine and myself, I would hope to build up our friendships as I continue to be Patron of such an historic Incorporation.
Iain U. Thomson
28th Patron, the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen.