The Founders' Company has weathered many storms in its long history, which it could not have survived but for the loyal affection of its members and their willingness to make sacrifices for the future. The Company is rightly proud of its ancient origins and traditions, but it knows also that the noblest work of man withers and dies unless it renews itself with the changing seasons.
With the development of industry and commerce, many of the Company's former functions and powers disappeared, causing a slow but ultimately complete separation from its medieval craft. Without this vital spark, the Company was in danger of becoming a purely ceremonial club bearing little relevance or relation to the modern world.
The Court has countered this danger by a deliberate and successful policy of enrolling leading members from the national foundry industry. It has also used the Company's trust funds to promote technical education and research in founding.
For some years bursaries have been awarded to students studying metallurgy and materials engineering, principally at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham. Special efforts have been made to bring young people into the Company, with good results, and steps have been taken to improve the prospects for Liverymen of achieving service as Master and on the Court.
The membership is now around 170 and a waiting list is in operation. The Founders remain today, as ever, an essential part of the creation and support of that great City with which our whole history has been so closely bound.
To those who enter our Hall, we extend a very hearty welcome. May they join with us in echoing the words used by Richard Weoley, Master of the Company in 1631 and again in 1640, when he bequeathed to the Company a magnificent painted Venetian goblet said to have been taken from Boulogne by an English archer when it was captured by Henry VIII.
Every year, in accordance with Richard Weoley's Will, the retiring Master drinks to his newly elected successor from this glass and the Clerk reads the terms of Weoleys bequest, ending with these words:
"And I do hereby wish that my means were agreeable to my Will, then should they record me a better Benefactor; and I shall ever wish the whole Body may ever live in Unity, Concord, and Brotherly Love, which is pleasing to God and Man. Even thus the God of Heaven Bless Them All. Amen."
A J Gillett.