An evening to remember

Our dinner table. L-R: Nicky and Graham Smith, Sarah, Alex, Debbie, Jess and Thomas Bartlett. Image: Paul Brown

The upcoming holiday season, for many, provides an occasion to dress up in your best, and that’s exactly what Sarah Hills and I did on Friday (17 November), for the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) Annual Dinner at Drapers Hall in London.

The black tie event was an opportunity from those in the industry – including can makers, metal producers, trade associations and retailers – to network in a stunning setting and to celebrate the work being done in the metal packaging sector. We enjoyed a four course dinner, along with some musical entertainment from The Royal Marines Brass Quintet.

We even took part in the Loving Cup ceremony – which sounds like some sort of cult initiation, but is in fact a livery tradition passed down from the Anglo-Saxons [check] and deriving from the assassination of King Edward at Corfe Castle in 978 – a plot devised by his stepmother, Elfrida, who wanted her own son, Ethelred, to be king. The history goes that Edward was stabbed in the back as he drank from a cup he held in both hands, so now, the ceremony involves the Loving Cup travelling clockwise around each table as three people stand – the drinker in the middle, a companion facing them who holds the cup, and the third who guards the back of the drinker. Each person exchanges the words “I drink to thee as thy friend; wilt thou drink to thy friend as I drink to thee?” – something that Sarah and I are going to need to practise for next time, so we’re not reading it off my phone!

As you can see, it was a history-filled evening. I was excited to have found out prior to visiting, that Drapers Hall stands on the site of Austin Friars, Thomas Cromwell’s old home (before he was executed and it was handed over to Henry VIII, of course).

The MPMA’s current director and chief executive, Robert Fell, received a gift from the Association as part of his upcoming retirement – a blow up electric guitar, as apparently this will be what he’s going to learn after MPMA life! Robert is currently working closely with Jason Galley, to enable him to take over his role in the MPMA in 2024.

After this, the MPMA Best in Metal award winner was announced as Eviosys, for its innovative EcoPeel solution – which you can read more about here.

The after dinner speaker was Theo Michaels, celebrity chef (from the Steph’s Packed Lunch TV show) and author of Canned. Being a strong advocate for canned food, Michaels has worked closely with the MPMA via its Canned Food UK website and social media channels. Michaels gave us an overview of his career to date and how taking risks has enlivened his path thus far.

Overall it was a highly enjoyable evening. Thank you to the MPMA for organising, in particular Debbie Clements, and to some of team Tala – Jess Friend Bartlett and Graham and Nicky Smith – who we were so glad to finally meet in person and who were on our table – see the lovely photo above.

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