Richard Edwards was installed at the Cutlers’ Hall in a tradition dating back 392 years in front of members, freemen, friends and establishment figures including mayors and clergy from across South Yorkshire.
And he wasted no time in raising the problems facing manufacturers today.
He said: “My remit in my year in office is to keep raising issues including Brexit, the Northern Powerhouse, competitiveness in manufacturing and the steel industry, especially to the London-based political establishment.
“On Brexit, I am concerned some politicians want to put political ideals before economic stability arguing we should leave the single market as a count to controlling immigration at our borders.
“I urge that our economic prosperity is more important long term and manufacturers must not be disadvantaged because of dogma from a group of politicians, newspaper proprietors and journalists who have little concept of the long term nature of investing in manufacturing. The uncertainty after the referendum will be with us for some time. We need to keep our nerve and seek the best possible deal we can.
“Export trading is very important to the economy and following on from the immediate past master’s trip to Canada with the International Trade Forum chaired by Freeman William Becket it is planned I do a similar trip.
“I welcome the new Prime Minister’s desire to have an industrial strategy, I suggest that energy supply, access to finance and competitiveness need to be at the top of her agenda.
“She also needs to address the energy needs of this country in terms of both resilience and cost alongside the continued uncertainty in the steel industry, as it is of strategic importance to the nation.”
The company comprises a 33-strong governing body of ‘members’, some 361 ‘freemen’ - senior manufacturing bosses and 50 ‘friends’ - financial and business services firms.
The Company represent manufacturers, runs a growing school work experience programme - Better Learners Better Workers - and raises six figures sums for local charities every year. Mr Edwards, engineer and manufacturer, is the 378th Master and takes over from Craig McKay.
Following the installation ceremony in the Old Banqueting Hall, top-hatted members walked in procession to Sheffield Cathedral where they were met by Dean Peter Bradley. Following a service they returned to the Cutlers’ Hall for lunch.
The ceremony also saw Jane Robinson become one of only four female ‘members’. After being accepted as a freeman in 2014, Jane Robinson has now been elected to the position which elevates her to the organisation’s governing body. It means she will one day be Master Cutler.
Ms Robinson, aged 44, is a director of Barnsley-based laser firm Cutting Technologies. As part of her role as assistant, responsibilities include assisting the master and former chairman of specialist tool company G & J Hall Richard Evans in ensuring the company is well run and is effective.
She said: “It is a huge honour to be chosen to represent the interests of the Sheffield City Region’s outstanding manufacturing community. The proud heritage of the Company is remarkable.”