Almoner - Dr Stuart Le Sage
The word Almoner is derived from the Greek word for compassion and the title Almoner was given to the Church or lay officer who historically distributed alms (money) to the deserving poor.
The modern role of Almoner remains an active and important one in Livery Companies with each Company, and indeed each individual Almoner, interpreting the role to reflect their members particular needs.
The Almoner’s duties are foremost:
- To act as a focus between the Court and all members of the Company, who may be in need of social or financial welfare.
- To give such non-financial assistance as may be possible, on behalf of the Company, to any member who may be suffering from illness or other personal difficulty and to report to the Master & Wardens on any urgent action deemed expedient.
Stuart's take on the Almoner role;
"One of my main duties as Almoner comes to the fore when a Company member passes on. As soon as we hear of such sad news, usually from a family member contacting the Clerk, I inform the members of the event and send condolences to the next-of-kin on behalf of the Master and the Court. I liaise with the family, so that I can circulate funeral details, and arrange for the Company to be represented whenever possible. I now always arrange for the Company to make a donation in the memory of the deceased to a recipient of the family’s choice - this might be to a care home, a particular hospital or department, or any nominated charity.
When I took over from Tom Ball as Almoner, I started writing obituaries for our website, a job which is quite daunting, but also so rewarding as the research for these can sometimes lead me into engaging conversations with family members or former work colleagues of the deceased. Even if I didn’t personally know the individual myself, I feel I do get to know them, and appreciate their various achievements in life.
An equally important duty is to connect with those in the Company who are temporarily suffering in some way, either through physical ill health (they may have had a serious operation, or be under treatment for cancer for example) or they might be struggling to cope with serious stress issues, either through work, in their personal lives, or due purely to financial matters. The Almoner must balance the response here. Sometimes it might be just a case of having a chat, or exchange of emails, and/or sending humorous Get-Well cards - sometimes just knowing that the Company cares about you is a real help. And sometimes, as happened a great number of times during the Covid pandemic, when many of our members’ incomes where suddenly hit so very hard, agreement is reached in conjunction with the Master and Clerk as to the most appropriate way to help with financial issues, with several Company members at the height of the pandemic finding it impossible to keep up quarterage payments, let alone any charitable giving to the trust fund. At times like these of course, the Almoner’s discretion and compassion are paramount on all fronts. So, if you are struggling with something, having a rough time due to life’s ups and downs, then do get in contact with me for a confidential chat, or if you know a Company member who you feel would benefit by contact with the Almoner, I am keen to know.
There is also a very nice tradition I carry out on behalf of the Master and the Court. I won’t go into details here, but Company members who have recently had special birthdays know what I mean.”
To contact Stuart; [email protected] or text/phone on 07802 728667