The doors of Sir Rocco Forte’s Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair were flung open wide for the great and the good of the Catholic world last Tuesday for our annual drinks party. The Catholic Herald, in partnership with CCLA, the UK’s leading charity investment fund, celebrated the easing of restrictions with a champagne drinks reception.
We were delighted to welcome H.E. Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Apostolic Nuncio in Great Britain, Spanish Place’s Father Christopher Colven; Canon Pat Browne, Roman Catholic duty priest to the Houses of Parliament; Monsignor John Armitage; Father Joshua Hilton and Father William Kenney.
Many contributors were present including Lady Antonia Fraser, A.N. Wilson, Jacob Rees-Mogg (Leader of the House of Commons) and his wife Helena, John Cornwell, Philip Mould, John Martin Robinson, Alison Weir, Tom Holland, Allan Scott (creator of The Queen’s Gambit), Oldie editor Harry Mount, Sir Bill Cash, Tessa Balfour (our monthly saintly recipe correspondent), Michael Hodges, Richard Fitzalan Howard, British president of the Order of Malta, and many more. Herald director Brooks Newmark was also present along with a number of Herald patrons and supporters.
Editor William Cash delivered an amusing speech in which he reflected that the party was to celebrate shared Catholic values but also served another purpose. “Considering our meagre writing fees, we thought serving some excellent champagne and rose might prove a form of suitable alcoholic compensation.”
He also reflected on the struggles that Catholic journalism has faced as a result of the pandemic. “Some of you may not even have seen a copy of the Herald in the last 18 months due to churches – our equivalent of WH Smith – being closed for much of the last two years.”
He also shared the good news that the Herald has used the pandemic as an opportunity to expand its global reach with digital subscriptions up 300% , including half our website traffic now in the USA where we are expanding our readership, especially in universities. “We see the world through a different moral lens; one that safeguards traditional Catholic values as well as celebrating its aesthetic, liturgical and cultural riches. Never has the world needed such a prism to understand and filter politics, religion and current affairs.”
The other good news revealed was that the Herald – for the first time in its 133 year history – had been shortlisted for three awards at the PPA Independent Publisher Awards in November. This includes nominations for the re-launch of the Herald as a monthly publication. The Clarendon Room was piled with copies of the Herald from the last six months for guests to take away.
Cash made a poignant tribute to Sir David Amess MP which singled out his qualities as a true Catholic parliamentarian. “Nobody personified standing up for traditional Catholic values in public life more than Sir David”, Cash said, revealing that Sir David had recently emailed the Herald to say: “My Catholic faith has sustained me through my period as a Member of Parliament, guiding all aspects of my life.”
Cash added: “Lockdown forced us to think about our own inner monk and what the Herald stands for. Our mission remains to be a bold and independent voice, not beholden to any faction of the church as well as safeguarding the tradition of Catholic journalism. With fierce debate over subjects like Latin Mass, we hope to influence the future of the church in these challenging times for the church”.
Cash emphasised the strong partnership forged during the last year with CCLA. Founded in 1958, the CCLA is the UK’s leading charity fund and has unmatched experience in providing ethical and responsible investment to charities.
“We are especially delighted that tonight’s party is being sponsored by CCLA which shares our interest in Catholic values. Since its launch in April it has grown from £50m to £100m which says something about the appeal of the Catholic ethos and social teaching today”.
CCLA CEO Peter Hugh Smith was present and made a speech in which he draw attention to his firm’s commitment to stamping out human trafficking and promoting awareness of mental health.
The party ended with an unexpected performance of Reformation Rap by the musical comedy act Bounder and Cad.
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