In 1985, a group of leading IT professionals petitioned the Lord Mayor and the Court of Aldermen of the City of London for permission to create a City Company of Information Technologists without Livery. The Petition was finally presented to the Lord Mayor and the Court of Aldermen on 8th December 1986 and granted in 1987.
It was commemorated in 1996 by a painting by Martin Yeoman of the first court of the Company, presented by Dame Steve Shirley and the Founder Master, Barney Gibbens.
In 1989 the Company received its grant of armourial bearings, or Coat of Arms. Each Livery Company has an armorial bearing or coat of arms - designed to proclaim a company's identity and objectives. The bearings of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists are symbolic of its work and objectives.
The Company's motto, CITO, meaning swiftly, suggests the way in which technology is applied by the Company's members. It also incorporates the initials of the Company of Information Technologists: Vert (or green) is associated with video display.
Azure (or blue) suggests electricity, the power which enables IT to work. Or (or gold) is one of the best conductors of electricity. The book and keys symbolise knowledge and access to knowledge, the main aims of IT. The mullets or stars scattered on the shield denote electrical force, without which IT could not work.
The stars also represent stored energy, which can be released and radiates to spread the light of knowledge everywhere.
The crest features Mercury, the swift messenger god of classical legend, who embodies communication.
The griffin (half lion, half eagle) and Pegasus (the winged horse) indicate energy, speed, intelligence and reliability.
In one of our many charitable ventures, the Company raised several thousand pounds for Skin Treatment and Research Trust (START). This funding enabled the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to build a Clinic and Day Treatment Centre for dermatology patients. Here, Founder Master Barney Gibbens (first chairman of the charity) accompanies HRH,the Duchess of Gloucester at the official opening.
Fundraising activities for the hospital continued for many years, and in 1997 included a donation of £2,600, presented by Colin Knight to the then Master, Keith Arnold. The hospital also hosts the Royal Chelsea Children’s Hospital School (CCHS), catering for children whose illnesses stop them from attending a traditional school. The ITC’s Recreation and Leisure Panel has, for many years, worked with staff at the school to provide the children with the latest technology to assist their learning. The concept of Panels, through which our members could act charitably and philanthropically to advance the use of IT in numerous area of society such as the Arts, Education, Employment, Industry, International Aid, Medicine and Health, Youth and Community was in fact first promoted by future Master Ric Foot in 1991. This has been one of the Company’s most outstanding success stories and there are now almost 20 Panels and Committees operating in areas from IT Accessibility, through Entrepreneurship and Medicine and Health, to Security and Technology.
The Company was granted livery status on 7 January 1992, making it the City of London’s 100th livery company. Congratulations were received from, among others, the sitting Prime Minister, John Major, who highlighted the government’s recognition of the importance of IT to the broader economy.
Further recognition came in 1993, with Bill Gates becoming an Honorary Freeman, and, seen below, delivering the inaugural Informatics Lecture to the Company. He was followed in 1994 by Michel Carpentier, Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate-General XIII (Telecommunications, Information, Industry and Innovation).
In 2006 Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world-wide web, accepted the Honorary Freedom of the Company at a ceremony in the Livery Room of the Company’s Hall.
And in 2008 Vint Cerf, widely regarded as the father of the Internet also joined the Company as an Honarary Freeman.
1992 also saw the start of our relationship with the Royal Corps of Signals. There is a long tradition of links between City of London Livery Companies and units of the United Kingdom's Armed Forces, and the Information Technologist’s Company is no exception. The Royal Corps of Signals is a leader in Information Technology and Communications for the British Army and our relationship has expanded continuously with several Royal Signals officers now being active members of the Company. We also provide an Apprentice of the Year medal for the apprentice who performs best on the Information Systems Foundation Course and accelerated entry into our Journeyman Scheme. In addition, our Employment Panel provides advice and coaching to Signallers moving from the military into the commercial world. We hold joint seminars under the auspices of the Royal Signals Institution and mutual support for various charity events. Additionally, the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals plays at all our major ceremonial events, most notably the award to the Company of a Royal Charter in 2010.
In 1998 the Company received a donation of £5 million from the Shirley Foundation, enabling us not only to increase significantly our charitable reserves but also to purchase 39a Bartholomew Close as its Hall. A Celebration Lunch was held, at which the astronaut, Dr Buzz Aldrin, was guest of honour.
2001 saw the official opening of the Company’s own Hall by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir David Howard and members of the Company.
iT4C was set up by the Company to bring together would-be volunteers and charities requiring IT support. It was formally launched in November 2002 with DTI Minister, Stephen Timms as keynote speaker. Since that time, it has registered 8000 volunteers and 3500 charities. iT4C has delivered over £3 million worth of support to the charity sector thanks to the work of the dedicated volunteer IT professionals, who have taken on projects ranging from website design to database development and from developing IT strategies to delivering training. iT4Communities (iT4C) has become the leading national IT volunteering programme, and now operates as an independent entity (part of Abilitynet) from the Company’s Hall. For more information, visit www.it4Communities.org.uk.
In education, we began a programme of support to the Lilian Baylis Technology School. The main focus of our work there has been raising the aspirations of students, advising the school on ICT issues, persuading Cisco, HP and Connectix to upgrade the school’s network and install wireless connectivity across the campus, and implementing a mentoring programme for pupils to provide them with access to senior mentors from the world of IT.
Even in its first year, the results of the Company’s support showed dramatic success, with the school being ranked in the top 5% for “added value” performance in 2003. In 2002, when the partnership began, only 6% of students achieved 5 Grade A*-C GCSEs and by 2005 (two years ahead of schedule) this had risen to over 40%. In its 2011 interim assessment, Ofsted judged the school’s performance to be sustaining its previous (January 2008) 'good' assessment, and our work with the school remains an important element of the Company’s education strategy. For more information, see: Lilian Baylis Technology School (www.lilianbaylis.com) and LBTS Ofsted (http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/oxedu_providers/full/(urn)/100625/target=blank)
In June 2004, the Master, Campbell McGarvie, inaugurated a WCIT Golf Day at Batchworth Park. Here, the Master (to the right) is seen presenting the Champion Golfer Salver to Hywel Thomas. Since then, the Golf Club has flourished and now holds a well-attended annual Charity Golf Day at which Company members, guests and teams from other Livery companies enjoy a great day’s golf in the company of like-minded friends and colleagues. For each of the past few years, the generosity of the participants has resulted in a contribution of over £5,000 to the Company’s various charities. In addition, the company submits teams to other Livery Company Golf Days and competes in the Prince Arthur Inter-Livery Cup competition. As well as a Golf Club, the Company now possesses a number of other clubs devoted to purely social activities, including sailing, shooting and skiing.
Founded in 1992, one of the Company’s most active and successful Panels, the Arts Panel created an outward facing organisation, IT4Arts. The panel works through IT4Arts to help arts organisations make effective use of IT to connect with their audiences, deliver artistic content and run an efficient and sustainable organisation. It does this by providing pro bono project help on request and by running quarterly IT4Arts workshops attended by many of the most famous arts organisations in the country. The membership of almost 100 arts organisations now includes some of the country’s most famous institutions from art galleries to opera companies, museums, orchestras and theatres. Between workshops, the network remains active and members circulate questions, for example, ‘how do you structure your web team?’ or ‘can anyone recommend someone to provide support for our servers and network?’ For more details, see www.it4arts.org.uk.
Originating as a spin-off from the Industry Committee, the Entrepreneurship Panel rapidly became one of the most vigorous and enterprising of the Company’s panels. The goal of the Entrepreneurship Panel is to help IT-focused entrepreneurs grow their businesses through: education of our membership in the needs of early-stage companies and encouraging them to become angels; non executive directors (NEDs); coaches or mentors; and communication between existing and potential angels and/or NEDs and early-stage companies.
The most dynamic manifestation of the effectiveness of this is the Mentoring programme where, by the beginning of 2012, 20 members were mentoring 70 companies, with revenues in excess of £125 million. Over £20 million funding was raised for mentored companies in 2011, and over 1000 new jobs have been created. In 2011 the Panel established the annual Enterprise Awards. These prestigious awards fell into three main categories: ‘Young Entrepreneur - 30 or under’, ‘Emerging Entrepreneur’ and the ‘Enterprise Award’, recognising both the entrepreneurs’ personal and company achievements such as growth, profile and innovation.
More than 140 attendees gathered at the gala ceremony, which has been dubbed the premier entrepreneur event in the UK’s technology industry, including such luminaries as Dr Mike Lynch, Brent Hoberman, and Richard Holway, discussing the ‘Essence of Enterprise’.
In 2008 the Information Technologists Company was invited to join the Financial Services Group. This group of twelve Livery Companies was formed in 2006 to support the Lord Mayor in his overseas visits, his meetings in the City with overseas delegations and in his role of promoting “the City” brand of UK financial and other business services. The specific objectives of the group are as follows: A network for access to expertise, experience and issues to provide briefings for the Lord Mayor for outbound and inbound visits; A source of education in financial affairs and issues for potential Lord Mayors and Sheriffs from all Livery Companies; A source of encouragement for all Livery Companies to seek Liverymen with the potential to be Lord Mayor and other suitable candidates to join the Livery: A resource for the Lord Mayor’s theme of the promotion of “the City” brand of UK financial and other business services; To represent the views of the Financial Services sector to the Lord Mayor.
After three years preparation, our Royal Charter, one of only 1,000 awarded over the past 800 years, was granted at a ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral on 17 June 2010. After the service, the Lord Mayor's pikemen escorted the Royal Charter to the Mansion House, where our members and honoured guests celebrated the award at a dinner attended by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex.
For press coverage click here and click here for a video of the event.
In September 2011 the Hammersmith Academy, a new build secondary school co-sponsored by the Information Technologists and the Mercers, opened its doors to an intake of 120 Year 7s and 120 sixth-formers. We are governors of this innovative school and will have a major influence in shaping its specialist curriculum in digital media and technology and in its general learning environment. The intake was chosen to cover the whole ability range, including special needs, and is drawn from the immediate vicinity of the school (within two kilometres). Our school will be a place where every student matters, regardless of their ability, background or faith, and where pastoral concerns for students balance academic goals. ICT and digital media are at the heart of the UK economy, as creative entrepreneurs harness technology to conceive and build new companies around the web, business services, media and communications. The Academy is all about nurturing those creative forces and developing a new generation of students, whether they might turn into technicians, artists, industry leaders or just people who are well informed on technology. This project is what the Livery is all about; making a difference on so many levels; to the students, the community, the industry and each of us through our contribution. The Academy will change the lives and prospects of many future generations of young people. For the very latest information, go to the Academy website at www.hammersmithacademy.org, read the Headmaster’s blog at www.haheadsblog.blogspot.com, or watch a video of the type we expect our students to learn to prepare at www.itc.mvine.com.