The evening of Thursday 26th September saw the Metropolitan Officers Mess gather for the latest of their twice yearly mess at the Leonardo Royal Hotel near the Tower of London. After a pre-dinner drinks reception which gave the officers of both Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Chapter the opportunity catch up, they made their way through to the main dining room where a three course dinner awaited them.
After dinner and a few words of welcome from Ian Wellesley-Harding the president for the evening those present heard from Tony Hatch the guest speaker. Tony is a renowned composer for both musical theatre and television, as well as being a world famous songwriter, pianist, arranger and composer.
Tony gave an amusing retrospect of his life accompanying himself on the piano. We heard that his mother was a huge influence on his musical career and with a lot of determination got him into the London Choir School in Bexley at the age of 10. Although this proved to be a major influence on his life, he said that he knew he did not have a very good voice. He left school at the age of 16 and managed to get a job with a music publisher in London’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’ Denmark Street as a tea boy. Whilst he was doing this he wrote songs and became known in the music industry, going on to work for the Rank Organisation who were producing music for the band of the Coldstream Guards. This proved fortuitous because when Tony received his papers for National Service he was able to go into the regiment and continue pretty much as before as long as he turned up for parades. Tony amusingly recounted that being of short stature and the guardsmen being renowned for being tall, he was given a taller bearskin to fit in better.
After his National Service he continued with his music career and worked with many of the most famous artistes of the era from both sides of the Atlantic with such names as Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Pat Boone and the Searchers as well as with David Bowie who at that time was still using the name Davy Jones.
Perhaps his most famous collaboration was with Petula Clark as her regular producer for recordings both in English and French. He explained how he was trying to write a new song for her when visiting New York and whilst walking down Broadway near Times Square, when the concept of perhaps her most famous song came into his head, ‘Downtown’. This song launched her career as an international singing star.
Tony has written the theme music for various TV shows including, Crossroads, Emmerdale, Neighbours and Sportsnight. He recalled that he was a judge on the TV Show ‘New Faces’ in the 1970s which was perhaps the forerunner of todays ‘Britains Got Talent.’
As well as a wide-ranging musical career Tony has raised money for many charities throughout his career, notably the Variety Club of which he is a past Chief Barker.
Tony’s account of his life and musical career was much enjoyed by all those present.
The Metropolitan Officers Mess is open to all serving and past Metropolitan Officers, Visiting and Senior Visiting Officers. It meets twice a year, for lunch in March and dinner in September.
It is arranged by the Metropolitan Events team, who also organise, the Metropolitan Summer Garden Party, the Metropolitan Gala Night and Metropolitan Grand Lodge’s participation in the Lord Mayor’s Show. The Met Events Team have raised over £30,000 for charity in the last three years and more that 3,000 masons and non-masons have attended the various events.