The 380th Master Cutler was installed at Sheffield’s opulent Cutlers’ Hall today in an unbroken tradition that dates back to 1624.
Nicholas Cragg swore an oath and made a declaration to the Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, mayors and hundreds of members, freemen, friends and guests.
Mr Cragg, who spent 27 years in the steel industry with Corus, called for high quality education and apprenticeships to help young people exceed their ambitions and support local manufacturers.
He also said it was important to compete with the EU without extra costs, technical regulations and lead-time.
He added: “The EU market is too big a bloc in which to be competitively disadvantaged. Indeed, our region contributes a significant proportion of the £9.6bn of annual exports to the EU from Yorkshire and The Humber.”
And he voice frustration at the deadlocked devolution process which was costing the region £500,000 a week.
“The Company, along with many others, was pleased to see the election of a regional mayor but remain frustrated that, to date, there has been a failure to unlock the additional £30m of annual spend for the South Yorkshire economy. This is denying the region over half a million pounds per week and we must ensure this money with the benefits which it will bring is not cast onto the discard pile for reasons of expediency or distraction.
“I hope that history does not look back on this period as one of lost opportunity.”
After the installation, top-hatted members of the company walked in a stately procession to Sheffield Cathedral for a service before returning to the hall for lunch.
Mr Cragg is a native of Hull, and began his career with British Steel as a student apprentice.
On graduating from Lougborough University, he spent more than 25 years in the steel industry and it was this which first brought him to South Yorkshire.
On leaving the industry, Mr Cragg started his own company supporting clients in the oil and gas sector in the US and UK before joining a producer of flexible pipelines working between the UK and Brazil.
The Master Cutler will also focus on productivity, alongside skills and education, Brexit and devolution as four challenges and opportunities over the next 12 months.
The Master Cutler’s Challenge this year will support St Luke’s and Rotherham Hospices. This year’s Challenge raised £240,000 for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.
He also thanked outgoing Master and Mistress Cutler Ken and Janet Cooke.