In his welcome, recently appointed chair David Phillips mentioned some of the charity’s 2023 achievements and thanked the industry for its support.
He hailed the charity’s Rising Star Awards, which awarded 34 grants to young people this year, and free employee helpline which has been taking up by almost 300 companies and had reached the milestone of supporting more than 25,000 print workers and their families. A 25% increase on last year.
"However, we know that there are many more people who could benefit from the charity’s help. The Luncheon is a vital chance to ask industry supporters to continue to talk about the charity with their networks, encouraging people to start a conversation and find out how they may be able to help."
While Lord Grade studiously avoided any references to Royal Mail in his speech, he did talk about Ofcom’s role in enforcing the Online Safety Act and regaled the audience with colourful tales of Fleet Street in the 60s and 70s and his subsequent career as one of the UK’s most respected TV executives. He was also gently ribbed by Printing Charity president emeritus Lord Black of Brentwood for, during his tenure at the BBC in the late 1980s, ‘exterminating’ Doctor Who.
Lord Grade returned the favour by quipping Lord Black was someone who “is always there when he needs you”.
In his Keynote, Lord Grade spoke about the enduring power of print, citing, as an example, how physical book sales still outstrip those of eBooks four to one.
“You all understand the power of print as citizens as well as being involved in the production process, in a sense we all have ink our blood one way or another.
“The hallmarks of the printed word are essentially tangibility, touch and feel, credibility, longevity.
“The realisation of an opportunity, artistic impression to communicate with those lacking the internet or even electricity, there's nothing like the feel of a printed item.
“And the industry has adapted and evolved to remain relevant in the digital age, throughout, the printed word has retained the unique ability to form emotional bonds with the reader and essential to that, of course, is freedom to speak, freedom of expression.”
Preceding the keynote, Lord Black presented outgoing chair Jon Wright, and outgoing vice chair James Povey, with commemorative charity medals in recognition of their long service – with Wright also appointed president emeritus in recognition of his commitment to modernise the charity over the past two decades.
Printing Charity CEO Neil Lovell thanked the duo for their support.
“This year the event is even more special, as an opportunity for us to publicly spotlight the incredible work of Jon and James, and thank them for their time and dedication as they retire from combined service of almost four decades as key members of the charity's council.”