The Embassy Council
Ambassadeur: Gerard O’Shea
Les Membres du Conseil de l’Ambassade du Royaume Uni
Chancelier and Maître des Armes – Judy Tayler-Smith
Maître du Protocole & Maître des Caveaux – Justin Rhodes
Maître des Festivités – Samantha Rhodes
Maître de la Communication – Vic Laws MBE
Ambassador Emeritus – Julian White
Maître de la Relations Extérieure – Dominique Largeron
Gerard O’Shea, an Irishman but with a long residence in England, a strong connection with Scotland and a family spread all over the world, is, therefore, highly suited to being our Ambassador.He was made a Commandeur of the Order after much experience in most appointments of the Confrérie. He has attended more than twenty Grands Chapitres as well as very many around the UK, making him a very well known character amongst the members, the caveaux and the public at large.He is working with London Underground and during his breaks he travels to wine producing regions around the world.
Director of AVL Consultancy, which he set up over 25 years ago.He is a caterer by choice having trained at, what is now University of West London, but in those days Acton Hotel School where he was taught to cook by Vic Ceserani one of the first television chefs, even before Fanny Craddock.He worked for seven years in local authority catering before working for many of the multi nationals, including THF, Compass and Aramark.He is a Fellow and past president of Institute for Hospitality formally HCIMA.Vic is the Group Restaurant Ambassador for The Clink, which is public restaurant set up inside HMP Highdown, in Sutton, dedicated to training prisoners to become chefs and waiters so they have a career when they leave prison and thus are less likely to re-offend.He is Conseiller Culinaire for Chaine des Rôtisseurs; a committee member of Reunion des Gastronomes and a supporter of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.
He was awarded an MBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours for services to Hospitality. He has an Honorary Doctorate from UWL and is a visiting Fellow for Sheffield Hallam University
Dominique works in Delegated Underwriting for a large US Insurance Company based in the City of London. She is French and always likes to contrast the French attitude to Champagne to the British one which is a lot more unconventional.
Champagne in her family was always a day-to-day wine. As far as she can remember, she was sipping small amount of Champagne not only for birthdays but at any given occasion. It certainly has its educational merit and she is convinced that is why she has developed such a fine Champagne palette. This makes her the perfect Maître de la Relations Extérieure.
She previously served as Maître des Festivités for a number of years and is therefore an esteemed and valued member of the British Council.
Justin has worked for BT for the last 27 years, he has had many roles in the company over the years starting as an engineer and is now a Network Reliability Manager.What started as a keen interest and a hobby in wine has developed into almost an obsession, with freelancing in the wine industry and being educated to Diploma level at the WSET.All his spare time is now taken up with wine related activities, working with Julian and Gerard on wine tours, visiting wine producing regions across the world and continuing the freelance work.He specialises in Champagne and the New World.
Being a City-born child, Judy established involvement with the Civic City nearly 30 years ago when she began employment with the City of London Corporation. Her roles have included President of the City Livery Club, Master of Cripplegate Ward Club, President of Farringdon Ward Club and is soon to be Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders (only the 2nd Lady Master in 657 years) and Master of the Tanners Company of Bermondsey. She is also “on the ladder” towards other senior roles in the Livery and other related City organisations.
Judy has always had an interest in wine and studied Wine and Spirits at the Wine and Sprit Education Trust School. She joined the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or in 2004, becoming the Constable for the City of London and an Echevin in 2007. She held both these roles for 6 years, only stepping down after she was appointed Chancelier and Maître des Armes at the 2013 AGM. In April 2011 she was made Dame Commandeur of the Order and still holds this rank.
Other wine interests/appointments include: Past Chairman and Hon. Secretary, City Livery Wine Circle (Founder member), Immediate Past Chairman, International Wine and Food Society, London Branch and Alesizer and Ale Taster for the Guildable Manor of Southwark. She is also a Dame Officier of the Ordres des Coteaux de Champagne.
Sam worked for 23 years at Rowse Honey Ltd. In her two roles as Technical Manager and New Product Development Manager she developed many products including M&S Fairtrade Chocolate Truffle Sauce which was featured in one of their ‘Simply’ adverts and Tesco Finest Lemon Curd which won Gold at the
Grocer Own Label Awards.
She is currently working in various roles at Brightwell-cum-Sotwell Primary school and starts her new role as Business Manager at an academy school in Oxford in September.
Sam has a BSc (Hons) in Home Economics and an Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
Sam has been a Trustee and Chairman of The Treehouse Trust which set up and runs an independent non-fee paying school in Oxfordshire. She has also been Chair of Wallingford Rotaract and has just stepped down as Chair of Friends of Brightwell School.
Sam is married to Justin and they have a six year old son, Joseph.
Julian White served for nearly 20 years in the Army. He set up his first wine company in 1979 and remains the United Kingdom agent for a number of Chateaux and Domaines in Burgundy, Bordeaux, The Rhone and Loire Valleys as well as Champagne.He has travelled to most of the world’s wine-producing regions and was the British Ambassador of the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or, from 1999 to 2013.He was elected Ambassador Emeritus by the members of the UK Chapter of the Confrérie on his retirement, and continues to help with events and general administration. He also lectures on and directs tours of Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux.