Worshipful Company of IT receives Royal Charter

The Worshipful Company of IT, the City of London's 100th livery company, celebrated its receipt of a Royal Charter at a ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral last night.

The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, the City of London's 100th livery company, celebrated its receipt of a Royal Charter at a ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral last night.

The organisation, founded in 1985 to support charities and education, is one of 1,000 bodies to have received a Royal Charter in the past 800 years.

Speaking before the ceremony, Charles Hughes, WCIT master, said that the charter would help WCIT to raise its profile, and will help its volunteers to raise more funds for charitable work, including supporting schools and hospices.

"We want to make sure we communicate more clearly about the role of livery. We believe this charter will help the Worshipful Company in terms of the resources available to us," he said. "It's a mark of the work we have been doing for the past 25 years."

The WCIT is one of the most recent livery companies. It continues a tradition that started 800 years ago.

WCIT's 750 members aim to give something back to the IT profession by devoting their time, experience, and finances to support charities and to help educate and train young people.

Prominent members of the group include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, internet pioneer Vint Cerf, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web.

Ken Olisa, senior warden of the WCIT, said that beneath the pomp and ceremony, the WCIT performs valuable work supporting schools, hospitals and charities.

"People can be put off the ceremony, but we seek to be inclusive, not exclusive. We are not some branch of the Masonic system," he said. "You don't have to go to black tie dinners with a loving cup. You can dress in jeans and t-shirt and come to events at Pret-a-Manger."

The group is working with another livery company, the Mercers, to raise £2m to fund a high-tech academy in Hammersmith. The school, which will open in September next year, will be equipped with the latest IT systems.

WCIT court assistant, Tom Ilube, former CIO of online bank Egg and founder of the online identity protection service, Garlik, has volunteered his time as a governor to help set up the school. The academy will be a showcase for technology in education, he said.

"We are going around our members if you have leading edge technology, bring it to this school. Because you have a bunch of young people who are interested in technology, and teachers who have signed up because they want to work in a technology school," he said.

WCITs' receipt of Royal Charter will have a direct benefits for the school. Having the backing of WCIT will make it easier to attract a high-profile head, said Ilube.

"There is a real shortage of high quality headteachers. You can have a great building, and great technology but you need a great head to have a great school."

WCIT projects

Hammersmith Academy

Members of WCIT, working with the Mercers' livery company, have set up a secondary school in Hammersmith that will act as a showcase for technology and digital media. They are helping to raise £2m for an endowment to equip the school.

Lifelites

WCIT members developed communications technology to support a terminally ill child. The WCIT has donated the equipment to over 40 hospices

Lilian Baylis School

WCIT members have worked with the worst-performing school, visiting the children to help to raise their aspirations.

IT4Communities

WCIT started this scheme to link IT professionals who wanted to volunteer their time with local communities and charties that could benefit from their IT expertise. The scheme has attracted 6,000 volunteers who have devoted time worth £4m.

Mentoring

  • Members are providing free help and advice IT to 80 arts-based organisations, including the Royal Opera House and the London Symphony Orchestra.
  • Experienced entrepreneurs offer their time to mentor would-be entrepreneurs.
  • Mentors from WCIT help young people prepare for careers in IT.
  • Members also offer career advice to people who want to restructure their careers.
  • WCIT has close links with the Royal Corps of Signals, helping soldiers who want to prepare for civilian careers in IT.

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