Charity with a capital IT
So what does that stand for?
You'll never guess. It's... Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
Worshipful IT? So these are the sort of guys that start praying when the servers go down?
Not quite. The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) is the 100th Livery Company of the City of London.
More mystery. What's a Livery company?
There have been livery companies - or guilds - for hundreds of years, with some of the earliest including the Mercers way back in 1394 and the Grocers in 1428.
They were mostly protectionist to start with, and the idea was to regulate competition, maintain standards and to look after colleagues in times of hardship. Livery refers to the badges or clothes worn by company members - ceremonial dress is still worn on official occasions - and all the companies have close links with the Corporation of London.
And so there's one for IT?
Yup, the WCIT was granted livery status in 1992. It's the only modern livery company to have its own hall - the first for more than 50 years. It's even got a coat of arms - granted in 1989 - to symbolise its identity.
A coat of arms? Always wanted one of those...
The green on the coat of arms is associated with VDUs (apparently) while the blue and the stars on the shield represent electricity. It also features a book and keys to symbolise knowledge, and the crest features Mercury, the messenger god, who embodies communication. The motto - Cito - means 'swiftly', to reflect the speed of IT, and for the initial letters of the Company of Information Technologists.
But why bother having a livery company for IT? These things are just historical curiosities, right?
These days it's more about charity, education and networking. As current master John Leighfield explained: "It's a way of people giving back if they have had a career in IT. Some of them can give time and some of them money and some of them both. Some even though they are quite early on in their careers want to give something back and we are a great means of doing that."
Who are the members?
The membership is made up of 350 freeman and 300 liverymen - these help to elect the lord mayor. All the members are senior IT professionals who have joined the company in order to give something back to the IT sector and the wider community.
Members come from all parts of the industry - from suppliers to users, big companies to start-ups. To become a member, applicants need to demonstrate a track record of achievement related to the IT sector - and a commitment to giving something back to the sector and the wider community.
So what kind of charity work does it do?
Each year there is a charity walk in the London area. It also gets involved with the IT Industry Charity Ball. It has kitted out 34 children's hospices with PCs for the kids to use, via its lifelites project, and has used handheld devices to help with the teaching of autistic children.
Its other charity projects include working with the Royal Chelsea Children's Hospital School over a 10 year period. You can read more about the charity work here.