The Life Fellowship is perhaps the Company's most prestigious honour. It is awarded to the most distinguished British composer of the time.
The first recipient of the Fellowship was Sir Edward Elgar in 1931. On his death in 1934, the Life Fellowship was awarded to Ralph Vaughan Williams OM and then upon his death in 1959 to Prof. Herbert Howells CH CBE (who also became Master of the Company in that year). When Howells died in 1983, the award fell into abeyance until 2015, when it was awarded to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE. Following his death in 2016, it was awarded to Sir James MacMillan CBE, who received the Fellowship in 2022. Click here for further information. The Life Fellows are now given an inscribed version of the Company Gold Medal rather than the Collard Medal as shown below. All recipients sign the Collard Fellowship Signature Book, which can be seen by Clicking Here.
Below left is a picture (taken in 2010) of the actual medal awarded to Herbert Howells in 1959. It comes with a miniature and is in 18ct gold. In the middle below are the two sides of a letter, written by Howells to the Company thanking it for the honour of this award. Below right is a letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams thanking the Company for the award. Click the images for a larger view.
The generous bequest to the Company by John Clementi Collard in 1931 also allowed for a Fellowship to be established that would offer practical financial assistance to a young musician of proven ability (renewable for up to 3 years for each award) - Click Here to see more on this Award, together with more details on the life of John Clementi Collard and his family.