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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 15 May 2009
Youngest ever: The new Lord Mayor of Westminster Councillor Duncan Sandys, 35, and his wife Mary BrownYoungest ever: The new Lord Mayor of Westminster Councillor Duncan Sandys, 35, and his wife Mary Brown
The Lord Mayor’s fine pedigree

ALCOHOL and war are two ills the great grandson of Winston Churchill will be looking to avoid in his year as the new Lord Mayor of Westminster.
One thing is for certain, Councillor Duncan Sandys has inherited the trailblazing gene, becoming the youngest person to hold the historic office at 35.
He has represented Vincent Square ward for 11 years, and takes over from Louise Hyams.
His chosen charity will be St Andrew’s Club in Victoria – the oldest youth club in the world, founded in 1866.
Speaking about his new role, Cllr Sandys said:
“While I am immensely proud of my family heritage, I am looking forward to making a further contribution to public life in Westminster as the City’s Lord Mayor.
“It is an exceptional privilege to be elected the Lord Mayor of Westminster representing the heart of the nation’s capital.
“While Lord Mayor I will be devoting much of my time and energy to children’s and young people’s issues.
“In particular, I will be aiming to raise as much money as possible for St Andrew’s Club who do sterling work for hundreds of young people in the south of Westminster.”
It’s doubtful the council’s public relations machine needs any help but if they do, Cllr Sandys’s wife Mary Brown was a former communications director for the US president George W Bush.
On second thoughts…

A novel take on (royal) park life

THE rarified atmosphere of the capital’s Royal Parks means they’re often overlooked by novelists when it comes to finding a setting for their drama.
Squalor, vice and death, not really park life, are the usual prescriptions.
But the great London novel is about to open another chapter with the publishing of Park Stories, fiction set in each of the Royal Parks by eight acclaimed short story writers including Will Self and William Boyd.
Diary has read Ali Smith’s offering on Regent’s Park, a sort of wistful meditation on a romantic tryst that began with a chance encounter in the park.
Editor, Rowan Routh said: “This series is a great way to celebrate both the literary heritage of the parks and the short story. There’s a kinship between parks and short fiction, both confined things but no less for being so. They’re perfectly matched to be enjoyed together.”
The books are £2 on sale in the parks and selected bookshops.

Hetty and Gill are making a difference

THIS is the third time Diary has written about that great old lady Hetty Bower in the past few months.
But we can hardly be blamed if you consider she is now well into her 104th year, and is still bobbing up at demonstrations in favour of peace.
Wonder-woman Hetty was spotted in Trafalgar Square supporting a campaign by another inspirational woman, Gill Hicks, who survived the 7/7 Tube bombings, nearly died several times, and had both legs amputated.
Far from harbouring resentment against terrorists or Muslims, Gill has worked tirelessly for peace, forming an organisation called MAD (Make a Difference).
That wonderful old stager Hetty, who has been working for peace since 1923, first met Gill last year and they have since become firm friends.
Naturally, if you can say that of a woman who is still making public waves at nearly 104, Hetty could be found alongside Gill on Friday. Later, in a BBC TV interview Gill said she was particularly honoured to have been standing next to Hetty .
And Hetty, who lives in Highgate, said: “I am full of ­enthusiasm and respect for those who have suffered and still work for peace.
“Their bravery and determination encourage me to carry on!”
Carry on! As we said, what a woman!
A free screening of The Time of Their Lives – a film about Hetty and former West End Extra columnist Rose Hacker, who died last year at 102 – will be shown at Conway Hall, Holborn, on Sunday, from 3pm.

Young protesters in the front line

THEY'VE done it again.
British Tamils certainly know how to organise a protest, using enough prams, mothers and children to make police think twice about trying to move them from Parliament Square on Monday in front of ever-present camera crews.
It’s been done before but it’s certainly unusual in a UK context.
About 500 protesters took part in the action, breaking through police lines at 10.30am for a second time since the demonstration began at the beginning of April.
They are angry at the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka described by the United Nations as a “bloodbath” with some reports suggesting almost 1,000 civilians have been killed following two days of heavy shelling at the weekend.
Diary wonders whether the G20 protest would have been so chaotic if protesters had brought their families with them?
And all this might be academic as authorities look to pass legislation to push them off the square once and for all.

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