Happy New Year!

Happy new year to all our readers, a year that hopefully we can brighten with an outing to one of our Jazz at George IV nights or our Media Club or other events and some good discounts from local businesses through the Club Card.

If I were Queen for a day and Chiswick were my kingdom my New Year’s Honours list of people who have improved our neighbourhood would look something like this. Orders of the Chiswick Empire to:

Torin Douglas MBE for ten years of the Chiswick Book Festival, which just gets better and better with big name authors on everything from fiction to history and biography; Karen Liebreich MBE & Sarah Cruz for bringing us the Chiswick Timeline and planting trees; Simon Reilly for producing shows of West End standard to our tiny local theatre, developing the Tabard over the ten years he’s been in charge; Geraldine King for her expertise and passion as head gardener at Chiswick House, winning Heritage Park of the Year award in the London in Bloom competition for the third year running; John H Grigg for completing years of painstaking research in local libraries into the First World War and its impact on west London, and producing a book (All Quiet in the Western Suburbs) at the end of it; Georgina Young, head brewer at Fuller’s for developing Fuller’s range of new and interesting beers; Glen Monroe for 16 years’ full time service as Helmsman at the RNLI’s Chiswick base and Kathleen Healy MBE for steering Dukes Meadows Trust through 20 years, creating and maintaining a lovely park and Sunday Food Market.

James Narh & Rhian Williams

Most of those people have been doing what they do for years. A few even get paid for it.

While I’m usurping Her Majesty’s role I would like give special mention to a few more good citizens who have more recently popped their heads over the parapet of public life. Members of the Chiswick Empire go to:

Andrea Carnevali for working flat out to raise funding for the Chiswick Oasis, the ‘green wall’ planned for St Mary’s RC primary school boundary with the A4; Lucy Cufflin and Jo Pratt for starting the Cook Book Festival; James Narh and Rhian Williams for raising funds for St Albans Church.

James and Rhian have raised over £50,000 over the past year to renovate the church as a community asset, with the Black Tie Ball they organised in May and Ebony Scrooge, the street dance version of Scrooge they staged just before Christmas. They also organised the 175th birthday celebration for Christ Church and lunch on Christmas Day for anyone who would otherwise have been on their own, including elderly people but also single mums with young children and others who for whatever reason weren’t enveloped in the bosom of a family.

An MCE also goes to Gavin Ferguson who was out jogging by the river yesterday and stopped a middle aged woman from trying to commit suicide. The 29 year old English teacher, formerly a pupil at Chiswick School noticed her acting oddly, throwing her scarf and gloves into the river and wailing. He spoke to her and restrained her, calling over a rower and another passerby for help until the ambulance arrived.

I’m working on an Order of Bridget’s Garter for next year. I wonder if Michael Palin is tired of the Sir Cumnavigate jokes yet.