Xtra Diary: Just get on with it – as Ian Wilder might have said – cross party tribute to late Conservative councillor

Friday, 9th April 2010


Published: 9 April 2010

Just get on with it – as Ian might have said

IT was touching to hear that representatives from both sides of the political divide claim to be “united” in their affection for Ian Wilder. 

But it seems that unity did nothing to temper the squabbles that erupted over a tribute to the late Conservative councillor yesterday (Thursday).

The launch of the Wilder Walk in Soho was beset by an even wilder row.

When Diary arrived to photograph Cllr Wilder’s friends and colleagues, Conservative councillor Frixos Tombolis, known for his “rows” with his late colleague, refused to be photographed alongside his council election rival, Labour candidate David Bieda.

“I didn’t want to cause a kerfuffle, but I thought it would be unpopular with colleagues,” he said afterwards. “I just sensed that it would be a problem. You have to be ultra careful when there’s an election on.”

Fellow Tory councillor Glenys Roberts made a phone call to try to seek consent for the photograph but, alas, there was no answer.

But Cllr Tombolis refused to take part – forcing Diary to take two separate pictures of the same event. 

Fiona Jenkins, chairwoman of the Soho Society, seemed amused to appear in both.

Meanwhile David Shaw from the Crown Estate, the man behind the plans for Wilder Walk, looked on in bewilderment, opting to steer clear of both photographs.

Mr Bieda said afterwards: “If Ian had been alive he would have said, ‘let’s do it I don’t care what they say’”.

Striking out on the Thames

Diary was at the finish line for the annual 125-mile canoe race from Devizes to Westminster Bridge on Easter Sunday. 

There were dozens gathered to see the nail-biting finish. One wife broke down in a flood of tears when she saw her husband finish. Pride lit up her whole face, while he clung onto her with an accomplished smile.

The origins of the race are, of course, peculiarly British. 

It began with a group of men in the Greyhound pub in the village of Pewsey, just outside Devizes. It was 1920 and a national rail and bus strike was looming. Alternative means of transport were discussed in the bar, and the outcome, as with all good bar talk, was a wager – whether it was possible to get to London from Pewsey, a distance of 70 miles, in a 20ft sculling skiff in under 100 hours.

Those days of primitive boats are gone and the race is now won in 16 hours 20 minutes by James King, 30, an Army man, and Richard Hendron, 29, from Richmond Canoe club. 

Mr Hendron said: “The race doesn’t get easier. The last 40 miles were just a case of survival, having to just keep pushing through the pain. Winning makes it all worth it, absolutely amazing.”

Measuring MPs’ blood pressure

A NURSE from St Mary’s Hospital swapped the bedside for the political benches to raise awareness of a little-known condition that can lead to leg amputation. 

Vascular nurse specialist Louise Allen spent a day testing MPs’ blood pressure to highlight risk of peripheral arterial disease or PAD. 

The disease, the hardening of the arteries in the legs, sees 5,000 people lose a leg every year in England and Wales, and can lead to heart attacks and stroke. 

“PAD is common in people over the age of 55 but compared with heart disease is relatively unknown by the general public,” said Louise. “Going to the commons was a great opportunity to demonstrate how a simple test can detect it.”

MPs who took the test had a blood pressure reading from both their arm and ankle. A reading that is lower in the ankle than the arm is a good indication of blood flow problems, which could mean PAD. Symptoms include pains in the leg muscles which can the lead to gangrene. 

The visit was part of the first Vascular Disease Awareness Week.


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