How Livia Firth won at Wembley with ethical tips
07:42 GMT, 15 June 2012
16:54 GMT, 15 June 2012
Success story: Livia Firth
Ten months ago there were fears that Livia Firth’s eco-shop had flopped when she closed its Chiswick doors.
But while others strive to save their businesses in the face of economic gloom, Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth’s firecracker wife has managed to transform her new ethical consultancy into a success.
‘We launched in April and it has been thriving ever since. We’ve even expanded worldwide — it is going huge,’ Livia tells me at the Graduate Fashion Week Gala at Earls Court.
‘I have moved the whole team into the premises and we have more clients than ever.
‘Just last week Wembley was awarded for being the best sustainable stadium in the world and it was because of our work with them. It was extremely satisfying.’
Exotic Livia, 41, says she believes she has discovered the winning formula for defying the recession.
‘Ethical fashion and living is not something that people are cutting back on.
‘If anything it is getting stronger because people are going back to how they used to live five years ago,’ she says.
‘If anyone is suffering it’s fast fashion and consumerism because people are starting to understand that there is no point in investing in something you are going to throw away after two months.’
'We launched in April and it has been thriving ever since. Weve even expanded worldwide it is going huge,' Livia says
It is surely an irony too far. I gather the BBC is to screen a series hosted by David Dimbleby about Britain’s maritime culture later this year. ‘Given that the Corporation chose to sideline Dimbleby’s expert commentary for the Jubilee Thames pageant in favour of commentators such as Matt Baker, who seemed to know next to nothing of seafaring matters, you have to wonder who on earth is running this place,’ says a BBC insider. Dimbleby’s new series is thought to be part of a 2 million-plus deal offered by the Beeb, which includes hosting Question Time until he turns 78 in 2016.
Guinness heir’s widow dies of a broken heart
The date was January 1967 and the case in the family division of the High Court became a cause celebre. On one side was Oonagh, Lady Oranmore and Browne, the 56-year-old matriarch of one of our richest families — the death of her son, Guinness heir Tara Browne, in a car crash inspired a Beatles song.
On the other side was Tara’s distraught and estranged widow, Nicky, 24, a former art student. At stake was the future of Nicky’s two young sons with Tara: Dorian, three, and Julian, 18 months. The judge ordered that the boys should live with their grandmother. And Nicky, a gamine farmer’s daughter from Northern Ireland, never recovered. Now 45 years later the story has taken another tragic twist with Nicky’s death at 69 in Spain, where she had lived ever since she lost her custody battle.
‘She suffered on and off from depression ever afterwards. She felt this terrible guilt over her sons,’ says her long-time friend Maggie Deane. ‘Their grandmother was very rich and powerful and Nicky had absolutely no chance against her. The grandmother went on to send the boys to various boarding schools and Nicky believed they didn’t have the settled family life she so much wanted to give them. She saw them only in school holidays and got very down at times.’
Nicky, who died in hospital in Marbella after a battle with cancer, was just 21 when she married Tara, three years her junior, in 1963 after meeting at art college. They later parted and Tara died in 1966 after crashing his Lotus Elan into a parked car in Chelsea. It inspired the haunting opening lines of A Day In The Life, on The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album.
‘Nicky wasn’t ever interested in the Guinness money. She simply wasn’t that type of woman. She only wanted her boys,’ says Maggie. Friends were planning to club together to pay for her funeral next week in Spain, but last night I heard that, Dorian, 48, is making arrangements to pay for the cremation.
He has never been a great fan of artist Tracey Emin, claiming that she ‘can’t draw . . .she can’t paint’. But caustic critic Brian Sewell surprised visitors at the Charleston Festival in East Sussex by declaring, somewhat uncharacteristically: ‘She’s rather good at little drawings. Tiny sketches. They often have some delicacy about them.’ Alas the praise doesn’t last for long. He expands: ‘They more often have some excruciating indelicacy about them, too. It’s an astonishing achievement to be both delicate and indelicate at the same time.’
Newsman Martyn Lewis to marry again
Twenty years ago he launched a campaign to end the relentless doom and gloom which filled the TV news bulletins he read out. And now veteran broadcaster Martyn Lewis has some good cheer of his own — he is getting married again.
At 67, Lewis has proposed to the woman who has shared his life for the last ten years, divorcee and PR consultant Patsy Baker, pictured with Martyn.
Martyn Lewis is getting married again to PR consultant Patsy Baker
However, their forthcoming nuptials are tinged with sadness since their relationship only developed after Martyn’s first wife, ex-model Liz Carse, to whom he was devotedly married for 40 years, became ill. She was diagnosed 17 years ago with a degenerative brain disease and died two months ago.
Lewis spent the first eight years of his wife’s illness looking after her at home. Nine years ago, though, she was transferred to a nursing home.
By that time, Martyn had met and fallen in love with Patsy, who has been described as a flamboyant businesswoman with an ‘Ab Fab’ style.
However, although they lived together in Belgravia, there was never any question of marriage. It was only after Liz’s death that he was able to propose to Patsy.
Says a friend: ‘They are going to have a very small wedding this summer and a bigger celebration in the autumn. His marriage to Liz had been exceptionally happy and they had two children, Sylvie, 35, a singer-songwriter who lives in Italy and Kate, 32, a filmmaker in London.’
Patsy, a mother-of-three and glamorous grandmother, is in charge of business development for Lord Bell’s PR company where she has worked for 20 years.
Lewis now regularly chairs conferences in corporate, public and charitable areas and is chairman of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
PS To celebrate his 25 years in Parliament and what he calls ‘a significant birthday’ — 65 since you’re asking — David Blunkett invited friends to join him at the Vincent Rooms, the restaurant run by Westminster catering college students whose work he has been championing.
In a speech to guests, who included former Cabinet colleagues Tessa Jowell, Estelle Morris and Andy Burnham, Blunkett recalled a visit to Highgrove when he was Education Secretary, where Prince Charles gave him a tour of the garden. ‘At the end I said to him: “Your Royal Highness, everywhere we have gone there has been a wonderful smell of lavender.” There was a pause and the Prince replied: “Secretary of State, I think you will find it’s my aftershave.” ’