SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: And he’s off! Matt Hancock is onto a winner with £20,000 gift
Top hats off to Matt Hancock! The Health Secretary has, I can disclose, just cantered into the winner’s enclosure in his West Suffolk constituency — which includes Newmarket, home of horse racing — by trousering £20,000.
The windfall is a gift from multi-millionaire property magnate and racing devotee Bill Gredley.
It’s the second time in recent years that Gredley has replenished Hancock’s coffers. In 2019, he handed him £25,000 as a contribution towards maintaining his constituency office.
This time, there appears to be no stipulation as to how his largesse is spent. The gift has been recorded in the MPs Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) received the gift from multi-millionaire property magnate and racing devotee Bill Gredley (right)
Gredley was born in the East End of London to a dock-worker father and Irish mother. Aged six, he was evacuated at the start of World War II to Wales, where he lived with a miner and his family.
But he soon proved he had an eye for a deal, embarking on a property career which has earned him and his six children a £240 million family fortune, and ownership of the 450‑acre Stetchworth Park Stud, south of Newmarket, and a £9.5 million stable of racehorses.
Their firm, Unex Holdings, through which the donations to Hancock have been made, has seen profits rise from £24 million to nearly £32 million in the past year.
Gredley was too busy to talk yesterday, but last year he made light of his generosity to Hancock, who is himself an accomplished amateur rider.
‘I got to know him, and I think he’s doing a great job. I support the Tories and I support the community,’ said Gredley, who has given £50,000 to Newmarket’s Covid-19 Fund to help hard-up residents.
Hancock declined to comment. But he’ll be as overjoyed as his munificent constituent if horse racing is one of the first major sports to return to action — as it was after the first lockdown last year.
‘Horse racing is back from Monday,’ Hancock tweeted on that occasion. ‘Wonderful news for our wonderful sport.’
Dame Sheila Hancock believes old age gives her carte blanche to say what she likes.
The 88-year-old star of TV’s Unforgotten says: ‘I am difficult. I’ve got to the age where I can’t be bothered to be polite. Now, particularly when I’m working, I’ll say what I think. I hope I’m not cruel, ever, but I haven’t got the time to try and think of a polite way of saying things.
‘Before lockdown, when we could all get together, I could say things like: “Look, I’m awfully bored. I’m going home.” You can do that when you’re old — they just dismiss you as a silly old f**t.’
Keeley Hawes says she has given up on glamour now she’s 45. The actress (who plays Patricia Neal, author Roald Dahl’s wife, in a new TV drama, To Olivia, about their stormy marriage) says: ‘I’m not a glamorous person, and one of the nice things about being 45 is that I will happily not wear make-up for a week.
‘In my younger years that would have bothered me. You just become happier with yourself.’
TV chef will wait to name names
TV chef and author Jasmine Hemsley, 41, (pictured) now a lot more on her plate as she has just given birth to her first child
Having spent much of lockdown with a bun in the oven, TV chef and author Jasmine Hemsley now a lot more on her plate as she has just given birth to her first child.
The 41-year-old admits that she and her partner, photographer Nick Hopper, are struggling to choose a name for their daughter.
‘Apparently we’re sticking with tradition, as I was nameless for ten days,’ says Jasmine, who, with her sister, Melissa, ran Princess Eugenie’s favourite Hemsley + Hemsley cafe in Selfridge’s before it closed last October due to the pandemic.
‘Word is we have a six-week deadline. That should be enough, right?’
Pike trips the light fantastic
Hollywood star Rosamund Pike proves she’s a woman of many talents after revealing she has helped to create an app that will take users on a drug-free psychedelic trip.
‘I am creative director of a new psychedelic-inspired meditation app: Lumenate,’ says the 42‑year‑old, who spent two years researching it.
‘The app uses stroboscopic light sequences from your phone’s flashlight to neurologically guide you into an altered state of consciousness. All you need is ten minutes in a darkened room and the camera light on your phone. I promise. It’s that wild, and that easy.
‘Since I started using the app in its initial testing phase, I have experienced deep inner awareness through the totally incredible kaleidoscope of colours created by my subconscious.’
The vintage entrance doors from London’s Abbey Road studios — famed for recording The Beatles in their heyday and forming the title for one of their albums — have sold at auction for £17,500, more than four times expected.
The original foyer doors were in place for almost 60 years.
Auctioneer Ewbanks’ specialist Alastair McCrea said: ‘The hands that have touched them over the years are the same hands that wrote and performed many of the best-loved rock and pop standards in history.’
India will coax islanders out of their shell
Island living has inspired Prince Charles’s goddaughter, entrepreneur India Hicks (picutred), to reach out to those surviving lockdown in their own reclusive hideaways
Island living has inspired Prince Charles’s goddaughter, entrepreneur India Hicks, to reach out to those surviving lockdown in their own reclusive hideaways.
‘John Donne’s poem No Man Is An Island suggests that depriving ourselves of social contact goes against human nature,’ says India, 53, who lives in the Bahamas with her fiance, David Flint Wood, and their five children.
‘No wonder the world has been struggling as we learn to adapt to a more isolated life.
‘I am starting a conversation series, talking to people from a range of backgrounds to see how they have coped on their “virtual islands” — how they have dealt with challenges in their own personal ways.’
Her first guest will be U.S. television star Sofia Vergara, of Modern Family fame. India will broadcast it live on Instagram tomorrow.
Being handcuffed to a bed by Anna Friel turned out to be one of the most difficult days of Sanjeev Bhaskar’s career.
The Goodness Gracious Me star played Friel’s lover in the film London Boulevard and now reflects: ‘It was the most stressful day’s filming I’ve ever had in my life. It was terrifying. I read it in the script and said to the director: “Do you think he’d be in his pyjamas?” And he said: “No, why?”
I said: “Maybe a vest?” And he said: “No.” ’
Conscious of how his body would look on screen, Sanjeev hit the gym two months before filming began.
Vogue star goes rogue with T-shirt
Adwoa Aboah poked fun at her profession this week by standing in front of a billboard in Piccadilly Circus wearing a £75 T-shirt reading ‘Models Suck’
She was crowned Model of the Year at the 2017 Fashion Awards and became the first Vogue cover star under its then new editor, Edward Enninful. But trendy mannequin Adwoa Aboah refuses to take her career too seriously.
The 28-year-old daughter of talent agent Camilla Lowther (cousin of the 8th Earl of Lonsdale) and location scout Charles Aboah poked fun at her profession this week by standing in front of a billboard in Piccadilly Circus — showcasing a new fashion campaign in which she stars — wearing a £75 T-shirt reading ‘Models Suck’. Sharing the picture online, she jokes: ‘Someone had to say it.’
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