Editorial comment: Remember George by supporting causes he loved

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 May 2018

George Michael secretly funded Highgate's Fair in the Square. Picture: PA IMAGES

George Michael secretly funded Highgate's Fair in the Square. Picture: PA IMAGES

PA Wire/PA Images

Popstar George Michael’s family have decided to dismantle the memorial garden to the star which popped up opposite his home in The Grove, Highgate.

They believe neighbours have put up with fans making pilgrimages to the area for long enough since the Wham star’s tragic death on Christmas Day 2016.

George, who they fondly call Yog, would have wanted the area preserved for local people in its natural state, they say.

What was once a perfectly manicured lawn in the centre of Highgate is now a colourful makeshift shrine. I go past every day, and I love it.

There are always people there laying flowers and tributes among the trees and fences which are hung with flags from all nations, hundreds of coloured lanterns and paintings of the star.

As I go past I always think fondly of George, one of the heroes of my teen years and following his death one of the heroes of the community as his generous giving and secret philanthropy was revealed.

But after the long winter months there is no doubt it is looking the worse for wear. Trampled mud has replaced the grass although makeshift paths have been created with astroturf and still the fans come to visit from around the world, often wheeling suitcases with them.

The decision by the family to dismantle the ‘shanty shrine’ as Caitlin Moran described it, shows true respect and consideration for the local community.

“Yog liked his privacy” they write. “His homes were true havens for him..and, ultimately, long term, we know he would not want to disturb or change the quiet neighbourhoods he so loved.” The family also paid tribute to the people who live in the area as “gracious and understanding.”

The family suggests that the best way of paying tribute to George now is to help one of the many charities the star supported

At the Ham&High we are doing just that. After his death it was revealed that George had not only funded the annual Highgate Christmas Tree on the green, but had also funded the Highgate Fair in the Square summer festival. This year I am delighted that the Ham&High will sponsor the festival in 2018.

The Fair in the Square 2018 will take place on June 16 from 12.30 to 5.30pm with stalls, food and family entertainment.


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