‘Cheeky tactics’ win Ed Miliband’s support for Highgate centre

Campaigners battling to save a cherished community centre in Highgate adopted “cheeky” tactics to enlist the help of the Labour leader Ed Miliband to their cause.

Ruth Corney put a letter through the leader of the opposition’s door to ask for donations to her auction to help save the Highgate Newtown Community Centre’s Christmas dinner for elderly residents.

“I know roughly where Ed Miliband lives, so I put a letter through his door and his wife got in touch straight away and wanted to help,” said the 45-year-old photographer. “She was lovely and I really appreciate it. They’ve been really generous and provided an amazing opportunity to own something signed by a potential future Prime Minister.”

Mr Miliband, who lives in Dartmouth Park, donated signed parliamentary records of his first Question Time clash as Labour leader and the Climate Act which he enacted.

He also gave a House of Commons box of chocolates.

His gifts and others will be auctioned to raise �3,000 needed to provide a Christmas meal for 80 elderly residents.

Ms Corney, who is a trustee of the centre in Bertram Street, ran a similar auction two years ago and said she was delighted with the response of residents and businesses she has canvassed for help.

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“Everyone has been incredibly supportive, practically everyone I have asked donated something,” she said. “It’s just coincidence that there are so many political items.”

The New Brunswick pub on Dartmouth Park Hill gave a poster about Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot signed by Prime Minister David Cameron, ex-PM Tony Blair, and former Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell. Local author Tracey Chevalier donated some of her books and actor Roger Lloyd-Pack, who plays Trigger in TV’s Only Fools and Horses and lives in Kentish Town, donated signed photographs of himself.

Other notable lots include copies of the satirical magazine Punch, the services of a window cleaner and a decorator, free meals from restaurants, antique furniture and designer fashion.

“I think people are especially generous because they know it will help the elderly, and help to make sure that these people have a hot dinner and a Christmas present,” said Ms Corney.

Any additional money raised will be spent on the centre’s children’s creche and play school.

The auction takes place at Highgate Newtown Community Centre on Sunday, November 6 from 1-3pm. Contact Ms Corney on 07958 589 229 to donate.