My Hampstead: Labour peer Lord Mitchell of Hampstead was thrown out of school at 16

Lord Parry Mitchell of Hampstead

Lord Parry Mitchell of Hampstead - Credit: Archant

Lord Parry Mitchell of Hampstead, 70, is Labour’s enterprise adviser. He became a life peer in 2000 after a successful business career in IT services, selling his last company in 2006. His philanthropic work includes founding the e-Learning Foundation in 2001, a charity that aims to get all children online.

What brought you to Hampstead? I was brought up in Hendon – three stops further north on the Northern Line. In 1973 I moved to Frognal Gardens. In my between-marriages period I bought a sensational penthouse on Fitzjohn’s Avenue and, ever since I met my wonderful wife Hannah, we have lived on Elm Row off Heath Street.

What makes it such a special place? I love the quirky people and the fact that no matter how grand and clever you might think you are, there is always someone else who can top you many times over.

You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area, what would you get up to? I would like to go on one of those tourist walks around Hampstead – despite being here for 40 years I am sure there’s lots I don’t know.

As guest editor of the Ham&High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported? Our narrow streets cannot take the flow of traffic. So why don’t we have one-way streets everywhere and avoid those constant set-tos that we see all the time?

Who is the most inspirational person you have ever met? My man of the moment is Archbishop Justin Welby. We have worked together to regulate payday lending and he is truly an impressive, caring, 21st century man.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say? I was thrown out of school at 16 – I was useless and disruptive. I sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I went to evening classes for five years to get my A-levels and bachelor’s degree. I then went to Columbia University in New York to obtain an MBA. My business, philanthropic and political life then followed. Today I am privileged to be in the House of Lords and now I am Labour’s enterprise adviser. So in six words: “Written off young, proved them wrong.”

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Lord Parry Mitchell was in conversation with Tom Marshall