As we submit a planning application to Westminster City Council on our proposals for 217 Harrow Road, we are taking some time to reflect on the history of this building and the area surrounding it. We want to learn from the building's past to help us inform its future and recogonise the important role the building has had in shaping lives in Westminster. In this blog we hear all about a very famous visitor to 217 Harrow Road…
“I remember management saying that someone was going to visit Harrow Road but they
could not say who” recalls Tracy who was working at 217 Harrow Road at the time.
The mystery surrounding this special visitor didn’t last long and the very next day it was revealed that WHAM member and global singer-songwriter George Michael was in the building, cleaning clients rooms as part of his community service.
Cooking with a superstar
The pop superstar also took on some of the culinary duties at the centre, helping to cook chicken fajitas with clients. This was something Tracy remembers didn’t come naturally to George, “I was surprised that George never cooked and had to show him how to cut the chicken into strips, and season the chicken. George would put one strip into the frying pan at a time. I remember saying “George, we will be here all day, put all of the chicken in and stir”!
“Whilst cooking we begged George to sing to us but he wouldn’t. A song came on the radio and he started singing. Everyone just stopped and stared – his voice was amazing.”
Although helping to cook the fajitas, George didn’t want to eat the meal, “George would not eat anything as his PR agent had brought him McDonalds. I remember saying ‘you have to eat something with the clients’, eventually he agreed to have some ice cream.”
“I still remember the McDonalds meal his agent brought him – George gave me the Coca Cola
glass, and I still have it.”
A lasting legacy
As well as the Coca Cola glass, Tracy was also left with some lovely memories of George’s visit, “We sat on the balcony eating, and talked about the WHAM days, of which he said ‘you’re
showing your age’”! He shared memories of him growing up, his mother’s beautiful garden
with flowers and vegetables, and his mother’s cooking.”
George certainly seemed to enjoy his visit to 217 Harrow Road and actually asked if he could stay at 217 Harrow Road for the rest of the day instead of moving on to somewhere else.
Unfortunately this wasn’t possible but the experience certainly stayed with him, “Don’t think Mungo’s ever knew but he mentioned The Royal Oak project on the radio, saying he was shown how to make chicken fajitas by a staff member and cooked with clients.”
To find out more about our plans for the future of 217 Harrow Road, visit our website.