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Chicks with Bricks + The Ned London

We’re Going to Have a Ball

It comes as no surprise that women in property and construction only make up 12 percent of the workforce. Men make up 12 percent of Chicks with Bricks: inverse proportionality. “It’s diverse, interesting, very proactive, a chance to meet and mingle with a mixture of people,” is how Holly Porter describes the organisation she set up.

Prestigious networking promoting female talent in other words. All in a good cause: this evening is a fundraiser in support of The Prince’s Trust (Women in the Built Environment). Supporters include leading recruitment company KDH Associates founded by Kirsty Hall.

First there was NoMad Manhattan; then came The Ned City of London. Soho House on steroids. Ned after Sir Edwin Lutyens the architect of the former Midland Bank, now the City’s most happening place for sophisticates to be until 11.30pm 12.30am 1.30am 2.30am carriages. The ground floor is quite simply London’s poshest food court – eight superb restaurants and a bar or two encircle a bandstand. The Chicks with Bricks champers reception is in the top floor Drawing Room followed by the gala dinner in the Tapestry Room next door.

Ah, the Tapestry Room. Soft light from crystal chandeliers flickers across the walnut panelling of the lower walls, subtly illuminating the tapestry above. Majestic. Dinner is served. Wine: Gavi di Gavi La Meirana, Piemonte, Italy + Pinot Noir, Cycle Gladiator, California | Starter: beetroot tartare, caper, golden beetroot, avocado and secret farm leaves | Main: tarte tatin of butternut squash, Brussel tops, trompettes, crisp sage butter served with Lyonnaise potatoes | Pudding: seasonal fruit crumble, Jersey cream.

Blessing Danha, Manager at KPMG, is one of several high profile after dinner speakers. She talks inspirationally about coping with her husband’s death just three months after their marriage. Somehow she had to progress a demanding career while suffering such bereavement. “I felt the kindness of strangers. I learnt the world can be really really lovely. I’ve learned the small pleasures of investing in people. Everyone has a story. Own your own voice. Own it. Define it. Life really is beautiful. If you can, give back.” Blessing has become an authentic female role model in a male dominated industry.

Towards the end, or at least the official end (see the moveable feast of carriages above), of the evening, Charlie Hanson of the eponymous auctioneers whips the room into a frenzy. Auction fever takes over. Lunch with Sir Ben Ainslie? Going… Seven night safari in Zimbabwe? Going… Tracey Emin sketch? Gone!

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