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Chicks with Bricks + The Prince’s Trust + The Ned London

Changing the Narrative

Chicks with Bricks The Ned 2019 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

It’s the time of year for females to be out in force. And a few feisty males. Celebrating women in property and construction is what makes Chicks with Bricks tick. The pre Christmas highlight is a fundraiser for The Prince’s Trust held at The Ned, London’s answer to New York’s NoMad or LA’s The Line. All three destinations share the definite article and definitive kudos. The Tapestry Room on the top floor of Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens’ architectural masterpiece is sequinned shoulder to tuxedoed shoulder with the Capital’s finest such as top recruiters KDH Associates Kirsty Hall and Lucie Cox. Cucumber and tofu canapés top up a bubbly reception.

Donald Urquhart Chicks with Bricks The Ned 2019 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chicks with Bricks Founder Holly Porter introduces three inspirational preprandial speakers. Award winning interior designer Tala Fustok starts, “Interior design is so much more than pretty trimmings! We enhance people’s lives and experiences. I lived in Paris for six years and gained a huge level of experience. I came back to London and set up my own studio four years ago.” Tala’s projects include The Mandrake Hotel in Fitzrovia and a 26 metre bespoke barge.

Kirsty Hall Chicks with Bricks The Ned 2019 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Prince’s Trust is represented by Young Ambassador Sadiya Yasmin. “It’s a wonderful charity,” she begins. “With everything in life you’ve got to have a good foundation. The Prince’s Trust has helped me become the best version of myself. Just to say I’m a caterer. Shout me! Everyone has to eat!” Jo Richardson, newly elected Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Housing, takes the stand. Professor Richardson’s passion for housing stems from working as a volunteer when she was 18 for the homelessness charity New York City Relief. “We cannot live a stable life without a stable home.” Dinner is served:

Lucie Cox Chicks with Bricks The Ned 2019 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Sadiya Yasmin Chicks with Bricks The Ned 2019 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The postprandial auction led by Charles Hanson of Hanson Auctioneers begins. Wild and wonderful lots are up for grabs. There’s a romantic weekend hideaway with a cookery lesson in The Gardener’s Shed at Mello View in rural Somerset. “It’s the most beautiful place,” says Kirsty. “It’s really special. If you love pigs you’ll love it!” A digital print of Dame Vivienne Westwood by Tideart and an etching Sitting with You by Donald Urquhart are just two of the avant garde artworks stimulating auction fever. Carriages can wait.

Iceni Chicks with Bricks The Ned 2019 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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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!