The borough of Harrow was once home to numerous recognisable faces, ranging from progressive politicians, and national footballers to notorious broadcast journalists. Their brilliant work in each of their fields has undoubtedly earned them nationwide acclaim. This piece aims to dive deeply into the professional careers of characters you may not have known are from Harrow.
Diane Julie Abbott, the first ever black woman elected to Parliament in 1987, though a commendable feat on its own, while affiliated, fought adamantly to uphold Labour Party values throughout her 36 years of service.
A member of the Socialist Campaign Group, her work in politics primarily centres around helping the underprivileged. Meanwhile, she is known for taking democratic and progressive stances on controversial issues such as abortion, Brexit and the Windrush scandal.
Doing commendable community service work, Abbott founded the London Schools and Black Child initiative, to raise educational achievement rates amongst black children.
A fervent supporter of abortion rights, she promoted several amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in 1990. She maintains that the same rights that apply under the 2008 bill should be extended to women in Northern Ireland.
Abbott withheld a democratic stance throughout the United Kingdom’s union with the European Union referendum. She initially backed the official party preference to remain in 2016 though asserted that Labour policy was to respect the outcome of the referendum regardless.
Though ultimately, Abbott remained consistent in voting against the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Abbott overtly condemned Home Secretary Sajid Javid for allegedly concealing the correct figures about the Windrush scandal in 2018. She was able to recognise this as a moment in British history which was frankly “disconcerting and outrageous” for the Windrush generation.
In 2008, Abbott received high praise and recognition for her speech on civil liberties in the debate on the Counter-Terrorism Bill, commended with a Human Rights Award. Meanwhile, The Spectator acclaimed it the “parliamentary speech of the year.”
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the likes of Theo Walcott, originating from Stanmore, he is an English professional footballer who is renowned for his rapid style of play. Walcott plays as a forward for Southampton.
Over the course of his career he’s undergone many transitions in the clubs he’s played for, though his talent was immediately recognisable. Walcott received the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award at only 17. At the same time, reaching international acclaim in representing England in the 2006 World Cup.
In his initial 2 year span with Southampton, from 2004, Walcott secured his reputation as a sensational player, becoming Southampton’s youngest-ever senior goal scorer in 2005. This all came before ultimately joining Arsenal, a move that launched his career to new levels of prestige.
Whilst playing for Arsenal, he’s featured in 13 Premier League matches, debuting initially in 2006, while scoring a total of 65 goals, a rather impressive feat.
Another reputable character, who you may not have assumed is from Harrow is the esteemed television broadcaster, Kay Burley.
Working her way up from humble beginnings, she started her reporting career at only 17 for a local newspaper in 1977. Burley is now a celebrated British broadcaster and presenter on Sky News.
She made headways in the fledgling Sky organisation with a documentary entitled the satellite revolution before her ingenuity was immediately recognised and was invited into the emerging Sky News operation in 1988 of the same year.
Burley has made countless meaningful and quite unforgettable contributions to the world of journalism. From being the first U.K. reporter to break the news of the 911 terror attacks, to covering the death of Princess Diana on Sky in 1997. Not to mention heading the news coverage of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake from inside Sri Lanka.
Having contributed to other types of media outlets such as LBC’s radio station, alongside occasionally writing for the tabloid paper Sunday Mirror, Kay Burley is by no means limited in her journalistic capacity.
Ambitious and forthright, in 2018 and 2019, Burley proclaimed having her shows titled the Kay burley show and Kay burley at breakfast slots on the channel were undeniably deserved. However, she maintains her predominant role as a broadcast presenter for Sky News.
In a way that invites momentary nostalgic sentimentality, it’s immeasurably gratifying to know that the Borough of Harrow once hosted the likes of Dianne Abbott, Theo Walcott and Kay Burley.