Columnist who led Great Storm tree campaign remembered

Fri, 13/10/2017

Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy Leader, and Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Ian Adams

The 30th anniversary of the Great Storm was marked today with a plaque for an Evening Standard columnist who led the campaign to replant the capital’s fallen trees.

Friends and family of Angus McGill gathered beneath an oak tree on the Strand today where the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Ian Adams, unveiled a bronze plaque in his honour.

Angus McGill died aged 87 in 2015. He wrote a column in the London Evening Standard for 42 years. McGill won the British Press Award as Descriptive Writer of the Year 1968 and was made an MBE in 1990.

He launched a major appeal to replace London’s lost trees following the Great Storm, raising more than £60,000 to plant trees in every London borough.

The new plaque compliments the one above it, which was unveiled in 1988 by Westminster City Council.

The two plaques, close to Charing Cross Station  

The original plaque recalls how the Great Storm destroyed 250,000 trees across London and that Evening Standard readers raised funds to help replace them. The pillar is next to an oak tree planted by the council which flourishes today.

Guests included Doug Wills, managing editor of the Evening Standard, Bob Jennings and Sir Tim Rice.

This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the storm which ravaged many parts of the UK over October 15th and 16th, 1987.

A poster of Angus McGill MBE

 Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage at Westminster City Council, described the plaque as a “fitting commemoration” of McGill.

He added: “Many of us here will remember the Great Storm in 1987, and that famous weather announcement from Michael Fish.

“Across the city both residents and tourists enjoy our green spaces and we seem to take the trees that we have for granted.

“Westminster City Council will be forever grateful for the efforts and help of the Evening Standard and its readers for the raising money through a tree appeal, led by Angus McGill, to replenish the trees lost.

“His work and wit is certainly missed and will be for a long time to come.”

Sir Tim Rice, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Leader 

Unveiling the plaque, Lord Mayor of Westminster Cllr Ian Adams said: “When I was asked to unveil a plaque commemorating the life of Angus McGill and his pivotal role in the Evening Standard Great Storm Appeal, I had no hesitation in saying ‘yes’.

“Angus was an integral part of the fabric of London life for over 40 years.  As the Evening Standard’s columnist, he documented every part of daily life in London and the eccentric characters which added colour to the greyest day. 

“It was – I am told – typical of Angus’  inexhaustible energy to respond to the Great Storm of 1987 by launching a major appeal to replace London’s lost trees.  Thanks to his efforts, over £60,000 was raised and new trees were planted in every London borough.

“To mark the success of the appeal, Angus approached Westminster City Council and suggested that we plant an oak sapling in central London.  In October 1988 my predecessor, Elizabeth Flach, planted a tree on this spot and unveiled a plaque commemorating the appeal.

“Today, 29 years on from that ceremony and 30 years since the Great Storm, we have gathered on the same spot to remember Angus.  I am delighted to unveil a plaque which acknowledges publically the debt that we owe to Angus for all that he contributed to London throughout his career.”

Last updated: 7 November 2017
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