CITY PAYS ITS DEEPEST RESPECTS TO BRITAIN’S FALLEN WAR HEROES

SILENCE blanketed the City of London yesterday at 11am, to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of the First World War.

The largest remembrance ceremony took place at Lloyd’s of London, where 5,000 members of the insurance market gathered on the trading floor to watch on as their chairman Lord Levene and Lord Mayor Nick Anstee laid wreaths to commemorate those who served in the Great War and later conflicts.

“It’s a fitting time to reflect on the bravery of others given our soldiers currently engaged in conflict,” Levene said. “It’s important to remember not only all the men and women who are serving their country today, but also those who gave their lives and contributed so valiantly in previous wars.”

Lloyd’s has led the way in fundraising for the Poppy Appeal this year, raising a record £240,000, though other City workers have been just as busy doing their bit for the cause.
Last night saw a number of parties held across the financial district to mark the occasion, including solicitor Hannah Sisk, who’s soon to join law firm Rollingsons. Sisk organised a remembrance evening at Guild City church St Dunstans in-the-West, where speakers included Colonel Stuart Tootal – formerly of the 3 Para regiment and now working at Barclays – and music came from the likes of Chantage, a chamber choir from the City. Local businesses also got behind the event, including Fleet Street bar El Vino, which donated a percentage of its profits to the charities.

CASH IN THE ATTIC
Financial memorabilia buffs had better book their ticket to New York, pronto, since thousands of goodies from US Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff’s various properties are due to go on the block tomorrow at the Sheraton hotel.

As with the first auction a year ago, which raised $1m for Madoff’s victims as a drop in the ocean towards the $65bn he stole, the items up for sale this time range from the glitzy to the mundane.

They include a 10.5 carat diamond engagement ring and a Steinway & Sons grand piano, to the floral canopy bed in one of Madoff and his wife Ruth’s master bedrooms, to clothes and humdrum everyday paraphernalia such as cooking implements, towels, boxer shorts (no word on whether they’ve been washed first), and a rather fetching pair of black velvet monogrammed carpet slippers. Form an orderly queue, now...

TALK’S NOT CHEAP
To the analyst presentation for BT’s interim results yesterday, where management was in ebullient form after revealing a 43 per cent hike in first half profit.

Taking the opportunity to plough the deep pockets of the City analysts present, chief executive Ian Livingston informed them that they were each allocated just one question, and any further questions would be “charged” at £10 a pop, with proceeds donated to Children in Need.

Stepping up briskly to the challenge, the gathered analysts came up trumps, raising £470 – with the largest contribution coming from Morgan Stanley’s Nick Delfas, who kicked off proceedings with a four-question grilling.

Livingston himself then matched their contribution and rounded it up to £1,000. Sterling work on all sides.

DIGITAL AGE
Ping! In zooms a letter from the government’s digital champion Martha Lane Fox, calling on the City’s “computer connoisseurs aged 55+” to enter the search for an Age UK Internet Champion of the Year.

Apparently, the number of over-65-year-olds using the Web has gone up from 18 per cent four years ago to 40 per cent now, as golden oldies get used to the vast opportunities the internet can bring. But Lane Fox wants to improve it even more – and the aim is for next year’s Champion to help others who lack the confidence or skills to get online. Visit the Age UK website to find out more.

UNSUNG HERO
Regular readers may recall the name of John Major – no, not the former Prime Minister, but the security concierge at PwC who last year won City A.M.’s competition to discover the “Unsung Hero” of the City.

Major, who’s guided over a million staff and guests through the firm’s doors over his 21-year stint at the firm, this week celebrated his retirement from PwC at Smollensky’s on the Strand, where he was presented with a leaving book of farewell messages from staff and a bottle of De Bortoli Old Boys 21-year-old port, for every year he spent with the firm.

FOND FAREWELL
Finally, it is with sadness that I say goodbye to you all today on my last day at City A.M.
Over the course of the past few years I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the wittiest, brightest and kindest people in the City, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers for your support, feedback and ideas.

I’m sure you will all be there to assist my successor in continuing the column’s success.