Lots of luxury in Whitehall for Walpole bash

BACK to Banqueting House in Whitehall again this year for the 11th Walpole Awards for Excellence.

Anthony Head was master of ceremonies for the luxury body’s annual gathering. The actor, of Gold Blend coffee advertisements and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, was perhaps a less “on brand” choice of host than last year’s compère - Downton’s dashing Hugh Bonneville.

Nevertheless guests such as Coutts boss Michael Morley, Mulberry creative director Emma Hill and hotel tycoon Sir Rocco Forte sipped champagne, swiftly accepted their awards and then it was off to members’ club Annabels for the real after party.

Excelling in their categories and taking home Walpole trophies were Mulberry for British Luxury Brand, Ferrari for International Luxury Brand, Burberry for Online British Luxury Brand, Jaguar for British Luxury Brand Overseas and jeweller Theo Fennell for Luxury Craftmanship. After accepting his award Fennell revealed: “I was absolutely thrilled as this is the first award I’ve won since I was 13 when I won a prize for throwing a cricket ball – and even then I had cheated to get it."

■ BARELY a function goes by without Mayor Boris Johnson popping up in some form or another to dispatch a crowd-pleasing speech in faux bumbling fashion – and yesterday’s Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual conference was no exception.

However the Mayor’s popularity appears to be rightly placed. There aren’t many people who could fill a ballroom the size of the Grosvenor’s in a post (long) lunch slot.

Johnson was talking up British enterprise: “We need to abandon the rhetoric of austerity.” But couldn’t resist a self-deprecating plug of his Olympic success: “The only piece of transport to malfunction was a zip-wire.”

Security measures at the hotel entrance were particularly stringent – The Capitalist can not recall any airports in which such a thorough frisking was deployed. Not once, but twice! General cautiousness or all thanks to Johnson’s newfound celebrity status?