INMATES raised thousands of pounds for St Luke's Hospice to win their freedom from captivity.
Community figureheads – including councillors, businessmen and a headteacher – were locked in a cell at Wealdstone Police Station in High Street on Friday (Apr 1) with just a mobile phone and bail set at £1,000 worth of donations.
First-time entrant Ketan Mandalia, 33, a director of both Blue Ginger bar and restaurant in Kenton Road, Kenton, and Blue Zenzer restaurant in Watford Road, Harrow, said: “I was one of the first to get involved although I did naughtily start raising money three or four months ago to get a bit of a headstart! We had to raise a minimum of £1,000 to get out and I raised more than £3,300.”
Mr Mandalia joked: “My tactic on the phone with suppliers was: if you don't support me, I'll never buy from you again! But, seriously, over the years, I've always supported other people's charity efforts and this was the first time I've asked them for support in return.”
He explained: “It was a bit scary. We were booked into the cells, stripped and given white suits to wear, and I got told off by the custody sergeant for using my mobile phone.
“We were in the cell for a good hour. It was quite dark in the cell, there was no seats so we were all standing, and there were no toilets, so it was a very real experience.”
Among the other volunteers handcuffed and banged up for the Kenton hospice were:
- Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East
- Councillor Bill Stephenson (Labour), leader of Harrow Council
- Chris McDermott, headteacher of Marlborough Primary School
- Dave Chapman, St Luke’s Hospice head chef
- Councillor Navin Shah (Labour), London Assembly Member for Harrow and Brent
- Kali Chakraborty, president of Rotary Club of Kenton and Kingsbury
- Ajay Maru, director of Salon Sleek and Labour councillor for Kenton West ward
Pam Russell, the hospice's director of fundraising, said: “We are tremendously grateful to the community leaders who took time out of their busy schedules to support the hospice.
“Both the police and the ‘prisoners’ really entered into the spirit of the day and we expect that they will have raised approximately £10,000 to help fund free hospice care for patients at St Luke’s and their families.”