Boris says Wohl campus sets care 'benchmark'

By Jessica Elgot, July 21, 2011
Boris Johnson with Vicki Minsky’s gift

Boris Johnson with Vicki Minsky’s gift

Boris Johnson did not take his bike to the official opening of Jewish Care's £44 million Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Campus - and might well have regretted it.

The London Mayor arrived 30 minutes late, having travelled on the Northern line to Golders Green, but steadfastly refused to blame Transport for London. To the delight of his hosts, he still made time to tour the campus in the company of Jewish Care luminaries Lord Levy, Dame Gail Ronson, Stephen Zimmerman and Simon Morris.

Hugely complimentary about the facilities and services, Mr Johnson observed: "I have never seen anything in London that reaches this standard. It's marvellous. This has really set the benchmark. It's what all elderly care should be like."

He chatted to residents of the Otto Schiff House dementia care unit and was impressed by the apartment of Holocaust survivor Ruth Eisenfeld, 79, in independent living facility Selig Court.

"He's extremely friendly," Ms Eisenfeld said. "He asked me if I enjoyed living here, and I told him, of course, that I did."

He also met volunteer Richard Fisher, 92, in the campus shop and donor Dawn Koby outside the hair salon, Beatrice's, which is named after Mrs Koby's mother, Beatrice Lampert.

At a reception for MPs, Jewish Care staff, fundraisers and donors, Mr Johnson met Vicki Minsky, 81, a member of the Michael Sobell community centre, who presented him with a painting she had done in the centre's art room. "Without the centre, I would not know what to do - this is my second family," she said. "I do art, making jewellery and I've just taken up bowling."

Mr Johnson told the 250 guests: "As we panic about politicians, journalists, and bankers, the rest of the world is getting on with their lives and doing wonderful things. Our efforts in the public sector are dwarfed by those of the voluntary sector. I am delighted to be able to come here and demonstrate my absolute support for Jewish Care."

Names of donors were read out by Lord Levy, who added: "By any standard in the world, this is an amazing complex. We want every donor to know how grateful we are. What you have done is extremely meaningful."

Professor David Latchman, chair of the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, said: "My aunt and uncle did not have children, but just look at the legacy they left behind. They had a magnificent art collection, which could have been donated to a museum. But they insisted everything be sold for the benefit of the community and the proceeds from that have been our contribution to this campus."

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Last updated: 2:11pm, July 21 2011