David’s involvement in Covent Garden began as a youth and community worker in 1971. He organised and led a two-week Objection at the 1971 Covent Garden Public Inquiry which helped prevent the area’s demolition and turn the tide of post WW2 planning from wholesale demolition of city centres. He was elected bi-annually onto the Covent Garden Forum of Representatives (1974-84) which drew up and saw through the new Covent Garden Plan. He co-authored Less Planning More Happening, the basis of the new Plan. He was a founder trustee of the Covent Garden Area Trust and, together with the late Grace Cook, negotiated its establishment with Government and the London Residuary Body following the abolition of the Greater London Council. He was a member of the Seven Dials Housing Action Area Committee (1977-84) which initiated the area’s regeneration and brought back into use the 90% of the residential stock which had lain empty for 40 years. The HAAC also encouraged private and affordable housing and helped re-build the area’s employment base on the removal of the Covent Garden Market. David has chaired the Seven Dials Trust since its inception in 1984. David also serves on the committees of the Soho Society, the Museum of Soho and the Meard & Dean Street Residents’ Association. David has a long-standing interest in conservation from his restoration of 1 Shorts Gardens (1694) in Seven Dials (empty for 40 years), and 68 Dean Street (1732, empty for 10 years). He was the pro bono adviser for the restoration of the 1791 shopfront at 88 Dean Street, joint winner of the Georgian Group national award in 2011, and advised on the restoration of 13 Meard Street. As a member of the UK Lancia Motor Club, he chaired Flavia in the Piazza in 2003 and Lancia in the Piazza – the Centenary in 2007 (winner of the award for the best car event of the year).
Wyndham Albery has been living in Seven Dials since the late 1960s. Having seen many changes in the area, from the bomb sites and fruit and vegetable market to the tourist destination of today, he is keen to find the right balance for the residents and visitors. He has worked as a retail consultant for the last 25 years, a job he enjoys especially when his clients are within walking distance. In his free time, Wyndham enjoys sampling the excellent cuisine in the various local restaurants, not to mention the wonderful theatre that is the real magnet of the area. Occasionally, to get away from the constant bustle of Seven Dials and Covent Garden, he loves travelling far and wide, allowing him to sample food and culture in their natural surroundings.
Robert Ayton worked as an urban design and conservation officer with Westminster City Council from 1986 to 2021. He was Head of Design and Conservation in the central area of Westminster for nearly 30 years, dealing with development proposals in the West End, including Mayfair, Soho and East and West Marylebone. In 2021 he joined Donald Insall Associates as a senior historic building advisor.
Working with Westminster’s planning department Robert was responsible for negotiating many large and complex schemes including the Crown Estate’s regeneration of Regent Street and the BBC’s redevelopment of Broadcasting House. He also worked on a number of high profile listed buildings for many years, most notably the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House. He has considerable experience of public inquiries, being Westminster’s expert witness at several tall building inquiries and, most recently, the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. He has considerable experience of World Heritage Site issues and was a long-standing member of the Westminster WHS Steering Group.
He is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
Gabriel Brocklebank was landlord of the well-known and loved Crown Pub on Seven Dials for more than a quarter of a century, along with his wife Madeleine. The Crown was for many years a focal point for both local businesses and residents. Gabby encouraged the involvement of Taylor Walker PLC who gave considerable support to the Trust via their PR company and who also assisted in fund-raising. Although Gabby has retired, he continues his involvement as trustee and Company Secretary as part of his long-term commitment to the area.
For many years Janet was the owner and freeholder of Mon Plaisir restaurant in Seven Dials. She became involved in community action when Covent Garden was under threat of demolition. She was a member of the Seven Dials Housing Action Area Committee (1977–1984). As a member of the Covent Garden Forum she served on its planning and environment committees in the1970s and 80s, working with the GLC on the detail of bringing the area back to life. Janet says, “Seven Dials lacked its centre-piece and the restored Sundial Pillar was a wonderful reward for our small committee. The work has continued by preserving and improving the area, with our unique knowledge, design influence, and fundraising ability, plus working closely with Camden and Westminster Councils and latterly Shaftesbury PLC, to progress our award-winning plans, proudly making Seven Dials the success it is today. Over the years our Trust has become a source of knowledge – the area’s history, foundation works, masonry, gnomonics, lighting, façade improvements, public realm works, and much else. I am proud and grateful to be involved.”
Vivien is the Chairman and CEO of the Edward Stanfords Group, a retailer of travel books, maps, globes and other travel related products. Stanfords was founded in 1853 at 6-7 Charing Cross Road by the first Edward Stanford. Since its founding, the company has moved six times, always staying close to Covent Garden. In 2019, Stanfords relocated to Mercer Walk. Vivien's grandfather, Gordon Godfrey, and her father, Patrick Godfrey, both served as Chairman of Stanfords during their careers with the firm. Vivien spent time in the offices and shop in Long Acre from an early age and worked during her summer holidays in the post room in the 1970s. In 1983, Vivien wrote a paper about the Covent Garden Development Area to complete her BA in Geography at Oxford University, spending several months researching the history of the area. in 2018, after a career in consulting and the food and beverage industries, mostly outside the UK, Vivien returned to London to run the Stanford's business with her brother, Joe Godfrey. She and Joe are the majority shareholders of Stanfords and are supported by 70 additional shareholders, including the fifth, sixth and seventh generations of the Stanford family. Vivien divides her time between the USA and the UK. She is a governor of an independent girls' school in London and enjoys travelling.
Nicola first became a trustee when she was the ward councillor for Bloomsbury ward (1986-1990). She chaired Camden’s Development Control Committee and has always had an interest in planning issues. She was brought up in Hanway Place, just north of Seven Dials, and so has known the area since childhood. She stayed on as a trustee, latterly in an honorary capacity, after she stood down as a councillor. Though she now lives south of the river, near Waterloo, she retains her love of and interest in the area.
Robert became involved in Seven Dials as Chief Executive of Marler Estates when they acquired buildings in Monmouth Street, Neal’s Yard and Shorts Gardens in the late 1970s. The restoration of the Monmouth Street houses was among the first such work in the area. The development of Seven Dials Court for housing, with its shared podium deck, was regarded as exemplary at the time. Robert’s many development projects in London include the nearby Pied Bull Yard for the Bedford Estate. Robert has been instrumental in creating and promoting most of the Trust’s fundraising sponsorship schemes. He has continued as a trustee, now in an honorary capacity, long after Marler Estates relinquished their holdings in the area.
Mark is Director of IT at the Firmdale Hotel Group. Firmdale has the Covent Garden Hotel in Monmouth Street among its portfolio of well-known hotels in London and New York. Through Mark’s involvement and with the support of Tim Kemp, Group chairman, the Trust has received invaluable IT advice and support. Mark devised the Trust's QR codes for the People’s Plaques scheme.
Amanda has lived in Seven Dials for 20 years with her husband and, latterly, her daughter. Her professional experience is mainly in banking and corporate finance and she has acted as finance director for several growth companies over the past 15 years. But her personal interests are more arts orientated, so she says that serving on the Seven Dials Trust is a pleasure in terms of history, architecture and public realm aesthetics. Amanda’s other charitable activities include serving on the UK Board of HOPE Worldwide since 1995, and working to represent the local community as Vice-Chair and a trustee of the Covent Garden Community Association.
Thomas Roueché has lived in Seven Dials since 2008, and is an editor, writer and researcher. He grew up in North London and as a child attended the Chandos Day Nursery in Dudley Court. He works on middle eastern culture and contemporary cultural projects and publications more broadly and he has lived in Istanbul, Amsterdam and New York. He has always been interested in the history of the area around St Giles-in-the-Fields and Seven Dials and became a trustee in 2015.
Jamal’s family came from Bangladesh. His father lived in Gerrard Street before it became China Town, moving to Seven Dials in 1964, where his mother still lives. Jamal went to St James’ & St Peter’s Primary School in Soho then to the Bluebird High School in Bangladesh. He completed his further education at City of Westminster College and higher education at University College London. He first became involved as a volunteer for the Trust in his late teens. Jamal recalls that when he heard from his dad that the area would be demolished and replaced with high-rise buildings, pedways and an underground ring-road, he was excited, especially about the underground road network. Today he is glad none of that happened. As Seven Dials was his playground, he remembers how it used to be and how the physical character and fabric of the area has been enhanced since. “The Trust has achieved the unachievable and made life in the Dials proudly liveable with all the former magnificence of the 1690s restored”, says Jamal. He and his wife Sadia balance bringing up their family with running a design house. They are both involved in the annual Mela (usually held in locations such as Regent’s Park, the British Museum, the British Library and the Coram's Fields) which celebrates the cultural diversity of Camden and Westminster showcasing the outcome of activities carried out throughout the year by the schoolchildren, their teachers and parents as well as the youth organisations and community centres of Central London.
We are looking for more sponsors to support this unique Plaques Project:
People's Plaques Brochure (PDF)
Street History Plaques Brochure (PDF)
(If you would like a printed copy of the brochure please do ask us)
Plaques Positions Visuals (PDF)
More info on Sponsoring People's Plaques
More info on Sponsoring Street History Plaques