TALK OF THE TOWN: Crisis-hit Eton drafts top City PR firmFebruary 25, 2021
TALK OF THE TOWN: Crisis-hit Eton drafts top City PR firm to help rebuild its image
It’s been the year from hell for Eton – the school that famously hates attention – and now I can reveal things have got so bad they have drafted in a top City PR firm to rebuild its image.
Brunswick Group – famous for high-profile crisis management and eye-watering prices – has been appointed to help headmaster Simon Henderson.
Brunswick strategists are moving in after two major scandals.
First came the sacking of English teacher Will Knowland in November over a YouTube lecture criticising feminist thinking.
A month later ex-teacher Matthew Mowbray was jailed for sexually assaulting three boys.
There is also said to be an atmosphere of disunity after the head was branded ‘Trendy Hendy’ for bringing woke values to the school and sacked several members of the old guard after he was hired in 2015.
Shelf improvement: Out go head Simon Henderson’s woke books, and in come serious dusty tomes… and a tie
A source said: ‘Brunswick’s appointment has been made in relation to the particular situation Eton is currently in.’
Another source close to the school said that the majority of remaining teachers support Henderson, but admitted several remain who don’t.
The PR firm will have kept an eye on Dr Brendan Cooper who I can reveal has just resigned as head of English after seven years.
He penned a carefully written note, which had the whiff of Brunswick speak about it – though he did not personally take advice from the firm – to say he was stepping down ‘after a great deal of reflection’.
Dr Cooper was keen to stress the turbulent year was unrelated to his decision, and he is a firm supporter of Henderson.
But many teachers have railed against the head’s progressive shake-up of the institution and have spread rumours he is going to resign – although he insists he is not.
Brunswick Group – famous for high-profile crisis management and eye-watering prices – has been appointed to help headmaster Simon Henderson. Pictured: Eton College
My sources say Brunswick is on board to help Henderson quash the rumours, bring unity to the school and calm down those who accuse him of eradicating traditions in favour of a woke makeover.
It looks to me like Brunswick has also advised him to start wearing a tie and remove a set of PC books from his bookshelf.
Trendy Hendy has been making Zoom calls which display Isabella Tree’s Wilding book – about creating new habitats for wildlife; hipster bible Girl Up; and Everyday Sexism, a patriarchy-smashing essay collection.
In his most recent video, on February 11, they had been replaced with leather-bound reference tomes.
In January Henderson sent bottles of £9 prosecco to staff, with a thank-you note offering ‘best wishes’ for the new term.
My source says of Brunswick’s advice: ‘It’s pretty obvious stuff: suck up to the teachers and calm down on the wokery.
‘I do hope they aren’t charging too much for the service.’
I imagine they are – Brunswick’s services are said to cost tens of thousands of pounds a month. No wonder, then, that despite the £40,000-a-year fees, Henderson couldn’t stretch to champagne!
Talulah’s new dish: pottery king Matthew
Gorgeous actress Talulah Riley has been helping artist Matthew Rice recover from the breakdown of his 30-year marriage to Emma Bridgewater, with whom he built a pottery empire.
Though there’s quite the age difference between them – Talulah is only 35 while Matthew is in his mid-50s with four grown-up children – I can see them being a good match.
Gorgeous actress Talulah Riley has been helping artist Matthew Rice recover from the breakdown of his 30-year marriage to Emma Bridgewater, with whom he built a pottery empire
Pictured: Matthew Rice with his ex-wife Emma Bridgewater in February 2015
Matthew is charming by all accounts, while Talulah is so alluring that tech billionaire Elon Musk married her not once but twice! She won fame playing a schoolgirl in the St Trinian’s movies.
When I called Matthew, he chuckled and said: ‘As much as I’d love to talk to you, I’m not going to talk about that. But it’s very kind of you to ring.’
Harry’s lost Skippy too…
Prince Harry could be feeling even more removed from his old life now that he has lost a Stateside best friend in the form of Tom ‘Skippy’ Inskip, who has moved back to the UK from Washington DC.
Skippy and wife Lara have moved to the Isle of Man to be closer to her father, though they retain Skippy’s Kensington pad, which hosted many a party attended by Harry.
He and Meghan attended Skippy’s Jamaican wedding but the pals drifted apart until Skippy moved to America just when Harry did last year.
But Skippy didn’t ask Harry to be godfather to his baby son Albert, which was a huge surprise as they had been best pals since their schooldays.
Skippy tells me: ‘My son does not have one famous godparent.’
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