Seventeen months after Lord Glenconner died in his arms and made him an unlikely millionaire, the eccentric aristocrat’s Man Friday, Kent Adonai, is busy fulfilling his lordship’s last project on St Lucia.
Kent, who was left Glenconner’s entire fortune in his will, is spending a portion of his new wealth completing a luxury seven-bedroom hideaway for tourists on the Caribbean island, where the expatriate peer made his home.
Glenconner, who was always known in St Lucia by his pre-title name of Colin Tennant, astonished his wife of 55 years, Lady Anne, and family members when he changed his will shortly before his death from cancer at 83 in August 2010.
Faithful servant: Lord Glenconner, right, with servant Kent Adonai, to whom he left his £20m fortune
Adonai, 48, had been his devoted manservant for more than 25 years. Lady Anne considered challenging the will but thought she would have no success and hoped Kent would ‘do the right thing’.
Her grandson Cody, who inherited Glenconner’s title, was given an estimated £299,000 by Kent as part of the £1million proceeds of an auction of her late husband’s possessions last September.
Kent, who loaded bananas on cargo boats before working for Glenconner, is focusing on his late master’s last building scheme.
There are reports that he has had the peer’s 27-acre Beau estate valued at £20million and intends to begin selling off the land plot by plot.
He is now putting the finishing touches to the boutique hotel.
Eccentric: Glenconner astonished his wife of 55 years, Lady Anne, and family members when he changed his will shortly before his death
Says a friend: ‘Building work started
before Colin died and was unfinished. Unlike his transformation of
Mustique, Colin did not have much luck developing St Lucia.
Kent has come into some money and wants to complete the work so he can
open the guest house to the public and leave some kind of legacy from
Colin. He is spending quite a bit to get things done.
is starting with seven large double bedrooms for now and will
eventually add some more rooms once the revenue starts to come in. He
plans to open to the public this year.’
Author William Boyd has a World War I thriller out in March entitled Waiting For Sunrise. But the news triggers questions about the fate of his last novel, Ordinary Thunderstorms.
The screen rights were bought by BBC Films and Origin Pictures in 2009. Boyd himself was said to be adapting the work for the big screen but since then little has been heard and producer David M. Thompson has left BBC Films.
Can it be that Ordinary Thunderstorms is a victim of BBC cutbacks? A spokesman says, somewhat ominously, the project is still ‘in development’.
There is a grin on the face of party-hopper Sophia Hesketh as wide as a Cheshire cat’s. The reason? She is enjoying the first flushes of romance with handsome barman — and Earl’s nephew — Nick Palmer.
A new romance: Nick Palmer and Sophia Hesketh
Unlike sister Flora, who married banker Johnny Goodwin last year, lissom Sophia has been less lucky in love.
As I revealed, the daughter of Tory grandee Lord Hesketh split from Old Etonian Robert Sheffield, half-brother of David Cameron’s wife Samantha.
And a previous ex, reformed heroin addict Robie Uniacke, almost two decades her senior, was deemed unsuitable.
Nick is rather more fresh-faced than his predecessors. The Bristol University graduate, who is to be found pulling pints at Battersea’s Prince Albert pub, is 23, and four years younger than his girlfriend.
The pair met at Soho haunt The Box through Sophia’s younger brother Freddie, a chum of Nick’s.
Educated at £30,000-a-year St Edward’s in Oxford, his uncle is the 7th Earl of Minto, owner of the Paperchase chain.
‘Nick is a great catch,’ says a friend. ‘Sophia is delighted she can introduce such a good-looking boyfriend to her friends after being dumped by Rob last year.
‘This year is already looking up.’
Spare a thought for TV chef Gizzi Erskine, who was rushed to hospital with severe appendicitis.
Gizzi had been complaining of pains in her side, but it was not until she arrived at the private Princess Grace hospital in Marylebone, Central London, that she was told there may be complications.
Doctors carried out an emergency operation but she was kept in for tests to monitor an infection. It meant she missed her regular cookery slot on ITV’s This Morning.
Unwell: Gizzi Erskine, the Belgravia-born celebrity chef, was rushed to hospital with severe appendicitis. She is now being looked after by her fiancé
Despite not eating a morsel for five days, Belgravia-born Gizzi, 32, who has just signed a two-book deal with Quadrille Publishing, is now being looked after at home by her fiancé, illustrator Dean Martin.
A spokesman for the Cookery School presenter says: ‘Gizzi was very poorly and had to have an emergency operation to remove her appendix.
‘She spent the last few days in hospital, but has been released and is recovering well at home.’
While his siblings have all found it impossible to maintain happy marriages, financier Ben Goldsmith, brother of soon-to-be-divorced MP Zac and divorcee Jemima Khan, has overcome his own marital hiccup to go holidaying in the Caribbean with wife Kate Rothschild and their three children.
Happy holiday: Ben Goldsmith reunited with wife Kate
The couple have been on the tiny island of Bequia, which his mother Lady Annabel rents.
‘We did have a couple of arguments last summer, but everything has taken its proper course again,’ Ben tells me.
The rift provoked a flurry of rumours that they were selling their much-loved Somerset home, which, he says emphatically, they are not.
Meanwhile, he is keen to acquire some of the land that abuts his holiday home in southern Spain, which, I revealed, was owned by Colonel Gaddafi.
‘I put out feelers but have drawn a blank,’ he says.
‘There’s a khaki-clad guard who potters about in a Jeep, but he knows nothing other than his wages still get paid.’
Like the grande dame she undoubtedly is, Raine Spencer swept into the New Year sales at Harrods yesterday with one of the store’s male personal shoppers taking her round the pick of the reductions.
Raine, 82, dressed in a tartan coat dress and matching jaunty pillbox hat, was buying up half-price French perfumes.
The former stepmother of the late Princess Diana is an ambassador for the Knightsbridge store and tells me: ‘I’m still working here, but today I’m just shopping. I am buying next year’s Christmas presents.’
Now that’s efficient.
P.S. He’s always had an eye for a shapely figure, but the Prince of Wales was especially struck by the well-bosomed Celia Imrie.
The Nanny McPhee star says: ‘Prince Charles did have a rather too long look when I was in my School For Scandal costume at the Royal Shakespeare Company — he did, he certainly did.’
Apropos of Nanny McPhee, the actress, 59, who played widow Selma Quickly, says she pleaded with designers not to make her neckline too low ‘because it’s a children’s film.
‘Anyway, it caused some consternation with American children who had never seen a moving bosom before.’