A short secluded section of Hanworth Road, starting outside World Zoroastrian House (WZH) in Feltham has been renamed after one of its most famous residents. ‘Freddie Mercury Close’ was officially unveiled today (Monday 24 February 2020) by Freddie’s sister, Kashmira Bulsara, and the Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow, Councillor Tony Louki.
At a ceremony, on a very damp morning, surrounded by friends, family, residents and fans of the great singer and all the UK Committee members and supporters of the World Zoroastrian Organisation (WZO), Kashmira pulled back the special cover to reveal the new street name. The sign is placed outside the WZO’s head office, a Faith Group into which Freddie was born and remained up until his death. The WZO is now housed at 1 Freddie Mercury Close.
The street name change came about after a conversation between the Mayor and Darayus S Motivala, Joint Honorary. Secretary of WZO, at an Inter Faith event at WZH last July when a number of guests were delayed as they could not find the venue. Darayus mentioned to the Mayor that other visitors to the building were having the same problem and asked if this mainly private section of the road could be given a unique name and postcode. When the Mayor asked what name should be used, Darayus instantly suggested Freddie Mercury Close for very obvious reasons.
After the street unveiling, the guests were welcomed into WZO’s Communal hall by Darayus Motivala and introduced some of the dignitaries who had taken time off to attend the ceremony. They included Lord Karan Bilimoria of Chelsea, Seema Malhotra the local Labour MP, Shahpur Captain, Chairman of WZO and of course the Mayor and Kashmira Bulsara. Ervad Jimmy Madon, WZO’s Youth Co-Ordinator, started the proceedings with a minute’s silence for Ervad Rustam Bhedwar and Ervad Marazban Dastur followed by a short prayer with 3 other young priests. He then briefly outlined the principles of Zoroastrianism and gave an introduction to WZO.
Jacky Smith who manages the Official International Queen Fan Club spoke about Freddie Mercury describing him as a warm and funny man. Tony Louki, then talked about the diversity in the Borough of Hounslow and mentioned how he enjoyed the Boi ceremony when he first visited the centre last July, particularly the smell of the sandalwood and the serenity of the prayers. Lord Karan Bilimoria then spoke about the remarkable achievements of the Zoroastrians in India, Britain and around the world. He remarked that it is in the spirit of Zoroastrianism to put in the hard work and be at the top of the game. How else could such a miniscule community achieve so much. He thanked WZO for its work and said “Wow, what an address to have for a Zoroastrian organisation”. He then quoted from two of Freddie’s songs, “We are the champions of the world” and “Don’t stop me now”.
Sammy Bhiwandiwalla, President of WZO gave an interesting audio-visual presentation on the notable Zoroastrian in India in the performing arts who were influenced by the western culture from the British. Amongst others, he talked and in some cases, showed video extracts about the composer-pianist Kaikhosru Shahpurji Sorabji, the conductor Zubin Mehta, the contemporary dancer Astad Deboo and Freddie Mercury. He then went on to talk about the next generation of stars who have been sponsored by WZO. These include the Coloratura Soprano Farah Ghadiali, the two sisters who are accomplished ballet and modern dancers, Pia and Tara Sutaria and the Bansuri player Jessica Mistry who has played at a number of WZO events and was present at the ceremony.
Shahpur Captain then presented souvenir medallions depicting the World Zoroastrian House to all the speakers and to Angela Parton who has been working tirelessly for many years in Feltham preserving and enhancing the town’s memorial to Freddie Mercury. It is planned to turn this into a memorial garden with a bust of Freddie.
After the presentations, some of the guests went to the Satayesh Gah to witness a Boi ceremony performed by WZO’s resident priest, Fali Madon and his brother, Jimmy. A number of these guests including Lord Karan remarked on the openness of this room with a lot of natural light.
Although Freddie was born in Zanzibar (a part Tanzania) under his family name of Farrokh Bulsara, he moved to Feltham along with his family to a house at 22 Gladstone Avenue. After first studying art at Isleworth Polytechnic, now West Thames College, Mercury studied graphic art and design at Ealing Art College, now a part of University of West London, from where he graduated with a diploma in 1969, a year before he formed the band with whom he will forever be associated, Queen.
‘Councillor Tony Louki, Mayor of Hounslow said: ‘We are delighted to be here today further commemorating this talented star and adopted son, someone who entertained so many people during his lifetime. Although Freddie Mercury died in 1991, his legacy lives on through his wonderful music as well as his being fondly remembered by fans worldwide that especially visit this town. A blue plaque has been placed at the house he lived in at Gladstone Avenue. Freddie is also graciously honoured by the Friends of Feltham Pond, residents led by Angela Parton, who also maintain and tend the recently refurbished memorial space around the now thriving tree on Feltham High Street planted by the late Jer Bulsara, his Mother. I must thank The World Zoroastrian Organisation for organising today’s event and salute its now most appropriate and unique address of 1 Freddie Mercury Close, Feltham, Middlesex, TW13 5DF”.
Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Parks and Leisure said: “I am so pleased to be here today to see the unveiling of Freddie Mercury Close, which just adds to the wonderful cultural aspects of Feltham and the borough as a whole. Personally, I have always been a huge fan of Queen – who can forget their powerful performance at Live Aid in July 1985 just six years before he died. It was also a great pleasure to meet Kashmira, his sister so a big thanks is due to her for coming here today and helping ensure that Freddie’s legacy lives on.”
The Chairman of WZO said: “The World Zoroastrian Organisation offers its sincere thanks to the Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow and the staff working in the various departments who have helped to name this street ‘Freddie Mercury Close’ in a very short time. It is therefore very fitting that the Mayor and Freddie’s sister, Kashmira Bulsara, are unveiling the street sign today in the presence of so many dignitaries including Lord Karan Bilimoria of Chelsea and the local MP, Seema Malhotra. Freddie was born into the Zoroastrian faith and had a home in Feltham. He is a one of a number of Zoroastrian who have excelled themselves in the world of arts as in other fields.
WZO set up its HQ and Community Centre in Feltham a few years ago and we have been made very welcome by the local Councillors, the Inter-Faith groups and other local groups and associations. WZO will play its part in working with the local community.”
The World Zoroastrian Organisation is a faith-based charity, founded in 1980. It has a worldwide membership with associated organisations set up in India, USA, Canada and New Zealand. It is funded entirely by donations from individuals and other charitable trusts in the UK and abroad. Its charity giving is mainly for medical, educational and poverty-relief causes on a worldwide basis. Each applicant is considered on a case-by-case basis. It partakes in local Inter-Faith activities. The Community Centre has a Communal hall and a Satayesh Gah which are open to all.
WZO’s three principle objectives are:
- Charitable donations, mainly for medical, educational and poverty-relief causes. It will also considers applications for preserving the Zoroastrian heritage.
- Dissemination of information on Zoroastrians and Zoroastrianism through publication, seminars and Inter-Faith groups.
- Preserving the rights of Zoroastrians to practise their faith.
For further information, please contact:
Darayus S Motivala, WZO at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 7944 488318.
Mike McGann, LB of Hounslow at Mike.McGann@hounslow.gov.uk or +44 7976 877642