Hackney youth club pays tribute to patron Elizabeth Taylor

A tribute to screen legend Elizabeth Taylor is planned for one of London’s oldest youth clubs - which might not exist today if it wasn’t for her.

The AIDS activist and renowned philanthropist who died last week aged 79, donated �5,000 towards rebuilding the Pedro Youth Club in Rushmore Road in 1965.

Taylor raised the money through a Leicester Square gala premiere for The Sandpiper, which she filmed with her first husband, fellow actor Richard Burton.

It is thought a childhood friendship between Elizabeth Taylor and the one of the club’s founders, Lady Sheran Hornby, attracted Hollywood to Hackney. Taylor and Burton came to re-open the club in 1969 - but her dedication was no flying visit.

She made a commitment to become its honorary president, putting the club firmly in the spotlight, and she even returned with Burton in 1974.

Today’s driving force behind the club, former European and British middleweight boxing champion James Cook MBE, is very proud of Taylor’s links with the club.

“Not many people can say that about such a movie legend,” he said. “If she hadn’t put some money towards it we might not be here, at the time it was a struggle,” he said.

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“At the time she was pretty young, I don’t think many people would have got their money from a premiere and chuck it at a youth club,” said

“You’ve got to be something special, and we give a lot of respect to that,” he added.

Cook believes the club has been given credibility by having Taylor’s name on their headed paper.

Plans are in motion to dedicate one of rooms – which has been running for over 80 years – to Taylor, with an image of Taylor’s 1969 visit to the club painted as a wall mural.

Taylor died of congestive heart failure at LA’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital on Wednesday March 23.