London Mayor's nostalgic visit to JB

It was a nostalgic trip to Johor Baru for the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Alan Yarrow, when he visited the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation or JARO, recently.
Alderman Alan Yarrow [2nd from Right] meeting Datin
Patricia Lim and JARO committee members
Accompanied by his wife, Gilly, Yarrow was on a private visit to JB and his sentimental trip included a stop at JARO, a registered charity where his mother, Paula Yarrow, used to volunteer.

When he addressed the JARO committee members and friends gathered to welcome him, his first words in Malay, “Saya orang Malaysia,” drew loud applause.  He declared that he was Malaysian because he was born in JB in 1951 and lived his first six years here.  JARO was established as a sheltered workshop for recovered tuberculosis patients in 1952 where his mother worked as a volunteer.  “The taste, smell and colours of Johor – it’s a real pleasure to be here,” he declared.

The Mayor of London, Alderman Alan Yarrow [Front row
2nd from Right] arriving at JARO to the beat of kompang
His father, Colin Yarrow, founded Metal Box Company, a can making factory in Woodlands in 1948.  Yarrow fondly recalled growing up in their home at Jalan Straits View, near Bukit Serene, at a time when cobras from the garden were often found inside their house.  There were also coconut trees in front of their house which he enjoyed climbing.  He even remembered a few Malay words and phrases like, susu (milk) and tutup pintu (close the door).

Yarrow, who was on a 2-day working visit, said that the city has changed beyond recognition since his last visit here 6 years ago.  The work of JARO and other charitable organisations for people with disability, is close to his heart not only because his mother once volunteered here but also because his 34-year old son also suffers from cerebral palsy.  

Yarrow and his wife Gilly admiring quality products made
by the Tailoring workshop in JARO
After a tour of JARO’s workshops for Bookbinding, Basketry and Tailoring where they admired the quality handmade products, Yarrow and his wife made JARO a donation of RM11,000.

Also present at the event were representatives from the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur, Acting High Commissioner His Excellency Paul Rennie and Deputy Director of Trade & Investment Stephen Hill, Pulai Member of Parliament, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, JARO Chairman Datuk Jimmy Low Boon Hong and committee members. 

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insider on 27 May 2015

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