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Sarah Ferguson: ‘I feel blessed to have looked cancer in the eye and not blinked’

The Duchess of York yesterday enjoyed her first night out since her operation for breast cancer, at a gala dinner to mark the opening of restaurant The Wolseley in the City of London.

“I have always faced adversity and happiness with the same attitude: put your front foot forward and recognise that whatever happens I am so lucky, and so many face bigger challenges,” she told The Independent.

In June, Sarah Ferguson revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram and had undergone a mastectomy. She has shared updates on social media on her treatment and recovery, often praising the support of her daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

“I feel blessed to be well and to have looked cancer in the eye and not blinked. I know that I am so lucky and that I still want to celebrate life,” the duchess said, while mingling with London’s great and good. And, looking forward to her evening, the duchess added: “It is great to be out tonight and to see a great name in hospitality have such a spectacular first night.

“I am so thankful to feel well and be well. there is so much to celebrate and be thankful for which is why I came out tonight to celebrate with friends, she said, and revealed she is in the middle of talks for a new royal book and documentary about Prince Albert’s parents, with revelatory twists and turns about Queen Victoria’s consort.

She was joined, among others, by rock stars Nick Mason from Pink Floyd and Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, as well as Gurinder Chadha who directed the classic romcom Bend It Like Beckham, the most widely screened British film (even in North Korea).

The Duchess spoke movingly about having faced down cancer (Getty)
The Duchess spoke movingly about having faced down cancer (Getty)
Esme Lonsdale, Genevieve Gaunt and Hannah Howland at the opening of The Wolseley City (Getty)
Esme Lonsdale, Genevieve Gaunt and Hannah Howland at the opening of The Wolseley City (Getty)

Also there were Nadira Naipaul, journalist and widow of Nobel laureate VS Naipaul. Other big names at the first night were Sean Doyle, boss of British Airways; Ken Murphy, CEO of Tesco; Tim Steiner, who heads Ocado; Anabel Kindersley, chief executive of Neal’s Yard; and hairdresser to Bollywood’s biggest stars, Dar.

Other luminaries at the first night included Sir Nicholas Coleridge, the retiring chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and who has been appointed the new provost of Eton College, as well as actor John Standing, who co-stars with Michael Caine in the new film The Great Escaper, Also there were the editors of London’s Evening Standard Dylan Jones, and that of Tatler, Richard Dennen.

The new restaurant is seen in the City as an indicator of optimism in difficult economic times, with the five star £10m restaurant opening next to Bank tube station, just by the Bank of England. It mirrors the design and menu of the original Wolseley restaurant in Piccadilly. It occupies the site which was previously home to House of Fraser.

Nick Rhodes and Alexandra Stama attend The Wolseley (Getty)
Nick Rhodes and Alexandra Stama attend The Wolseley (Getty)
Fergie with iconic film director Gurinder Chadha who directed the classic romcom Bend it like Beckham (The Independent)
Fergie with iconic film director Gurinder Chadha who directed the classic romcom Bend it like Beckham (The Independent)

Three new British film stars in the limelight were Genevieve Gault, Esme Lonsdale and Hannah Howland, who play young versions of the veteran co-stars Diane Keaton, Patricia Hodge and Lulu in the new Sky film, Arthur’s Whisky.

Esme Lonsdale, Sir John Standing and Hannah Howland (Getty)
Esme Lonsdale, Sir John Standing and Hannah Howland (Getty)
Esme Lonsdale attends The Wolseley City’s Inaugural VIP Dinner (Dave Benett/Getty Images for The)
Esme Lonsdale attends The Wolseley City’s Inaugural VIP Dinner (Dave Benett/Getty Images for The)