Cherie Blair leads goats march on Widows Day

Cherie Blair led a herd of goats across London Bridge in symbolic show of support for distressed widows in India.

London: Cherie Blair, the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, led a herd of goats across the iconic London Bridge in symbolic show of support for distressed widows in India and other parts of the world.

The event was organised by a leading foundation set up by Lord Raj Loomba, an Indian-origin philanthropist on the occasion of International Widows Day which was marked yesterday.

Amidst rains that probably put off Miriam Gonzales Durantez, the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and others from joining the short walk across the bridge, Cherie Blair and Loomba led the group to highlight the plight of widows in India and elsewhere.

Punjab-origin Loomba set up Loomba Foundation in 1997 and marks June 23 every year, the day when his mother, Pushpawati Loomba, became a widow in 1954 in India.

A prominent entrepreneur, Loomba is a Liberal Democrats member of the House of Lords.

Both Loomba and Cherie Blair hold the ancient title of Freemen of London, which entitles them to exercise their ancient right to herd livestock over the landmark bridge without toll.

The right is rarely exercised in contemporary times.

Blair said: "I am the president of the Loomba Foundation and for the last 15 years we have been campaigning for better rights for widows.”

“Two years ago, the UN recognised this day as International Widows` Day and this is the second time we`ve celebrated it, and this year we wanted to highlight the fact that a goat can bring an income to a widow.”

She added: "Various people have kindly sponsored the goats, so that widows will be able to earn an income from them - not these particular goats obviously - but goats across the world."

As the small group in support of widows walked across the bridge, at the other end was a protestor with a banner that said: "Spot the Irony: Blair Kills Husbands".

Later, Cherie Blair was asked a question about widows in the Iraq war, when Tony Blair was the prime minister.

A BBC World Service reporter asked Cherie Blair: "The war on Iraq, which was co-led by your husband Tony Blair, created thousands upon thousands of widows. What would you say to Iraqi widows?"

She replied: "Widows have come from three things. Disease - HIV, AIDS cause a lot of widows. Poverty, because there are a lot of men who are killed because they do dangerous jobs and of course the wars that sadly we have across the world."

After the bridge event, Blair and others attended a reception at 10 Downing Street hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.