THERE is a corner of an Ethiopian town that is forever Redbridge after a visit from the borough’s Mayoress.

Helen Johnson so impressed the residents of Asella, 110 miles south east of the capital Addis Ababa, that they have re-named one of their major highways Redbridge Road in her honour.

And while roadworks might provoke howls of protest in the borough, news that Redbridge Road is to get a cobblestone surface has been greeted with delight.

She travelled there on a fund-raising trip with members of the Rotary Club and helped break stones for the resurfacing effort.

But it was after presenting the town’s mayor with a framed picture of Redbridge Mayor Chris Cummins that the surprise announcement about the re-naming was sprung.

“It’s a real honour for them to do this,” she said.

“It’s just a dirt road at the moment, but they are going to cover it with cobblestones.

“They also need a fire engine and the Rotary movement is going to try and help with that.”

By way of thanks for the hospitality offered to the mayoress, Redbridge Council hosted a reception on Monday (October 31), for the Ethiopian ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Berhanu Kebede.

He presented the council’s party leaders, Keith Prince, Ian Bond and Jas Athwal with wooden animals, and the possibility was raised of naming a road in the borough after the town of Asella.

Cllr Cummins said: “From time to time roads on new developments are renamed.

“It’s not a very common occurrence, but if the opportunity did come up, then Asella Road could be a possibility.

“Of course we would need to consult residents first.

“If I ever get the chance to go to Ethiopia, I would hope to be able to visit Redbridge Road.”

Asella Fact File

• Olympic legend Haile Gebrselassie was born in Asella. One of 10 children, Gebrselassie won gold medals in the 10,000 metres at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.

• Women’s rights campaigner and former Woodford Green resident Sylvia Pankhurst emigrated to Ethiopia in 1950 and is buried in the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa.

• Asella suffered from an invasion of locusts in 1961.

• Asella sits in the shadow of a 13,000ft extinct volcano called Mount Chilalo.

• Many of Asella’s roads are covered with cobblestones, which cost less than asphalt and are easier to maintain.

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