EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Heiress Petra Ecclestone pulls out of special school she created for daughter

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When Petra Ecclestone suspected her daughter Lavinia might have autism, she became so frustrated with the lack of ‘advice and treatment options’ that she opened a nursery and therapy centre, Petra’s Place, for children with the developmental disability. 

In the end, it turned out that Lavinia, ten, didn’t have autism.

Last year, Petra’s Place managing director Sarah Kyle said it would be forced to close unless additional income could be generated after ‘main funder’ Petra stopped financing the West London school.

And this week, I can disclose, the Formula One heiress applied to Companies House to have Petra’s Place Ltd struck off the register. 

Her spokesman says she ‘has helped transition the business across to new management’ and is supporting it financially for six months.

All change: Petra at the centre

All change: Petra at the centre

Keeping love alive isn’t a tall order for Stephen

Comedian Stephen Merchant credits technology with helping to keep the romance alive between him and his American girlfriend, Mircea Monroe.

‘My girlfriend is in LA and we try to go back and forth but, when we’re apart, we’re always trying to stay connected via video calls,’ he tells me at a London event.

The 6ft 7in star, who once expressed regret at not having written more episodes of The Office with Ricky Gervais because he’d have ‘three Bentleys by now’, adds of Mircea: ‘We’ve been together for a while, so you learn to navigate it.’

The actress, 41, who is 5ft 6in, has appeared in films including Just Friends and Magic Mike.

She met Merchant, 48, at an awards ceremony in 2017 and the pair have since moved into a £2.4 million Los Angeles mansion.

Romance: Comedian Stephen Merchant credits technology with helping to keep the romance alive between him and his American girlfriend, Mircea Monroe (pictured in 2018)

Romance: Stephen Merchant and Mircea Monroe

Graham Norton claims famous guests can lose their entertainment value after they’ve had children. 

‘I’ve noticed something on the chat show, when you’ll have a guest and they’ll tell stories that are really funny, and then they’ll come back on again and they don’t want to tell those stories,’ the BBC star says. 

‘And the difference is, they’ve had kids. They don’t want the kids to hear those things.’

Make-up artist to the stars Charlotte Tilbury, who built herself a billion-pound beauty empire, pulled out of the Royal Television Society Programme Awards due to exhaustion.

‘She is on the floor,’ her husband, George Waud, tells me at the ceremony at Grosvenor House hotel in Mayfair.

‘Charlotte works harder than anyone I’ve ever met in my life. She is a people-pleaser, so if anyone invites her to do something she says, “Yes”.

‘She does 14 hours a day and then says, “Yes” to a dinner or whatever it is, and it has caught up with her. I put her to bed.’

Such is the popularity of BBC’s The Repair Shop that King Charles appeared on the show last year. 

Yet comic Harry Hill wonders why participants let their heirlooms get so neglected in the first place. 

Referring to a typical guest, Hill asks: ‘If it meant so much to her, why didn’t she look after it better?’

Forget sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll — Sir Rod Stewart spends his spare time on tour searching for spare parts for his train set. 

The owner of the Woodpecker Model Railways shop in Western Sydney, Australia, says the pop star, 78, came in looking ‘for bits and pieces [for his collection]’ and ‘just wandered around, singing away’.

The owner, who gives her name as Marilyn, adds: ‘I was working at the front and heard him singing in the back. I knew he was a train collector. He has been since he was little.’ 

Good to hear Sir Rod’s career is still on track.

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