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London calling for new members of this boys' club

By Annabel Crabb
September 11, 2005
The Sun-Herald

He's a muscular breed spotted with increasing regularity among London's playgrounds. His nicknames include the Manny, Hairy Poppins, and the No Pair. He's young, sporty, quite likely to be Australian, and he's making a good wage.

Meet the male nanny.

Australian "manny" Mark Firth, 32, came to London five years ago to work as a lawyer, but quickly realised he lacked passion for the job and took up a startlingly different career - looking after the two young sons of a wealthy London family.

"They were 10 and 12. They had grown up a bit and they didn't really need a nanny, they needed someone who would play cricket and football with them and hang out with them," Mr Firth said.

Typically, he works a 30-hour week - and earns more than he used to as a lawyer.

The current vogue for mannies comes in part from the US. They are sought-after by wealthy New Yorkers.

For nervous matrons, they provide less of a temptation for husbands otherwise prone to going the way of Jude Law. And for single mothers - Liz Hurley has reportedly hired a manny for her young son Damian - the male nanny can provide a masculine role model.

Fiona Lannon, from London-based Occasional & Permanent Nannies agency, says London families in particular are becoming more open to the idea of having their children cared for by a man.

"They add a different dynamic to the household, particularly if there are very active children," she said.

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