Van-tastic - Virgin Media brings Bollywood glamour to the East End with Ash Kumar

2nd March 2015

  • Henna artist-to-the-stars transforms Virgin Media engineers’ vans
  • Celebrates building ultrafast broadband to 100,000 more London homes

World leading henna artist, Ash Kumar today unveiled his latest project: swapping A-list clients, such as Madonna and Amir Khan, for the van of Virgin Media apprentice engineer, Talay Ibrahim.

Ash, twice recognised by Guinness as the world’s fastest henna artist, was commissioned by Virgin Media to celebrate reaching the half-way mark of the expansion of its unrivalled broadband network across East London. Virgin Media’s construction programme will see 100,000 more homes in the area connected to lightning-fast internet speeds for the first time.

Talking about the project, Ash Kumar, said: “Henna has never been used like this before so when Virgin Media asked me if I could create a bespoke henna design for Talay’s van I was really excited about getting involved.” 

Virgin Media Apprentice Talay Ibrahim said: “The makeover Ash has given my van will be a great talking point with everyone as we connect more people to our ultrafast network in East London. The other engineers will definitely be jealous and will be clamouring for a new look for their vans too.”

Neil Bartholomew, Executive Director at Virgin Media said: “Working with Ash Kumar has been fantastic, helping us raise awareness of the importance of better access to the digital world. Thousands more homes across East London are now able to benefit for the first time from the UK’s fastest broadband.” 

The van was unveiled at a Bollywood-inspired party in Barking where residents helped design a second engineer’s van under Ash Kumar’s expert tutelage.

Ash added: “We wanted to give something back to the community, involve them in the project and create something that will last. Local residents have helped me to develop another design for a second van which will be helping better connect more people to the incredible, creative online world.”

Local resident Ram Patel, who tried his hand at henna design added: “I wouldn’t consider myself to be ‘artistic’ so when Ash showed us how to build a henna design from scratch, I surprised myself with what I was able to achieve. It was really exciting to be part of it and I can’t wait to see my own work drive across East London.”

More East London homes and businesses could benefit

Virgin Media’s expansion will see ultrafast broadband of up to 152Mb, more than six times faster than the national average, available in the area. Its unbeatable entertainment service, TiVo, with the option to add a wide range of international TV channels so customers can keep up to date with the shows from around the world, will also be available for the first time.

Virgin Media has recently announced the largest investment in Britain’s broadband infrastructure for more than a decade. Over the next five years, Virgin Media will invest £3 billion to connect approximately four million more households and companies across the country to its unrivalled network.

People and businesses in London or elsewhere who want Virgin Media’s unprecedented network expansion to benefit their street can register their interest at and businesses can do the same at

About Virgin Media

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. And we’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services to customers. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 27 million customers across 14 countries.

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