Pumpkins, false teeth and Brompton Cemetery

Pumpkin a la Paton
Pumpkin a la Paton

Over Halloween season, it's hard to say no to this pumpkin the size of a garden shed, which was grown by the Paton twins of Hampshire and, at 1,861lbs, took first prize at the recent Autumn Pumpkin Festival near Southampton.

The Patons aren't giving their £500 winnings to charity, but before the pumpkin's seeds are harvested it will feature in World Vision UK's Carve a Heart campaign - hearts take the place of scary faces to symbolise hope instead of fear. As we went to press, this monster with a heart was due to feature at Halloween either in the One Show studio or outside Christ Church, Spitalfields in London.

Special detail: the pumpkin put on 35lbs a day - the weight of four bouncing babies - while growing in the Patons' glasshouse.

Wacky donations

There's an annual competition for the wackiest donation to a charity shop: false teeth, vibrators, coffin trolleys - that kind of thing. But in her study of charity shops, summarised in our last edition, the academic Triona Fitton discovered a whole new pipeline: items seized by the police.

One shop took delivery of evidence bags containing a crusty sock, a smelly Fred Perry jacket and a single bloodstained shoe - all rapidly binned. But they also got an Armani watch (presumably stolen), which went straight into the locked glass cabinet at £199.98 alongside the piece de resistance - an unused Christian Dior underwear set, which they priced at £99.98. Ooh la-la!

Fitton thinks such items are "cleansed by the act of sale in a charity shop - they are no longer tainted cultural goods".

Brompton Cemetery restoration

On the back of Suffragette, the Royal Parks Foundation has niftily launched a £500,000 appeal for the restoration of Brompton Cemetery in west London. The reason? Among the 205,000 permanent residents is Emmeline Pankhurst, the leading proponent of votes for women, played by Meryl Streep in the film. Designed by Benjamin Baud, Brompton was opened in 1840 and is now also a nature site where a scarce beetle and weevil are found. Beatrix Potter is said to have used the names Mr McGregor, Jeremiah Fisher and Peter Rabbett from the headstones.

Tribunals overturned

Chris Willis Pickup, head of litigation at the Charity Commission, told the recent meeting of the Charity Law Association that, of 25 charity tribunal cases concluded in 2014/15, one commission decision was overturned (the Human Dignity Trust case) and "the other 24 cases were resolved in the commission's favour or withdrawn by the appellant before the tribunal reached a decision".

So what was the breakdown? Eight withdrawn by the appellant, said the commission, seven struck out on procedural grounds, and eight "won on the substance of the case".

Meaning? "We won four cases after a full hearing; four cases were struck out as having no reasonable prospect of success."

So the bottom line is really won four, lost one - isn't it?

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