The charitable side of ... Tony Blair

Nathalie Thomas

The Prime Minister, who is no stranger to the difficulties of fundraising, is an enthusiastic supporter of sporting charities.

The worlds of politics and charity might seem poles apart, but Tony Blair has more in common with the average charity chief executive than you might think.

Set aside the fact they are both leaders - although admittedly one of the country, the other of a voluntary organisation - both engage in fundraising activities and have to think about donor care.

The difference is, of course, that most charity fundraising activities pass without so much as a photo in the local paper, while Labour's fundraising ended up with the arrest of Lord Levy last month, amid allegations that Labour has learnt to treat its donors a little too well. Some people just won't be satisfied with a stick-on badge saying "I support X".

Blair has also learnt to be charitable to himself this summer. He put bombs in Beirut and security alerts to one side for a while and enjoyed a luxury yacht tour around the Caribbean.

That said, he did exhaust himself for Sport Relief before he left. "It's a good idea to encourage people to take as much exercise as possible," he told journalists after running a mile for the campaign in Stratford in June. Perhaps those of us who noticed the 'moobs' (man boobs) in his holiday snaps should remind him to heed his own advice. However, sport does seem to be a theme for the Prime Minister, and he is due to become patron of a community sports centre in London. He pledged to do so during a speech to the Greater London Authority in April if 100 other public figures promised the same. That goal has been achieved and London sports centres are eagerly waiting to find out which one has the golden ticket.

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