Editor's letter

The Good Childhood Inquiry by the Children's Society is an excellent example of the part charities can play in improving society.

It's a thoughtful attempt to step back, take a comprehensive look at what childhood consists of in 21st-century Britain and come up with proposals for taking some of the pressures off our children and improving their quality of life. It has already published evidence on key themes such as friends, family, learning, health and values, and it will produce a final report early next year. The Government would be unwise not to listen.

It's a fair bet that the Good Childhood Inquiry was in the minds of many chief executives when they voted for the Children's Society, led by Bob Reitemeier, as Britain's Most Admired Charity this year. It's a worthy winner. And it wasn't the only children's charity that impressed the voters, because they also went by a strong margin for Clare Tickell of Action for Children to be Britain's Most Admired Charity Chief Executive. Clare has recently succeeded with a bold plan to rename and reposition her charity so it can raise more voluntary income and gain a stronger campaigning voice.

The London Community Recycling Network came out top as the Most Innovative Charity. Its particular strength seems to be persuading different organisations to work together - something that chief executives seem to regard highly, perhaps because it is not always as easy as it might seem in the voluntary sector.

Finally, our voters were clearly fascinated by Duncan Bannatyne, a clear winner as Celebrity Charity Champion. Perhaps it's something to do with the contrast between his kick-ass persona on Dragons' Den and his charm in real life. People seem to dread meeting him, then come away star-struck, saying what a nice man he is; and his determination to give his fortune to charity before he dies has a sure-fire appeal for sector chiefs.

Many congratulations to our winners, and thanks to our hosts for providing the spectacular venue and the catering for the awards night. We are particularly grateful to our specialist panel of voluntary sector leaders and experts, listed on the left, who put forward the names from which we selected a shortlist for chief executives to vote for.

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