At Large: The Acevo dinner, The X Factor and Widow Twankey

The rumbustious Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB and chair of Acevo, invited guests at the Acevo dinner last week to give Stephen Hester a hard time when he addressed the conference the next day.

Hester, chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was duly challenged by one charity leader about his £7.7m pay package and responded with the usual disingenuous blarney about how it was set by the board and they could always sack him. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows his time at the conference was 'worth' £7,500, but on this occasion he generously wasn't sending in a bill.

- Meanwhile, the love-in between Acevo and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations gathers pace, encouraged by Alexander: the two sets of trustees even had a boozy dinner together last week. Sadly, the investment house hosting the event declined the suggestion of erecting a commemorative purple plaque.

- Update from the music charity Rhythmix, which successfully persuaded The X Factor to stop using its name for one of the girl groups on the TV show. It has now raised £4,500 in donations towards the £8,000 of legal costs that should in fairness be paid by Simon Cowell's company. The episode has also brought out the nasty brigade, who have sent death threats to the chief executive and vicious emails about the charity's young beneficiaries. Warms the cockles, don't it?

- Humorist and inveterate stirrer Paul Flynn MP asked last week what Eric Pickles and other ministers at Communities and Local Government had decided to do for the One Day Challenge, the day of good works to which all members of the government have been committed by their great leader. The response was a triumph of circumlocution which amounted to two words: nothing yet. But it directed people to a list of interests that shows Pickles is a trustee of Brentwood Theatre: perhaps he could play Widow Twankey in the Christmas panto.

- We'll be checking out the volunteering plans of charities minister Nick Hurd, of course. Meanwhile, he's maintaining a sense of irony with a tweet last week: "Just come out of meeting where someone claimed that our Social Action Fund was 'not bureaucratic enough.' Breakthrough!"

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