OPINION: The right level of trumpeting

PETER STANFORD, a writer and broadcaster. He chaired the trustees of the national disability charity Aspire and now sits on various trustee boards

In that bit of my working life that pays the mortgage, it has been a busy week since I've got a new book out. It's on a vaguely religious theme and this being a vaguely religious time of the year interest from the press and radio has, thankfully, been good. Sitting in front of the microphone does, however, bring something of a dilemma. It gives me a rare chance to plug not only the book but other things I feel deeply about, too, such as the charities I'm involved with. But how far do you go?

Celebrities have used interest generated by their work in one media-friendly area to promote wider concerns so assiduously that we forget their previous career. Susan Hampshire was an actress. Now she is fixed in most of our minds as the person who brought dyslexia out of the closet. And did Bob Geldof really once make records?

Some charities have royal patrons whose "career

it is to draw attention to the cause. But since Diana, and with William still on ice, the Windsors have had troubles of their own. So it comes down to patrons and trustees - the volunteers with a foot in another world. For celebrities, it is easier, but for those of us beyond the ken of the diary columns the role of ambassador is a trickier proposition.

Do you, for instance, touch your wealthy friends to buy tickets for your charity's upcoming event or is mentioning your involvement with a charity a bit too much like blowing your own trumpet? But if you don't promote the cause at every opportunity, are you just an add-on who has not bought in?

If you choose to wear two hats, you can't spare your own blushes. It means watching as the newspaper editor who has taken you out to lunch glazes over when you pitch him a feature on disability. Or an occasional frosty refusal letter from the chap you clicked with as fellow members of a radio chat show panel when you later ask if he'd stump up £5,000 to sponsor an event. In the end, though, more say yes than no, and you go as far as you have to.

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