Third Sector at Large: Girlguiding with Sir Stu? Something has to cheer us up

Dame Suzi Leather's smile, the Upper Tribunal's benefit ruling and Nick Hurd are on our minds this week

Girl guide: But Etherington was an officer cadet
Girl guide: But Etherington was an officer cadet

- The dark days of cuts and redundancies at the Charity Commission mean a smile from its chair, Dame Suzi Leather, has grown rare. But one break in the cloud came at the recent Third Sector Excellence Awards, when Church of England jokes from the compere, the Rev Richard Coles, had her almost falling off her chair (she's a member of the Christian Socialist Movement); and last week she went up to speak to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations' trustee conference wearing a big grin. Girlguiding Anglia had received an award, and she said someone had just suggested to her that the NCVO's chief executive, Sir Stuart Etherington, had always wanted to be a guide. But that has to be nonsense, of course. He's a former officer cadet in the Royal Artillery.

- Everyone's heart sank when the 116 pages of the Upper Tribunal's judgement on private schools and public benefit landed on the desk with a sickening thud a couple of weeks ago. But some lawyers on the inside track had, it turns out, heard it from the horse's mouth that a good ploy was to "skip the first hundred pages". Good advice. Perhaps it should be a requirement for all members of the judiciary to make life a bit easier for ordinary mortals by attaching a crib to their lucubrations saying where the good bits are.

- Still with m'learned friends, it seems the Charity Commission is becoming increasingly frank about its revised approach to regulation. One lawyer describes a recent case in which a trustee received a letter saying words to the effect that "we think you're in breach of trust, but we don't have the resources to take it any further". This is called being proportionate.

- Although the charities minister, Nick Hurd, attended a school where they play Eton Fives, the Eton Wall Game and a code of football called the Field Game, it turns out he's a supporter of more conventional sport in a rough part of London. "On my way to Tottenham to talk to the football club about their work in community," he tweeted last week. "As a Spurs fan, I want to be impressed." Of course, he's often heard in the corridors of the Cabinet Office chanting: "Oh when the Spurs go marching in ... " (OK, we made that last bit up.)

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