Third Sector at Large: New homes found for magical trains, ex-wonks and filthy cats

The work of Heath Robinson
The work of Heath Robinson

Former charities minister Nick Hurd had a comfortable election in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, chalking up a majority of 20,000 and achieving a small swing away from Labour. And he continues to find stuff to do now that he's free of the cares of office. Most recently, for example, he's become a patron of West House, a local community space that is soon to be home to a permanent exhibition of the fantastical drawings of Heath Robinson, a former denizen of Pinner. At Large speculates that Hurd was attracted to the project by the cartoonist's drawing of a rail tunnel (see picture) and another showing a magical railway soaring through the sky. Hurd's main headache, you'll recall, is opposition by his constituents to HS2 ploughing through their local amenities: Robinsonian fantasies such as these probably feature in his dreams.

Elsewhere in the election, Labour's loss could be the sector's gain as a raft of progressive-minded advisers and policy wonks start seeking alternative gainful employment. A senior example of the species is already reputed to be on his way to one of the sector's better-known umbrella bodies. That'll be grist to the mill of The Spectator and others who bang on about charities being the unofficial opposition, won't it?

Followers of football will sympathise with Graham Salisbury, head of HR at ActionAid, who shares his name with a senior referee and was bombarded by angry Leeds fans on his Twitter feed in February after their 1-0 loss to Brentford. They told him to get his eyes tested – and worse – to which he tweeted thanks for the "lovely messages", but said they had the wrong man. When BBC Radio Leeds interviewed him about this, he rose to the challenge of his comms team to mention ActionAid's child sponsorship programme not once but twice.

That tale emerged over dinner at the recent Third Sector Business Charity Awards, when the presenter, Will Gompertz of the BBC, went off on one after presenting the Corporate Foundation trophy to Support Adoption for Pets, established by the chain Pets at Home. He offered to drop off his own family's "filthy moggy" any time they liked, adding that it was "really horrible". One of the awards judges, Peter Hepburn of Cats Protection, took it calmly and confessed he was currently cat-less because of travelling so much for work.

One sure sign that BCA guests had a good time was an email from one the following day saying she'd taken a taxi home only to remember that she'd left her car at the train station. No names, no pack drill.

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