Saturday, 10 May 2008

geraniums , ITV and the CEO job

Set the alarm early. It's the day off the Charlbury Society annual plant sale. It's popular and so I arrive 15 minutes early and get in the queue. 15 ahead of me , so with careful planning I should get what I want. And I read the Cherie Booth memoirs in TheTimes as I wait. I am an admirer of Cherie. She was our guest speaker at our annual conference 2 years ago. She gave an erudite and witty speech on the importance and relevance of human rights. She made a point of speaking to many members and I had a great discussion over dinner. Her media reputation is just so unlike how she really is. I shall be buying the book.And when I saw her recently at the Tony Blair lecture in the Cathedral , she seemed so much more relaxed and in charge...I guess the final years in No 10 must have been draining on her in particular. She clearly loves being able to get out in the country at weekends ; hence the recently acquired stately home. I know the feeling , though mine's a cottage I'm afraid ! All the pictures of her new pile show Sir John Gielgud in situ . Did they buy it complete with Sir John . I think we should be told.

Anyway i get all my geraniums and lots of lovely bedding plants . The place is empty in about half an hour flat ! Country people are no slouches at this game !

The last few days have been taxing. I had one of those CEO moments on Thursday , when you need to make a decision and it is not immediately apparent what to do , and there is a heavy risk involved.But being a wise CEO I ensure I talk to my Chairman before deciding. And I am lucky I have a strong and supportive Chair . I go for the risk ! acevo would not be what it is today if I had ever been cautious! Lets hope it not a wrong one this time !

Burma continues to dominate the news and i feel a mixture of horror and anger every time I see the pictures of death and destruction .It is hard to imagine the depth of the depraved minds of the Burmese generals. Still feeling upset I ring the DEC fundraising line and make a generous donation . it is the least I can do , but it is a feeble effort in the face of such a tragedy.

On Friday comes news of the incompetence of the BBC and their abject failure to run a helpline and so keep money owed to charity. I am phoned by ITV who want a comment I give them my view. I say it is not enough to repay the money with interest . They have further undermined confidence in helplines , which are a strong source of funding for our sector. So I say damages are essential . i demand that the BBC make a generous 0.5m donation to the Burma emergency appeal. they want me to go on ITV news to say so . But I am in Charlbury writing 2 papers to submit to Government and so suggest they use my brilliant Head of Policy , Seb Elsworth . They agree. The problem is , as I discover , he is improperly dressed ; it being dress down Friday ( a habit I deplore and do not follow myself ) .I tell him I am not having any of my staff appearing before the great British viewing public in rags so dispatch him to Oxford St to get a shirt , tie and jacket. it is the first time he has done a TV slot. And I must say he does it superbly. Very photogenic and he makes his points clearly and strongly. Calls the BBC " shabby " That's my boy .

I still have not finished my proposals. Had an interesting meeting with the top guy at DCLG on Thursday and want to follow up with suggestions about how the third sector can deliver community empowerment.It's a strong passion of Hazel Blears so I want to ensure our voice is strong in the debate. And acevo , which knows how to engage and supprot , can make a real contribution. The notion among those still living in the hippy sector , that all government is evil and so no contact can be good , does a huge disservice to our sector and those we serve. It is our duty ,and occasionally , a joy to engage. And if we gain advances for our people then that must be good.

But I must finish . I am off to Oxford to see my nephew Julian , who is reading History and German at Keble. We will have tea at the Randolph.

1 comment:

Simon said...

Hi Stephen

I caught this as I (and my friends) are scanning for DCLG at the moment as I am about to start a secondment there this week. See:

http://tinyurl.com/5b9jdn
and
http://tinyurl.com/5hrf26

You, and anybody else, will be able to join in once I get the 'workbench' in place but let me know if you think a meeting would be helpful.

Regards

Simon
CEO, ruralnet|uk and RNUK Ltd