THE death of Sir Terry Wogan will have saddened millions for whom he came to seem as much a friend as a broadcaster across the course of 50 years.
His witty, charming and relaxed demeanour on both radio and television made him one of the best-loved of all personalities, and amongst the brightest stars that the BBC ever had.
He truly was a national treasure, taken to the hearts of Britain, his adopted country, and much admired by his fellow broadcasters, who recognised the skill that lay behind the apparently effortless delivery.
The breadth of the tributes paid to him yesterday, from the Prime Minister to generations of entertainers, were testament to the affection in which he was held.
So was the knighthood he was granted in 2005, making him one of the relatively few citizens of another country to receive the honour.
Sir Terry’s audiences were measured in the millions, both on Radio 2, where his breakfast show was for decades the accompaniment to countless commutes or school runs, or on BBC1 and the early-evening chat show that came to define the genre.
And he was almost single-handedly responsible for the huge kitsch appeal of the Eurovision Song Contest, thanks to his joshing presentation that poked fun at the contestants and provided acerbic observations on partisan voting.
But undoubtedly his proudest achievement was fronting the BBC’s annual Children in Need appeal for 35 years, which has raised hundreds of millions for the best of causes.
Sir Terry was the magic ingredient that brought the money rolling in, consistently breaking the appeal’s records for the amount raised.
By doing that, he demonstrated that he was more than just a beloved broadcaster. Sir Terry made a difference for the better, and there can be no more honourable legacy of a glittering career.
Woeful failure of Kids Company governance
THERE could hardly be a more damning condemnation of a charity than the report into the failure of Kids Company by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Mismanagement and failures of governance are laid bare at every level of an organisation that received huge amounts of public money. Politicians up to the level of the Prime Minister were dazzled into keeping the funding flowing, even though civil servants were warning of serious concerns about how it was being spent.
Lessons must be learned from this fiasco. Never again can such slackness and misuse of both public money, and the donations made by good-hearted people,
be allowed to happen.
Serious issues for the entire charitable community are raised by the MPs’ report, particularly concerning the role of trustees in ensuring organisations are run properly.
Recent exposure of aggressive fund-raising tactics by some leading charities has already cast a shadow over the sector. That, too, was a failure of governance and the verdict on Kids Company underlines the need for charities to look long and hard at how they manage themselves.
If charities lose the confidence and goodwill of the public, donations and support will dry up, leading to the loss of credibility and ability to help the vulnerable.
And it is the vulnerable who have been failed that lie at the heart of the MPs’ report. The sloppiness and complacency of those responsible for running Kids Company let down children who were in need of help, which is unforgivable.
Council cutbacks: Fears over job losses
IT IS to be hoped that the mass job losses amongst council staff predicted by the GMB union do not materialise.
The figure of 25,000 including significant numbers in Kirklees, Bradford, Rotherham and Sheffield is deeply worrying, as is the union’s claim that they will be accompanied by severe spending cuts.
There is no doubt that councils face yet another difficult year ahead as a result of the Government funding formula, and rises in council tax are also looming for many residents across Yorkshire.
Despite that rise of up to four per cent, services are likely to be cut. There may well be a political dimension to the GMB’s claims of the level of job losses, but the Government cannot ignore warnings from councils that the squeeze on spending is going to cause serious difficulties in delivering basic services.
The two sides should come together for talks to prevent that happening.