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Society Diary: A tree of life, a school's alpacas and a kitchen extension

30 Aug 2019 Voices

Happy Friday, dear readers. The Queen might have agreed to prorogue Parliament, but rest assured, charity satire will continue uninterrupted. Her Maj is of course an ardent reader of Society Diary, so would surely put aside her usual strict neutrality and step in if any prime ministers attempted to suspend this column. So read on readers, of blue and red blood, for this week’s charity sector highlights.

Conscious clubbing

Millennials, eh, with their woke memes and alcohol-free avocados. Well, they’ve done it again. This time, in the form of an eco-conscious night club.

South-east London’s Studio 338 announced this week it will be reducing its environmental impact through a range of measures including donating 1 per cent of all profits to conservation charity the Rainforest Trust. They will ask all their partner brands, DJs and promoters to donate 1 per cent of their fees to the charity too.

The club will also build a “tree of life” (made from reclaimed materials) in their garden area to encourage clubbers to donate any small change they might have towards the charity.

Diary is particularly impressed by this initiative, as it has always believed drunk people are an untapped source of generosity in this country. However, it would suggest that the club builds a “kebab shop of life” instead, as this could be even more lucrative.

Diary is fully behind Studio 338’s scheme, but if the siphoning off of profits to the charity adds an extra quid to the price of Jagerbombs, it might have to find a new place to drink. It also presumes that as part of the club’s new initiative, the bouncers will be checking that all clubbers are only trying to smuggle in ethically-farmed hallucinogenics.

PETA takes on schoolchildren

August is a weird time for news, so it’s not entirely surprising to see a headline “Primary school accused of ‘speciesism’ for letting children keep alpacas”. Still, there was a picture of cute alpacas so Diary clicked on through. 

Also, from the headline Diary’s first thought was that the school was being told to have a broader range of animals, and that there therefore might be more cute pictures to look at under the guise of staying on top of charity news for work purposes. 

Alas it seems that PETA is outraged about the possibility of St Edward’s Prep School in Cheltenham expanding its herd of alpacas and has found the time to object to the local authority. 

“Like sexism, racism, and all other toxic ‘isms’, speciesism – the idea that other species are here for humans to treat as toys or props to use and abuse – has no place in an educational institution,” PETA director of international programmes Mimi Bekhechi told i on Saturday.

Fair enough. Diary in no way condones animal cruelty. But the school does have a 45-acre farm and groundsmen to look after the animals. 

In a statement on its website, the school argues: “Farm Club is just one of the ways in which we can help to further their understanding of the importance of environmental issues.

“Members of the club take responsibility for a variety of tasks including cleaning out the enclosures, replenishing water and hay, and giving the animals food.”

Given that what some people seem to learn at private schools is an unnecessary amount of Latin, the rules of lacrosse and how to look down on normal people, Diary is inclined to think that how to look after other living beings is probably not top of our list of concerns.

Charity benefits from mayor's visit to kitchen extension

After refurbing your home, you might imagine a few friends popping by to share a drink, stare at the curtains, and exchange pleasantries about your choice of wall tiles. But, comedian Joe Lycett managed to raise £3,000 for charity recently, after offering tickets for his kitchen extension opening. 

He said it was the “most wonderful day, possibly in my entire life.”

After inviting Birmingham’s mayor, he discovered she would only attend the launch if it was a public event. So he raffled tickets to the event, which was also attended by swathes of celebrity guests.

The comedian was besieged with requests for tickets, tweeting: “OK. This is out of hand now. We have literally thousands of entries for the tickets. Some of the media requests are unbelievable. This was a joke.”

He then tweeted: “The four winners have been chosen and will be notified via email shortly! I am in Walsall renting wine glasses!!!”

The mayor cut the ribbon during the official ceremony in May. The funds raised will go towards the Lord Mayor of Birmingham's charity. 

Lycett gave a cheque to councillor Mosquito, who said Mr Lycett “captures the spirit of Birmingham.”

“I'm so proud of him,” she said. “What he did for us in Birmingham was quite unique and unusual. It's never happened before.”


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