Diary

Alliance Planning managing director Steve Fidgett has demonstrated that he has a head for heights with a daredevil abseil off London's Guy's Hospital.

Fidgett's 34-storey feat was undertaken for the benefit of the charity MPD Support. In all, the team raised £60,000 for research into a rare form of blood cancer at a specialist unit based at Guy's and King's College hospitals.

"Raising funds for MPD Support is a great cause and close to my heart," says Fidgett. "But equally, how often do you have the chance to get a bird's eye view of the world's premier city while dangling by a thread?"

If you're wondering how the government's paymasters are doing with their root-and-branch assessment of DCLG spending, look no further.

In sombre tones, the department has announced that it is pruning the amount spent on pot plants. No plant has been purchased at its Eland House headquarters since May. A contract with Mitie which had been running since July 2004 was terminated last month.

But all is not lost on the foliage front. Green-fingered civil servants have taken it upon themselves to pick up the burden of maintaining the office greenery. Following suggestions in feedback on departmental cost savings, the plants will be looked after by staff on a voluntary basis.

Perhaps this magnanimous act of generosity has helped fund the portrait of the Queen now proudly adorning the Eland House lobby. In a separate announcement, the department has detailed paintings and even clocks provided in ministers' offices since 12 May.

The communication reveals that no items of art have been moved into any of the offices occupied by the department's special advisers, while the only clocks provided in the rooms are of standard plastic office issue with minimal value.

Art fans may like to know that communities secretary Eric Pickles has a Marjorie Sherlock picture of Liverpool Street Station which cost £10,000 in 1986, while planning minister Bob Neill has a portrait of Charles II. Baroness Hanham has Ernest Dunn's In Vacant or Pensive Mood.

Cash in the Attic or Antiques Roadshow fans should prepare for some disappointment. The department will not provide current valuations of every item in the collection due to the "constant and volatile fluctuations in the art market".

A Drivers Jonas Deloitte assistant director is putting his feet up after winning a gruelling endurance race.

Jeremy Bragg - who works in the firm's Birmingham office - won the North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. He beat 1,238 participants from 55 different nations after running an epic 88km course that circumnavigates Europe's highest mountain on challenging mountain trails.

Bragg crossed the line after ten-and-a-half hours, seven minutes ahead of his nearest challenger. "I ran my own race from the start and was happy to let the pack get ahead of me initially, but then slowly work my way back through, getting stronger and faster in the crucial latter stages," he reveals.


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