Hedgehog has been to young-philanthropist parties. They are, by and large, horrific: stuffed suits impersonating their parents’ grandiose approach to giving, pasty Mayfair money managers looking to their chequebooks to salve their consciences.
None has had the electric excitement of people who want to give for a cause they believe in, but Raise Your Hands may be changing that.
Co-founder Ed Wethered (a distant relation of Lord North Street’s Adam, in case you’re wondering) wants their gatherings to have ‘the atmosphere of a gig’ (a concert, if you’re over 35, where you’re often encouraged to ‘raise your hands’ in approbation of the performance).
So members, who join with a minimum £10 monthly donation, meet at drinks parties and sporty fundraisers — 25 ran the Hackney Half Marathon in May — while their money goes to a rigorously selected slate of charities. Money is awarded by voting — raising hands again, see — with the most popular charity getting the biggest tranche, but all will receive good slugs of cash.
The due diligence Raise Your Hands performs to choose charities is admirable, indeed a model for other giving circles. To reach its first six charities, which include Switchback (working with young ex-offenders) and Grief Encounter (support for bereaved children), Wethered employed the sort of rigour he might have used to pick algorithms for the hedge fund he formerly ran.
Young people’s charitable giving wasn’t ‘proactive’, he says, but spurred by personal events or charities with big marketing budgets. What he and his co-founder wanted was to make giving ‘regular and affordable and transparent’. Hence Raise Your Hands’ emphasis on a long-term association with the charities, giving money in two six-monthly batches, and expecting to be told about the good their money has done.
So far, they have raised £55,000 from over a hundred members — who include bankers, restaurant-owners, artists and more, generally between 25 and 35 — and the mean monthly donation is almost £20. Wethered’s aim is to have 150 members by the end of the year.
When you see the good work the charities do — the reoffending rate of ex-offenders that work with Switchback is 14 per cent, less than a third of the national average — and the fun its members have, you may well be inclined to lift your paws to the sky too.
London is not short of private members’ clubs to suit every personality and proclivity. Whether right-wing or very-right-wing, media twit or intercontinental daredevil, there are premises for your taste. And now comes one in which taste is paramount: 67 Pall Mall, the private members’ club for wine-lovers.
Founded by ex-hedgie Grant Ashton, with wine-world habitué Niels Sherry (yes, he’s heard the jokes) as general manager and master sommelier Ronan Sayburn as head of wine, 67 Pall Mall will offer its members the choice of thousands of bottles at reasonable prices in a Grade II-listed Lutyens club room. When Hedgehog visited recently, the triple-height room was still in reconstruction, with boards over some of the windows, but you could easily see how the south-western light would flood in when they were unbarred.
Reasonable prices are one of the club’s chief selling points, says Sherry. Whereas a restaurant might charge £350 for a bottle of wine whose cost price is £100, 67 Pall Mall will offer it for £140 or £145. A £1,000 bottle of wine would be around £1,200, instead of upwards of £3,000. If nothing else, that will make even the driest white taste sweet.
There will be modern British food (‘it’s not about foams and drizzles and twirls’) served throughout the day, and 5,000 wines on the list.
Of those, 200 will be sold by the glass, including some of the best, thanks to whizzy technology, and eight champagnes like Dom Perignon ’04 will go for £15 a glass. This covers the cost, says Sherry, but no more. Members can also store a mixed case of their own in the club’s cellars (capacity: 31,000 bottles) and corkage is a flat £20.
Membership is £1,000 a year, plus £1,000 joining fee, and will be limited to 1,200; there are already a thousand. There will be a soft opening by August, with the official launch the month after.
Not that Pall Mall-haunting oenophiles have ever been in the avant-garde, but Sherry takes pains to stress he’s not interested in 67 Pall Mall being ‘London’s next trendy club’, part of the ‘migratory club world’. Given the City grandees (stock exchange CEO Xavier Rolet) and wine-trade scions who have already joined, this seems a realistic proposition.
The building is hardly migratory: ‘a brilliant variation on a Palladian theme, full of subtleties and felicities’, according to a 1960 critic, it was Hambros Bank from 1934 to 1999, and the new club retains the original wood panelling. It is in about as prestigious a site as possible too: it overlooks Marlborough House and is adjacent to Inigo Jones’s pale-lemon Queen’s Chapel and across from St James’s Palace.
It’ll be easy for wine-lovers to make a case for joining.
Bon CourageReputation management these days seems less about gentle contact with journalists and more like technological black ops crossed with legal bondage. But David Yelland, ex-editor of The Sun and late of Brunswick, says he is trying to restore some of the gentility — civility even — with his new firm, Kitchen Table Partners.
He will be doing both proactive and crisis communications for individuals, and he has a very particular type in mind: ‘Interesting, successful people who want to do interesting things.’ This includes those who find themselves in challenging situations, such as clients Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, when he loaned a Parthenon Marble to Russia; Jack Straw, the subject of a cash-for-access sting on Dispatches; and Thomas Hitzlsperger, a high-profile footballer who came out as gay.
It’s rare to hear someone in reputation management speak with benevolent openness, let alone with such an Oprah-esque vocabulary. Yelland talks of helping people get to ‘their authentic persona’ and offering ‘wise counsel in difficult situations and even in good situations’, since success brings its own challenges.
He wants to banish the military-grade hostility and suspicion which infuse reputation management today. ‘My approach is very positive,’ he says. ‘It’s not to go to someone who’s very wealthy and say, “You’re in a very difficult situation, the best thing is to close down your social media, close down your children’s social media, build a big fence and hide behind it, then you’ll be OK.”‘ He thinks ‘there’s a gap in the market for a positive little firm’.
There’s one more word Yelland is keen on: ‘Courage is the absolutely essential element to reputation success; if you don’t have courage, you won’t succeed.’ Launching a company into an occasionally noxious market on a wave of positivity: that’s courageous.
Hedgehog has long been a fan of Nicholas Campbell, the man behind Narcissus Arts, which helps collectors buy works under £10,000. Indeed, Spear’s gave him our Young Turk Art Adviser Award last year in recognition of his energy and enthusiasm. After five years, he has accumulated a slate of personal and corporate clients, which has prompted him to launch a new company, Narcissus Interiors, purely for his hotels, developers and restaurants business.
Nick has lately bought work for Daphne’s and the new Smith & Wollensky by the Strand, so we’re not talking a Bristol branch of Pizza Express here. Let’s have an end, he says, to restaurants which ‘chuck art on the wall’.
Narcissus Interiors lets clients consider both the aesthetics and the investment of fitting out their space, says Nick. With a budget of, say, £50,000 for ten works of art, he can introduce them to an artist who’s ‘on the right track to becoming major’, which is ‘a proven model’ for financial returns. (Just consider how the Ivy, refitting its room, sold a Bridget Riley for £413,000 in March.) And, of course, the venue will look good too.
While hedgehogs are by their nature not aquatic creatures, I’d make an exception to return to The World. The World, as you may remember from Spear’s some while ago, is a ship which plies the globe’s maritime avenues with its owner-residents on board.
The thing that wowed about The World was not that it spent months cruising the Caribbean, but that it did once-in-a-lifetime expeditions as part of your ownership (with some extra charges depending on activities et al); it had pushed through the Northwest Passage when I joined. Next up on its expedition schedule are two weeks around Greenland, which can only be a voyage of voiceless beauty and indescribable scenery.
There is plenty of sun and snow this year: from Greenland it’s on to Canada, the United States’ east coast, through the Panama Canal, down to Argentina and then two weeks in Antarctica. There, residents will enjoy icebergs, glacier caves and snow-capped mountains, with Zodiacs and kayaks for special expedition landings and island exploration led by a highly qualified expedition team.
When last I left The World, it was heading off around the eastern coast of South America, but now it is on a four-month tour of the Mediterranean before it docks in the UK in August for a fortnight. Since a small selection of homes are now available, August will be the perfect time to come on board.
Off and On
Making yourself seem so exclusive, such a secret, that buyers only covet you more is a well-established technique of luxury goods, and it’s now spreading to property.
Websites advertising the likes of Grosvenor Square, Chelsea Barracks and 1 Palace Street (right by Buckingham Palace) offer very little detail — a holding page only, in some instances.
‘This adds to the desirability factor and makes them the most talked about, yet inaccessible, properties in town,’ says Edo Mapelli Mozzi, CEO of Banda Property. ‘These are the properties that are being bought pre-market, leaving the less-connected buyers totally out of the loop.’
If you want to get on the list, you need to go to off-market specialists. Banda, in fact, has recently sourced some deals off-market through tight personal and professional connections, fast-tracking its clients with first dibs on developments such as Battersea Power Station (phase one), Barts Square and Lillie Square.