PEMBROKE: The Naafi serves up a fund feast

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The Independent Online
The City is echoing to the sound of marching feet as two managed funds are launched for the armed services. The Naafi, famous for providing "tea and a wad" (a corn beef sandwich), to the 300,000 left in the army, navy and airforce, is diversifying into financial services.

The lower-risk fund is inappropriately called Trafalgar, after the battle in which Nelson took a remarkable risk by splitting his fleet and charging the superior French line.

Let's hope it is more successful than the Naafi's management of the armed forces' worldwide food and drink operations, which was left in disarray when a central computer broke down.

The ensuing fiasco led to the retirement of Brigadier James Rucker, head of Naafi operations, in November 1994 after the Defence Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, had to answer embarrassing Commons questions.

The legal apocalypse detonated by the departure of top executives from Saatchi's led to an unexpected dividend for David Philips, entertainment lawyer at David Lyons. His annual employment seminar is usually a sombre affair attracting little more than a dozen clients.

This year, anxious media executives concerned about intellectual property, service contracts and gardening leave are jamming his swichboard and Philips has moved the seminar to larger premises. "Maurice has given our business a tremendous shot in the arm," he said.

Gamblers interested in new forms of betting are invited by Littlewoods Pools to participate in the National Power and PowerGen share offer. It will be the latest in an increasingly bizarre marketing effort by the share shops, which has seen investors tempted by free air-miles, a holiday in Hawaii, rides on the rollercoaster at Blackpool and even free tickets to watch Norwich City Football Club.

The Littlewoods offer, to be posted to all regular punters, includes a free £5 Littlewoods claim card redeemable with a football pools coupon.

A run of good luck has swept across David Bick, the City PR man. First he gets a new job. In celebration he places £10 on a novice poignantly called New Tribe at Windsor races and wins £1,260. Finally, his daughter Antonia wins a £10 premium bond prize.

The death yesterday of Weetman Pearson, third Viscount Cowdray. In the City he was known as the chairman of Pearson (1954-1977) who bought the Financial Times, Penguin, Longman and Madame Tussaud's.

He was restrained in his management style, prefering to let competent managers rule without central interference. But polo was his passion. Phlegmatic in the face of adversity, he continued to play for the Hurlingham even after his left arm was blown offat Dunkirk, and used a special prosthetic to hold the reins as he swung the mallet.

"As someone who cherished good sportsmanship, he would not have subscribed to some of the modern professional trends sweeping the sport," says one polo associate.