It all seemed very unfair, after the flamboyant Mr Longhurst had built the building society into what many regarded as the most efficient mortgage- making machine in the country. Now Mr Longhurst's successor has been appointed, in the form of John Bays, formerly deputy chairman of the C&G.
Meanwhile Sir Brian Pitman continues to go on and on as chairman of the parent group Lloyds TSB, with Peter Ellwood, the former Barclays and TSB high flyer, now well ensconced as chief executive. We wish Mr Longhurst well.
PETER BIRCH, who retired as chief executive of Abbey National at the end of last month, has been appointed chairman of Trinity International, the UK's largest regional newspaper group. Trinity owns the Liverpool Echo, Belfast Telegraph and Western Mail, as well as 120 other titles.
Mr Birch already has a string of non-executive directorships, including Argos, Dalgety and Land Securities. He spent most of his career as a marketing man with Gillette before cutting a dash in the City. He joined Abbey in 1984 and steered the building society through the very first demutualisation.
The directors at Trinity can relax , though, since they don't need floating. Mr Birch certainly isn't doing the new job out of any need for cash, since he's still sitting on a mountain of Abbey National options, which some say is now worth north of pounds 6m.
Mr Birch replaces David Snedden, who is retiring after 15 years with Trinity and four years as chairman. Mr Snedden said recently that "the temptation to spend more time with my family, consultancy and fishing rod, although not necessarily in that order, is irresistible."
SIR Brian Jenkins, former Lord Mayor of London and ex head of audit at Coopers & Lybrand, was in rollicking form as head of the judging panel at yesterday's prize presentation for this year's Charity Annual Report and Accounts Awards.
Trevor McDonald, the popular ITN newscaster, was the guest of honour at the awards, held at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in the City. The ICA and the Charity Forum co-sponsor the awards.
Sir Brian kicked off the proceedings by telling the assembled audience that "judges get older and accounts get better." He slightly blunted this claim by adding that fully 50 per cent of entrants to the competition had failed at the first hurdle simply because the applicants had failed to either date or sign their entry.
Confusion then reigned as the winners were presented with their prizes of pounds 2,000 each, Sir Brian not realising that the winners were supposed to contribute a few words of their own to the proceedings. When this was pointed out to him, the first prizewinners were invited back on stage to say their piece. Mr McDonald, exhibiting his true professionalism, remained unfazed by the ensuing scenes of chaos.
As the last winners were ushered from the stage, Sir Brian declared:"I think that just about wraps it up. I've had rather an accident-prone afternoon. Is there anything else I should do?"
To which the president of the ICA, Chris Laine, exclaimed: "I think now you should sit down." Which, to Sir Brian's credit, he did.
MICHAEL JACKSON, deputy chairman of Sage, the designer of accounting software,and founding chairman of Elderstreet Downing VCT, a venture capital trust, is a keen tennis player, he tells me.
Mr Jackson set up Elderstreet eight years ago, and its directors now include Luke Johnson, the founder of Pizza Express.
Anyway, Mr Jackson tells me excitedly that he once beat Tim Henman, Britain's great tennis hope. The entrepreneur's victory came at the Rye Tennis Championships in Sussex in 1986. At the time Mr Jackson was 36 and Tim Henman was just 11. Mr Jackson beat the future tennis star 6-4 after a disputed line call. Mr Jackson recalls: "Tim was so small that people looked at me as if I was a child beater."
IT IS appropriate in the week of the Cheltenham Festival that University Diagnostics is launching a DNA database service for horses. University Diagnostics is a division of LGC (until 18 months ago The Laboratory of the Government Chemist). It is offering a service which will enable you to trace your horse if it gets stolen.
The company already has a world beater - a service which sexes parrots. It works in the same way as the horse DNA operation, and is currently helping scores of European zoos in their breeding programmes.
The company tells me that parrots don't have any external reproductive organs, and you can kill them by "prodding around", so now they take DNA samples from the feathers. The tests cost a mere pounds 22.50 a shot.Reuse content