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Bethany Doughty worked as an actuary for 10 years before deciding to retrain as a maths teacher. It has proved to be a lifechanging move, for all the right reasons…

Senior Home Office figure Dame Helen Ghosh to leave Whitehall

One of the most senior women in Whitehall is leaving to head a charity.

Protesters urge Nepal prime minister Baburam Bhattarai to stand down

Hundreds of supporters of opposition political parties have gathered outside the main government offices in Nepal's capital to demand Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai step down.

Leading article: Civil Service reform is as desirable as it is hard

Ministers are right to ask whether some other countries might do things better

The proposed shake-up would radically change the way policies are processed within Whitehall

Ministers plot end to Civil Service neutrality

Ministers could be given the power to dismiss their most senior civil servants and bring in US-style political appointees to drive through policy, as part of a radical shake-up of Whitehall to be considered by the Government.

Today’s announcement will be seen as a victory for David Cameron’s combative former director of strategy Steve Hilton

Government plan puts Civil Service impartiality at risk

Cabinet Office minister provokes fears of politicisation with proposals to appoint senior mandarins on fixed-term contracts

Action from Horse Guards Parade, where empty seats were not in evidence

Laurie Penny at the beach volleyball: 'Do you really need to ask why I'm here?'

Laurie Penny gains an insight into the corporate mindset as she mingles with the crowd at the beach volleyball

Big drop in women working in top Whitehall roles

A drive to recruit more women to top jobs in Whitehall has stalled. The proportion of government departments headed by females has fallen from about half to about a quarter since last year.

A Blagger's Guide To: English Heritage Red Guides

Forget '50 Shades of Grey' – here are 50 volumes of history
Education Secretary Michael Gove

Diary: Michael Gove sends a staffer stateside to work with Republicans

Michael Gove is being increasingly talked up as the next Conservative leader while George Osborne's odds lengthen with every Budget U-turn. It is interesting that someone with whom he has worked closely is off to get first-hand experience of fighting high-pressure elections. James Frayne, director of communications in Mr Gove's department, is off to the US to work for the Republican presidential campaign.

Diary: when Hansard insisted on 'deleting genitalia'

There is a startling revelation in the latest volume of The Alastair Campbell Diaries, in the entry for 22 May 2003. During a cabinet meeting, the Home Secretary David Blunkett made a brief intervention. "People ought to read Hansard," Blunkett said, "especially when they were recommending 'delete genitalia and insert penis'."

Government spending cuts comment made 'off the cuff'

Downing Street sought today to play down a warning by Britain's most senior civil servant that the country could be facing a decade of spending cuts.

Coronation Street veteran Betty Driver after she received her OBE at Buckingham Palace. The actress who played barmaid Betty Turpin in the ITV soap for 42 years has died today aged 91, said a spokeswoman for the programme.

Fact File: The Honours System

The UK honours system stretches back to the Norman conquest, but it wasn’t until 1917 that it began to recognise ordinary Britons.

New appraisals to be introduced for civil servants

The worst-performing civil servants will be given a timeframe for improvement under Whitehall reforms announced today.

Under-performing civil servants face dismissal under Government plans to shake up Whitehall

Under-performing civil servants will face dismissal under plans to shake up Whitehall to be unveiled by the Government today.

Leading article: More women bosses – whatever the economic weather

Fewer than a third of Britain's most influential jobs are held by women. And barely 16 per cent of board members on the UK's top 100 listed companies are female. Change is coming – 10 years ago, it was a mere 7 per cent – but it is far too slow. At the current rate, it will be many decades before the genders are in balance.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
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Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'