Diary: PR team that really deserves a medal

PROs grumbling at the long hours and stress of their overworked press offices should spare a thought for Paul Smyth, David Bennett and Peter Darlying.

As reserve officers for the Royal Air Force's No 7644 Public Relations Squadron, all three have guided embedded journalists from the build-up to the Iraq war in March 2003. Smyth assures us that the team endured 'very basic conditions within range of the ballistic missiles launched from Iraq'.

Last month the trio deservedly picked up their campaign service medals from the Duke of Westminster.

Bennett, who is PR manager at Southampton City Council, Smyth, who owns River PR, and Darlying, who also runs his own firm, had to contend with more than a few pushy journalists during their tour of duty in the war.

Bennett even had a second call-up, working in Afghanistan before Christmas.

'I have had the odd rocket come my way in this job,' Bennett tells us.

'But the ones in Afghanistan had real explosives on the end of them.'

Collar war puts fat cats in jeopardy It's the fat-cat story to end them all. According to Cats Protection, cats are getting a little fat under the collar.

The charity has urged owners of cats with 'sedentary lifestyles' to take care when responding to recommendations by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds that cats should wear collars.

The RSPB wants to prevent cats from preying on birds this summer and has found that equipping them with a collar and bell can reduce predation by a third.

But even when it comes to PR, feather and fur just can't get along. Cats Protection retaliated by launching a campaign to advise pet owners about the dangers of fitting collars. It said sedentary cats 'put on weight' and may strangle themselves trying to remove their collars. Good news for birds, at least.

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