As the Biba conference hits the capital, the Insider applauds one feisty chief exec and the MGA boss who got lippy

Here’s a little football story to warm the heart. Charles Manchester, boss of Manchester Underwriting Management, stepped in to pump cash into Chesham United four years ago, helping rescue the club from insolvency. He installed Watford legend Luther Blissett as boss, but after an unsuccessful season replaced him with current manager Andy Leese.

The story had a happy ending last week, when Chesham clinched promotion to the Southern League Premier Division by thumping Slough Town 4-0 in the play-off final in front of a 1,100-strong crowd. Manchester, who stepped down as chairman a few days ago but retains a stake in the club, was so excited by promotion he kissed Leese on the bonce. The moment was caught by the eagle-eyed snapper working for the local newspaper, making a lovely picture for the back pages. Clearly, Manchester has given a whole new meaning to that well-known football phrase “On me ‘ead, son.”

You won’t like him when he’s angry

He’s left insurance bosses shaking in fear, while entertaining the whole market with his gossip. His name, of course, is Sid, the new blogger at Insurance Times. At last he’s coming into the open, so why don’t you pay him a visit during Biba? Sid will be loitering around stand D8, so if you’re looking for the latest bit of market gossip, come and have a chat with the man in the know. Don’t upset him though – he’s a powerful man, with friends in high places.

Whirlwind Barbara beats ash cloud

Welcome back, Barbara Bradshaw! The last we heard of the IIB chief executive, she was Shanghai-bound as a result of the ash cloud. After a few days stuck at her hotel and several hours on the phone to Virgin, the redoubtable Bradshaw ran out of patience and went to the airport, vowing to stay put until she was on a plane. Within a few hours, she was in the air. Bravo Barbara!

Nothing new about politics

Hikes in capital gains tax: not exactly what many Tory supporters voted for at the last election, as my friend Alex Alway of Jelf observed to me. His comment set me pondering. Saying one thing and doing another must be the “new politics” I keep hearing so much about. Sounds suspiciously like the old politics, if you ask me …

A canary sings …

So my good pal and Norwich City nut John Kennedy has upped sticks from Aviva for a new challenge. The man who has yellow and green running through his veins isn’t going too far – he is joining Norwich-based Validus. John tells me the hardest thing about leaving Aviva was the firm’s close connection with his beloved Canaries, just crowned League One champions. It was John who was the deal-maker when the insurer took over sponsorship of the team, leading negotiations with City’s major shareholder and TV chef Delia Smith. With connections like this, expect to see Kennedy’s new firm’s name in Carrow Road before too long.

Homer’s where the heart is

A big pat on the back must go to the staff at Towergate. I’ve learned that kind-hearted employees raised more than £1m for charity in 2009. In difficult times like these, putting a hand in the pocket is not easy. So for all those who thought chief executive Andy Homer was a bit of a tough guy, you can see he’s got a heart of gold.

Change is as good as a rest

Now I’ve got nothing against London. I’ve spent some of my most exciting days in the capital –schmoozing with chief execs and dining with celebs – but couldn’t we have had another venue for the Biba conference? Holding it in London, where so many people work, takes away that special feeling a conference generates.

I remember Manchester last year, and it was a real hoot. So I think we should start a campaign to have the conference somewhere different next year. How about a day out by the sea in Brighton, or a trip to Edinburgh? Come on guys, suggestions on a postcard please. IT